Posts Tagged ‘memorial day’

I find little or no difference between the gas stove in my kitchen and an outdoor gas grill…so I don’t own one. I can make a perfectly delicious steak by searing it in a cast iron pan on the stovetop, then finishing it in a hot oven. So, for me, if the real reason for outdoor grilling is flavor, nothing can replace a hardwood charcoal grill.

Besides the quality and source of my beef, wood and smoke are what make the difference between a good steak and a great steak.

 

beef brisket

I know the #1 argument for going with gas over hardwood charcoal is time. “It takes too long to start a charcoal grill.” That’s a load of crap. Over the years, I’ve showed many friends that it takes no more time to light a charcoal fire than it does to start up a gas grill.

Of course, it starts with the grill itself. The classic Weber is still an awesome choice. For larger cooking needs, I also have a Primo ceramic grill.

Then I get a bag of hardwood charcoal. I’m not talking charcoal briquets, like Kingsford, that have a ton of additives in them. And I’m definitely not talking about Match Light. I’m talking pure hardwood charcoal, easily found in supermarkets and home stores.

Next: a charcoal chimney. It’s a metal tube with a handle and a grate at the bottom. I crumble a couple of sheets of newspaper into the bottom, pour charcoal into the top, light it, and I have hot coals in 10 minutes without lighter fluid.

And I NEVER use lighter fluid! Why spend good money on a great steak only to make it taste like gasoline?

The variety of wood chips available for smoking is another flavor factor when it comes to grilling with charcoal. My personal favorite is hickory, especially when I’m cooking pork or chicken. But apple, cherry, oak, mesquite: they all impart their own unique flavors. And they’re all available in most home stores where you find all the other barbecue gear.

Although I have an electric smoker for those low-and-slow jobs, like a big ol’ brisket or pork shoulder, I don’t need it when grilling a steak. I simply soak some wood chips in water for about a 1/2 hour before grilling (I’ve found that hot water speeds the process up), drain the water, and then sprinkle the moist chips on the hot coals in my grill. I throw the meat on the grill, close the lid (opening the vents, of course) and off we go.

So now, in 10 minutes, I’ve got a grill that’s ready to cook a steak with…about the same time as gas.

If you say: “I don’t cook with charcoal because it’s so messy!” …I honestly don’t know if you and I can be friends.

Because I’m using a small amount of hardwood charcoal for the average dinner, I don’t have to clean out my grill every time I use it. After a while, yes, some ashes pile up in the bottom of my grill and I have to dump them. But because they’re pure wood ashes, I can dump mine into my strawberry or raspberry patch. They love the stuff.

You still have to clean a gas grill after a while, and it always runs out of propane halfway through cooking when you have guests over for dinner. So where’s the convenience in that?

Charcoal grills give you everything you could ask for: low maintenance, ease of use–no propane tanks, valves and igniters–real wood flavor, not lava rocks, and the thrill of cooking meat over a real fire, bonding with the caveman in you. Grab a beer–or even better: a bourbon on the rocks–and start grilling!

Gas grills make no sense to me at all. I find little or no difference between them and the gas stove I have in my home. I can make a perfectly acceptable steak by grilling it on my stovetop cast iron griddle…or I can sear it in a pan and pop it in a hot oven. If the real reason for grilling is flavor, why wouldn’t you want something that makes a real difference?

A hardwood charcoal grill is the way to go. Besides the quality and source of your beef, wood and smoke are what makes the difference between a good steak and a great steak.

beef brisket

I know the #1 argument for going with gas over hardwood charcoal is time. “It takes too long to start a charcoal grill.” That’s a load of crap. I’ve convinced many friends over the years by showing them that it takes no more time to light a charcoal fire than it does a gas grill.

Here’s what you need: Get yourself the charcoal grill you like…the classic Weber is still an awesome choice.

Get a bag of hardwood charcoal. I’m not talking charcoal briquets, like Kingsford, that have a ton of additives in them. And definitely don’t ever use crap like Match Light. I’m talking pure hardwood charcoal, easily found in many stores.

Get a charcoal chimney. It’s a metal tube with a handle and a grate at the bottom. You crumble a couple of sheets of newspaper into the bottom, pour charcoal into the top, light it, and you have hot coals in 10 minutes without lighter fluid.

And DON’T EVER use lighter fluid! Why would you spend good money on a steak and then want to make it taste like gasoline?

The variety of wood chips available for smoking is another flavor factor when it comes to grilling with charcoal. My personal favorite is hickory, especially when I’m cooking pork or chicken. But apple, cherry, oak, mesquite: they all impart their own unique flavors. I have apple and cherry trees in my yard. So whenever they need a little pruning, I save those cut pieces of wood and use them to smoke with.

You don’t need to buy a separate smoker. Simply soak some wood chips in water for about a 1/2 hour before grilling (I’ve found that hot water speeds the process up), drain the water, and then sprinkle the moist chips on the hot coals in your grill. Throw your meat on the grill, close the lid (opening the vents, of course) and off you go.

So now in 10 minutes, you’ve got a grill ready to cook a steak with…about the same as gas.

“I don’t cook with charcoal because it’s so messy!” So what are you…a girl? You probably have one of those fake gas fireplaces in your house, too.

Because I’m using a small amount of hardwood charcoal for the average dinner, I don’t have to clean out my grill every time I use it. After a while, yes, some ashes pile up in the bottom of my grill and I have to dump them. Because they’re pure wood ashes, I dump mine into my strawberry or raspberry patch. They love the stuff.

You still have to clean a gas grill after a while, and it always runs out of propane halfway through cooking when you have guests over for dinner. So where’s the convenience in that?

Charcoal grills give you everything you could ask for: low maintenance…ease of use–no stupid propane tanks, valves and igniters…real wood flavor–not lava rocks, whatever the hell those things are…and the thrill of cooking meat over a real fire–bonding with the caveman in you, not some pussy with an umbrella drink and his shiny chrome gas grill with a thermometer that doesn’t work and burners that don’t cook evenly or get hot enough.

Time to be a man again! Ditch the gas grill. Get the hardwood charcoal. Find out what a really good steak is supposed to taste like this Memorial Day weekend.