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Grillin’

The topic of grills comes up every year around Memorial Day at our house. Usually the conversation goes like this:

Me: Let’s replace our old non-functioning grill.

Neil: Why?

Me: I love the taste of a grilled hot dog, and I always have to invite myself to my parents’ house when I crave one.

Neil: …

Me: It’s a quintessential summer taste, and I miss it terribly!

Neil: …

Me: I’d really like to be able to grill a burger or a hot dog ourselves!

Neil: You mean you want me to grill a burger or hot dog.

Me: Well, yeah.

And that, my friends, is where the conversation usually ends, with my husband proclaiming his displeasure at the idea of standing over a hot grill on a 90-degree day, and me feeling terribly deprived.

I am not sure why I have allowed myself to be defeated by this for so many years. I suspect it has something to do with traditional gender roles and my long-held belief that grilling is the man’s job. In fact, it took me a while just to believe that Neil could really dislike BBQing as much as he said he did. I mean, aren’t all male children born with an innate urge to flip burgers over an open flame?!

I have known for some time that if I wanted convenient, at-home, BBQ goodness, that I would have to put on my big girl apron and learn to do it myself. But I’ve resisted. Because I am a total wimp about some things.

But then Neil had his heart attack. And I started thinking about grilled chicken.

And I finished reading Dinner: a Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, who, along with her husband Andy, writes my favorite food blog. Jenny and Andy have this adorable habit of writing each other public letters which manage to be sweet and hilarious at the same time. Near the end of the book, one of these letters involved Jenny’s confession that she wished she knew how to use their Weber grill, and Andy’s response that it was easier than she thought. And then he proceeded to explain the process.

And what do you know, it did sound easy! All I needed was the grill and a chimney, and I’d be set! I felt so empowered, that I told Neil, “you know, if we replaced our old broken gas grill with this new charcoal grill, I could do the whole thing myself: heat the coals, cook the food, everything!”

I’m pretty sure he believed me, because a few days later, there was a UPS guy at my front door, delivering a box full of grill parts that Neil said was to “thank me for all I’ve been doing lately.”

Awww, he bought me a grill!

(photo by Eamonn)

And then, just to prove I was man enough to BBQ a burger, I put that whole dang thing together myself (with a little bit of help from Eamonn).

And I only had one piece leftover at the end. I’m sure it’s nothing important (she said, carelessly).

I stared at the assembled grill for a little while, and then I just went for it: heat the coals in the chimney, dump the coals into the grill, cook the meat. We had hamburgers and hot dogs cooked outside that night, and there was no man-with-a-spatula in sight.

I did the whole process myself. And I even kind of enjoyed it.

Was it a rousing success? Well, not really. I think our meat was more steamed than grilled. There was a distinct absence of flames once I poured the burning coals from the chimney, but I think I know where I went wrong, and when we try this again (for chicken, I hope) I will know how to do it better.

I am a grill master, hear me roar!

Ok, maybe not. I haven’t mastered the grill yet, but I have mastered my intimidation surrounding it, and I’m eager to play with some new recipes!

That reminds me – I need to go defrost a chicken breast. And please, if you have any tried-and-true heart-healthy grill recipes, I would love if you wanted to share! Just no fish – Neil is allergic. Thanks!

13 thoughts on “Grillin’

  1. I’m a huge fan of grilled bruscetta chicken. Chicken, cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic and some cheese and you’ve got dinner. Use sun dried tomatoes and it’s practically gormet!
    And, if you are feeling lazy, you can buy a bruscetta mix to top your chicken with. Just watch what they put in the pre-made bruscetta to make sure it’s heart healthy.

    Other heart healthy measl: http://pinterest.com/pin/252905335294014799/
    http://pinterest.com/pin/252905335294940464/

    1. Thanks for the ideas! Would you believe nobody in this house (including me) likes tomatoes? We’re weird that way 🙂

  2. I read this and was waiting for a Tim the Toolman-style grunt from you. lol

    A few of my favorite things to do on the grill are;

    1) Sweet potatoes, which btw are amazingly healthy. When they’re grilled in their own skin (just prick a few holes with your BBQ fork and wrap in foil. easy peasy) they release thick dark sugar, mmmmm!

    2) Portabello caps. You can marinate them in some low fat chicken broth with your favorite seasonings, dry them off and let them roast. So good. They’re meaty, but without the sat fat. You don’t even have to marinate them if you don’t want to. They have a naturally meaty flavor, reminiscent of beef and grill magnifies the flavor.

    3) Tomatoes….sorry, I was drooling. Cut in half and toss with a little olive oil (you can add herbs afterwards so they don’t burn). Place on vegetable grate and let them do they’re thing. The natural sugars caramelize and something wonderful happens.

    4) Zucchini & summer squash – toss in a little olive oil (you could also use spray oil) and your favorite seasonings. Clean, simple flavors and very versatile for leftovers.

    5) Pizza. Yes, pizza. The trick is to use a bread shell. Then you can put your grilled portabellos, squash, and tomatoes on top with a (very) little goat cheese. Heaven.

    6) Dessert – stone fruits do really well on the grill. Just cut in half and pit. You can serve them with some plain Greek yogurt, drizzled with a little honey or if you’ve still got lots of berries, make a compote and use it as a topping. Low fat, but decadent.

    I could go on but, I should be working so…happy grillin’

    1. Oh, lots to chew on there, thanks 🙂 I think the idea of grilled peaches is kind of neat.

  3. I think you need more coals! For a full sized Weber, you should fill that chimney to the top. The flames will come mostly from fat dripping onto the coals causing flareups – it’s the heat of the coals that does the cooking.

    No hints on heart-healthy grilled foods, although I will admit that the 97% fat free Hebrew National hot dogs are pretty good, as are the “All American Grilled” Boca Burgers, which are fairly healthy options. Hey, it’s something. =)

    Have fun!!!

    1. You’re right about the coals. I filled the chimney higher the next time I tried it, and I dumped them out sooner than before, and it was much better.

  4. My tip for the chimney is NOT to wait to dump the coals until they are all white. That’s too late. I had better luck dumping when they were about 1/2 white. Then there is something left to burn. If you find you dumped them too late, just add more charcoal to the grill and it should get going again.

    Grilled fresh pineapple, sliced thick is dreamy alongside any meat. Or as a dessert!

    1. Thanks for the tip. I tried that next time and it worked much better.

  5. Oh, also make sure your vent is open in the bottom to let in air!

  6. If I want BBQ for dinner, I have to do it myself. Not sure why hubby doesn’t lift a finger to do it at home, when we’re out or cooking for a big crew, he turns into a grillin’ maniac. But at home, I have to do those two little chicken breasts myself!

    1. Aw well, at least it’s not all that hard (a fact that I wish I knew years ago!).

  7. You have to make pizza, grilled pizza is the best and do not forget the wood smoking chips, you can just take whiskey soked beech/oak tree chips or anything else. Pizza smells so delicious and it is done in a couple of mintues!!!

    1. I will have to see if I can find a low-salt / low-fat recipe and give that a try!

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