Outdoor Cooking Tips

By Kelly Carrell

On Father’s Day just past, I watched my Dad as he masterfully cooked hamburgers for all of the Carrell clan. As long as I can remember, Dad has always been the outdoor chef while Mother, The Duchess, is a gourmet inside the house. I asked Dad how this dichotomy came to be.
He said it all started back in the 50’s when Fred Patio created what we now call the “patio”. To entice his family to join him on the patio, he offered to cook steaks on a device called a grill. Realizing that this was a way for her to get out of the kitchen, his wife raved about the steaks as well as other things Fred cooked outside. Soon, other wives found out about this dodge and cooking outdoors became “man’s work”. It’s been that way ever since.

Whatever your sex, outdoor cooking is as American as tacos and apple pie. Here are some tips to help make your grilling time less grueling.
First, pick out the type of grill you like best . . .charcoal or gas. Purists think charcoal is the only way to go. They claim that this gives food the real outdoor flavor while giving the cook the challenge of not incinerating the meat. Additional taste enhancement can be had by the use of wet wood chips to give that real smoked flavor.

Certainly, charcoal grills cost less than gas. But gas is by far the easier of the two methods. Charcoal briquettes can be hard to start. Gas is ready to go in a matter of minutes. Charcoal can undercook or completely burn the dinner. Gas gives you better control of heat since there is a heat setting.

Safety is also a factor. Never use either type of grill inside the house or even in an enclosed porch, unless you have a motorized vent to pull the smoke outside. With a charcoal grill, you have the possibility that embers can come out and start a fire that could overcook your wooden deck.
The many problems we have with meat these days . . .mad cow, hoof and mouth, e-colli and other dread threats suggest that we make sure our food is adequately cooked. A clean grill is healthier and will result in better tasting food. Use a wire brush to remove residue and then let the fire burn away anything that’s left.

Now, it’s time for the joy of outdoor cooking . . .particularly if you can get your mate to do it!

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