I am descended from a long line of outdoor cooking enthusiasts.
I’ve heard stories about my paternal grandfather, who would dig a hole in his back yard, start a fire and set up up a kettle of lard to deep fry catfish and oysters. I also recall visiting my grandparent’s house as a child and he would cook filet mignon on his charcoal grill.
My Dad is also adept in his grilling skills, and cooks a mean steak and ribs on charcoal.
I have enjoyed outdoor cooking since my childhood, when my Dad would host parties for his students and would cook large quantities of hamburger patties and hot dogs. I would just hang out near the grill and watch. Back in the days before cable television and cooking networks, I would watch Justin Wilson on public television every chance I got.
This enthusiasm for grilling seems to have passed on to my sons, both of whom enjoy outdoor cooking, as seen by our campfire feast from last Father’s Day weekend.
I used to cook on charcoal, exclusively, because at the time I couldn’t afford a gas grill. I was brought up on charcoal grilling, and frankly I like the taste of char-grilled meats. For a time, I owned a smoker grill and used it for chicken, steaks, pork…whatever would cook. That grill didn’t make a move with us at one point, and I did without until last year..when my 10 year work anniversary gift was a smoker grill. I’ve used it several times over the last year, with excellent results. An example is shown below from it’s inaugural cook.
I now also have a gas grill, that I use quite often, especially during the summer. I use it for convenience, because there is not much setup or cleanup required. I like to keep the grill charred for flavor purposes. I cook *everything* on this grill (ribs, chicken, steak, hamburger, brats, hot dogs, pork chops, pork loin…etc) In a nod to my Grandaddy, I once cooked fried catfish and oysters on the side burner, using a large cast-iron skillet and vegetable oil (no lard).
It is quite enjoyable to cook this way. But a major part of outdoor cooking is preparing the dish so that it has the right flavor. Just this week I prepared a set of pork chops for dinner using the following marinade.
1 bottle beer (I used an IPA, because I had it left over – you can use whatever you have)
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of cracked black pepper
4 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 chipotle pepper (I used an orange one), cut into 4 pieces.
I mixed all the marinade (except the chipotle pepper) in a large measuring cup and set it aside. I rinsed a package of 4 pork chops, lightly salted them on both sides and placed them in a gallon size plastic bag. I poured the beer marinade over the chops and closed the bag and mixed the contents for about a minute. I reopened the bag and added the pepper pieces to the mix, closed the bag and remixed the contents. This time, I found each of the pepper quarters and squeezed them in the marinade (through the bag). I used the orange chipotle because I like the flavor of the chipotle pepper, but I don’t like it overwhelming the natural flavor of the meat. Certain restaurants tend to overdo it – in my opinion. You can use multiple peppers, a greener pepper (hotter), or a different pepper type if that suits your tastes.
I let the chops marinate in the refrigerator for ~ 4 hours, flipping the bag once or twice during that period. This is something that is variable…I think you can marinate up to 12 hours and it would be fine. Some people adhere to more strict marination times.
I preheated the gas grill for about 10 minutes prior to cooking, then reduced the flame to a medium low setting. I placed the chops on the hot grill surface and closed the lid, cooking for about 7 minutes. I then flipped the chops and cooked the other side, about 7 minutes. I took the chops off the grill and covered them with foil until the rest of the meal was ready.
Along with this, I prepared a bunch of asparagus brushed with olive oil and salt and pepper, and cooked in a foil pouch on the upper shelf of the grill. Some chopped red potatoes were seasoned with ranch seasoning and olive oil and baked at 350C in the oven for 30 minutes. Also, a small ripe tomato from the tomato jungle.
Excellent. I garontee!