I love grilling. The smell of the charcoal, the searing meat, caramelizing barbecue sauce…you really can’t beat it. Some people think it’s just a social activity, and talk, talk, talk, without paying attention while their food turns into a platter of hockey pucks. Not cool.
I still remember the first time in my cognizant years when my dad grilled a steak. The smell was something I’d never experienced (Dad was a preacher and we were very poor), but I knew immediately I wanted to taste that! Of course he used charcoal, because as a (literally) former rocket scientist, this guy is a smart dude. When Kay and I bought our first house, we bought a $400 gas grill and I think we have used it twice in the past 24 months. We use our Weber religiously.
I love grilling (did I mention that?). It takes me back to some of my favorite points of my life. 1) Dad grilling said steak 2) Outside our college house grilling burgers, brats and dogs 3) Outside Kay’s apartment in St. Louis Park having a couple of cold beers and making kabobs, 4) Weekend outings on Satellite Lane grilling up all sorts of good stuff (prime rib, brisket, etc.) with the good neighbors from 231 and 233. Miss those guys.
Ranking my favorite things to grill, at the behest of my beautiful bride, I bring you the following:
10. Bbq quarter chicken – this has been my go-to grilling option for over a decade. People who think chicken is a dried out disaster have never had the pleasure of a juicy slow-roasted thigh and leg, coated in caramelized Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. Mmmmm!
9. Prime rib – covered in a blanket of salt and herbs, so easy and so magnificent. Would rank higher on this list if it weren’t nearly as easy to perfect in the oven.
8. Beer can chicken – another easy achievement on the grill, but so worth it. Cover the bird in herbs and stuff a head of garlic in its neck and a can of pilsner up its tailpipe, and you have an amazingly delectable dinner!
7. Herbs de provence burgers – thank you, Steven Raichlen, for this one. Make a burger with a chunk of butter and a generous amount of herbs de provence smuggled in the interior, and you won’t believe you’re not in a fancy-schmancy restaurant.
6. Wings – thank you Peter/Kristen Hall for this one. I cut my culinary teeth at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant (after a quick summer at Duane’s House of Pizza in Moorhead), but as soon as I discovered how much was added to wings by grilling them, I was in love. Has now become one of my favorite parts of summer.
5. Fajitas – Kay came up with an amazing recipe, and I was lucky enough to be there to make it a reality. Take a package of McCormick’s taco seasoning, put half of it on a nice sliced New York strip and the other on a sliced up green pepper, and the rest is easy and delicious.
4. Tuna tataki – went to Lunds looking for Ponzu and they were out. Talked to the kitchen manager and he basically gave me the house recipe. I could tell you, but, it’s too easy and awesome so don’t want to. Hopefully I can make it for you sometime. If you’re lucky.
3. Jucy Lucys – Matt’s are better, I don’t dare to try to improve on perfection. But I guarantee mine are better than those at the 5-8 Club, which are crap. I make them with 80-20 beef, and Carr Valley cheddar in the middle, and it melts perfectly every time. They make Phyllis smile, which is enough for me.
2. Lemon chicken – feels like summer from March until November, when you marinate chicken thighs in lemon juice and cram nearly half a lemon under the skin of each one…the smoke of the grill melds wonderfully with the lemon, and you wish you had two more hands so you could eat more quickly. It’s still only April, right?
1. Ribeye – the best thing anyone could hope for in life. I once hoped I’d play football for the Gophers. Then I figured out how to grill a ribeye, with smoking chips of hickory, mesquite and cherry wood, and realized I’d found my true calling. Throw on some grilled potatoes and I am a happy man. Should you ever choose to come visit, I would be happy to make you my favorite grilled dish.