Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My First Summer of Charcoal Grilling

Our grilled pizza over a campfire on a family vacation.
Unconfirmed sources say that 75% of Americans own an outdoor grill. Until this year, I was part of that 25% who didn't own a grill. I was never very interested in grilling because I always thought that grilling was for people who eat a lot of meat and we just don't a tone of meat. Guess you could say we're flexitarians if you want to put a name to it.

But then I got to reading about how cooking your meals on an outdoor grill can help keep utility costs down in the summer. Since I hate heating up the house with the oven on a hot day, I was interested. Naturally, I read up on it. I learned that you can cook just about anything on a grill.

Next thing, I bought a cheapie charcoal grill from Home Depot just to give it a whirl. The first meal I did with the grill was grilled cheese and chicken sanwiches. They took forever to cook (like an hour). Stubborn little me had to figure out how to regulate temperature so that I could cook just about anything on a grill! I found this website most helpful when it comes to learning how to figure out if your grill is hot enough to cook with (it's a dutch oven cooking site, but the principles are similar):
http://www.dutchovendude.com/campfire-cooking.shtml

The basic idea is obvious, but new to me: if it feels as hot as the oven where you normally cook it, it's ready for the grill. If it's not hot enough, add more charcoal. Just stick your hand over the heated charcoal/fire. Closing the air vents or the grill lid will decrease the temperature. It's a lot the same for a campfire too. Only, with a campfire, it's easier to add wood to make it hotter than it is to make it cooler. Obvious, like I said, but brilliant to a newbie like me.

And then I started cooking. Yum. I've cooked with our dutch oven, aluminum foil, my regular pots, pans and casserole dishes and straight on the grill itself. Pizza is by far our most favorite thing to grill. And I've discovered what 75% of Americans already know. Not only does food taste wonderful from the grill, but it's also so much fun to cook.

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