Gettin' My Grill On!

Call it grilling, barbeque or charbroil, no matter to me, it is a delicious sign of fair weather. I have been looking forward to this event since the frosty days of December, when the dark clouds stirred snow squalls and ice pellets across the stormy sea. Yes, barbeque season has begun! 

Sunny days are not the only reason the nerds are ready to celebrate with flame, as this year, we have acquired a big shiny uber-gadget - a new propane barbeque. Our latest cooking tool has just been assembled and tested, and is now ready for me to slather it with succulence. (I know this is over the top, but I really, really enjoy a good BBQ.) This model is lot bigger than our old one, and has cast iron cooking grates. Like all things cast-iron, the heat retention promises to sear and caramelize evenly. I admit, we spent a few months poring over every available barbeque in our area, comparing features while balancing cost. This model was a nice compromise of both, and I cannot wait to fire it up. To reward the nerd-husband for his patience and persistence while putting this beast together, I am making a complete surf 'n turf grill: strip loin steak, giant butterfly shrimp, peaches and cream corn on the cob, and yukon gold potatoes. And beer. (Yeah, I know this meal is for him, but I am salivating pretty heavily right now.)

Let's start with the uber-gadget itself, the barbeque. I must admit, I've never used a cooking appliance that can reach 700F before. As I found out, I am not to worry too much, since I happen to live in a gigantic wind factory. No amount of heat and flame is a match for the Atlantic winds that blow the furniture off my deck. At least the barbeque is large and heavy enough not to move, but I had to be strategic in how often I opened the lid. The temperature dropped quickly, but the new rig heats up fast. Nonetheless, limiting how often the lid is opened is a necessity - at least until we build a shelter! Fortunately, the heat maintained a reasonable temperature of 400F.

The cast iron grates were substantial: heavy, firm and able to provide gorgeous grill marks that food pornographers would lust over. In my excitement, I forgot to brush the grates with oil. This oversight nearly led to shrimp disaster, but fortunately, they were shell-side down when I realized my folly. A silicone brush and some oil works wonders to prevent sticking, and to coat the food itself. The grates indeed make this barbeque; they hold the food well, retain a lot of heat, and clean up easily.

Now, for the real test - the food! When I grill, I keep things fairly simple. I like the way the natural flavours come alive over a flame, and try not to complicate it with a myriad of marinades and rubs. In fact, the corn was absolutely perfect after 15 minutes, and none of the nerds dressed it - not with butter, salt or pepper. (Even the little nerd expressed how 'tasty' his corn was.) It was that good. The potatoes, which I had cut into 1/8 slices, coated with olive oil and some kosher salt, crisped nicely in the tinfoil packets for 15 minutes as well. My packet was a bit too far from the direct heat, and could have been a bit more done. However, the yellow flesh was quite tender, melting on your tongue with a slight hint of salt. The butterfly shrimp scared me at first, since they seemed to liquefy at the start. (Ewww!) Once cooked to 400F for 7 minutes, I had to declare them my favourite shellfish. The meat was slightly sweet, which complemented the thin coating of garlic and butter as though it were candy. I believe I can eat nothing but butterfly shrimp all summer. At least, I am willing to try.

Finally, it was time for the real nerd experiment of the season: my first barbeque steak on the new grill. Getting a perfect grilled steak has been a frustrating series of hits or misses for me over the years.  Either it is too rare for anyone else, or I can tie them to my feet with shoelaces and call them sandals. This year, I made it my summer mission to perfect my technique. After doing a bit of research and a few trials over the winter, I began the process here: the oven. I've already experienced the horrific stares from others when I discuss this technique, but this is the method for perfectly grilled steaks every time. By putting the steaks in the oven for 30 minutes on a low 275F, you allow the fat and connective tissues to slowly break down, which tenderizes the meat inside while cooking it gently. At this point, the steaks are medium-rare, so you can then finish them off on the hot flame to sear and crust the outside and get that tasty grilled flavour. The only seasoning I put on was some salt, pepper and garlic powder, and the natural beef taste came alive. I left mine on for 2 minutes per side to achieve a medium steak, and 3-4 minutes for a medium-well. Letting them rest for 5 minutes under foil will ensure a perfectly cooked, juicy, butter-soft steak. The result was a massive success!

So, with the first barbeque of season well underway, I raise my bottle of Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale in celebration for a long, hot sizzling summer. 


  1. Sounds like you broke in the new grill in proper style!
    I'm curious about how you grilled the corn. Do you remove all of the husks first?
    Did you skewer the shrimp?

    I am a huge fan of the 20-minute marinade pkgs. I always leave the meat in the marinade for at least one hour though.

  2. Oh, yummy. I, too, have started cooking my steaks in the oven. We're about to embark on an adventure in grassfed beef this summer and it will be even more important to cook the meat more gently.

    You just reminded me to do more foil packets on the bbq this summer.


  3. @LibbyLou - I removed the husks to get the grill marks on the corn. I've tried with the husks on, but find it tough to take them off once cooked. The shrimp were so big (gigantic) I didn't need to skewer them. There's only 4 in that picture!

    @Rosemary - I'm still trying to source some local grassfed beef, where I don't have to buy the whole cow! ;-)

  4. Try this link Flunkie:

    They are located in Hammonds Plains close to Hatfield Farms.
    Maybe we should seriously consider going in o a freezer order.

  5. I do believe that your grandfather would so enjoy this certainly have a way with words and a fantastic sense of humour and it's all about cooking - something tells me he would have wanted to contribute...from the mother of the "nerd"

    Love you!

  6. I have to try out that oven tip for steak. The only other thing I got out of this highly readable post was a huge case of envy. A windy deck, a monster grill and a child who eats vegetables...*sigh*

  7. @denise - My child is very picky with vegetables - believe me, it's a daily struggle!!! ;-)


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