Spring, Sprang, Sprung!
The sights, smells, and feels of spring are in the air, but this year it looks better, smells better, and feels better. There is always a sense of rebirth, a fresh start, a renewed feeling that comes when the winter chill subsides, but this spring is the best spring of our lives for many. There is optimism on the horizon as vaccines are reaching the masses and there is better understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic. So, get your 2 shots, peel the cover off the grill, and get outside!
Before you dry rub that steak, I’m curious about your source of fire- propane or charcoal? For me, my answer is “yes”. I have a dual grill, with one side propane, one side conventional. I
love the propane side for speed, getting a quick dinner on the table during the hectic work/school week. But on the weekend and holiday, I love the slow burn, the warmth of the fire, the aroma of wood, and the complexity open flame cooking contributes.
While man has been cooking over fire for 5000 years or more, backyard grilling is less than 80 years old. The backyard BBQ has certainly become a bit of an American pastime, but didn’t really gain a following until after WWII, when soldiers returned from overseas, and the American dream of suburbia was born. Prior to that, outdoor grills were mainly tended by avid campers and boyscouts. And it wasn’t until George Stephan, a metal worker and owner of Weber Bros. Metal Spinning Co, decided to tinker with the design of the outdoor grill, which was traditionally a flat open pan design. Stephan created a rounded shape complete with matching lid and vents for air control and well, grilling history was forged.
We can’t talk about the popularity of the outdoor grill without delving into the fire of the charcoal briquette. While outdoor grilling didn’t explode until the early 1950’s, the charcoal briquette was invented years earlier. Edward Kingsford, a relative of Henry Ford, designed the charcoal briquette as a byproduct of the immense amount of wood Ford factories needed for production. Initially sold to industrial smokehouses, Ford saw an opportunity for avid campers to use briquettes, creating picnic kits complete with grill manufactured at his auto factories. Unfortunately, the great depression dampened Fords fire, and it wouldn’t be until 1951 when a group of businessmen bought Ford Charcoal, renamed it Kingsford, and persuaded supermarket chains to carry bags.
So that brings us to the all-important question- What are you grilling this weekend? I’m doing spring garlic and basil pistou marinated chicken, grilled scallions, and grill roasted potatoes. If you think I misspelled “pesto”, no, I didn’t. I prefer a basil pistou which is made similarly to a pesto, sans pine nuts. Fresh basil, chopped garlic, cheese, and extra virgin olive oil combined together to lightly coat my chicken. Scallions simply tossed in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. And my potatoes, quartered, tossed in oil, fresh chopped rosemary, fresh garlic, squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. All of this prepped ahead of time and ready to drop on my charcoal (and wood) fired grill!
While I truly look forward to sharing this simple, yet delicious, meal with my family, I equally look forward to getting outside in the sun, stoking up the fire, and truly enjoying the time I have before grilling to relax and decompress while I take in the sights, smells, and feels of spring.