July 3rd, 2012
There’s something satisfying in a primal way about cooking outdoors over a blazing fire. Most people only do this in summer, but I don’t let a trivial nuisance like weather stop me. I’ve grilled in the high heat of a 100 degree day. I’ve grilled in the rain. I even grilled in a snowstorm once. Why am I such an enthusiast? After a long day, I can think of nothing more relaxing than that smoky smell combined with the sizzles and pops of cooking meat. Admittedly, the optional drink helps too, and it’s all part of the tradition.
Charcoal or gas? I’m always amused to find that people are often staunchly in one camp or the other. I’m sure some of you are purists who think the only way to grill is with charcoal, taking the time to slowly build the heat of the coals. Letting the flavor of the charcoal infuse itself into whatever you are cooking is an amazing way to add taste. A steak cooked to perfection over real charcoal is one of my favorite meals.
And while charcoal-grilled food will always be my ideal, I mostly use a small gas grill for convenience. The ease of instant flame and even heat is a fair trade for not having the smoky charcoal taste. I find it’s easy enough to mix up marinades and different spices to replace that signature smoky flavor and keep the taste interesting and the meat moist.
Grilling isn’t just limited to meat though. Occasionally, I will allow a vegetable to land on my grill, and my favorite is always corn. Take some corn with the husk still on and soak it in water for 30 minutes, then simply lay it on the grill. After about 20 minutes, the corn will be steamed perfectly. The best part is that you can skip all the work of removing the silk – it comes off easily when you open the husk, and the husk even makes for a convenient handle.
If you’re looking to try grilling for the first time or expand your grilling skills, Cecil County Public Library has a great selection of grilling books.
Will you be grilling this summer? Charcoal or gas? (And don’t forget to share your favorite recipes).