Fighting fire with fire
There is a whole culture of fire-worshippers who come out every last Monday of May to stand before their burning altars. They bring their sacrifices of meat, fish and even vegetables and give them over to the flames, smoke and sweet aromas swirling to the sky. Many will imbibe the traditional brew.It is a truly special day. Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of grilling season. And May is National Barbecue Month.Men, and some women, gather around their gas grills, Webers or Hibachis and cook steaks, burgers and ribs, salmon and shrimp, or corn on the cob. Popping open a beer, spatula in hand, it is maybe the only time men will don an apron (a manly one, of course) and take over the cooking. (But don’t buy into the stereotype; many women can compete with the best of the male grillers).The types of tong wielders are diverse. Skill levels vary, from the no-such-thing-as-too-much-lighter-fluid variety (the ones who call burned burgers “blackened”), to seasoned veterans with monster sized grills and professional-grade tools (who would never let an inferior piece of meat come in contact with their precious grill). Barbecue grilling also varies by region. North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Kansas City, Memphis and Kentucky all have their unique styles. Each region has its own type of meat, sauce, and preparation.And then there’s the charcoal-versus-gas debate, and the devout Weber followers. Chef Mike Schlicher, of Rivers Restaurant in Glenwood Springs, says he’s “a charcoal man,” but uses gas at the restaurant because it’s easier.Still, he said, “If I’m at home, I’d much rather crank up the ol’ Weber. It has a more natural taste, and it’s what I remember as a kid.”For some, grilling is a competitive sport, and a lifestyle. There are Web sites and competitions devoted to grilling and barbecuing as well. On the Weber Web site, one guy with 6 Weber grills wrote a haiku about them. A Michigan woman even wrote to express joy over keeping her Weber in her divorce settlement. “It has been MUCH more faithful than my ex-husband!” she wrote.Yes, many are devoted to their grills, including Schlicher.”Grilling season is my favorite season, though I will grill year-round,” Schlicher said. “I’ll even climb over the ice and snow if I know it’s going to be worth it. But Memorial Day is really the kickoff of grilling season – just watch the meat prices rise – and then it ends with the Labor Day finale. You try to get out there as many times as you can in between.”So here’s to you, all you grill masters and burger flippers, you lovers of the flame. Grilling season is upon us and it’s time to show your stuff.Just don’t get too close to the flames.Gabrielle Devenish is the food editor at the Post Independent. She loves grilling, but sadly, she must use a George Foreman grill, since she lives in an apartment. She once burned her eyebrow off while lighting a propane-fueled grill. Contact her at (970) 945-8515, ext. 535, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juicy tidbits 58 percent of U.S. households own a charcoal grill, and 59 percent of U.S. households own a gas grill. Barbecuers use their grills an average of five times per month. Charcoal was invented in the early 1920s by automobile-king Henry Ford. President Lyndon B. Johnson hosted the first barbecue at the White House that featured Texas-style barbecued ribs. The most popular foods to grill are, in order, hamburgers, steaks, chicken, hot dogs, potatoes, pork chops and sausages/bratwurst. Half of all marshmallows eaten in the U.S. have been toasted over a grill. compiled from Internet data
Hot tipsChef Mike Schlichers grilling tips: Use even, controlled temperatures. Keep everything in its place, ready to go (meat, clean plates, tools, foil, etc.) Always have water nearby; a spray bottle works well. This helps control the flames. Dont play with your food too much, but a little flipping is OK. It makes you feel like youre doing something, Schlicher says. Have the right tools (mitts, spatula, tongs, meat fork, plank or grill basket for fish, brushes for basting, wire brush for cleaning, skewers)
Garlic-mustard grilled beef skewersGarlic-mustard glaze:1/4 cup whole grain mustard2 tablespoons Dijon mustard4 cloves garlic, finely chopped2 tablespoons white wine vinegar1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce1 tablespoon honey1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary2 teaspoons Spanish paprika1/4 teaspoon kosher salt1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperGrilled beef skewers:2 pounds beef tenderloinTwelve 6-inch wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes For garlic-mustard glaze:Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before using.For grilled beef skewers:Heat your grill to high.Cut the tenderloin lengthwise in half, then cut the halves lengthwise in half again. Slice crosswise to make 24 equal pieces. Skewer 2 pieces of beef onto each skewer, keeping them together at one end of the skewer. Place the skewers in a baking dish or on a baking sheet, pour half of the glaze over the meat, and turn to coat.Grill the meat, turning once and brushing with the remaining glaze, for 4 to 6 minutes until golden brown, slightly charred, and cooked to medium-rare. Transfer the skewers to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.Place the skewers on a platter and serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.- Bobby Flay, “Bobby Flay Grilling for Life”Spicy barbecued shrimp skewers1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 tablespoon fresh thyme 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon light brown sugar or honey 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 lime, juiced 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled Black bean relish, recipe followsIn a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the shrimp and the relish; mix well to combine. Add the shrimp to the seasoning paste, and toss to thoroughly coat. Let sit in the seasoning mixture while you prepare the grill. Prepare a grill and thread the shrimp onto 4 or 6 skewers. Place shrimp skewers on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp turn pink and are lightly charred on both sides.Serve the shrimp with black bean relish. Black bean relish 4 cups cooked black beans, drained, rinsed 2 cups cooked corn kernels, cut from the cob 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped 1 teaspoon minced garlic 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced 1/2 bunch scallions (green onions), minced 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves 2 limes, juiced 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepperIn a large bowl combine all of the ingredients and stir to mix well. Season the black bean relish with salt and pepper, and set aside at least 1/2 hour before serving with the shrimp. Finish the black bean relish with the chopped cilantro.- Emeril Lagasse, “The Essence of Emeril”
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