Sunday, November 29, 2009

Smokey Joe


Eager to help me properly assume the role of Man of the House, The Gastronomer purchased a Smokey Joe grill and some top-notch grilling tools for me last Christmas. After browsing cookbooks and the internet for basic grilling tips and consulting with my dad, I stopped by Target to purchase some charcoal. I combed the store but could not find the charcoal anywhere. When I bumped into a store manager and asked if he could help me out, I was met with an incredulous look. "I don't know if we have any--it's not grilling season." Seriously? Sure, it was February, but isn't it always grilling season in California?

Fortunately, it turned out that they did have a couple of bags of charcoal, shoved into a corner in the Lawn and Garden section. Perhaps the age of this charcoal explained why I struggled so much getting it to light--or maybe I just didn't use enough lighter fluid. In any case, eventually I got my little pyramid of coals burning, and when the coals were covered in ash it was time to throw some meat on the grill. I started simple for my first grilling adventure: burgers and Trader Joe's hot Italian pork sausage. I mixed some salt and pepper into the ground beef and made an indentation in the top of the patties, as recommended by my cooking bible; no preparation was necessary to make the sausages taste amazing.


I was a bit concerned that I wouldn't be able to tell how long to cook the sausages without a meat thermometer, but it turned out it was readily apparent from their nice blistered appearance when they were ready to consume. In general, burgers cook for 5-8 minutes, depending how hot the fire is, and sausages cook a bit longer (10-12 minutes). One problem with the Smokey Joe is that if you're grilling more than a few things, there's a good chance the coals will cool down before the cooking is finished. However, it's quite ideal for feeding 2-4 people. On this occasion I melted some cheese on the burgers and toasted brioche buns on the grill, and we enjoyed a delicious protein feast.

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