I just got an email from the management company of my building reminding us that it is illegal to have a propane or charcoal grill on your terrace or in your apartment. While having an open flame grill inside your apartment sounds crazy having one outside isn’t so crazy. But rules are rules and when we renovated our apartment we tried really hard to get the building to allow us to have a legal gas line barbecue but, in the end, didn’t succeed. So we have our indoor grill on top of our range and it does a pretty good job. The email got me thinking about why grilling has such an appeal that people are breaking these rules to have grilled food.
Grilling outside is a social way to cook. The stereotype is mostly true that men love to grill. I think a big part of that is the fact that they can stand around with a drink in their hand while ‘manning’ the grill. There are obviously varying ways to ‘man’ the grill. I have memories of grilling with my grandfather where he would set a timer on his watch so we would know when to turn the steaks so they were evenly cooked and also had perfect cross marks on them. On the other end of the spectrum is the set it and almost forget method where you simply watch for a lot of smoke or flames and then check in on what is cooking. Both ways are satisfying for the grill master and also produce delicious food.
Cooking over an open flame also provides sense of adventure. A gas grill is pretty easy to turn off and on, but you still have to watch out for flames firing up onto your meal. Lighting a charcoal grill or even cooking over wood is something that requires skill and should be rewarded with a delicious meal. The charcoal chimney is an amazing invention but there is still an amount of skill and luck to getting that fire going. Unless you grew up as part of the boy scouts or girl scouts, starting a wood fire is tough. Having the challenge of starting the fire and creating the environment to cook is one of the appeals of grilling.
Finally, there are the health benefits of having your food cooked over an open flame. First off, you actually eat less fat because the fat is dripping off of the meat through the grates on the grill. Foods retain more of their nutrients when cooked over an open flame. This includes vegetables and proteins and happens because of low water content in the food. You also eat less fat because you only need a little oil to keep the food from sticking to the grill but otherwise most of your flavor comes from the smoke of the grill and not from adding fats to your food.
With summer in full swing, grilling season is also in full swing. I hope you are able to enjoy the social and health benefits from grilling. Most importantly be safe when you grill and certainly don’t have an open flame grill inside the house!
Who doesn’t love to grill…especially on a warm sunny day, am I right? At my house I typically do the cooking but my husband is always in charge of the grilling. It isn’t that I don’t know how to grill, it is just that he likes it and it is an easy task for me to delegate to him. In the city, we have a grill as part of our Wolf Range which isn’t quite as romantic as grilling outside (but better than not grilling at all). When we go on vacation, we always rent a house with a grill. On those instances I am pretty sure my husband loves being outside by the grill, sipping glass of wine and enjoying the weather.
With Memorial Day Weekend starting, summer has un-officially begun and that marks the start of grilling season for most. When I grill a protein I typically don’t follow recipe. The meat or fish is seasoned with one or more spice blends from La Boîte and some kosher salt. For side dishes I tend to be more of a recipe follower. Here is one of my favorite grilled side dishes. I first started making this when I lived in London and we had a charcoal grill on our roof top. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Grilled Romaine Salad
Makes 4 servings
2 heads Romaine Lettuce
1 red onion
2 ripe avocados
1 pint grape tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
-Pre-heat grill to medium high heat. While the grill is heating prepare the vegetables. Slice the heads of Romaine in half from the stem to the tip. Peel and slice the onion into ¼ inch slices. Season lettuce and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.
-Place onion slices on the grill away from the direct heat. Allow to grill for about 20 minutes or until no crunch remains.
-Place lettuce on grill and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes per side.
-Slice grilled lettuce into 1-inch ribbons and put into salad bowl. Chop grilled onion and add to the bowl.
-Slice the grape tomatoes in halve and add to the bowl. Dice the avocado and add it to the bowl as well.
-Drizzle with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper if desired. Toss to coat and enjoy.
This past weekend we had weather that made it really feel like summer. I spent Saturday at a friend’s house soaking up the sun, warm weather and, most importantly, eating meat from the grill. Cooking over an open flame makes everything taste better, everything. One of my favorite meats to grill is skirt steak. It is super easy to prepare, and everyone likes it. The skirt is cut from under the breast of the steer and rarely is thicker than 3/4 inch, which makes for quick cooking. Try the recipe below to impress your friends this summer.