Editor’s Note – The Grill Whisperer is a fly-by-night grilling expert that travels the world in a constant search of grilling techniques, recipes, and spices to perfect his craft. Occasionally, he lands in Apopka where he writes an exclusive article for The Apopka Voice. He will not allow any changes or edits to his column, so if his article is too long, grammatically incorrect, or in some way offensive, The Apopka Voice takes no responsibility. GW will be in town for the Memorial Day weekend, but beyond that, there is no telling. This is the first of a three-part series that will guide you into a Memorial Day Barbecue legend.
Good morning Apopka. You don’t know me, but I’m the person that will make you a grilling legend in just a few short columns. I could do it faster, but The Apopka Voice has a word-count on their articles, so it may take a little longer. Not a big fan of editors, but you work with who you have to.
Today I’m going to tell you a short cautionary parable, and give you the first rule of grilling. That’s all. If you grasp the first and follow directions on the second, then tomorrow morning I will reward you.
Fair enough? Then let’s get started…
There once was a yacht captain…let’s call him Mark…
Captain Mark took on double duty one day and decided to be captain of the grill. The Grill Whisperer offered to take on the job, but Mark insisted this was his grill and that he would cook the steaks.
And a primary rule is that a man’s grill is his castle, so the Grill Whisperer stood down.
He set the temperature for nuclear high and threw on a dozen steaks. Two minutes later, the fat from the steaks dripped into the flames and started a five-alarm fire in the grill.
The steaks were charred beyond any rational recognition by the time Captain Mark returned from steering the yacht through the challenging straits of the Intercoastal Waterway at about one mile per hour. Seeing his T-Bones in peril, the good captain attempted to turn them by stabbing them with a fork, but the grill was angry and punished him with flames that set the hairs on his arms ablaze. He promptly backed away from his white whale…a beaten man.
Eventually, Captain Mark regained his composure…his arms no longer smoking…and turned the grill off. He pried the steaks off the white-hot grates. He looked at his guests.. cowering away in different corners of the yacht.
“The steaks are ready,” he said meekly.
When someone asked Mark how they were cooked, he said “Pittsburgh style”… which the Grill Whisperer assumed meant destroyed on the outside and sushi on the inside.
The moral of the story is unless you want your steaks ruined and your arms medium rare, learn the fundamentals of grilling. Captain Mark blamed the grill for the disaster that left his guests hungry and smoke inhalated. “That grill has always been prone to flare-ups,” he said. “It has a problem.”
Truth is…the Grill Whisperer saw it as a grill with a person-problem.
I told you that little anecdote not to scare you out of grilling, but rather as a cautionary tale. The Grill Whisperer will not let this happen to you. I have set the wheels in motion for you to prepare the greatest backyard feast anyone in your inner circle has ever witnessed. Follow my directions and they will be telling stories of your grilling expertise for generations.
Grilling, like most forms of cooking, is more art than science…and even though the Grill Whisperer didn’t do well in either subject, he sees himself as Rembrandt once he fires up a grill.
You can follow the rules I set out for you, but in the end, it will be your skill, style, and creativity that propel you to the level of a grill master.
The first step of grilling expertise is not sexy, exciting or even fun, but it is perhaps the most important tip you will ever receive. Think of yourself as Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid and I am that annoying little guy telling you to wax his car. We all knew there was sage advice in what the man was telling Macchio, so know what I’m telling you is too. But unlike Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi), I will give you a reward tomorrow if you follow my advice today.
Here it is:
CLEAN YOUR GRILL!
Last summer you were going to do this. Perhaps in early spring, you had slated time. It’s easy to justify not cleaning your grill, but it must be done.
No judgment necessary, just do it.
A dirty grill flares up too often. It smokes too much and leaves a bad flavor on the food. You can follow every grilling rule perfectly and still have a bad outing if your grill is caked in grease.
Keeping your grill clean will reduce all of these problems. This means more than turning your grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes before or after you use it. Your grill is not a self-cleaning oven. Food that falls into the grill, ash deposits and other buildup remains until you clean it all out. Take out the grates and burner covers and thoroughly clean your grill. Trust GW on this…you will notice a difference.
So today…the day before one of the biggest grilling days of the year I want you to clean your grill thoroughly. If you do I will publish a column tomorrow with a blueprint for a grilling feast that will make you a legend among your family and friends.
I’ll check back with you tomorrow Apopka. I’ll have your grocery list ready.