Fire And You: A Healthy Relationship (With Your Grill)
Greetings again! It’s time for another installment of Simply Playful Fare. As Crystal and I settle in to our new digs, I thought I’d talk to you about the grill. I love the grill. I think I spent more money on my grill than I did on my first car. With a little practice, and a little patience, you can cook anything on your grill. We even made a pie on the grill once. It can be a giant flattop, an oven, and mine even has the opportunity to be a rotisserie. Also, there’s something that’s primitive and satisfying about using the grill. Often, people associate cooking with womanly duties, but the grill, the grill is for men. Today, I’m going to be talking about a few basics for using the grill. I’m going to focus on propane grills, because that’s what I have. I’m not going to say that propane is better than charcoal, but I will say it is what I prefer. I think it’s easier to work with, and you can’t beat its convenience. So let’s get started with a few tips.
1.) Get to know your grill. I have never used your grill. I can’t tell you how to use your grill. Each grill is going to be a little different. The high on your grill might be a little higher than the high on mine. On my grill, I know exactly where the hottest spots are. Your hot spots might be in a different spot. The only way to discover all these things is by practicing.
2.) Learn to use the burners properly. More often than not, I assume you will use your grill for direct cooking. That is to say using the flames directly under your food to cook it completely. This works great for small things, like burgers, brats, chicken breasts, and even steaks. If you are cooking something larger, however, you need to master indirect heat. One of my favorite things to cook on the grill is beer can chicken (more on that later). To do this, I must use my grill like an oven. My grill is a four-burner propane grill. What I have to do is turn my two middle burners down very low, and then use the outside burners to heat the grill. One thing that will help you maximize your grill’s efficiency is an oven thermometer. It will let you know what temperature your grill is at. Again, this is something you are going to have to play around with. It takes practice. The first time I made beer can chicken, the only good part was the half a beer I drank before I started. Practice and you will succeed.
3.) Try new things. Like I said before, you can cook just about anything on the grill. One of our favorite things is grilled veggies. You can do just about any vegetable on the grill. If you haven’t tried grilled asparagus, go buy some and do it right now. I’ll wait for you to get back. Grilled zucchini is also amazing. There are a few basics you need to follow though. For starters, sometimes you need to pre-cook the vegetables. We love grilled sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes take a long time to cook on the grill. If you were to just put slices of sweet potato on the grill, the outside would be burned black by the time the inside was cooked. What we do is cook the sweet potato in the microwave until it is about half done, and then it’s time to season it up and put it on the grill. Another thing you have to do is make sure the veggies won’t fall through the slats of the grill. I shouldn’t have to say that, but I don’t want people to tell me, “I sliced my zucchini into ¼ inch coins, and it was really tough to flip them.” Yes, that would be very tough to do. You shouldn’t have done that. Instead, use your brain and try cutting the zucchini lengthwise. Trust me, it works a lot better. If you want to start playing around with grilling veggies, try prepping your veggies, and then tossing them in a small amount of oil with a little garlic, salt, and pepper. It’s simple, and always tasty.
4.) Preheat, lubricate, and post-burn. I always get my grill good and hot before I put anything on it. I may not always leave it that hot before I start, but it is very useful for cleaning off the grates. Get it hot, and use your wire brush to clean it. Next up, you need to make it so your food won’t stick. You can do this however you like, but I believe that a non-stick cooking spray is the easiest. If you skip this step, no matter what you’re cooking, you’re going to have a bad time. Finally, when you are done cooking, crank the burners to high and close the lid. This will help burn off anything that may have been left behind. Just make sure that you don’t forget to turn it off. Set a timer if you are forgetful.
Those are a few of the basics for using your grill. This week, we’re going to try something a little different. I want you all to come back on Wednesday for a special mid-week post. I’m going to show you all how to make one of the most delicious roast chickens you will ever have.