Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

The Weber Chronicles: Serendipity

February 24, 2012

New art on the kitchen wall.

Some of the best grilling inspiration comes not from websites or cookbooks, but from the discount section at the meat counter.

Walking through the aisles at the supermarket today, eyes toggling around to track two toddlers, I paused to see something rarely on display at at modern supermarket:  a pork roast with bones in it.  Looking more closely, I realized that it was a section of about 5 pork ribs– essentially a whole series of pork chops in its natural environment.  Looking even more closely, I saw that the whole piece was marked down to half-price:  only $2/lb.  As I quickly set it in the cart, I muttered aloud to myself, “Pork Prime Rib!”

Inspired, the next step was to head to the produce section to find some accompaniment.  One of my favorite pleasures in roasting meat on the grill is finding something else to squeeze into the empty space as a bonus– a kind of free ride for side dishes.  Today, it seemed like some potatoes and fresh beets would be just the ticket.  Plus some other veggies to steam for sides, and I was moving with a bit more spring in my step.

Back home, I let the meat sit out to come up to room temp while I put the rest of the groceries away.  Then covered it with a generous dose of kosher salt and a little bit of pepper (no, nothing else).  I made a quick mix of salt, pepper, and olive oil to coat the potatoes and beets, then headed outside to get the grill started.

When the coals were all ashed over, I set up a two-zone fire– a thick layer of coals on one side, and nothing on the other.  Then I put that meat on to sear– every single side for several minutes.  I recently learned that doing so does not ‘seal in the juices’ as was the earlier conventional wisdom, but it does increase the flavor by at least one hundred-fold.  That intense, dry heat gave the meat a nice sear before I moved the whole thing off the direct heat.  Before putting the lid on the grill, I tucked the potatoes and beets beside the roast, put in my meat thermometer, and left it alone.  The grill was running at about 370, and gradually backed off to about 355 over the roughly hour-long cooking time: perfect.

While I was waiting, I googled some great news– the new conventional wisdom for proper internal temperatures in pork recently dropped by 15 degrees (from 160F to 145F).  After anxiously ignoring the advice of the venerable and grandfatherly USDA for many years, it was nice to hear that I could relax and feed my kids some properly cooked meat.

The result?  My wife did the carving, accompanied by a fair bit of noshing and moaning.  And the kids gobbled it up– especially that littlest one, who was shouting ‘Mo-mo-mo’ before we had all even sat down.  The skin peeled right off the beets, too, and the potatoes were perfect.  A good day, indeed.

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