Life Its Ownself: Grilling Machine

When I grill, I take it to the max. My Big Green Egg (love that I use the BGE initials and people on Twitter think BenJarvus Green-Ellis, goal-line TD stealer extraordinare) requires a lot of time and attention and my baby, she takes a while to warm up.

meatballs on the Big Green Egg

Zach’s balls by the grilling machine

After getting the “complimentary” bag of the BGE charcoal, I’ve gone off the reservation and tried other coals. My latest attempt is some Publix grocery store organic lump, a small bag because who knows what it’s going to do. It looks like charred wood, so that’s a winner.

Order of operations is the following: Shake up the egg a bit, open it up, open the bottom vent and scrape out the excess coal that’s turned to powder. You’re supposed to be able to re-use the coals, although I tend to go “long” so I have to refill almost every time. Add new charcoal and throw in the firestarter. The ones I’m using look like long matches. I tried once to light the coals with paper and such and it didn’t work. Fires are slow builders but I need a mini-inferno to get mine started.

Grilling firestarters

Start mah fire

There’s a lot of waiting before you can put any meat on. I call that time “Zach time” or “beer o clock”. For this week’s grilling feast, I had the following prepped: pork ribs, steak, meatballs. The usual way I do the pork is to rub some olive oil and/or yellow mustard all over and top it with “Bad Byron’s Butt Rub”. I say usually because this time I forgot the mustard. I marinated the steak in that spicy Montreal seasoning (look for it in the spices section of your local friendly grocery store) and some apple cider vinegar for almost 24 hours. The meatballs are part of my “Sunday gravy” routine. I sauté some onions with garlic and basil cubes and save half for the meatballs, a combo of ground turkey (I know, the pros go with beef/pork/veal), some oil and breadcrumbs.

Bad Byron's Butt Rub

Rub it, you know you want to

You can cook two ways on the BGE. I have a “heat shield”, not the thing they used when returning from the moon but a large ceramic plate you put on to “deflect” the heat. This is for when you slow cook aka ribs time. It took about an hour for the heat to get up in the 300-350 degree range. I started with the steak, going about 5-7 minutes a side. One downside with the somewhat cheaper charcoal is that the high temp isn’t quite as high. The first time I fired up the grill, it got to around 700 degrees. That gives you what they call in the biz a “nice char”.

Big Green Egg heat shield

My heat shield

After the steak and some asparagus (guess I’ll throw in some color there), it was time for the balls. I roll em up, put them in a skillet that’s coated in oil and put it on the grill. Those get about ten minutes a side and get that nice “crust” on the outside. Charred everything, that’s my heaven.

The final piece de meat is the ribs. I remove the grate, insert the heat shield (those gloves come in handy), put the grate back down and wait for the heat to settle. There are openings up top and in the bottom and those are your temperature gauges. You close them up to cut off the oxygen and drop the temp and open them up to warm things. My goal is between 225 and 250. I put the ribs on and waited. They’ve cooked quicker in the past. This time it’s almost the entire recommended three hours. I’m not high on the hog so I lack the digital thermometer that you can insert and remotely check.

The entire grilling adventure takes almost five hours. I wrapped the ribs in foil for the last thirty minutes and forgot that I had some turkey bacon so threw that on for the finish.

That was me eating ribs at 11 p.m. on a Monday night. They were quite good. Everything comes off the grill with that smoky flavor. Without the mustard they were a little more spicy than usual. That’s one part of the grilling experience. You always have lessons for next time.

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