Some of My First Grilling Tips of the Year
My youngest daughter had her first sleepover Friday night with a friend from her first-grade class. When I asked my daughter what she wanted for dinner with her friend, she immediately replied, "Filet Mignon with Demi Glace Sauce!"
This is her favorite meal and her friend's first encounter with filet mignon. Naturally, my daughter wanted to share her excitement over this meal, so I went out and purchased a few steaks.
I was a little concerned because when her mother dropped off my daughter's friend, she said her daughter was a very picky eater and didn't like much, but she did love french fries, so steak frites (steak and fries) it was. I served a salad and creamed spinach for my wife and me, but the kids would have none.
First Grilling - Two Mistakes
I usually grill all winter long, and I'm sure I ventured out into the cold at some point this past one, but it has been a while. Friday night was a gorgeous night to grill. Unfortunately, I made two big mistakes, clear skies, warm weather, and a glass of wine in hand, which I will share now.
First Mistake -- Not Cleaning Out the Ashes
The first mistake this first night of grilling was not cleaning the ashes from the bottom of the kettle before starting. I usually give my gas grill and charcoal grill a good cleaning at the end of the fall season, but I didn't clean the charcoal grill this time.
It usually doesn't matter much, but because the ashes got damp over the winter, they formed a solid mess at the bottom of the kettle. This mess covered up a couple of the air vents at the bottom, making it difficult to get enough airflow to get the fire hot.
I should have realized this as soon as I noticed how long it took to get the coals hot. I did a lot of huffing and puffing to get the coals hot enough to grill the steaks. And speaking of coals, this leads me to my second mistake. Not enough coals.
Second Mistake - Not enough charcoal
I don't know what I was thinking, but I skimped on charcoal when I made the fire and had to add more before I could even start grilling. This slowed down the whole process and the kids were getting antsy for dinner.
I like using 100% lump hardwood charcoal. It costs a little more than the more common charcoal briquettes you find everywhere, but the hardwood charcoal burns hotter, cleaner and with no chemicals.
So all I can say is, "Don't skimp on a couple of dollars worth of charcoal and chance ruining $30 plus dollars worth of meat."
I grilled the steaks like usual but served up the small pieces that cooked faster to the girls and let the bigger cuts cook a little longer. If you'd like to see my grilling tips, you can find them at HERE.