Welcome To Our 1 Man Kitchen

The Man’s Guide To Grilling

Manly Cooking Tips 45

The Scenario:

Fire. Meat. Man. Eat. It's an equation as old as humanity. And, in truth, it hasn't changed all that much. Or, at least, it shouldn't need to. I'm going to school you today in the art of grilling over open wood fire, the way we were meant to, and all that goes with that. There are four Fs to a great grilling experience: Fuel, Fire, Food and Friends. If you can get the first three, the fourth will be coming out of the woodwork as neighboring men, their noses evolutionarily attuned to the scent of cooking meat, come sniffing around.

But where does all this happen? Well, you'll need a grill. There's no need to complicate the art of grilling anymore than necessary. Really, you can grill just fine in a stone lined fire pit, but if you don't have a yard full of field stone and such, or if you'd rather have a more portable heat source, you can grab a charcoal grill. It might be controversial, but I'll take a stand right now and say that a gas grill is convenient and fine for cooking a hot dog or a steak once in awhile, but if you really want to make something special, you want to do it over wood so that you're adding flavor as you cook. If you want to get just a cheap hibachi that's great, or if you want a big old barrel grill with an offset smoker, that's fine too. Get whatever grill you can afford and whatever will give you enough cooking space for all of your friends.

What's more important than your choice of grill is your choice of fuel. Charcoal briquettes are, for the most part, not really made of charcoal – which itself is wood that has been "cooked" in a very low burning fire to remove moisture and make it burn easier and cleaner. Most charcoal briquettes are an amalgamation of flammable byproducts formed together with wax. The best fuel is the most natural – wood. You can now purchase wood "chunks" at most stores at a price comparable to charcoal briquettes but made of real natural wood that will add amazing flavor to your food. Make sure you're getting big pieces that are meant for cooking and not little wood chips meant to use in a smoker. Apple and hickory wood are both great all around cooking and flavoring woods. Or if you have a hardwood tree such as an oak, maple, pecan, or any fruit tree in your yard, feel free to use any branches that have fallen off of that if you cut them up and let them dry for a week or two. You'll need fairly thick chunks of wood if it's to burn long enough to cook on though.

Whatever kind of wood you choose, you'll need some fire too. Dousing your wood with what is, essentially, gasoline, can add weird flavors to your food, so build a proper fire. That's a skill that will come in handy once the zombie apocalypse starts up, so it's good to get some practice now. A chimney style starter will help a lot. It's a metal cylinder with a handle and vents. Stick paper and twigs and smaller pieces of wood in the bottom, then the wood on top, and light the bottom. After five to ten minutes, you can put your coals on the grill and be all ready to cook. Or you can start with a traditional teepee type setup and add wood a little at a time. The main thing to remember is that heat will go from smaller to medium size pieces to large pieces, and will travel upwards. Once you get the wood lit, close the grill and let the grill surfaces absorb heat and warm up. Alright, you've got a place to put your fuel, you've got your fuel and you've got fire, now you just need the last of my four Fs: Food and friends!

I've been cooking for most of my life, from helping my Nonna cook while visiting her in the North of Italy to my apprenticeship with Chef Lucas Woodruff. My background as a chef is strongly in good, casual Southern and Italian cuisine and new, creative favorites. I'm all about rich, vibrant flavors and how to combine them. I'm also the last chef you'll ever see doing any of this fad diet nonsense, so if you're looking for the kettlegenic, cave man diet, or some gluten free deal, look elsewhere. Just good, unpretentious food for hungry people here.

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