As the NH winter weather dragged itself along, one was beginning to wonder if the spring and summer season would even arrive. Despite the roller coaster of cool rainy days followed by scorching summer temps, I am at that comfort level of believing that the outdoor entertainment season has arrived.
With the change in season, where we now deal with the roasting temperatures of 80 to 100 degrees, along with the mild days in the 70’s, ones’ desire to spend time within the confines of a small working kitchen, is greatly reduced. In order to maintain coolness, keeping the outdoor heat from invading our modestly cool home results in our need to use the outdoor grill for our summer meals.
From baked chicken, crockpot stew and oven baked roasts we now transition to barbequed or seasoned chicken, beef kabobs, turkey and beef hamburgers, steaks, etc. They are options that can easily be cooked on the grill. Of course the weather and temperature, along with what is in the freezer will determine the evening meal.
I love the transition of cooking and enjoying meals outside. Of course, I benefit with the added bonus of having a husband who will tend to the grill for me. I generally just plan the meal, but there are times when I have everything all prepped and planned out, that I am able to watch as he does his part.
It seems to me that prepping the grill is the key ingredient to his tasteful cooking. He heats the grill and walks away until the unit is warmed a bit. This allows him to clean the hot grate with his wire brush, followed by wiping it down with oil so that the meat does not stick allowing him those much desired grill marks.
Once the grill is cleaned and almost to his desired temperature for cooking, he will take out the meat of choice, and flavor with his favorite seasonings. I do not get involved in this aspect of the meat preparation, as I love the flavors of all that he has cooked for us over the years. Often, when we have company he will get rave reviews on how tasteful his hamburgers are.
We have found that the one key element in having flavorful hamburgers is to not purchase the frozen ready-made patties in a box. One reason is that he is unable to incorporate his seasonings throughout the beef. Plus, he is rather particular about the fat content, which I am okay with. If we know we are going to have a lot of company and want to save time allowing us time to enjoy time with our guests, we will prepare them ahead of time. If the event is the next day, we will keep them in the refrigerator, otherwise, they will get individually wrapped and stored in the freezer.
Personally, I find that ground turkey to be a great option for the grill when hamburgers are being considered. It is healthier and a leaner option. Not so much for my husband, other family members or guests. Let’s just say, anytime there is a family cookout and I enthusiastically asks who wants a turkey burger; I get this look of confusion. As I repeat myself their expressions of disbelief turns to laughter, as they confirm that their expectation of a hamburger is that made with actual beef. No sense in trying to convince the masses that ground turkey is better for them, when their taste buds are requiring that they have that greasy, flavorful, seasoned just right, quarter pounder that my husband makes to perfection.
As he takes the choice meat to the grill, he is adamant about not turning the meat until the first side is done. When he lifts the meat to check for doneness, he then turns it 90 degrees so that it can acquire that crosscut look that one would expect from a professional grill master. Once done, he repeats the cooking process on the second side. It is rare that I see him take a knife to check for doneness, and if he does, such as in a steak, he does it ever so carefully with the slightest cut. He does not want to release the moisture that is within the cooked meat.
Yesterday I asked him to teach our youngest daughter, who is home from college, on how to use the grill. I watched with a smile and silence of giggles as the instruction began. She can handle this task, as there is no challenge she is unwilling to tackle. As I watched in amusement and witnessed her smirk during “lesson time” I saw a resemblance to her mother. Of course we can handle this art of cooking, but do we really want to de-throne him from his place as our “King of the Grill”? That would cause an unnatural balance to our family responsibilities and could potentially alter our summer meals.
So, who mans the grill at our house? Certainly not me!! It is not that I have not cooked on the grill, as I tend to prepare tastefully seasoned vegetable dishes, but rarely tend to the meats. To be honest I am not comfortable starting it. Since he has always been the one to tend to the grilling, I find that I can be most helpful by planning and preparing everything else. So I abdicate the crown “King of the Grill” to my husband, as he has earned this title as it also helps to keep our marriage well balanced.
I love that summertime meals bring seasoned to perfection, grilled delights.
May you enjoy a tastefully grilled summer,