Let me begin by saying that in the battle between the two grilling communities, Charcoal and Gas, I will always fly the charcoal flag. The caveperson inside all of us is allowed to come out when we light something on fire and cook over it. Our friends at Weber have perfected a way for us to tap into the primal instinct of cooking meat over open flame, and put it in a durable, reliable, and functional package. I am not a paid spokesperson for Weber Grills (although I would gladly accept the position) but I have some pretty deep-rooted brand loyalty to the work of art that bears the Weber name. It remains one of two tattoo ideas I have considered. Weber is my “Harley-Davidson” of things I love, it is shiny black with beautiful stainless steel accents, it annoys my neighbors when I fire it up and smoke drifts into their house, and when you park one in your driveway, people know you mean business. Don’t mess with that guy! He grills on a Weber! I own two of these beautiful machines, a One Touch Silver, and the lesser known Smokey Mountain Cooker.
Both have been a part of my family for several years, and if treated right, will last me as long as I want if I take care of them. The kettle grill is the grocery getter, the everyday steak burner and chicken griller. The smoker is more of a special occasion “Sunday driver” if you will, reserved for things like ribs, brisket, turkey, whole chicken, pork shoulder and even rabbit.
For me, the reward comes from the all-consuming bed of red-hot coals that lies beneath my food, ready to either destroy my dinner or perfect it, depending on my skill and attention. Charcoal brings a much deeper satisfaction than push-red-button-to-light, low-medium-high dials and hoping that my propane doesn’t run out. I may not have the biggest, hottest, most expensive sports car of a grill, but my little reliable Weber will beat the other tanks off the starting line every time. I know the rebuttal, gas grills are cleaner and more convenient, I can come home from the office and have a quick steak, I wont burn down my porch*. I agree, gas grills are cleaner, you don’t have to wait as long for your heat source, and you run slightly less of a risk of having to call the fire department*, but aren’t all of those things what make grilling a rewarding experience? The charcoal lighting ritual and careful tending of the coals should be part of what we enjoy about making dinner. Grilling should be enjoyed when you have the time, when you are not distracted by a clock or a deadline or a blog entry that is due, it should be a time to experiment and learn about your grill and your skills as a cook, adding a few new coals if necessary to keep the party going. Last but not least, grilling is not just a summer sport. It does not go into storage with the boat! During the colder months the grill more often than not has a little path shoveled to it and the snow surrounding it is melted away. Yes it is cold out, the wind is blowing, but that will keep your coals hotter and your face and fingers will be kept nice and warm by the glowing heat. Don’t be a fair-weather griller, bring the grill out at all times, all year, eight out of twelve months is not enough for me, and you should not settle for wonderful grilled goodness for two thirds of your days either.
*Please Grill Responsibly