As you begin to consider your Memorial Day plans, we're here to help with the barbeque. We have a guy who knows a thing or two about buying a grill.
Meathead Goldwyn of AmazingRibs.com. (Meathead is the name he prefers, just Meathead.) And he's compiled a searchable database of reviews. Whether you're looking for gas or charcoal, a small portable grill, or your deck's centerpiece, there are over 300 to browse.
His answers to your our burning nuts 'n' bolts grilling questions:
Gas, or charcoal?
Meathead: Nothing beats charcoal for flavor. You get that really high temp that you need for a good, dark mahogony sear on a steak... And you can't beat gas for convenience. You go out there, turn the switch, 10 minutes later you're ready to rock and roll.
How much should I spend as an occasional weekend griller?
Meathead: If you spend $400 or so you can get a pretty good tool, if you're cooking on it a lot. There are some nice gizmos out there in the $200 range, but they're not built to last. In 4-5 years, they'll start busting.
Sauce or dry rub?
Meathead: Both! Dry rub goes down first, always. But sauce is really nice, especially if you do it right.
How do you feel about pulled pork?
Meathead: When people ask me where to start, especially with smoked meats, pulled pork is absolutely the way to go. It's really forgiving. It's hard to screw up. You can serve it on a sandwich, or drizzle a little sauce on there. Taste is a matter of taste.
What is the single most important thing I can do to make me a better griller?
Meathead: Digital thermometer. Food is ready to eat when it hits the target temperature, not according to a clock. [Buyer's Guide]
RECIPE: Grilled Sweet And Sour Pork
Makes. Dinner for 2
Takes. 1 hour
1 pound pork tenderloin
1 medium onion, peeled, ends removed, and cut into 2 hemispheres
1 bell pepper, your choice of colors, cut in half, stem and seeds discarded
3 cross section slices of fresh pineapple, about 1/2" thick, peeled and cored
1/2 cup Mumbo Sauce from my recipe
About the pork. Remember, tenderloins are different from loins (see my article on the different pork cuts). They are a bit more expensive than loins, and more tender. I strongly recommend that you resist the temptation to use another cut.
Using chicken or shrimp. You can adapt these concepts to chicken or shrimp easily. Just be very careful to not overcook the meat. That's why I recommend 2" thick hunks.
About the peppers. You can substitute a red bell pepper, or, if you want a little heat, use a poblano pepper. I like to add a jalapeño for some kick.
About the pineapple. Use fresh pineapple if possible. You can use canned pineapple without the liquid if you can't find fresh. If you do, don't waste the sweet syrup from the can. Substitute it for some of the water in the sauce and leave out a tablespoon or two of sugar.
About the Mumbo Sauce. Mumbo Sauce is a sweet sour sauce popular in Washington DC and it works perfectly on this dish.
About the rice. Typical Chinese restaurant style is with white rice, but feel free to use brown rice if you wish. Just remember it takes 30 minutes longer and so you need to start it before things go on the grill.
Optional garnishes. Sprinkle some fresh chives or green onions on the top. Better still, add 1/4 cup unsalted cashews browned in a dry frying pan over medium heat. I usually do both.
Serve with. A slightly sweet Riesling or Gewurztraminer.
1) Make the Mumbo Sauce. You can do this days or weeks in advance. Keep it warm if you are making it fresh. If it has been in the fridge, warm it in a pan or in the microwave.
2) The tenderloin is a tube of meat with a taper on one end and a lump on the other. Lop them both off so you have a tube of uniform thickness. Trim off any excess fat and silverskin. Silverskin is just what it sounds like, a silvery, thin, sheath between the fat and the meat that will shrink and get tough when cooked. That's four tenderloins ready to go at right. Salt everything liberally and let it sit for about 20 minutes in the fridge so the salt will be absorbed. Then coat everything in a thin layer of cooking oil so it won't stick and so it will brown better.
3) Set up the grill with a 2-zones for indirect and direct heat cooking. and get the indirect side up to about 325°F.
4) Start grilling the onions, pineapple, and bell peppers over the hot part of the grill with the lid closed. Stay close to the grill so nothing burns. Get grill marks on both sides, but take them off a little undercooked, when they are limp but not soft, and put then in a pot. You want a little crunch. The onions will probably finish last. It's OK if they cool a bit because you need to chop them and you'll burn yourself if they are too hot.
5) Put the pork, trimmed chunks and tubes, on the indirect side and cook with the lid closed. Watch the temp on the small pieces closely, they will finish first.
6) Start the rice. Put the water, salt, and butter in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid and bring to a boil. Add the rice, pouring it in slowly so that each grain is engulfed in water rather than just dumping it in. This will help keep it from clumping. Stir briefly and dial back the heat to a slow simmer, on low. Cover with a tight lid so little steam will escape and simmer 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid and do not stir. After it is done, taste it. If it is too crunchy, cook for another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork and serve.
7) While the pork and rice are cooking, chop the veggies and pineapple into bite sized chunks and put them in a pot on the indirect part of the grill just to keep warm. Warm the sauce.
8) When the tubes of pork approach 125°F, roll them onto the hot side so they will brown. Continue cooking until the center of the tube hits 145°F. If you are making this with chicken, it needs to go up to 165°F and if you are cooking shrimp you should pull shrimp off as soon as it turns bright orange and the center is opaque.
9) Remove the pork and slice each tube lengthwise into quarters. Bundle the quarters and slice across them every 1/2" to make 1/2" chunks. Add the meat to the pot with the chopped veggies and pineapple and stir everything together.
10) Plate the rice first and spoon the meat and veggies on top, and drizzle the sauce over everything. If you have toasted cashews, sprinkle some on top at the last minute so they don't get soggy.