The other day, I was talking to a colleague about BBQ. Because it was either that, or talk more about cloud-based micro-services architectures for horizontal scaling… See? You fell asleep. And BBQ is awesome.
We got to the inevitable conversation about equipment. Because serious BBQ people have serious conversations about BBQ equipment. He’s a Big Green Egg person. Which I respect. When you walk into someone’s porch and you spot one of those Big Green Declarations of BBQ passion, you know you’re talking to someone who cares more for his meat than the average person.
But you have to be careful. Big Green Cultists can also be a little judgey about non-Big Green People. So when the question came, I was ready.
“Propane, or charcoal?”
When we bought the house, I had discovered this giant iron cauldron down near the pond. We had a couple of fires there (If I made it smokey enough, it didn’t so much discourage the Maine mosquitoes, as make it easier to track their flight paths as their sparrow-sized wings created disturbances in the smoke). But I pretty soon moved it up to the patio near the house.
I had been using a Weber for years that was just about ready to give up the ghost - as much as I love those simple kettle-shaped grills, they’re not made to last the ages (one of the advantages you get when you take out an extra mortgage on your house to spring for a Big Green Egg of Eternity). But the grill itself was good enough. And I was in the mood for a steak. And lobster.
When lobster drops to ~$4.99/lb - which happens up here at least once or twice most seasons - you have lobster with everything.
Hell, one year, lobster was $4 a pound. I was having a side of lobster with my spaghetti. I’d sprinkle that lobster on Cap’n Crunch at that price.
Sure, it takes a little more planning to light the fire, and warm up the pit, and build up a good set of embers. But there’s a reason that everything tastes better cooked over a camp fire. There’s some magic in the combination of smoke, heat, and char that creates a flavor combination that is down right mystical. Lobster tails taste sweeter. Steak tastes juicier. Corn or vegetables caramelize more perfectly.
So yeah, my Big Green Friend, go ahead and use your charcoal.
That’s good enough for some people, I suppose.
But I’ll stick to oak. And maybe the occasional piece of apple or cherry wood when I’m feeling whimsy.