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Gassy

July 10, 2014

Electric stoves seem like such a terrible idea. The world is a big place. I guess there are some people in it who get excited about such things. Maybe it’s the clean lines of the appliance. Perhaps these folks have an irrational fear of gas. Or, I suppose, they are good for places where natural gas isn’t available.

Sadly, we have an electric stove. The kitchen isn’t set up for gas. Sure, we can redo the kitchen to run a gas line for a stove. But that’s a project we’re just not ready to undertake right now.

During the sabbatical, however, I was cooking with gas. And that was absolutely essential for blistering eggplant to make baba ganoush. Now that I’m back to electric, I have to re-learn how to cook. For example, I knew how hot my high output gas burner would get the cast iron skillet when cranked up all the way. But I have no idea how long it takes an electric coil to get fully hot on the number six dial setting.

Transitions are tough.

In part because I need some way to char my eggplants, and in part because I miss cooking with gas, I’ve just done the unthinkable.

Last night I bought a crappy gas grill.

Surely, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I have strong thoughts on grilling. To me, grilling means direct high-heat cooking over hardwood lump charcoal. It doesn’t just cook food, it adds flavor.

Gas grills don’t do that. Gas grills fire roast.

But fire roasting is a great thing to do with vegetables. And dammit, we need to eat more vegetables. My secret plan is to try and find someone who is totally overwhelmed by their CSA share and try to buy them out. Ideally from Roxbury. Or, I suppose I could just contact the farm directly and see if we can work out some kind of arrangement. Now I have a few more things to add to my to do list right underneath, “Assemble the new grill.”

For those who are curious, I got the Brinkman 810-2511-S 5-burner grill from Home Depot. It’s $200 and Consumer Reports has nothing bad to say about it. Plus, in the magazine’s tests, this model did exceptionally well in both high temperature evenness and low temperature evenness.

The manufacturer suggests that it can crank up temperatures of 750 degrees or higher at the cast iron grates with all burners turned to their maximums. That could bode well for some outdoor pizza experiments.

Honestly, if I ever decided to cook hamburgers on this thing, I might just as well throw a cast iron skillet on the grates and get an incredible sear on those suckers. The smoke that would ordinarily fill my house will instead perfume the neighborhood, and maybe even scare away the squirrels.

The thing also has a side burner, so I can slowly reduce a sauce while fire roasting something on the main deck.

Some people say the Brinkman isn’t built to last. And that’s just fine. This is an experiment. It’s going to be hard for me to put down my chimney starter and click an ignition switch. But Mrs. Fussy thinks that the instant access to outdoor fire will result in more quick dinners cooked outside that don’t heat up the house. And she’s got a point.

Fire roasted corn is delicious. It may not be quite as flavorful as hardwood grilled corn. But it sure beats boiling a huge pot of water in a house you are trying to keep cool with the air conditioning. And in theory it just takes minutes to make.

Still, it feels like cheating. We’ll have to see how it works in practice. I’ll keep you posted.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Randy K permalink
    July 10, 2014 10:40 am

    re: your need for farm fresh veggie delivery… check out http://field-goods.com/ – you can order by the week (they email you on Mondays to let you know what’s “in the bag” and you can decide if you want to order that week) or you can sign up for a recurring subscription and get a delivery every week. there are tons of drop-off locations in the Capital region! might be a good way to get in on some farm fresh goodness mid-season :)

  2. Sarah permalink
    July 10, 2014 10:46 am

    Roxbury is actually still looking for members this season–and, this past week, said that they would pro-rate the membership of people joining now. (http://sfc.smallfarmcentral.com/dynamic_content/uploadfiles/942/Week%205%202014.pdf) Eileen Street and Troy are full, but you should be able to get into South Main. There has been even more bounty this year than usual.

    Field Goods is ok but it’s no Roxbury. I do like their bread and cheese subscription option, though, and the ability to turn it on and off is nice.

  3. -R. permalink
    July 10, 2014 1:42 pm

    Alas, you get you what you pay for. You did yourself no favors by buying a shitty gas grill (and make no mistake, tis shitty). The problem is corrosion, and cheap grills such as this tend to decay from the inside out over a very brief time period perhaps in only a couple years – the thermal stress on the thin burner tubes combined with even a modicum of moisture breaks these puppies down in no time. Return immediately to the Despot and purchase a replacement set of burners and cooking grates before they become obsolete – this way, you can extend the life of the grill by twice over. Consider buying a cover for it as well.

    And finally, I can almost guarantee you’ll never use the side burner.

  4. July 10, 2014 7:10 pm

    I agree with R, but you knew that already. I’ve got 5 bucks that says the pretty blue flame you see coming out of the burners now is mostly yellow next summer. The only experience I have with a side burner on a gas grill is at my in-law’s house. It makes a good shelf.

    A little after the fact, but here’s my 2 cents…

    At probably half the price, a good turkey fryer can quickly get a cast iron pan screaming hot and heat a large pot of water up for corn. Besides frying something huge like a turkey, you can fry or steam anything and you can also use a wok on it. And you can do all this reasonably close to your charcoal grill. When I retire my pizza steel, I’m planning to try it out on the turkey fryer as an oversized griddle for burgers.

    Without some modification or something to go on the gas grill, I think you might have a hard time making pizza. All that heat is going to be directed at the bottom of the pizza so the bottom will burn before the top cooks. There are some after market things you can put on a gas grill for pizza (basically a top and a bottom stone) but the reviews seem to be mixed. Maybe some Rhode Island style grilled pizza might work if you left yourself a cooler spot.

    My favorite use for a gas grill: after the burners rust, gut the grill, drop in a piece of plate steel on the bottom and then use the shell as a charcoal rotisserie. It works really well.

  5. Stevo permalink
    July 10, 2014 7:35 pm

    I’m on the fence about a gas grill. I just love the challenge of charcoal. Plus charcoal can get super, super hot. But I get why one would want a gas grill.

    Daniel, have you heard about the meal delivery services that deliver fresh ingredients with recipes that you cook yourself? I’ve become hooked on them. They tend to have a good helping of veggies in each meal, especially (obviously) if you choose the vegetarian option.

    I’ve tried two, Blue Apron, and Plated. But there are others. They are excellent. I’ve never cooked so many great, fresh, healthy, meals.

    http://www.blueapron.com
    https://www.plated.com

    • July 10, 2014 7:38 pm

      Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. With these services because they send only the ingredients you need and the portions are of a reasonable size (the meals run about 700 calories per dish) there are fewer leftovers, which means less waste. And we all know how much you disdain wasting food.

  6. July 11, 2014 1:07 am

    Don’t gas grills give off an obscene amount of greenhouse gases?

    • -R. permalink
      July 11, 2014 10:17 am

      Indeed they do, but I suppose it’s no worse than the carcinogenic coal fumes released as charcoal burns (at least to begin with). I’ll confess that after years of using our trusty circa 1967 avocado green Weber charcoal grill (complete with a brass riveted now driftwood handle) we recently splurged and bought a rather nice three burner gas grill – not a convection type, but rather one with the catch plates below the grilling surface but above the burners that does a really nice job of atomizing dripping juices into smokey glory. It does an admirable job in comparison to the charcoal grill, but doesn’t quite capture the same flavor intensity as the old Weber (which we continue to use). While charcoal imparts a very specific taste, the gas grill really has a much more neutral flavor presentation, making it nice for vegetables, fish and other more delicate flavors that you don’t want to bludgeon with charcoal. In all, it’s nice to have both at our disposal.

  7. July 12, 2014 1:03 am

    You can see if Fox Creek Farm still has openings: (518) 872-2375 or visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fox-Creek-Farm-CSA/136681076382302. They have medium shares and large shares. Pickup locations include SUNY-Albany, Honest Weight, Delmar, Schenectady, Clifton Park and Altamont.

  8. Michel permalink
    July 18, 2014 10:55 am

    Check this http://grillsandcookers.com/products/braten-1000 with the smoke box, now that’s a grill or http://www.norcalovenworks.com/Argentine-Grills-s/63.htm#.U8kno7En-30 just received a couple of Argentine grills

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