When I was young I don’t remember having barbecues as we know them today. I am sure there were hot dogs speared on a branch over a campfire but my mother never “barbecued or grilled dinner.”
When I was around 12 or 13 I had a brilliant brainstorm. (Most of my brainstorms were brilliant – somewhat problematic but always brilliant!) I talked my mother into making barbecued chicken on a grill along with corn on the cob.
First we had to go out and buy a grill. We got a very cheap metal thing on 3 spindly legs but it worked. We bought charcoal and lighter fluid and thought we were good to go.
First, do you know that if you put too much lighter fluid on the charcoal briquettes you can singe your eyebrows off? I didn’t. Neither did my Mom.
Now we have the grill lit and roaring. (You don’t need eyebrows for this.) We didn’t worry about the fire department because I don’t think we had one. Our neighbor Lefty was sitting on his back stoop with his twelfth beer of the day (hey, it was only 1 p.m.!) and just watching the show.
He was a very good cook and often made wonderful dishes that he shared with the neighbors. I don’t know why we didn’t ask him how to do this.
Google hadn’t been invented yet and there was nothing in my Mother’s old cookbooks on how to grill. Do you throw the food on while the flames are roaring? Do you wait until it dies down a little? How long does it take?
Throwing caution to the wind, we put the chicken on while the fire was at full tilt. After all, chicken needs to be cooked through, right? No one was going to die of salmonella on my mother’s watch!
Poor little chicken. It gave its life for nothing.
The grill was a raging crematorium. And after a few (very few) minutes all that was left were some blackened bones. The corn was gone too.
Lefty walked over and explained that you need to let the flames die down and the briquettes get gray before you start cooking. I thought my mother was going to smack him silly.
He watched this whole production and never walked over until it was too late!
We were a resilient pair though. We ate baloney sandwiches with coleslaw (which fortunately didn’t need to be grilled). Tasted pretty good as I remember! And yes, we did continue to grill. We started slower with hot dogs so too much wouldn’t be lost.