Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Official Start of Grillling Season

Well, OK – I admit it, I never stop grilling. There’s no weather too cold to get a nice tenderloin roasting for dinner on that grill. I think I got that from my father who once grilled the Thanksgiving turkey in a heavy, wet snow storm – it was the best turkey I ever had.

But let’s talk about grill types. If you have a gas or propane grill, you know how to use it. It’s basically an outdoor stove and its uses are pretty straightforward. If you have a charcoal grill, you’re a step closer to my hickory chip-smoked heart. But if you grill using hardwood charcoal, you’re definitely hardcore – and I am hardcore.

There’s a little butcher shop right next to Timber Creek where I buy my hardwood charcoal. I pour it into my cylindrical charcoal starter and crumple a piece of newspaper underneath. Just light the paper with a match: no starter fluid required and in about 15-20 min. your charcoal is red hot. While it’s firing up, I soak some hickory chips to flavor the food. I usually pour that hot pot of flaming charcoal onto an equal amount of charcoal sitting inside the grill, let that sit about 10 min. more, and at that point it looks like this:

These coals are banked to one side because tonight we’re making pork tenderloin with grilled veggies. I simply sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper all over the tenderloin….I don’t put oil on the meat. I seem to get a better crust with less burning this way. Drain the hickory chips and sprinkle them over the coals. Reset the grate over the coals, and set the meat over the hottest part of the fire and allow each side to sear evenly.

Then I prepared the veggies. Today, I’ve been a little pressed for time, so I took the easy way out. I used a spray bottle of olive oil and sprayed the veggies all over – leeks and baby bok choy this time. I soaked the bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes, then ran the veggies through. A little more salt and pepper, and they’re ready to go. By now, the tenderloin has been nicely seared on all sides, so I moved it over to the cooler side of the gril, and moved the leeks right up over the fire. I positioned the bok choy about half way between the two. Then I covered the grill, closed the air holes on the top about half way, and went inside to the kitchen.

On the stove, I melted a couple of Tb. of butter and added a clove of garlic run through the press. I let it sit over very low heat while I went outside to move the veggies around and add a tomato to the grill, cut in half -- cut side up. The meat was cooked in about 15 min. and I took it off the grill to rest while the veggies finished up. Then I split the leeks and poured the garlic butter over them and poured a little inside the bok choy. I grated some Parmesano over the hot tomato, sliced the pork and arranged a sliced starkrimson pear alongside, and dinner was served.

Yes, yes, this dinner may sound kind of boring to some. But I told you I’m hardcore. I could eat breakfast lunch and dinner from the grill, and my philosophy is: never waste a good fire.

Tomorrow I’m grilling artichokes. Want to come over?

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