Memoirs of a Grill Misteress

Chicken cooked on a fire hazard flaming grill, see #1

I haven't put much into Cantaloupe Alone. I have been "busy" sunning my self while dreaming up delightful things to grill up on my vacation on Fire Island. I grilled everyday. Sometimes 2-3 times a day. The propane was burning as early as 11 am, which is early for a no alarm clock vacation sleep schedule.

Some lessons I learned taming the flames and searing meats for 7 days straight:

1) Clean the grill and have an extingusher/bucket of water
Night one of the vacation (incidentally my birthday) my lovely, thoughtful friends went to work grilling up a spread. Pillars of smoke and flames were spewing 8 feet up after moments from our rental house's ill-attended dirty disgusting oil trap. The fire extinguisher? Empty. We hosed it down, with dumb luck. Water on an oil fire is not safe. The effect of a bath in pitch black oil fire smoke on the chicken thighs was brilliant. Tender and delicious super bbq in a dangerous instant. Be ready grill masters, and keep it cool.

2) A stitch in time saves nine

Have a serving tray, tongs, mitts/pot holder, marinade, sauce brush, oil, salt, and whatever else you need to keep yourself occupied (probably a cold beer-like drink) with you when you START. Running too and from the kitchen will leave food unattended or attended by rookies and lead to undercooked/overcooked food.

3) No more than 2 people may master the grill at a time
Certainly 1 can manage. 2 people on grill duty is a good thing. You can safely dash back to the house for more hot sauce, or to freshen a drink. If you are in-tune with your co-master get opinions on the doneness of a thick steak, or where the prime hot spots are.

More than 2 grill masters will screw things up. More means people in the way, and overlapping opinions. In the case of my big Saturday BBQ on the island, we had 4 helping on the grill. Sooner or later everyone wandered away imagining that the food was cooking itself. 2 beer can chickens took 6 hilarious hours to cook, tasted great.

4) Asparagus
That's it. Asparagus on the grill maybe the best grill food of all time. No salt or oil necessary, its just perfect.

5) Grill bread is easier than pie
Mix 1 cup flour (bread flour would be good), 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 pinch of sugar in a bowl. Drizzle on 1 tblsp olive oil and mix in cold water until the dough is sticky but not goopy using your hands. Chill for 30-60 minutes. You can do this just before you cook the meat, the bread heats up fast. Divide into 4-6 pieces and pat with floured hands to make a 6-7 inch oval. Throw that dough over the hot spot. Flip when puffy, and the bottoms have some good grill marks, about 2 minutes a side. If you are skilled, take the bread off the grill with the burgers as a bun replacement. I melted cheese on some of my grill bread, served some with dip, and on the last morning served the bread with grilled sausage and eggs (made inside) for brunch.

6) Grill things that aren't meat (see items 4 & 5)
A few vegetarians are going to show up. Don't expect vegetarians to want to eat your soggy potato salad while you pound burgers. Tofu with BBQ sauce, corn on the cob, whole scallions with the roots trimmed, eggplant and zucchini slabs with a nice marinade or even vinegar based dressing. People will put down burgers if you slice up sweet potatoes, microwaved for 3 minutes, grilled and topped with salt and oil. Try it, you'll be delighted to find out which glorified meat eaters end up with greens caught in their teeth.

7) Ask and you shall receive
We asked for corn, limes, alcohol, and side salads at our BBQ bash. We easily left behind 30 half empty bottles of vodka and hundreds and hundreds of limes in our rental house. One gracious guest brought an entire burlap sack of Long Island farm corn. Thoughtful, but dominating over our following menus.

8) Beware of snackers or don't feed the animals all the good food before dinner
If the grill is on its probably close to chow time. Be aware that your snacky guests are hungry from the wonderful odors coming out of your grill. If you slice up some fancy cheese (say gruyere or roquefort) to top your burgers and rest it on a plate while you grill your guests will eat it. Either keep the cheese out of sight, or give them a pity plate to snack on. Chips and salsa were invented to keep this category of people satisfied.

Note: I ignored many opportunities to shoot my grilled menus. I know, reckless and selfish to the blog. Photography is jarring when you're ready to eat and have to feed 10-30. I was in vacation mode.

The big successful grilled item was kabobs made of sweet potato, onion, chorizo, and sage sausage. Unreal for breakfast.

Comments

  1. TIP "chefs": don't smack food out of your guest hands. It puts you in a lesser "category" than people who like "fancy" cheese (LIKE MUENSTER! ooooo!) or if you prefer less guests (aka cheese eaters) than keep doing it and they will surely diminish. Getting angry at hungry guests who simply wanted cheese puts you in the animal category. Bon appetit!

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