It’s a little embarrassing to have been cooking as long as I have and to have such a poor command of the grill. Frankly, I’ve always been bewildered by cooks who say they love the grill because it’s so easy and cleanup is a snap. These must be people who also enjoy pounding their laundry clean over rocks in a river, or mucking out the barns of their cattle, or perhaps mowing the lawn with a pair of hand shears.
My experiences with our new grill over the last few weeks have typically gone something like this:
1) Crumple newspaper and stuff into bottom of chimney starter.
2) Set starter on bottom rack of grill and add charcoal. Forget that black dust has adhered to fingers. Wipe fingers on white shorts.
3) Light newspaper. Wait in hopeful but futile anticipation for flames to erupt. Cough and wave hands in front of face when seemingly non-existent wind somehow manages to blow smoke into eyes. Light another corner of newspaper. Get more smoke in eyes. Note flames beginning to erupt.
4) Run back up stairs into kitchen. Salt and pepper meat or fish as the grill heats up. Glance out door to check on fire. Note that there is plenty of smoke but no sign of fire.
5) Continue with meal preparation. Check fire again. When there is still no sign of fire, run downstairs to stare at smoking starter in hopes that flames shooting from eyes will cause charcoal to burn at last.
6) Repeat steps 4 & 5 several times until flames actually erupt.
7) Wait what seems a reasonable amount of time for charcoal to catch fire. Turn starter over onto grill and try not to catch self on fire as flames unexpectedly shoot from all corners of the starter.
8) Watch as fire either slowly dies or continues to rage uncontrollably. Futilely move various levers and knobs on grill. Run upstairs to collect various items you have forgotten (tongs, mitt, shot of bourbon). Eventually, toss food onto roaring flames, where it will char on the outside and remain nearly raw on the inside, or set onto icy rack over barely flickering embers, where it will lie inertly until you give up, take it inside, and cook it on the stove.
Still, we remain hopeful. Even the very poorly prepared swordfish and salmon I’ve produced has beated pan-seared and baked versions for taste and tenderness. If I ever get this grilling thing right, I’ll report results.
Grilling tips, anyone?
Shape the newspaper into a donut, and spritz it with a little vegetable oil. The shape of the donut will help the flames project upward into the chimney, and the vegetable oil will act like a wick, keeping the flame going and starting the charcoal every time.
wow do I have tips for you…
I grill three or four nites a week (or more). I LOVE grilling, and am trying to be the talk of the neighborhood.
Advice, buy a good grill book and try try try…
I recommend HOW TO GRILL by steven Raichlen (the guy on PBS). I would be thrilled ot have you take a look at my site, and if I can give you any advice, I am very happy to pass some along…
Try the Chicken Sates, very easy and impressive end product.
Thanks to both of you for your comments. I'll try the donut technique. I've also learned I need to build a bigger fire and let the coals heat up more.