Well, I’ve managed to do it.
I’m not going to call myself grill master (or anything even close), but I’ve accomplished the goal I set for myself in June: “Overcome my fear of the barbecue.”
Backing up just a bit: Jan got a new barbecue and was pretty excited about it. He even posted a picture of it on Facebook with the caption “my new bbq!” (cute).
It seemed silly to me that he’d leave for fire season and this big, beautiful barbecue would just be sitting out on the back porch, alone and unused. Besides, what was with my fear of barbecuing in general?
Once I put it out there that I wanted to learn, Jan was not letting me slip back into our comfortable pattern of him doing the grilling. So he gave me my first lesson, which meant he told me what to do, I followed his instruction and I took these notes:
Turn on gas.
Turn all three burners to a little past medium. Leave for 10 minutes until heated up.
Place marinated chicken between burners.
Turn over in 10 minutes.
Check temperature after another 10 minutes. Try to turn only once or twice per side.
Allow to rest. Then slice.
A few days later, tri tip was the lesson plan (picture of my thinly sliced first tri tip at the top of this post.):
Turn on gas.
Light all three burners, turn to medium. Wait 10 minutes.
During this time, sprinkle Pappy’s seasoning on both sides of the tri tip.
Turn off the middle burner.
Put the meat on the grill (in the middle where the burner is turned off), fat side up.
Wait 10 to 15 minutes, flip (make sure it doesn’t catch on fire during this time!)
Wait 10 to 15 minutes, check temperature.
If not 135 degrees, flip again.
Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
I had a few moments of fear, but Jan was encouraging. Yes, lifting the top of the barbecue was an arm workout in itself, and add to that the hot air rushing out the moment I lift the top intensifying my feeling that suddenly, everything might catch on fire… but I survived and the results were edible (and actually quite good)!
The true test came when Jan left for a fire, leaving behind a refrigerator stocked full of food and me not wanting good ingredients to go to waste. Since chicken was my first lesson, I pulled out my notes, pulled the cover off the barbecue, and took out the two pounds of chicken breasts with the impending best-by date. My lesson with Jan didn’t include marinating the chicken, so after a quick internet search I settled on an easy marinate I could do in a ziplock bag.
The results? Surprisingly good! The first time I checked the temperature, it wasn’t high enough so I gave it a few more minutes (and probably too many because the chicken was a bit drier than I’d hoped. Also, the “recommended internal temperatures” printed on the side of my probe thermometer are probably on the safer, well-cooked side ). But overall a success!
There was room for improvement, of course, but I’d done the hardest part — grilled on my own! (I realize I have much left to learn, and I’m not even going to think about learning how to grill with charcoal yet.)
I remembered the final part of the lesson: turn off the gas, and brought out my knife and fork.