The Griller Inside Me

I bought a new grill last night that’s special for a couple of reasons. First, I bough it entirely with the money I earned from a short story and second, it represents an amazing amount of willpower and thoughtful decision making on my part.

There’s no easy way to cover up the fact that the only reason I’m even in the grilling game is as a copy cat. I read Victor Gischler and Neil Smith’s great posts about their grill adventures and I wanted to be part of it. Which fits in with the actual story I got paid for too because the only reason I started writing noir fiction was because everyone online seemed to be doing it and it looked like fun. But the writing, as with the grilling, eventually took on its own identity in my life and I think I have a bit of skill with both.

So in true copycat form, the first grill I wanted was the Chargriller Patio Pro. It’s a solid iron barrel grill with all sorts of coll options I knew nothing about. So when it came time to buy my first grill that was the one I wanted. But it was a bit expensive and I wasn’t sure how committed I was going to be to this whole adventure. It shouldn’t shock regular readers of this blog that I have a history of picking up projects and dropping them after a while (cough traditional mystery novella cough) and there was no reason to believe this was any different. So in a moment of uncharacteristic wisdom, I bought a cheap grill instead to see how it would work out.

I got a $25 square grill from Walmart and went to work learning the grilling arts. I started with hamburgers and hotdogs and moved to chicken breasts and steaks. My first real challenge was chicken breasts and they worked out quite well once I figured out exactly how long to cook them. Then it was on to pork chops which were also great an easy. Sausages and brats though were never quite right. They always took waaaaaaaay too long to cook and I knew something wasn’t right. Then I decided it was time for a real challenge and did a pork loin. At first everything was cool, I used the indirect grilling method and got a nice sizzle going and settled in for the long wait. But the wait turned out to be much longer than I expected and eventually finished them off in the oven. The taste was amazing and the only things stopping it from being perfect was a poorly constructed Famous Dave’s brand dry rub that tasted like rancid celery and the insane amount of time it took to cook. That’s when I started thinking maybe my little cheapo grill wasn’t cut out for the heavy lifting of slow grilling.

Lo and Behold, around this same time I came into a bit of money from a short story sale. My first thought was to buy that grill with the money and I set out last Saturday with Spenser in tow to get it. But again I wavered. I’d spent money already on a grill that really wasn’t all that bad and was I maybe getting carried away? So I left without the grill. And then I thought about it every day. I thought about wanting to cook ribs, and beer can chicken, and a brisket and all of the things I couldn’t on my other grill. And followers of my Twitter feed can attest to the fact that I have indeed used the grill more than even I expected through the summer and fall and even winter. So I finally went back and bought it last night. When I pulled it off the shelf and put it into the cart Spenser went “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.” He knows when daddy is around a grill there’s going to be good food to follow. Tonight I’ll let it cure for a couple hours then tomorrow I’ll put some chicken on there. This weekend will see some sausages and another go at a pork loin all in preparation for the big test: A Mother’s Day cookout. I still have my old grill as a backup for big meals, but so far I’m very happy with my purchase.

Tell me about your greatest achievements in grilling or in patience. Have any of you been inspired or motivated by others to try something else just to be cool?