While Memorial Day is typically the kick off of summer BBQ season, for me Fathers Day is usually the beginning of serious outdoor cooking. I tend to cook my own Fathers Day meal because it really gives me an excuse to sit outside by myself and drink beer while meat slowly gets transmuted into gold. Over the years I have assembled a pretty good selection of outdoor cooking tools to cover just about any situation. Once I have my custom built pig cooker I will be complete.
Now not everyone needs a way to cook a whole pig, though I do recommend you try sometime. A standard grill, either charcoal or gas, is all you need to do most tasks. Volumes have been written about charcoal vs. gas and I have some things I love about both. I’m not going to do anything to inflame that debate here, though I do have an extinguisher handy. For speed you can’t beat gas, for flavor and texture I prefer charcoal. Having both on hand is not unreasonable. Heck mine are side by side.
Again you don’t need to go that far, you can make some tasty food on any grill or grill like substitute. Regardless of heat source if you work with quality stuff you can make quality grub.
The other must have for me is a smoker. Much like the charcoal vs gas debate, there are many conflicts over smoker styles and why one is better than another. I received an electric water smoker as a gift quite a few years ago, and I love it. Consistent temperature, easy to add smoke without having to worry about adding coals and an easier afternoon of “cooking”. I see the purists point of view on the skill it takes to feed a smoker all day with coals in order to maintain a regular temperature. I applaud their skill. Some day when I have the time and inclination to do so I’m sure I will work on it.
Till then my little electric water filled beauty will have to do the trick. It makes a mean pork shoulder or a few slabs of ribs. Aside from how you cook there are a few things I recommend you have in order to successfully reach outdoor cooking happiness.
The right tool for the job applies to cooking just like it does to repairing your house or car. Ideally I like to have two of everything. Two spatulas with long handles, two sets of long spring loaded tongs, two long handled meat forks, and two ove gloves or a pair of welding gloves.
Sometimes you need to get your hands dirty, and getting your hands dirty in a pile of 180 degree meat is not recommended. And of course the key ingredient to any successful meat alchemy event at my house is the cold beverage of your choice.
Enjoy the summer.