Is it a grill, a rotisserie, or a salamander?
‘I like grils’
You don’t mean girls?
‘And what about us grils?’
Well, it doesn’t really matter much what you call it, it’s a simple device for applying heat to food. I’ll call it a grill, because it takes less time to write.
While grills come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, there are really only two types.
One is a rack that is exposed to intense heat, in which you can include the barbecue, and the other is basically two metal plates that are in contact with the food during the cooking time.
Recently, there has been a huge increase in sales of the second type, thanks to some very sharp marketing, much of it led by a former professional boxer. The main selling point has been that using a particular type of grill removes grease from food.
Let’s put that to bed right now. All grills drain the grease out of whatever you’re cooking. Ask anyone who has had to deal with a barbecue flare, or clean the pan of a conventional grill.
You might also consider the boxer in question to be a heavyweight!
The point is that fat runs out of fatty foods. It does it under the grill, or in a pan and even in the oven. The idea that eating becomes healthier just because you use a particular type of grill is silly.
The type you use depends on the result you want. The results obtained from a barbecue when cooking a steak, for example, will be different from those obtained under an open grill, and also from those obtained with the type of metal plate.
In other words, feel free to use whatever method you want, but don’t get sucked into the marketing tactic that one is healthier than the other.
You need heat
The biggest mistake inexperienced cooks make is that they don’t heat the grill enough.
No matter what type of food you are cooking, it needs to be cooked quickly under the grill or it will dry out. This applies to delicate foods such as fish as well as sausages and bacon.
So the first thing to do is get the grill as hot as possible. Yes, that’s right, to the max.
Don’t be afraid of this. You can always adjust the cooking temperature downwards if you feel necessary, either by using the controls on your cooking device or (and this is a much better way) by moving food away from the heat source.
You would want to do this, for example, if you were cooking a chicken breast and you wanted to make sure it was cooked through. You can start near the fire to inject some color and flavor; then move the brisket further apart to maintain its temperature, when it will practically cook on its own.
Personally, I would rarely cook chicken this way. My preference would be to start the process in a dry skillet on the stove and then finish it in a medium oven.
I treat most foods that are normally grilled this way, aside from steak that I only cook over (or under) very high heat.
Don’t be afraid of this. Buy your steaks at least 1 inch thick and cook them quickly and evenly, without disturbing them (other than flipping them once) until they are cooked to your liking.
This applies to both fish fillets and beef. The only difference is that you have to run a little oil over the fish (or marinate it) before exposing it to the hell you have prepared for it, or it may burn before cooking.
You don’t need to do this with red meat, although of course you can if you wish.
And that’s all I have to say about the grill. I think you will find that that is all there is to say. It is a simple way of cooking, it is very effective, but as we have seen it has its limitations.
The best advice I can give you is don’t get sucked into all the hype and don’t waste your money unnecessarily. Your kitchen grill is probably all you’ll need, aside from your grill, if you have one.
A note on Barbie
The type of barbecue you use is so much a matter of personal choice, that I’m reluctant to say too much about it.
The oldest form was simply a metal plate suspended over an open fire. In fact, you will find many of these in backyards throughout Australia. We even have them in some of our rest areas on the roads.
But for all practical purposes, in my opinion, the best by far is the charcoal-fueled one, and the king of these is probably the kind of kettle made by Weber.
The point is that it can be used as a conventional grill or as a field oven and produces excellent results with a variety of foods thanks to its versatility. I’ve even baked cakes in mine!
Regardless of what you decide, and there are chrome monsters that cost millions that do everything they can except wash, be sure to buy a hooded one.
Barbecued meat has a flavor of its own and is so easy to make that it would be a shame to miss out on such a delicacy.
You can always improvise, of course. I have a small pot-bellied cast iron grill that I picked up for next to nothing at a garage sale, and I have successfully roasted meat using a wok lid as a lid.
Do something like that and you really feel like you are stepping into the pioneering spirit!
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