The thing is, I LOVE to grill. What's not to like about a "kitchen appliance" you can clean with a hose and a leaf blower. You've got the outdoors. You've got your best friends over. You've got meat. You've got lighter fluid and giant pointy instruments that come in a shiny case that just says "Beef Inquisitor".
Plus, you've a big open flame near alcohol.
Just the danger factor alone gets my juices going. But frankly, I just struggle with getting the darn thing lit sometimes. Most people simply spray the briquettes with lighter fluid until the fumes alone would render the place uninhabitable, only to throw a match on it with the result being the charcoal just laying there, as cold, lifeless and boring as one of the characters in Twilight. Seriously, if I ever have a raging kitchen fire, I'm going to forget the baking soda or the extinguisher and just smother the flames with briquettes.
Even if, with the right amount of cursing, you DO get it lit without mushroom clouds or the removal of eyebrows, the resultant meal tastes like Sterno on a Stick. That's not good.
I was relaying this fact to one of the IND blog gang a summer or two ago and they brought THIS device over to a cook out for me to try.
The chimney generates a strong updraft that quickly turns briquettes into hot coals. It was pretty simple. Put 3 pieces of newspaper in the bottom, pile the coals on top, light the paper, wait 15 minutes. Look down in there, they should be JUST about ready. At 18- 20 minutes, dump them out and you've got hot coals. I think this ready made chimney came from the local Big Box Mart.
But that was some time ago and that chimney said goodbye after the get together. That brings us to a day off in Spring of 2012. After a couple of great days with Midwest Chick and Mr. B,. it was time to head out for a couple of days off before heading back to the city for work again. A few days off and friends I hadn't seen in a while makes a perfect opportunity for a cookout.
Sure, there's sweeping and mowing and chores to do, but for now there was good company and a hot, perfect evening, too hot to heat up the kitchen. On the porch, contemplating IPA, physics and the recalcitrant nature of charcoal, we came up with the idea to use one of those chimney things to start the grill.
Why not MAKE one? What materials are on hand. Hmmm. Cardboard box? That would be a no? Styrofoam? Also a no. Fruitcake? The fruitcake itself would never burn, but I'm afraid of a chemical reaction between brandy infused cherries and Coleman fuel. (likely the source of the original "cherry bomb") So no.
Even without vent holes, it will still work Crumple 2-3 of sheets of clean newspaper in the bottom, leaving a few edges sticking up where you can get a match to them. Fill almost to the top with charcoal. Add just a dash of lighter fluid to a few of the briquettes (or in this case, Coleman fuel). Do not soak them with it, the newspaper and the chimney will do the work.
Now step back and wait several minutes. Fire Marshall Bill says so. You don't want vapors on you or in the immediate area when you light it off.
After a few minutes have gone by, light the paper, stepping immediately away, and wait for combustion..
When you see white ash on the coals near the top. It's ready to pour out onto the grill
Wait, there's no handle on this thing!
Fortunately for us, we have the HOTR Universal Pot Handle Tool ™
Set the chimney on something non combustible, and away from children, stupid friends or relatives or pets as, it will stay HOT for a while.
Now that the coals are hot and spread around, it's time to cook.
First up on the grill, some fresh corn, still in the husks (if there is a lot of husk remove just the other layers, you want the husk to trap the steam inside). Grill 15-20 minutes (the husks will blacken), then move off to one side away from the coals or remove and keep warm. When you husk it to serve, there will be some silk strands in there, but after cooking they come off VERY easily.
Now it's time for the steaks. We got got some very nice big, thick steaks at the local butcher for a little less than $4 a piece on manager's special. After poking the steaks with a fork, these were marinated in a mixture of 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup water, and 1 cup sugar to which was added 2 heaping Tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 3 cloves of chopped garlic and a splash of olive oil for a few hours (up to 8 hours). Discard the marinade and grill until the internal temperature is 126 - 130 F. for medium. (Don't click to enlarge the picture below if you're hungry.)
They will cook a bit more as they are plated, so once the temperature is in that range, remove them from the heat promptly.
Tender, juicy and cooked to medium, pink in the middle and juicy, perfection. Paired with corn and salad with some freshly made dressing, we had a steak dinner for a price per serving you could pay for a fast food meal. Plus we got to play with fire and pointy things and no one blew anything up.
AND there was chocolate stout cake for dessert Dinner at the range might be fraught with danger, but it comes with dessert.