Sure, that crockpot of ribs the other weekend was great, but it's time to barbecue:
What Scrapple is Made From (explains the chewiness).
But then it was time to light off the coals. I like a charcoal grill, an old one, just like my Dad used. I even have a little one for the Crash pad that a friend in Texas sent me. Gas/Propane have no thrill. You turn a switch, you turn it off. A Charcoal grill compared to one of those is like comparing a radial engine to a jet engine.
Like a grill, it's easy to teach someone to start a jet engine, anyone with two fingers can do it. You just need to move a switch from "OFF" to "START" and them remember to move it back to "ON" after a while. Sometimes you don't even do that, as it's spring-loaded back to ON.
To start a round engine you need two hands that can move like a hummingbird on crack. The right hand for the primer, energize and engage switches, the left hand being busy with the throttle, magneto then back to the throttle to control the starting RPM and then for the mixture and. . . .
Why? For starters (pun intended) there is no computer controlling the fuel/air mixture. If the mixture is too rich you'll end up with parts of the engine that look like wet charcoal briquettes and then it's NEVER going to start. If it's too lean it won't start. Some of the pilots would say the mixture is like being married, giving you new ways every day you can be wrong.
Jet engines start by whining a little, then give a delicate girly little "poof"and start whining a wee bit louder. Round engines give a satisfying rattle-rattle, click-click, BANG, more rattles, another BANG, a big manly BELCH, followed by the explosive resonance of a mechanical FART, more clicks, a bunch of smoke and finally, the serious perfection of low pitched roar. It's the sound that machines should make.
So yeah, I use an old fashioned barbecue.
First - let's get the meat ready. There are some easy steps to get a burger that's bun sized AND juicy.
You want to start with a meat mixture that is not too lean. Venison is healthy and tasty prepared properly, but for the perfect grilling burger I prefer beef. The most flavorful and juicy burgers are not the low fat versions, but simple 80% lean beef. If you have a butcher that will grind the meat (or grind your own), ask them to grind it using a a coarser grind than the pre-packaged stuff. It's not as dense and it feels juicier, with that slightly crisp on the outside feel in your mouth.
the Johnson household hamburger seasoning is pretty basic but gives the meat a nice smoky flavor that's a bit spicy, but not too much, or too sweet, like some hamburger sauces.
1 and 1/4 pound ground meat
1 and 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder or a small chunk of chopped fresh onion.
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a small splash of Worcestershire sauce, just enough to moisten and hold the meat together
BACON FAT (subliminal message), or balsamic, etc.
Let meat sit at room temperature about 30 minutes (but not much more than that). Why? Have you ever watched or participated in one of those "Polar Bear" meets where normally sane people jump into freezing cold winter water en masse like demented lemmings? (OK, once, it involved a pool on New Years, a bunch of pilots, martinis, and it was California so it wasn't exactly FREEZING winter water)
That's a shock to the system. It's the same if you put your nice burger from the cold fridge onto the hot grill. You'll just end up with a tough burger.
Abby wanted nothing to do with it.
No, I'm NOT going in
OK, - now it's time to get your grill ready. I like to use a "chimney" to get some hot coals going. The chimney generates a strong updraft that quickly turns briquettes into hot coals. It was pretty simple. Put 3 pieces of newspaper in the bottom, pile the coals on top, light the paper, wait 15 minutes. Look down in there, they should be JUST about ready. At 18- 20 minutes, dump them out and you've got hot coals.
Don't have one? Make one!"
What materials are on hand. Hmmm. Cardboard box? That would be a no? Styrofoam? Also a no. Fruitcake? The fruitcake itself would never burn, but I'm afraid of a chemical reaction between brandy infused cherries and Coleman fuel. (likely the source of the original "cherry bomb") So no.
Even without vent holes, it will still work Crumple 2-3 of sheets of clean newspaper in the bottom, leaving a few edges sticking up where you can get a match to them. Fill almost to the top with charcoal. Add just a dash of lighter fluid to a few of the briquettes. Do not soak them with it, the newspaper and the chimney will do the work.
Now step back and wait several minutes. Fire Marshall Bill says so. You don't want vapors on you or in the immediate area when you light it off.
After a few minutes have gone by, light the paper, stepping immediately away, and wait for combustion..
Wait, there's no handle on this thing!
Fortunately for us, we have the Johnson Universal Pot Handle Tool ™
Now that the coals are hot and spread around, it's time to cook.
Cook the patties "dent" side up first. Once those burgers are on the grill, don't press down on it as they cook. It won't cook faster, it'll just dry out quicker. Try and only flip it once.
Have some napkins handy, for these are some juicy burgers.
Hey - that's not a hamburger!
BUT DO NOT FORGET THE LAWS OF BOTH AERODYNAMICS AND PHYSICS. If you bend over to set something down, beer will spill.
Husband - "What happened".
Me - "Immutable Laws of Physics"
Husband- "That's alcohol abuse you know."
We paused for a moment of silence.