Today was the day I have long been waiting for — the hockey schedule and weather conspired to make it the perfect day to dust off the old Weber to make some dinner. The inaugural grilled meal of the season? Pork and Bacon Kebabs, a recipe from Food + Wine last summer. The only change I make to the recipe is to omit the caraway seeds in the marinade; I included them the first time I made this last May, and I just found them distracting. Of course, I don’t really like caraway seeds in anything, so that might have been the problem.
Now, I never used to be a very ardent grillmaster, but there’s something so incredible about Maple Hoo’s backyard that makes me just want to be out there poking at some charcoals with a beer in one hand every night of the week. We have a magnificent maple in the center of the yard, with a grand, leafy canopy that coolly rustles overhead on even the hottest summer night. Tonight it was more a grand, fluffy canopy of buds, but there’s a lot of promise of what’s to come:
We happen to live in a very quiet neighborhood, and our property abuts a large wooded nature reserve, so when you’re out in the back in the afternoon and evening, it’s almost impossibly peaceful and serene. When our deck furniture was all living on the lawn rather than the deck during the kitchen construction last summer, we discovered that having a couple of benches around the grill makes for a lovely gathering place for all of us as we nurse our beverages and wait while the fire goes through its paces.
Tonight’s beverage was a Viennese Lager from Triumph Brewery, and the weather was absolutely perfect for sitting, sipping, and shooting the shit. And when the fire was all ready, we had these to look forward to:
I doubled the recipe, because this makes exquisite leftovers, so I was facing a couple of waves of grilling.
Now, a couple of years ago, Boomer and I went to the Culinary Institute of America for their Barbeque Boot Camp. The chef instructors were incredibly blase about grilling, and on the day that we were preparing direct- and fast-cooked foods, they just built the biggest, hottest fire you can imagine, and we grilled on that. Ever since, I’ve taken the approach that that was intentional, and a giant, super-hot fire is the key to good grilling. Moderation is for wimps. And when you grill with the kind of fire I do, these kebabs are done in a hurry. Of course, they’re also frequently enveloped in belching flames, because when you’re grilling bacon, you’re going to get some flare-ups.
After a few intense minutes of concentration, trying to keep ahead of the raging hotspots while making sure the bacon got cooked through, my first foray into grilling for the year was all over. Because there are no nice vegetables to be had anywhere around here these days, and because I was pretty mentally fried on Monday when I planned my menu for this week, I went with some bobo side dishes tonight. We had baked potatoes and some sweet corn I’d frozen last summer. Let me just say — I’ve been so antsy to grill for the last few weeks, and in the end, it was deliciously worth the wait.