Click Here North Star Writers Group
Syndicated Content.
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Alan Hurwitz
Paul Ibrahim
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Nancy Morgan
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jessica Vozel
Feature Page
David J. Pollay - The Happiness Answer
Cindy Droog - The Working Mom
The Laughing Chef
Mike Ball - What I've Learned So Far
Bob Batz - Senior Moments
D.F. Krause - Business Ridiculous
Roger Mursick - Twisted Ironies
The Laughing Chef
  The Laughing Chef's Column Archive

March 26, 2007

Work Your Way Back Into Grilling Form


As the sun climbs higher, and the temperature begins its annual march toward the July boiling point, our thoughts turn towards our good friend the grill.


For most of us, the grill has been locked away for months. On cold winter nights, you perhaps heard its low whimper of agony on the howling wind. It is your grill and it was in pain. Pity! Sorrow!


The spring sun always brings people outside, blinking and pointing up at the mysterious yellow orb hanging in the sky. So, too, does your grill wish to stretch its legs and get ready for a few months of decent weather.


Like most things that are rusty with disuse, when you bring out your grill those first, sunny and warm days, you will want to make sure not to overtax it. Asking it to take on too great a load – perhaps a leg of lamb, or perhaps some spareribs – could be a fatal mistake on your part. Each man, or bowl of metal (complete with grate), has its limitations.


Know your friend’s, and also yours.


It has been months since you last stood on your porch, tongs in hand, waiting for your meat to sizzle just the right way – a reminder that it is time for you to either turn it or to remove it from the heat. For you, going from a winter away from grilling to doing too much could result in physical and emotional trauma. As with long-distance running or sword swallowing, it is best to work your way into these things.


What cooks faster than pork tenderloin? Pork tenderloin that has been cut into pieces. The answer is so very obvious that it is nearly profound.


A word of warning before moving too quickly down this road. You will want to pay special attention to your cooking time. Pork tenderloin is only good if tender. If allowed to cook for too long, especially in fillet form, it will become dry and tasteless. You also run the risk of it becoming hard and dangerous, for if casually thrown at a friend, it – like the English pound sterling – will possess enough heft that you risk denting his or her head.


We start, not with meat, but with marinade. The trick isn’t always the proper application of heat to meat, but of what you heat along with the meat.


In this case, we start with four parts balsamic vinegar and one part olive oil. This will create a lovely little base into which you will want to add crushed garlic and also dried rosemary.


A word here on herbs. Rosemary is a natural ally for roasted meats. It knows how to treat roasted meat and complement its flavors. But, it is a robust herb, and can remind people of unpleasant experiences with pine trees. So, here, it is possible to substitute oregano or thyme for the rosemary.


Here is the easy part. Mix these and soak your fillets for about five minutes. Then, place them on the grill for only a few moments per side.


It is worth repeating an earlier warning – if you spend a great deal of time worrying about whether the fillets are finished cooking, there is a good chance that they will be entirely inedible. Someone, a guest or your child, will bite into one and think that they have visited the Sahara at the height of a summer afternoon. They will suspect you, perhaps, of having unkind feelings for them (to the reverse, you need not serve them pork that is so undercooked that it practically squeals when poked by a fork … thanks to Mr. Trichinosis, this too will cause people to question your intentions).

Your grilling muscles are now loosened up, and the kinks of a winter’s worth of inactivity are working themselves out. Before you lie glowing coals. You are – as they say – feeling a bit froggy. Do not be misled. If you continue to grill, you might discover that you’ve grabbed the tiger’s tail and that at the end of a night of exhaustion that pain and anguish are yours.


If you must, however, a good way to do just a little more is to sprinkle olive oil on asparagus spear and roll them in salt and pepper. You may roast these over the coals for a few minutes (remove them before they scorch). With a few spoonfuls of wild rice, the pork and asparagus will set the stage for a summer of open-flamed goodness.


To offer feedback on this column, click here.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.

This is Column # EB25. Request permission to publish here.