Summer time, and the grillin’ is easy. Or so the song goes, more or less. I hadn’t grilled anything in a very long time. But, I’ve been watching cooking shows again, and I’ve become intrigued with the art of barbecue once more.
I used to have a built-in gas grill in my backyard. It was there when we moved into the house, so I quickly learned to take advantage of this wonderful cooking tool. I grilled everything, because it dawned on me that the more I cooked on the grill, the less clean-up I had in the kitchen. So my early forays into barbecue were spurred mostly by laziness.
Eventually, I branched out into campfire cooking. This was a logical progression as my children grew because camping was the vacation with the most fun for the least money.
At my peak, there was nothing I couldn’t cook over a wood fire. I’d start in the early morning with the coffee pot tucked neatly in the corner of my campfire. I built a grid of logs, and commenced to make bacon. Not only did it fill the campsite with the most lovely aroma but it was practical as well. After the bacon was done, I used the fat to grease the pans for eggs and pancakes. I was a grilling machine.
Grilled sandwiches for lunch, roasted baked potatoes, hot dogs on sticks, or thick, juicy hamburgers were followed by roasted marshmallows, s’mores, and banana boats. Food over an open fire doesn’t get any better than that.
As the years went by, the kids grew up, and my backyard grill actually disintegrated one spring and fell to the ground in pieces. I didn’t replace it.
I bought a few charcoal grills, but seemed to have lost my touch. I gave one of the grills away and the other was stuffed into the back of my storage shed to accumulate spider webs and dust.
Until this past Memorial Day, however. My children were all home, and someone suggested that we make Chiavetta’s chicken on the grill. What a good idea. I unburied my poor woebegone grill and filled it with charcoal. We marinated the chicken breasts, made a few salads and voila. A spontaneous picnic was born. Or should I say, reborn?
Well, that meal was stupendous. We grilled eggplant too that day, because the coals were still perfect after the chicken was done. Why waste good coals?
Since that day, we’ve grilled our dinner at least five times. Chiavetta’s chicken, pork tenderloin, and strip steaks, to name a few. We’ve also barbecued zucchini, yellow and red peppers, potatoes, whole heads of garlic and hearts of Romaine. We even made a shortbread fruit tart and grilled that too!
So, after a dry spell of several years, we’re back and grilling it up, and I couldn’t be happier. There is nothing better than sitting outside after a long day at work and an even longer commute, and cooking something creative over an open fire. And now I remember the best part… my kitchen stays clean and there’s fewer dishes to wash.