Monday, May 16, 2016

Sunday's Dinner

     Steaks on the grill!  Delicious steaks, in fact.  --Still the same inexpensive grill we have had at Roseholme Cottage for years, but I know The Secret and I'll share it:

     Hardwood charcoal.

     That's it.  Stop buying those compressed-sawdusty things unless you're cooking in a pot over the coals.  Yes, it costs more -- a fraction of the price of the meat, and a bag will last a long time.  It's already something of a special deal to be grilling, so take the next step. 

     (LP gas grill?  You're on you're own; I have no truck with those things.  Kind of like "camping out" under the dining room table, if you ask me.)

     The other "secret" is less of one: if you're grilling something lean, put a dab of good butter on the side you just turned over.  This totally wipes out the health advantages of lean meat (and replaces them with flavor), so you need to be eating healthy otherwise.  It doesn't take much, it's just keeping it from getting all dry and awful.  The more done you like your steak, the more useful this trick is.

     And the final secret is open knowledge: let the meat set out for a little while between taking it out of the fridge and putting it over the fire.  Use that time to apply salt, pepper, and whatever other heathen thing you like.  (I did kebabs with chimichurri* not too long ago, and that's some darned good eating!)

     Do these things and you will produce tasty grilled food.

    --Oh, start that charcoal with some balled-up newspaper.  You don't need lighter fluid, just build a charcoal pyramid around the newspaper with a low opening on the vent side and set it to burning.  Once the charcoal has caught and is burning nicely, spread it out (hot side up!) and add a few more lumps scattered among it.  When you're done cooking, close the grill and close up the vents.  The fire will will go out, saving the unused charcoal for next time.
* Among the uses of chimichurri: the choripán. I must try this. Soon.


Ratus said...

Yes hardwood charcoal, FTW.

I've been using this for over ten years now. Burns hotter, but not as long.

You might want to get a 'charcoal starter' basically it's a big metal cylinder with a grate near the bottom.

Anonymous said...

"Hardwood charcoal."

AKA, "Lump charcoal". The way it was intended to cook. Mmmmmmm...!

And, boy are you ever right about no lighterfluid. I prefer my food cooked by wood, not petrochemicals. (That includes propane-methane).

There's another chem-free way of firestaring charcoal, and that's a doo-hickey that looks like an electric stove heating element, stack the charcoal lumps on top of it, they work quite well.

Now that you're on the Righteous path to cooking, sometime later, rig your grill to have a shallow metal pan over the coals filled with water. With the lid down, that will keep temps in the 200 degree range at 100 percent humidity. Slow cooking meat that way lets the smoke penetrate into the meat. That's BBQ territory, and a tasty territory it is...

Ken said...

Bookmarked the choripan link into my cooking folder. Thanks, ma'am!

Ken D said...

2 other suggestions, which in no way imply you didn't already know these:

-Lighter fluid is indeed evil. However, if its windy, or you want to be extra sure the charcoal catches well, a bit of vegetable oil on the paper works real well to extend its burn time.
-in addition to the rest between fridge and grill, a few minutes rest between grill and eating gives the meat time to equalize heat, pressure, osmosis, whatever throughout, and keeps moisture in the meat instead of a puddle on the plate when sliced.