Friday, September 12, 2008
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.