Last summer, Sarah and I went on vacation to North Carolina with Sarah's whole family... if you know Sarah, yes, her whole family: mom and dad, Sarah and her four siblings, spouses and their broods. Each couple took a night to make dinner for everyone, and in the spirit of summer we pitched in and bought a $20 charcoal grill from Wal-Mart to use for the week.
Everyone made superb meals. When it came to my turn, I strolled down to the grill like the cock of the walk - I grew up a griller!... a gas griller. From the first minute, I knew I was in trouble. How do you even light this stuff? Char... coal? When is it ready? How much do you use? (Answer: more than I thought.) My old-friend-turned-brother-in-law Justin and I got it going. Then it stopped. Then we had to go buy more charcoal. Then we got it going again. To make a long story short (too late!), with help from all my brothers-in-law, a cigar, and a couple of Coronas, we managed to churn out spectacular pork loins. Honestly, swear to god, spectacular! And, just like that, I was born again as a charcoal griller.
A couple months ago, I started eyeing this charcoal grill/smoker at Target. Whatever you say about the convenience of gas grills, charcoal grills are a lot cheaper. I've been talking about it, apparently often, and my parents gave me some cash as an early anniversary gift to buy my grill. I got it Sunday, and bought a nice pork loin to christen it with. As I should have known, it took me about 8 years to put the grill together (finishing about 9pm), so finally tonight I made my pork. It's been in the fridge since Sunday, two full days with the rub (brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, dried mustard, habanero powder, salt and pepper). As I did in North Carolina (anyone remember?), I used too little charcoal, wasn't sure how to manage the vents, fire went out, more charcoal, yada, yada, yada. But I got there, eventually, and churned out a damn fine BBQ pork loin, with grilled rosemary potatoes to boot.
Charcoal grilling can be a challenge, but it's a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to trying all the different woods (cherry, hickory, pecan, etc.), soaking agents (water, apple juice, wine, etc.), meats and veggies, and seeing how many flavors I can come up with. One option I read about was soaking rosemary sprigs and throwing them right on the hot coals, thus generating rosemary smoke. How good would that be for pork, chicken, or potatoes? And maybe, if I'm brave enough, I'll smoke my own chipotles with jalapenos from our garden.
Grilled Rosemary Pototoes
5 large potatoes, cubed (2" cubes or so)
fresh rosemary, chopped
sea salt & pepper
Combine olive oil & rosemary in shallow dish. Toss potatoes in mixture to coat. Skewer potatoes, sprinkle with sea salt & pepper. Grill until done, turning occasionally.