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Summer Grilling a Happy Tradition
Summer is here, hooray, which means it is time once again to light the grill and once again experience the Grand American Tradition of food ritually immolated over an open fire.
Cooking outdoors, of course, is Man Cooking. This is because all American Men over the age of 18 believe they are born with a special Outdoor Cooking Gene which gives them power over combustible substances, such as charcoal, LP gas, and really cheap hot dogs. You know, the ones that come 100 to a pack and are made of all the animal parts the cat food companies wouldn’t touch.
Because they are nice people, women let us have this conceit. The truth of the matter is, anyone can be a perfectly competent grill cook, but women stand aside and let men think they are born to it, mostly because it’s just so entertaining. Man Cooking is nothing if not theatrical – utensils flashing, flames leaping into the air, eyebrows disappearing. In which case it is good to have a woman close at hand with the first-aid ointment.
Here in Central Indiana, the most popular items to grill (not barbeque – that’s something else altogether, involving hickory smoke, dry rubs, secret sauces and, if you’re lucky, people who actually know what they’re doing) are steaks, chicken, burgers and brats. For the sake of clarity, grilling brats means cooking sausages, not interrogating the smart-alecky neighbor kids you suspect of demolishing your mailbox.
Of course, the more advanced grillers such as moi are more adventurous in the foods we victimize. I mean select. We might opt to cook a duck, or a leg of lamb, or vegetables, or fruit, or even pizza on our grills.
Some will even say that anything you can cook indoors can be cooked better on a grill. This is baloney. Which is actually pretty good when it’s barbequed.
Anyway, here is a short list of non-barbequeable foods you newbies might want to avoid:
Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do, okay? Which brings me to another important suggestion: Always make sure you have the proper cleaning equipment around. Not only will it remove the bad-idea food residue, it will go a long way toward cutting down on that pesky ptomaine poisoning by ensuring you always have a safe cooking surface for the food you ruin.
Yes, I said ruin. Let’s take a steak. This should be simple. You take a slab of meat, put it over the fire, cook it a short while, turn it over, cook it some more, and then eat it. Easy, right? No. The trick is timing.
All properly timed outdoor grilled steaks are juicy, tender and cooked to the diner’s preference. The other 99 percent are either Pittsburgh rare (black on the outside, raw on the inside), or ready to be made into sandals.
As for other foods – well, let’s just say that I’ve seen some chicken that was Pittsburgh rare. I sincerely hope this does not become a taste sensation that sweeps the nation. Our emergency rooms couldn’t handle the traffic.
Ah, but enough negativity. Let us think instead of the glorious summer days ahead and the manly thrill of food on the grill grill. Oh, and don’t forget the cheap hot dogs. Yes, they’re inedible, but they make terrific fuel for your Tiki torches.
But skip the peas. Trust me on this.
© 2011 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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