While women have made great strides in the boardroom and in many other previously “male-only domains” over the past 50 years, there’s at least one where it seems they haven’t made much progress at all: the grill. If we are to believe what we see and read, women do not grill. Grills and grilling aprons are not part of Mother’s Day ads. I had to page through 29 listings at amazon.com before I found a grilling cookbook with a woman on the cover. But especially in these days leading up to Father’s Day 2010, images of men and grills are everywhere (those Chick-F-A cows should be very, very scared…). The Father’s Day display at Half Price Books has a guide called Patio Daddy-O at the Grill front & center; Bed, Bath and Beyond currently is hawking its grill cleaning tool called the Grill Daddy (as seen on TV!) right near the check-out lines.
Why isn’t it the Grill Momma? What is it about women not being associated with grilling? I know some women probably like leaving the grilling to their husbands, especially if those husbands aren’t ones to cook or help out in the kitchen otherwise. It’s a way men can “be domestic without being domestic”. And I know some women (especially Southern ones) probably view grilling as a “manly thing”, with its caveman-like elements of fire and raw meat… too “icky” and un-feminine… I must admit, with all my household responsibilities, I liked reserving that job for Andy. It gave me a break from cooking once in awhile and besides, I usually burnt whatever I tried to grill. Seriously, charred beyond recognition. So I, too, bought into the stereotype lock, stock and lighter fluid, that women don’t grill.
Until I realized that in Texas in the summer, cooking outside, more often than just an occasional barbecue, made a lot more sense than heating up the kitchen every night. And grilled food can be pretty healthy. And, if my family was going to eat grilled food more often and expect to eat at a decent time, relying on my husband to fire up the grill when he got home from work on weeknights just wasn’t feasible. So I learned to grill.
In true Uncool Mom fashion, I went to the library and sat among the cookbook stacks in the hopes that Martha Stewart or Paul Prudhomme could teach me a thing or two. And while I don’t think it was either of them who taught me, I did manage to find the secret to successful grilling, at least for me: indirect heat. We have a gas grill, and this method (listed below) works like magic. I’ve never burnt anything since using it, and am now the grillmeister in our family. And I think a lot of women could be the same.
Grill afficionados say my method is cheating, but I don’t think so– food still gets that “grilled” look, tastes great and is juicy and perfect. And wonderful smells still waft through the backyard. It does take a little longer to grill this way, but it’s worth not having all the charring. And, Andy still has a part. When the propane tank runs out, he hauls it to a gas station/convenience store, gets it re-filled and attaches it back to the grill. (That’s just too “icky” a job for me.) J
Uncool Mom’s Indirect Grilling Method:
Using a gas grill with two heating knobs– Light grill and turn both knobs to High. Close lid. Heat up until temperature gauge is reading Med. High to High. When desired temperature is reached, turn one knob off. Lift lid and place food on side with no gas flame underneath. Cook with lid closed until desired doneness is reached, turning at least once. You learn from experience how long this takes. I cook 1-inch steaks about 12-15 minutes per side, a little less for hamburgers. This method is also great for foil packets of shrimp and veggies, although they cook faster than red meat, of course…
An interesting note about grill cleaning with this method– After you’ve grilled, there is of course bits of “stuff” left on the grill. The next time you grill, make this side the non-food, flame side. The flame will burn off all the bits and make it easy to clean, and then this will be the side on which you place food the next time you grill. Thus, you switch sides each time you grill, placing the food on the opposite side on which you cooked it the last time…