Friday, May 25, 2012
Grill 'em all
The last time I did any real grilling was probably six years ago when I was lucky enough to have a place with a balcony that actually allowed barbeques. Since parting ways with my Broil King, summer has been a frustrating time as seemingly the rest of the world takes advantage of the warm months to get their grill on, leaving me with a mounting sense of envy whenever I catch a scent of grilling burgers wafting through the summer air.
This year, though, it’s gonna be different. We have a place with actual outdoor space. And I decided to capitalize and so I went out and bought myself a little charcoal picnic grill from Bodum.
First a word about the grill. It’s small, but a perfect size for a household of two; you can do three or four reasonably sized steaks or a half a chicken worth of parts. It looks great, but I’m not totally sold on the construction. The silicon handle is set into the lid and sits above the vents, which you open and close by turning the handle. However, the screw and nut set up means that turning the handle seems to actually loosens the screw. As a result, the handle has already popped off on me (fortunately after I was done cooking); this after only about a half dozen uses. And, being the klutz I am, I already managed to drop the lid, putting a healthy ding in the edge and taking off a good-size chunk of enamel. I probably could have got better value for my money elsewhere, but it looks good and I’m a pretty easy mark for good design.
As to the actual cooking, up until now I had never really cooked with charcoal, so I’m still on a bit of a learning curve. Most grill recipes I’ve seen are written with full size charcoal grills (like the famous Weber) in mind. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get much heat control on a small surface, so when I see the words “indirect heat,” I usually just turn the page. That same lack of precision means knowing when something is ready is a process of trial and error. I figure I‘ll get a good hang of it by, oh I dunno, September.
All that being said, I’ve really been enjoying my return to the grill. There’s a primal kick that comes from cooking with fire, plus you can’t beat sitting back on the porch with a beer while your steaks sizzle away over the coals. Best of all, I feel like I’ve joined the club of backyard grillers; I hope someone catches a hit of my handiwork and feels the same pang that has plagued me all this time.
This is the last recipe I made on the grill. Skirt steak isn’t always the easiest cut to find, but it’s grown to become one of my favourites. Here, I give it an Asian-inspired marinade which turns into a delicious sauce/dressing for a light summer steak salad.
Soy-marinated skirt steak salad with grilled scallions (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 skirt steak (about 2 pounds)
Vegetable oil, for grates
Two large fistfuls of fresh mixed greens
4-5 scallions, green bits trimmed.
A few cherry tomatoes, halved
In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, red-pepper flakes, and pepper. Place steak in dish and cover dish tightly with plastic wrap. Coat steak and refrigerate 2 hours or up to 8, turning steak occasionally.
Heat grill to high. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off and reserve remaining marinade.
Clean and lightly oil hot grates and grill steak, 3-4 minutes; turn, brush with glaze, and grill until medium-rare, about 3 minutes more. Let rest 8 to 10 minutes.
Scrape the grill grate, toss scallions with a bit of oil and lay them across the grate and cook on high, turning once, for about 8 minutes. Remove and slice into 1-inch pieces.
While steak rests and scallions cook, pour reserved marinade into a saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Slice steak thinly across the grain and scatter over greens with warm sliced scallions, sliced avocado and tomatoes. Drizzle with sauce, toss and eat outside.