The Chainlink

What does barbecuing have to do with bicycles? Well, this Saturday there's going to be a Ride/Rooftop BBQ/Midnight Movie hosted by Miss Amanda Olbrys and I wanted to A) remind people of it because it has been a while since the original discussion and B) help bring all of our barbecue game up to the next level.

Basically, if you're not riding your bike to barbecues, you're going to get a F in summer. So let's have a discussion about the glory of grilling.

My contribution is my recipe for Grilled Pineapple with Macerated Strawberries that I will be bringing to the aforementioned bike bash. I would warn people not to bring this dish but I am pretty sure it's completely impossible to have too much grilled pineapple.

Fourth of July BBQ


1 pint strawberries (mad props if you buy them at a farmer's market and all but this is a good way to bump up the flavor of lame supermarket berries)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup decent-to-good balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

Dice your strawberries. Add the brown sugar and balsamic; they don't have to be drowning in vinegar but they should be soaking. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you taste them two hours later, they'll be tasty. If you taste them a day later, they'll be delicious. If you wait two or three days, the strawberries really break down and the balsamic fuses with the juices and mellows and it turns into a rich syrupy sauce that I could seriously just drink straight.

Try it over whipped cream, angel food cake, or...


Chop up some pineapple. Roll it in a neutral-flavored oil, like canola. Slide those slippery chunks onto some bamboo skewers or popsicle sticks, preferably ones that have been soaking in water so they don't burn to a crisp. Grill it up.

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So grilling in the summer is perhaps my favorite activity in the world. I'm convinced you can cook pretty much anything on the grill. Here are some random tips. I may post actual recipes later.

For the grill:
1. Cook with charcoal, preferably good hardwood lump charcoal. This is just my opinion, but clearly my opinion is correct.
2. Get a chimney starter, and never again use lighter fluid. I prefer my food petroleum free.
3. Learn what those air vents on your grill do: more air means more heat. A charcoal grill is surprisingly flexible in temperature control if you know what you're doing.
4. Move most of the charcoal to one side and you now have a direct and indirect heat zone -- sear the steak or porkchops on each side over direct heat, and then move them over to finish cooking more slowly.
5. To prevent food from sticking: make sure you clean the grill grates really well, let the grates heat for several minutes, and then (using tongs) rub them with a paper towel that has been dipped in some vegetable oil.

General meat stuff:
6. Read about brining meat:
7. Always let your meat warm up to close to room temperature before cooking -- cold meat cooks unevenly so you end up with an overdone exterior and underdone interior.
8. Always let your meat rest after cooking. Never cut into that beautiful steak the minute it comes off the grill. Let it sit, covered loosely in foil, for at least 5 minutes so that the juices are reabsorbed by the meat.
9. If you aren't able to tell how done something is by just poking it, go buy an instant read thermometer so you can check when things are actually done.

10. Grilled corn is awesome, but can be a pain. I find the easiest thing to do is just boil it like normal, then shock it with some cold water. Dry it off, brush with some butter or olive oil, and then throw it on the grill over high heat for just long enough to char it a little.
11. Always soak your bamboo skewers in water to prevent them from burning up.

About fat:
12. Fat is good, but it will cause flare-ups. Don't slather anything in an oil heavy marinade and just throw it on the grill -- you will have a raging inferno. Either cook it over indirect heat or wipe off most of the marinade first.

Bread and stuff
13. Sure, you can toast burger buns a little before serving, but you can also do the same for pitas, tortillas, etc.
14. Grilled pizza is awesome. Prep the dough and place it carefully on the grate. Look until it bubbles and chars just a little on the underside. Remove the dough, put toppings on the cooked side, and return the pizza to the grate. Cover and cook briefly.
15. Make a bread oven: fire up the grill and place a couple unglazed quarry tiles or a pizza stone on the grate. Put on the proofed bread dough and bake with the grill closed. You'll have to figure out temperature control and stuff, but you can get some really nice results.
speaking of bbq my grill got blown away and now is missing a leg anyone have one to spare?
Joel said:
10. Grilled corn is awesome, but can be a pain. I find the easiest thing to do is just boil it like normal, then shock it with some cold water. Dry it off, brush with some butter or olive oil, and then throw it on the grill over high heat for just long enough to char it a little.

Corn becomes VERY easy:
1) if it's FRESH (farmer's market or back of a truck), just throw on the grill in the husk.
2) if it's store-bought, soak for a few hours in salt-water, then grill in the husk.

When the husks are charred, your corn has steamed to perfection. Medium charcoal fire works best, but HOT is okay if you turn often and have good corn.

Great with just a little butter and smoked salt or regular salt. Also amazing with light coating of sour cream, parmesan, and hot chili powder.
My awesome jalapeño hamburgers!
2lbs of ground beef or turkey
4 jalapeño's cored and finely chopped
Half a onion finely chopped
1tbl spoon of Worcestershire sauce
1tbl spoon of garlic salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 cup of finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
Combine all of the ingredients.
Shape into patty's
Refrigerate for an hour ( I know room temp for most meat but not burgers. This trick helps them from falling apart on the grill and eliminates the need for an egg and bread crumbs!)
Grill on a medium heat grill till done.
Smoky BBQ Cinnamon Rolls

As Joel says in tip #4, put the coals in one area of the grill, leaving an indirect heat zone. Get a tube of refrigerated cinnamon rolls (or orange rolls, etc.). Grease the pan you'd normally use as directed and arrange the cinnamon rolls like you would for the oven. Place pan in the indirect heat zone and grill em up. Drink a beer, smoke a cigarette or whatever you have with you, until rolls are browned slightly. Adorn rolls with the included sugary glaze, cool, and behold the sweet smoky cinnamony flavor. Bon appetit.
BBQ tip

If you like your BBQ smoky, add pre-soaked wood chips to your coals just before cooking. This will produce a healthy smoke column, giving your food an adequately smoky flavor and convincing your neighbors you are indeed a certified eccentric nutjob. You can get several varieties of woodchips (cherry, mesquite, etc.) at Menard's in the BBQ section.

BBQ ettiquette

When invited to a BBQ, unless appointed BBQ-tioner, do not touch the host's grill or offer unprompted cooking advice. Whatsoever.
I like grilled peppers quite a bit. So a few weeks ago I made this grilled vegetable salad.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

+3-4 Bell Peppers (I like to use red, green and yellow)
+2-3 Tomatoes
+2-3 Onions. my preference, use Vidalia Onions.

+1 clove of garlic through garlic press, otherwise just mince as best you can.
+3 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
+3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Grill Vegetables until charred on all sides and place in bowl and cover immediately with Saran wrap. This will assist in steaming the skin off the peppers later.

Grill tomatoes next for about 5 minutes. Do not overcook, they will be very mushy and impossible to cut.
Next grill the onions, these may take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on the heat and the onion used. I find slicing a larger onion in half really helps in making sure they are cooked just right.

Now peel the skin off the peppers and remove seeds (in my opinion not necessary but some people just hate seeds), and slice the peppers. Coarsely chop or slice the both the tomatoes and onions as well and mix with peppers in a bowl.

While the vegetables are sitting or someone else is chopping make the salad dressing.

Pour the vinegar into a bowl and add the garlic.
Next slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking. It is important that you don't pour everything in at once, or the dressing will take longer to whisk.
Or if you have a blender and want a thicker dressing just toss everything into a blender.
Cover and place in a fridge or serve immediately.
This should serve enough for 6-8 people.

That's my very simple and very cheap side dish for BBQ's.


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