Bill wanted me to be sure to post pictures of the new grill so you could see how huge and manly it is and become insanely jealous. So here I go with the whole story.
A couple of weeks ago, on a cold, rainy Friday, Bill arrived home with a wide, giddy grin on his face and a big, bad grill (with firebox!) in the bed of the F-150.
He had me help off-load it, and when the front shelf hit me in the head, all he did was laugh cruelly and tell me I'd better not drop the grill or there'd be hell to pay.
You boys and your toys.
Here's the new grill the next morning, all comfy and content in its new home on the deck. You can see our former grill, our faithful Weber, peeking around from behind. No, no, don't worry - nothing bad happened to the Weber - Bill cleaned it up and gave it to Joe, who will provide it with a good home.
Oh, and see that nifty front shelf? That's the thing that hit me in the head. Just so you know.
*** Bill has asked me to make sure my readers know that he moved the grill farther away from the house before lighting a single flame. No shingles were harmed in the slow-cooking of any meat. ***
To welcome the new grill, we took out two massive slabs of spare ribs from the freezer AND purchased a rack of babybacks. No - of course our small family of four wouldn't be able to eat all that pork in one meal, not even if we made Alex skip lunch first.
We just grilled all that pork BECAUSE WE HAD A REALLY BIG GRILL.
First up, Bill had to fire up the coals. He did this in the fire box on the side of the grill.
The fire box is a BIG part of why we got a new grill. We like to do a lot of slow-cooking (I say "We" but it's mostly Bill doing the grilling and smoking and slow-cooking. I'm just using the Royal "we.") and the fire box would enable us to maintain better control of the internal temperature of the main grill - no need to keep opening the lid to add more coals only to have the temperature drop. It's an exciting step up.
But back to Bill. He filled the chimney with newspapers and coal - oh, and we only use officially cowboy-approved Frontier Brand Lump Charcoal in our grill.
We've also used Cowboy Brand, but the Frontier Brand has bigger pieces. It has lumps.
I'll try this again - Bill set up the chimney with newspaper and coal in the fire box and lit the paper to get things started.
Here's the newspaper - it's under the little grate inside the chimney.
(And that's my left sneaker-clad foot you see there. I like to do standing yoga poses while I photograph grill components. That's why you can't see a right foot. I was in tree pose.
Now Bill adds the lump charcoal...
And when there's enough charcoal, Bill lights the paper.
On a side note, the owner's manual for the grill instructed that we light the chimney with a "small amount of charcoal" which, to Bill, meant just that - a small amount. As in, not enough to fill the chimney. Turns out that was probably just poorly written instructions because it really didn't throw off a lot of heat.
Bill ended up adding a mess of charcoal to it later just to get the temperature up where it needed to be. The other thing to get used to is the larger space we're heating. The capacity of this grill is much larger than our old one, and in some ways it's like learning to prepare the coals all over again.
One thing Bill doesn't need to learn all over again is how to make an awesome barbecue sauce. He uses one of the recipes in Weber's Big Book of Grilling as a base and then tweaks it as he goes along.
Ohhh, can you smell that? It's mouthwateringly tangy...one of the best smells in the world.
And here, awaiting their entrance into the gaping maw of our new grill, are the ribs.
He used the "Texas rub" recipe from the Weber book for this batch, in case you were wondering.
While they sat waiting, Bill got the drip pans ready with a blend of water, apple juice, and red wine.
We discovered that a wiser move would have been to bring the wine and juice and water outside to where the pans were and fill them OUTSIDE, CLOSER TO THE GRILL instead of in the kitchen. As it was, we had to open one of the windows over the sink and I slowly and carefully handed each pan out the window to Bill, and he put them in the grill. We didn't spill too much.
I have to pause a moment here - isn't it PRETTY? All clean and new and utterly lacking in ancient bits of encrusted debris from meals past. Sigh. If only they could stay that way....
Time to check the coals!
They're looking good - almost ready. Just waiting for the top pieces to get a bit hotter.
While Bill was positioning the pans inside the grill, I took this charming picture of part of a grate through the smokestack.
It would have been cuter if Bill was looking through the other end, but he's got no interest in being cute, especially if I'm there with a camera and there's a chance his cuteness will end up on this site. On a happier note, there are a pair of my sneakers over there on the left. They were supposed to be drying out. Exciting around here, isn't it?
And over here...
We've got big ol' chunks of wood soaking in water. These will be used to add smoke to the ribs throughout the long, slow cooking process. The chemicals they use to pressure treat it give a nice piquant industrial flavor to the meat. JUST KIDDING.
Enough joking around. It's time to get serious now. The coals are hot and ready to go.
Bill puts his heavy duty welding gloves on...
And quickly and carefully dumps the white-hot coals into the fire box.
Time to get the meat.
Look at that! They all fit! With lots and lots of room to spare!!!!! Oh, the summer we're going to have!
Okay, meat's on, lid is closed - Bill adds some smoke in the form of damp hunks of wood, and we're off and running.
"Yep. Got me a damn fine grill..."
Here's a view of some of the smoke after one of the damp wood additions...
You can also see a pair of Alex's sneakers and Julia's pink crocs. And some socks. All left from one of their mud-flinging adventures.
About an hour or so before the ribs were done (they went on at about quarter to noon and it's now about 4:30) it was time to do some basting and for me to get a couple pictures.
Looking pretty good, no?
Ray, you wish you were here, don't you? Wish you'd been able to fly out for the weekend...spend the day gazing at the grill, maybe adding a good dose of chipotle to the barbecue sauce? Or chopping tomatoes and onions and cilantro to make a batch of salsa? Something to snack on while the ribs cook sloooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy on this lovely grill? You don't have to say anything, Ray. I can sense the pain you're feeling now. The lonely ache. The longing....
Now, at long last, roughly five and three quarter hours after the ribs went on, Bill pulled them.
And this is where I'll stop. For one thing, I didn't take any pictures once the ribs were in the house. There was no time. The sides (whatever they were - I don't even remember) were ready, the table was set, and we all kept slipping on the floor because of all the salivating going on.
Bill, of course, perfectionist that he is, felt the ribs could have been better. But as the first meal cooked on the new grill, the ribs were at the mercy of our learning curve. As we use the grill more, we'll figure out all the little things, all the tips and tricks unique to every grill, and our cooking will continue to improve.
We've used it again, of course. Bill made a beer can chicken that was delicious. We'll probably put it to use over the upcoming weekend, too. And eventually I'll be grilling pizzas.
Just as soon as Bill gives me a key to the lock he put on it.
So that's the update, Ray.
I figure by the time we see you this summer, the grill will be broken in and Bill will have mastered all of its finer points.
Meals will be smoky, grill-marked culinary adventures.
And maybe if you're lucky, he'll let you bow down and worship it. :)
The other day Bill brought home a 2 1/2 lb whole red snapper from our local Whole Foods. (And yes, in case you were wondering, those are Julia's little fingers on the left. When Bill told her what he had, she asked "Can I have the eyeballs?!")