The Grill and I…A Strained Love Affair

Let me start by saying that I don’t hate the grill, I just don’t understand it. I mean, I understand it but I just don’t get how to properly use it. Just like for most of us, to me the grill epitomizes what summer is all about, hot, delicious fun. It’s the star of every cookout. It has the power to take a cookout to the next level or completely destroy it. I mean nothing ruins a cookout faster than burnt food!

There are dozens of different types of grills but I swear by a charcoal grill. EVERYTHING just taste better cooked with a mixture of charcoal and woodchips. I mean NOTHING beats the flavor that is infused into food when cooked over an open flame. Natural flavors are amplified and flavors become much more dimensional.

Now while the grill has the power to transform food, I don’t love cooking on the grill. Grilling is an art/science that I haven’t just yet mastered. I’ve watched tons on YouTube videos and read countless articles but I still manage to have the hardest time working the grill. My top three gripes about grilling are 1) temperature control 2) startup time 3) space management.

When it comes to temperature control, I can never seem to get it right. Now I know that the vents on the bottom of the grill and the on the lid should be used to control the air flow which should in turn feed or squelch the flame but I can’t seem to get the combination right. No matter what I do, I’m never able to regulate the temperature. If fact, it seems that when I want to cool off the grill I make it hotter and when I want it flaming hot, it’s cool.

Secondly, the start-up time is a huge challenge for me. Often I’ll marinate meats and vegetables overnight with the hopes of throwing them on the grill soon after I get home from work however, I never seem to get the grill started in a decent time frame. Often times it takes me 1+ hours to get the grill really going and by then it’s dark outside and I am over it. I know that I am doing something wrong but I just don’t know what it is. I so desperately want to be able to start the grill and be ready to go within 20 to 40 mins.

Finally, space management is a huge challenge for me when cooking on the grill. I guess this goes back to temperature management but when I have several items on the grill (hotdogs, kabobs, vegetables, fish) I find it hard to situate everything onto the grill in a way that allows all of the food to cook at the same time at the proper temperature. I typically use indirect heat on one side of the grill and direct heat on the other. I put the quicker cooking items on the indurect heat side and those that require longer cook time go on the direct heat side. It always seems that the even though the food is in its respective zone, it hardly if ever cooks properly. Maybe I am overcrowding the grill or maybe it is a temperature management issue. Whatever it is, it is most annoying.

I would love to be able to fire up the grill, throw on some good food, have it cook properly and within a decent time frame. If anyone out there has any suggestions or can point in the direction of fool-proof grilling tips then let me know. I would most appreciate it! If you follow me on IG then you would know that I un-expectantly did some grilling on Memorial Day.  I brought kabobs to the cookout and was tasked with cooking them. Fortunately, I was give the gas grill to cook on. Now, while I prefer charcoal, since I was cooking for people and everyone wanted to eat relatively soon, it was best that I used the gas grill (less room from disaster). Honestly, the experience wasn’t that bad.  I had a few flare-ups but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. I’ll continue to work on my grilling technique, you all continue to enjoy summer!

Until we chat again!

Samantha J.

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