Friday, September 12, 2008

Cooking on the Old Family Cast Aluminum Grill

Dad's Old Charcoal Grill Brings Back Fond Memories

Mom wanted to grill out some steaks last weekend. I don't guess the grill had been fired up at her house in over two years. My Dad died in a wreck on I77 two summers ago, and he was the grill king. I'm not sure how far that grill goes back, but I think it must be 30 to 40 years old. Mom said he got a gas grill at some point (must have been when I was in college or something) but that he went right back to his old charcoal grill.

I can honestly say they don't make them this way any more (or I didn't think so until I did some research). There are some box style grills on the market, but this is an old and heavy grill. I worked in sheet metal during high school and college and cook in cast iron, and I was a little confused about this one. After checking around I found out that it's a cast aluminum grill for Portable Kitchen (PK Grills).

Typically I cook on a kettle shaped steel grill. I like the heat regulation on the kettle shape. With the box shape, the key is to stack the charcoal more to one side - leaving a cooler area as needed. There's some regulation with vents, but the meat is simply closer to the coals in a box shape grill. I use coals across about 2/3 or the grill with 1/3 open to rest items if the grill gets really hot or if I have flares.

Heat conduction on this grill is fabulous. Once the grill heats up, it's hot. Really hot. This means that cool spots are still cooking but just at a little slower pace. I told my Mom that the grill was really heated up and that she could cook up supper too. I was really joking, but she did. She got out some hamburger meat and grilled some burgers to eat during the week. This was a couple of hours after I'd been cooking on the grill. That gives you some idea about the cast iron and how it will absorb the heat and hold it. Not so great for tailgating. Nice at home and especially if you're grilling for a lot of people over a long period of time.

If you ever come across an old cast iron grill in a yard sale or at Good Will, it's a good investment. Dad's old grill still works great, and I'm sure it will last for many more years - maybe forever. One hinge on the lid is broken. I have to watch the lid and genrally use outdoor cooking gloves to be on the safe side. This grill is out now again by Portable Kitchen, so you can just get a new one and have a grill that will last and last.

It was kind of strange cooking on the grill that I learned to cook on when I was a kid and also to be cooking in place of my father. Mom never learned to grill. She covered the inside foods. Dad (or one of us kids) did the grilling. It's hard to be two places at once. I juggle that as a single mom so often do my sides outside too. It was nice to concentrate on the meat and walk in to the table and side dishes ready.

Thumbs up meal. Good memories - past and present.


Anonymous said...

I think it is cast aluminum.

Grill Girl said...

Yes. You are correct. I need to go back and edit. This is a Portable Kitchen Grill (PK). It was out in the 1950s and now available again. It is cast aluminum. The new model out is not identical to my Dad's grill, but it's very close. The top opens different mainly.

Anonymous said...

I have one of the new PK grills and love it. They last forever. You have a keeper there. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I got my step fathers old PK, and it's still my favorite. I've got two smokers 1 at my lake house and one at my home.After Leo died ,Mom told me to take it and use it (it s so old it,s probably not any good she said) new grills and it,s good to go. Mom died last year but I know mom and leo,s mouths are watering every timeit,s smokin.Leo said iv,e tried them all and it,s the best!He said its got so many miles on it (,N.mex,colo.,canada,fla,)it should be retired,but he kpt on using it. so now Ive got a 30 year old son aking if i want to get rid of that junk (HE WANTS IT).No son just wait till i pass on and it will be in my will. So my 24 year old says it,s not fair,so how do ya keep them happy?Buy a new one to give one son or just let them hash it out.. Don,t ya wish GM would make their cars this good.If ya see a red 68 chevy truck going down the road to lake Sam Rayburn tx.with a 20 ft bassboat hooked on dont worry the gill is tied down and it will bethe first thing to start smokin. God bless ,and Leo ribs will be done shortly mom wheres the potato salad receipe?

Grill Girl said...

Thanks for the fun note on the PK grill. Mom still has the old one. She just never grilled, so I use that at her house when she wants something cooked out.

I don't even know the age on the Portable Kitchen. It's at least 35 yrs old. That's when I used it - about age 12.

Dad did get a gas grill at some point, but that went somewhere. He hated the gas grill and went right back to the PK.

There are 4 kids in our family, and I don't know who will get the old PK. They will sure have a solid grill though.

Grill Girl said...

I have a new Portable Kitchen PK grill now. Woot! It's just as great as the old one. If you want a nice sear, you get it with this grill. Offset the coals, and it doubles as an excellent smoker too.

Jessica said...

I've got that same old boxy beauty. My dad bought ours around 1970, and it got some serious use over the years, especially as a smoker. When we lived out in the country and our oven broke and we were waiting for parts, that grill got used for everything, including my birthday cake one year. That was the only thing I remember not being a resounding success.

CaptJack said...

GG - I recently found a Char-Broil cast aluminum grill from the 60s on Craigslist. I have been experimenting with in-direct cooks in it - much fun

3-pages to the thread

Anonymous said...

Man, that brings back some good memories. I purchased one of those back in the late 60s when I first got married. I actually used it until I sold my last house in FL in 2004. I left it there as I was downsizing, but now I wished I had kept it. I could smoke a whole Turkey on it and it was so good it would make you slap your mommy to get a piece. It was actually made in Columbus Ga at Columbus Founderies. They do sell a similar one at several sites on the internet, I think, under the name of Portable Kitchen. They range in price from $289. to $447.00. Yes, they do last forever.

Anonymous said...

Haha it's nice to come full circle like that in life. Thanks for sharing. I grew up outside of the US and weren't real close to my dad, but the best memories were doing yard work and grilling stuff up! Course he didn't have a nice PK but usually just a stamped metal rust bucket. But man delicious chicken and hot dogs over some lump charcoal were the best things. Good times.