Sunday, July 25, 2021

Why Not Again?

     Going through the freezer yesterday, I found a couple of nice little New York Strip steaks that needed to be cooked before they turned into bricks.

     There was still plenty of charcoal left in the grill -- the lovely thing about a covered grill is you can "turn it off" and save unused charcoal after grilling by shutting the vents and closing the lid.  I added a little more and built a tic-tac-toe grid of split pine and hardwood with crumpled newspaper in the bottom center, then piled up charcoal around it to form a chimney open at the bottom.  A match at the front and another at the back for luck soon had it roaring and I fed leftover small pieces into it until I was satisfied.*

     The meat had thawed overnight and was sitting out, seasoned (coarse togarishi salt, black pepper, a very little ginger and garlic) and covered, while I built the fire.

     Before the meat went on, I assembled another mushroom pilaf: oyster mushrooms, chopped carrot, celery and a couple of cherry tomatoes, chopped piparra peppers and capers, seasoned with garlic, parsley, rosemary, basil and thyme. (I think I have mentioned before that Simon and Garfunkel's similar list in song lyrics is what you use to season baked chicken.  Those wistful, romantic lyrics?  They're thinking about dinner!)  A teaspoon or two of butter and it sat on the back of the grill while the steaks cooked.

     Some water-soaked hickory chips and the steak followed -- mine first (medium) and Tam's later (very rare).

     While all that had been going on on, there was one more thing in the pipeline: water heating up in a big pot on the stove (and the electric teakettle, it's faster) with a dash of salt and a teaspoon or so of chorizo seasoning.  Corn on the cob takes about seven minutes in boiling water, and keeps for quite a while in the hot water.

     It all came together right on time and enjoyed a nice supper (hickory-grilled steak and corn on the cob is hard to beat!) while watching Turn: Washington's Spies, an espionage thriller set during the Revolutionary War (ours).
* Charcoal-lighting fluid?  Just say no -- and say no to briquettes, too.  Hardwood lump charcoal will make you eager to grill, and the emotional reward of starting a fire with one or two matches is a nice mood-booster.


Antibubba said...

Split pine? Doesn't that impart a resinous taste? Or is it all burned off before cooking?

Roberta X said...

I have not noticed any resinous flavor. Three pieces of pine, each about 1/4" square by 6". It's plain, dry pine, carpentry scraps, not fatwood (though I have used that in the past and I found it did impart a faint taste). They burn up quickly, providing an intermediate between the newspaper and the hardwood. The hardwood kindling is four pieces, 1/2" square or larger by 6" to 7". Two hardwood, three pine (one in the middle) and two more hardwood is my typical "grid," with newspaper torn in strips and balled up at the lowest level. My grill had a lower grid that allows some air to get in under all this, and I leave gaps at the front and back, too. Sometimes I add two more pieces of hardwood if I need to build a big fire.

The charcoal "chimney" is two or three times as tall as the kindling, and is built with plenty of gaps. It creates a roaring flame, quickly. The pine is gone fast; the ends of the hardwood sometimes last, but they're no problem. If they survive cooking, they turn into charcoal once I close the vents and shut the lid, and are used up next time.

The pine can be avoided by "feathering" the inside edges of the hardwood kindling with a sharp hatchet or good-sized knife, a series of angled cuts on the corners 14" to 1/2," 3/8" or so apart deep that lift a chip of wood. But it takes time, the end result is not 100% reliable and the fastest ways to do it are moderately risky.

Rob K said...

A light misting of water from a spray bottle on the coals once you're done with the fire can help preserve them for next time too.

Turn was a great show, but being based on real events has some things that are very dissatisfying.

Roberta X said...

I have rusted out too many grills over the years to deliberately add water -- I fret enough over using water-soaked hickory chips! My grills closes up well enough to have cooled in a couple of hours, and that's good enough for me.