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Jun 19, 2010 03:57 PM

Chow Confessions

I must confess. Tonight was the first time in my life , I turned 63 a week ago, that I have ever used a gas grill! Last autumn I found one by the road side for free and walked it back through the drizzle to our house. We cleaned it up and tonight I grilled a porterhouse steak and some lamb chops. I was under impressed. Do I need to work on my technique or is charcoal just superior? Brilling/BBQing is my weakest cooking skill. Forgive me father for I have sinned. What's your confession?

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  1. takes some time buddy. jfood grilled a nice rib eye tonight, all burners on high, great crust and perfectly dark pink inside. jfood has used for ~30 years and ask some questions and he'll try to steer you in the right direction.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jfood

      I dunno, this may be your 1%. There is something intrinsically I didn't care for. I'm sure I can learn. I'm not posting about how to grill, but common cooking techniques that are not part of our expected repertoire. I have trouble w/ soft boiled eggs too.

    2. The shortcut is the long way home, my grandfather said. Gas is easy. When you relocate to NM, you will have access to mesquite, and you will be home again. You will miss the Maine seafood, but it will be the time to perfect your grilling skills. Smothered quail and dove breasts included.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Veggo

        Ah, yes mesquite and pinon pine. Free for the harvesting in the Nat'l forest. Now, New Mexican food is my comfort zone. Summers, seafood, winters mesquite grilling! Hee haw!

      2. The boyfriend's mother sent along a pork roast. It was on sale, she knows we love pork, and she is just the kind of fantastic lady that gives you a large slab of meat. Confession? I can be . . . lackadaisical/remiss/careless in learning all there is to know about meat. I took the pork and stuck it in a crockpot. I thought, 'Well, this is going to be a lovely stew.'

        The boyfriend came home, sniffed the air once, and yelled, "YOU PUT THE PORK IN THE CROCKPOT?!?!" I had to endure a lengthy lecture concerning the superiority of this particular chunk of pig, and how the crockpot is for 'bad' meat, not 'good' meat. I can't even remember what the cut was. Tenderloin? Center loin? Top loin? I don't remember. He claimed it was the best, ever in the history of the pig.

        25 Replies
        1. re: onceadaylily

          I'm a living anachronism. I've never used a crock pot either, and I've done all the cooking for a family of 7 for the last 30 years. Cast iron dutch ovens.

          1. re: Passadumkeg

            Where were you when I had that beautiful loin in my hand? My dutch ovens are all cheap aluminum with stainless bottoms. They work, but they neither impart flavor nor give up the goods without a lot of fat and scraping.

            Your post caught my eye because we are buying a new grill this summer. He's holding out for a gas grill, but I can't see spending that kind of money on what is, really, an oven that stays outside. I just need a metal pit for the fire.

            1. re: onceadaylily

              I'm with you on the gas grill...I've used one before at other people's houses but I own a charcoal grill; sure, it's easy to light up & cook on a gas grill but the flavor is just not the same as charcoal. I also own a electric counter top grill that I use once every year or so but as my son says, "what's the point", the food doesn't taste grilled?

              1. re: Cherylptw

                I can *taste* the components of a built fire in a meat. Gas grills do have some excellent features (usually extending themselves to controled cooking of the side dishes), but if I can duplicate those inside, then I don't want to sacrifice the main course. Perfect world? I'd have both, and strictly regulate what dishes go where.

                I'm probably going to show the boyfriend this thread. He lightly mocks my discourse with, what he calls, 'the food people', but when I talk of a dish, and mention advice from Chowhound, he perks right up. He's all ears.

                (I have, perhaps, begun to use a Cliff Notes version of the advice, as edited by me, in my reports to gain ground when we differ.)

              2. re: onceadaylily

                A good gas grill is a very versatile cooking device. Definitely not just an oven that stays outside. And for that matter, you can use a good charcoal grill as an outside oven, too.

                Blind taste tests indicate that even people who think charcoal is superior can't taste the difference between a burger cooked on a good gas grill and one cooked over coals. I use both, and prefer gas most of the time.

                That said, a charcoal grill will give you a lot better bang for your buck. Comparing apples to apples (or Webers to Webers), a gas grill costs about four times as much as a comparable charcoal model. In an either/or situation, at almost any price point, a charcoal grill is the way to go.

                ETA: you'll ruin a pork tenderloin by slow-cooking it in a dutch oven just as sure as you'll ruin it with slow-cooking in a crock pot. It's a cut of meat that wants hot, dry cooking to medium-rare or medium. But now that you've got what my wife calls "imaginary friends" online, there's always good cooking advice close at hand.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  You managed to say just what I was meandering at, minus the tongue that calls upon memory for sustenance, and less clarity of thought. The majority of what I want to cook on a grill is done quite well on charcoal, and anything else that *could* be done on a grill is done just as well inside, to my experience.

                  I think the boyfriend is just scarred by the . . . hibachi period. What man wants to squat as they grill in an alley?

                  You had to bring up the pork.

                2. re: onceadaylily

                  Lily, I would have loved to have had your "beautiful loin in my hand".
                  This thread was not meant to be an indictment of gas grills. J is correct, that I will learn to do better. Al is correct as well, as usual.(Do not read sarcasm, I'm sincere.)
                  I love to cook, but I think as a result of living outside the US for so long, that I just don't grill well. It is my weakest cooking area and I need to learn. I have been makeing great strides w/ my Brinkman smoker. (Also found by the roadside.) We have 3 old apple trees behind the house and I feel their wood is beautiful for smoking.
                  I think it was Al that said in another post that "a crock pot does nothing well". I have little desire to use one.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    go for it buddy. next time jfood cooked up a good looking chicken or steak on the gas grill he'll post a picture for the naysayers. Happy Fathers Day

                    1. re: jfood

                      Happy Father's Day to you as well, I just wish my kids weren't so very far away.
                      I think I need to let it heat up more ahead of time.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        jfood turns on and goes inside and sets the timer for 10 minutes. If the thermometer is not 450 he does not start. And this may cause others to cringe but he does not wash the grates but lets the heat "melt" the previous leftovers and he just scrapes. Those grates are VERY well seasoned.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Sam wouldn't have to dive your dumpster, only chew on your grill, he jokes.
                          I agree.

                          1. re: jfood

                            JFOOD doesn't wash the grates???????????? I think Sam has taken you over! I don't wash them either but I'm not jfood. I also preheat, depending on whether it's summer or winter, 10-15 minutes and also go for at least 450, 500 is even better. We use our gril 4-6 times a week probably and find charcoal generally a PITA. We're staying in a friend's house in Sonoma this week and they only have a charcoal Weber. For that reason, we've only grilled twice.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              True confessions are tough sometimes, he has also taken more Sammy advice and not wash the meats and chickens either, baby steps to living on the edge. insert colon dash closed parenths.

                              1. re: jfood

                                Woohoo. Don't forget though, you're gettin' on up there and your immune system may be weakening :) (Just turned 63 myself) A few times a year, I put the grates in the oven during the cleaning cycle. I'm sure the manufacturer of neither the grates nor the range would approve. Got a new range a few months ago and haven't gotten up the nerve yet.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I still embrace the concept that exposure to hostile little living things, in measured doses, builds resistance and a stronger immune system in this antiseptic nation.

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    Oh, lordy, so do I. I was just teasing j. My daddy always said "you gotta eat a little dirt in your life." Having lived with horses, dogs and cats, I've had more than a little. I've lifted meat off the grill and had it fall to the deck. Three second rule, ya know.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      As Nietzsche said, "That that doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

                                    2. re: Veggo

                                      jfood grew up in NJ in the shadow of the Esso factory and the landfills. His immune system was built of oil fumes and garbage, plus eastern european peasant stock. couple of 3 day old burnt edges ain;t hurting him. Knock on wood.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        Hey Jersey Boy, you forgot the chlorine cocktail that came out of the faucet, that we were weaned and raised on.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          In New Jersey, only the strong survive. :D

                    2. re: onceadaylily

                      Lily....that cracked me up. I would have thrown a can of cream of mushroom soup into the pot, so it could have been worse.

                      1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                        I actually did that with pork chops a few months back, based on my mother's hand-to-god-you-have-to-try-this testimony, and it was my first cream of mushroom soup used outside of Thanksgiving since 1993 (damn GBC). It probably would have been better with the soup (the boyfriend loved the pork chops). But I tried to go all greens and white beans on the whatever-cut/loin. It was dull, and expensive, and flavored with resentment.

                        1. re: onceadaylily

                          lol...I tend to flavor mine with a suggestion of shame.

                    3. Well, if you dragged the grill home you might as well learn to use it well. If not, you can always freecycle it back to somebody else.

                      When it comes to direct, high-heat grilling, charcoal-cooked and gas-cooked meats are very nearly indistinguishable if your grill and technique are both good. How hot did the grill get? My guess is that either (a) you didn't let it warm up enough before applying the meat or (b) the burners aren't capable of putting out sufficient heat. Maybe they're plugged up, or maybe they were always underpowered.

                      Nothin' wrong with charcoal. And it's a whole lot simpler than gas. But in answer to your question, while your charcoal grill may be inherently superior to the gas grill you rescued, charcoal is not inherently superior to gas.

                      1. Sorry about the grill Passadumkeg - I've become the grill queen at SO's home.

                        BUT! You asked about confessions - well here we go - I confiscated SO's huge cast iron skillet. He doesn't know and I use it on a regular basis. It's probably been four years - he hasn't missed it yet.

                        I bought one of those "only on TV" grill pans that has failed miserably and for some odd reason, I haven't tossed or recycled yet. I don't have a grill at my home.

                        Made soft boiled eggs with toast, for my sis that was sick. The yolk thing TOTALLY quesed me out and I threw the rest back into the boiling water. I still feel bad about that.