Monday, May 26, 2008

Barbecuing for Dummies

A phrase rarely heard in Southern California: "If you don't like the weather, stick around. It will soon change." The weekend prior to Memorial Day Weekend peaked in the high 90s. Memorial Day Weekend dropped to the high 50s. So much for our fantasy family backyard cookouts.

Undaunted, I cranked up the barbecue anyway, sticking my head inside the cover now and then to warm up. IMPORTANT safety tip: Never use the barbecue lid as an umbrella during a lightning storm.

This was weekend #2 bonding with my new "The Performer" Weber barbecue. On Thursday I purchased some trout at a nearby Farmer's Market. On Friday I barbecued it. My kingdom for a market that debones and filets trout. By the time I was finished deboning, the filets had the thickness of computer paper. We ate light that night.

Saturday night I anteed up some chips, the hickory kind, smoked sirloins, and then sauced them with a red wine sauce. I oven-roasted asparagus and topped with a dill hollandaise sauce. A California Syrah provided more sauce. The family food critics panned a new onion ring recipe. They were good, but I have learned to prepare to perfection an Emeril fried onion ring recipe. Sometimes it is best to not mess with success.

I also reprieved the artichoke recipe from the previous weekend, with weaker results. It was that old guy bugaboo - following directions. In the middle of steaming the choke, the barbecue needed lighting. I turned on the gas canister and pushed the button. No flame. Pushed again. No flame. The canister was kaput. How could that be? I had only used it twice. Barbecuing for Dummies would suggest reading the directions. I found my copy under a miscellaneous pile of papers. IMPORTANT suggestion: Once the coals are lit, turn off the propane. How profound.

I dashed to Ace Hardware, bought two canisters, and returned to an over-steamed choke. I still barbecued it, gingerly, sacrificing several leaves to the coals. This time we dunked it in a dill mayonnaise sauce.

Weber sells around 55 attachments/gismos for their Performer. I bought three. One is used to prepare whole chickens, working much like the trendy beer can method. On Sunday, I coated the bird with a rosemary-dill-garlic-sour cream mixture and let them get friendly in the refrigerator for several hours. Though I wrote earlier about preferring lump coal, if you need to sustain heat for an hour or longer, brickets are better - unless you prefer living on the edge and risking burn marks from removing the grate to replenish the lump. Burn salve is one of the essential stock kitchen items for guys.

So I flamed up first with lump, and then added brickets. White wine provided the moisture base for the bird once on the grill. I served it with corn-on-the-cob and Tomato-Watermelon salad with feta and toasted almonds. The suggested lettuce is Arugula. A blend of basil, mint and dill are also tossed in. This is an explosion of flavors.

I'm giving my Performer the day off on Memorial Day. I ran out of coals. You might wonder why I didn't buy more charcoal when I made the Ace dash. I have no good explanation, though multi-tasking is not a strength. Besides, I need a few days for the singed hair to grow back, and the burn balm to work.

1 comment:

Karen said...

I could just envision the whole scene full of drama, humor, and delicious. Karen