Thursday, July 16, 2009

On Grilling

Al Pastor on the grill

Summer isn't really summer until you've fired up the grill at least once. Grilling is the one cooking task that every man feels like he should be able to do. In the most simple forms it is a giant fire, outdoors, with lots of meat. There are few people I know who did not grow up with some sort of grilling in their life. But most at some point have embraced at least hot dogs and hamburgers thrown on a grill. And even if those hamburger patties and hot dogs are generic and frozen, I have never met a grill that will not make it 100x better. Maybe its the char from an open flame; Something that is hard to replicate indoors. But I'd like to think that its the camaraderie. I think when it comes down to it those Coleman commercials are right, the original social networking networking site was a campsite, with a fire pit and lots of meat.

This year summer has been slow to approach the Northeast. With 3 weeks of rain to start the month of June, I decided to take summer into my own hands and grill for Father's Day, rain be damned. It seemed to work since the next chance I got to grill was for July 4th, where the rain held off and gave us a beautiful day of sun and fun.

I also decided to try new things this year on the grill. The normal fare has always been in pretty generic: home ground hamburgers, chicken wings, marinated chicken breasts, dry rubbed baby back ribs, corn, etc. This year, with some inspiration from the newly revamped and its grilling issue and my friends' trip to Mexico, the food has taken a noticeable turn towards South America.

What I've found amazing in all the recipe's I've tried is the ease in which the items can be eaten over long periods of time. For the July 4th celebration food hit the grill around noon and last almost to midnight and an amazing time was had by all. I think that's the best component of the South American themed feasts. Everything can be put into a corn tortilla and be eaten in moderation. Not to pigeon hole all of South America into one stereo type, but I feel like the culture around that part of the world (or at least my perception of it) translates well to slow drawn out meals.

The food I ended up cooking was inspired by Mexico and Argentina. Both places I have never traveled to but feel very drawn to. Especially when it comes to Mexico's reputation on quick bites and Argentina's grilled meats. I mean my two favorite episode's of Bourdain's show are from those countries. Yes, the Asia episodes always want to make me visit the country of my brethren but the South American episodes make me feel I can get lost in a country I have little understanding of.

Out of all the food pictured, the sticky balsamic ribs are by far my favorite. The al pastor comes in a close second, but I really feel like it needs to be done whole on a spit instead of in chunks on skewers. Others may disagree since it seems like the pork is always the first to go.

Al Pastor
Al pastor: the pineapple chunks are awesome with this. Some day I will get a spit going and do this right.

Sticky Balsamic RIbs
Sticky Balsamic Ribs: My favorite so far. Sweet sweet ribs. A good change from your traditional spicy bbq.

Grilled Corn
Grilled corn. Always a favorite but our attempt to make this with special sauce and crumbly cheese was only a minor success.

Grilled Shrimp with Pineapples
Grilled shrimp. Did this with the wildly addicting miso mayo I previously posted.