As a father to three sons, I have embarked on a mission to impart in them life lessons of the utmost importance. These are my stories.
Life Lesson #71- The Finer Points of Grilling
I want my guys to be good with a grill for several reasons. First, if they can handle a grill, then they have a core set of cooking skills that will translate to indoor cooking. Using gas or open flame means they have an understanding of fire safety. And I want them to be good hosts; grilling should be a shared experience of preparing delicious food for family and friends.
Never Grill Alone
The whole grilling process is tailor-made for conversation in warm weather, cold beverage in hand. A grilling buddy can lend a second opinion about cooking times (e.g., when to flip), and can make runs back and forth to the kitchen for ingredients or to deliver dishes ready for consumption. So the first finer point of grilling is to have a wingman (or wingwoman). I have taught my sons about grilling when they have served as my wingmen.
Innovate Your Grilling
We’re a family of vegetarians (knowing why is another Life Lesson), but that has never slowed us down on the grilling front. To be sure, there are plenty of faux meat products out there for grilling (I’m particularly fond of vegetarian sausage). But the key for us has been to think outside the box.
Asparagus, seasoned only with salt and pepper, grills up so well that it rivals French fries as a side dish. Romaine lettuce halved and doused with olive oil, is luscious. Pizza can be prepared outdoors. Red potatoes, sealed in foil, sear up deliciously. And we love baking brie on the grill. If my guys can be creative with grilling, they can be creative anywhere.
Tools Matter When Grilling
Speaking of baked brie, to do it properly you need to have a cast iron baker. My perforated frying pan is great for peppers, onions, and asparagus; I also have a perforated tray for larger items. Tongs, wide spatulas, long spatulas, metal kabob skewers, forks, etc. Whatever the job, use the proper tool for it (a lesson that goes beyond grilling, to be sure).
Stagger Dishes Properly
Properly grilling a full meal is an exercise in planning and patience. Some dishes (e.g., corn on the cob, potatoes) take a relatively long time, while others (portobellos) fire up pretty quickly. I want my sons to be able to think about grilling temporally and spatially.
Which dish should go on first? Upper level or lower? On or off flame? A talented griller has well-developed executive functions.
Finish the Job
I learned long ago what a bummer it is to approach a grill that is just plain nasty. Solution? Always thoroughly clean upon completion of grilling.
You definitely need a good grill brush (Tools matter!), but it only takes a moment to scrape off charred food particles. And a good cover will pay for itself by protecting the grill from the elements. Basically, I want my sons to be responsible for their belongings.
Be sure to check back next month for another of Craig’s Life Lessons for his sons. Have a suggestion? Something you are teaching your son or daughter? Please share in a comment!