An Ode To Summer, My Favorite Grill and Popsicles

Categories: Whimsy

Webber performer .jpg
I miss you, grill.
Helllloooo summer! While some of you might go out this weekend and celebrate the last handful of days to be outdoors comfortably until sometime in mid-October, I'm going to do my best to enjoy what is traditionally the best season for leisure. And while some people (the smart ones) view grilling as a year round activity, summer is definitely the height of coal-fired cookery.

I have cooked on a lot of grills: stainless steel slip-in models built into custom stone enclosures; flimsy Char-Broil brand gas numbers with hot spots like solar flares; Big Green Eggs that can achieve eight million degrees with a teaspoon of natural wood charcoal. But the best grill I have ever cooked on is a Weber kettle.

Stainless steel built-ins look lovely but cost a shit-ton. And while the even heat of gas is nice, it kind of takes all the fun out of things. We're cooking with fire here right? So go on and build one. Cheap gas grills are even worse. Those little ceramic briquets collect a blistered sheen of black grease that inevitably leads to flare ups, which turn your burgers into hockey pucks.

The Big Green Egg? I get it. It's efficient. It's versatile. You can dial in the temperature right at 220 and smoke a pork shoulder to perfection without taking your eyes off the NASCAR race one day, and then crank the thing up to 900 to perfectly sear a massive porterhouse to eat with Chianti the next. But it weighs more than a football player, and unless you spend a grand it's impossibly small. It's also sensitive. The difference between 200 and 900 degrees is not much more than a quarter-inch turn on one of the two air vents.

A Weber Performer kettle grill? Perfection. Don't get the one with the electronic ignition system, it's the stupidest grill feature I have ever seen (use a chimney), but everything else on this baby is meant for performance grilling.

See that ash-catcher underneath? It's not an ash catcher (though it does collect spent briquets). It's a precision temperature-control mechanism. With a bed of red-hot coals you can use the vent that's built into the ash catcher, in tandem with the vent on top of the lid, to dial in temperatures low enough to smoke meat, and high enough to sear your eyebrows from four feet. I've had the thermometer pinned well past the maximum displayed 600 degrees many times. And thermometers come in handy.

The grill bin? Eh. It's a nice place to keep a bag of charcoal, but the work surface above it is a life saver. There's nothing worse than having to set your steak plate on the ground while you fool around with the lid, and the big sturdy surface puts those little wings you see on other kettles to shame. Trust me. You'll use it. You're going to be grilling a lot more than burgers on a grill like this.

If you mind that thermometer and cook indirectly (the coals pushed to the side, instead of underneath the food) you can roast a chicken the same as you would in the oven, shred it to bits, and serve it with some tortillas and guacamole. People will like you if you do this. Add some wet wood chips for a slightly smoky flavor. People will like you more.

Use the same indirect method with hickory chips to smoke a pork shoulder. Look, I know a barrel smoker or pit will do it better, but you're not planning on taking on the barbecue kings anyway. One grill is plenty and versatility is key.

And every now and then cook up some burgers. Go to Rudolph's or your other favorite butcher and ask him for his best quality ground beef. Season it generously with salt and pepper and don't over-work it, as you form big loose patties. Get your grill good and hot and listen to that meat sing.

That's the smell of summer. Popsicles, pool parties, bike rides and bathing suits -- this is why the hottest season is undoubtedly the most fun. The next time someone bitches about triple-digit heat, fire up your grill, grab a cold one and say, "Fuck it, man." There's nothing you can do about the heat anyway. You might as well stare it in the face over a raging fire while a big hunk of meat sizzles away.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
20 comments
Chef Matt
Chef Matt

Agreed I have that grill and the standard Weber as well just in case I need more sq footage

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

Wow.  That might be the best designed grill I have seen.  You could even deep fry on that.  I wish you had  a "conversation" with Weber before you went to press, let them know what you are doing, get facts about cost and assembly, and maybe find out what a slightly damaged model (you know, the kind with exterior scratches on the packaging cardboard) might cost the city's newest food writer.  Very cool grill.

SpeedbumpJoey
SpeedbumpJoey

At the house we have a Ducane gas grill that is well seasoned and quite efficient. However, when the time comes, I would definitely love to have a Weber Performer. I have several friends that have the same one and have done wonderful things with it. Not to mention the beauty that I think is added when cooking with charcoal. Now, gas is good too. But, Charcoal just screams the good times of triple-digit heat, baseball, and good times. 

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

The best grill is always the camping ring in ANY state park. Kerg's recommends:

-Beef skirt steak-Shrimp skewers (attracts all manner of wildlife, and lonely campers)-A whole chicken (but put a rock on top, cause "them bandits" will take it...even in broad daylight)-Chicken Breasts-Brats-Hot Dogs

Casey Bowles
Casey Bowles

The Weber Smokey Mountain + the book "Low and Slow" have made my husband a very happy man. 

Darrel
Darrel

I've got two, the Weber kettle and the Weber Q. The Q is perfect for quick grilling on the weekdays

LDR4
LDR4

Give me a Weber or give me death!

donw
donw

 I have the performer as well and love it. Bought my son and wife a Weber kettle and then ordered the side table, that's pretty handy and much cheaper.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

It's just over 300 depending where you buy it. Assembly is a 2-3 beer job. Set up the legs and drop in the kettle. Kind of a pain but not te end of the world. I'd pay full price but can't set it up at my apartment. This makes me very sad.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

wow, very generic points....ahhhh...........have some vanilla dude.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

sure it wasnt the hummers and reverse cowboy? 

SpeedbumpJoey
SpeedbumpJoey

 Exactly, I'm bringing it like Cumulus media.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Ball gags.  

My "Perfect Flame" propane grill that I bought 5 years ago works perfect, especially with wood chips. Sometimes I treat myself, and stick a 400 pan with logs in it in said grilll-and woo wee!

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

 it better have been at least the hummers because otherwise he may never have one again.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

I got you.......bring it like The fine Cumulus family of stations.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

"Low and Slow?"  It wasn't the reverse cowboy, it was the hummers.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...