The thing I love most about barbecues is that you can invite people over to celebrate pretty much any occasion, such as the beginning of barbecue season, the end of barbecue season, and any week that meat is on sale. Last year, I had my whole family over to celebrate the fact that we bought a barbecue. Why didn’t do this when we got a new stove:
Men love to barbecue because when we cook supper, we want the whole neighborhood to know.
“This food is so good! What’s your secret?”
“I used the oven timer.”
Nor would we invite them over if we got a dishwasher:
“This food is even better than last time! What’s your secret?”
Men, in particular, love to barbecue. This is partly because when we actually cook supper, we want the whole neighborhood to know.
So yes, I love to barbecue. Just last week I barbecued twelve chicken wings, a basting brush, and two oven mitts. You probably smelled it.
HOSTING A BARBECUE
STEP 1: BUY A GRILL
I’m not talking about a George Foreman. A George Foreman is not a grill; it’s a waffle iron for meat. If you invite people over for a barbecue, and they show up to find you hunched over a George Foreman, they’re going to leave. It doesn’t matter how much they like you:
“Hey, come back! Bubby!”
There are basically two kinds of grills: charcoal and gas. With a charcoal grill, you have to pour in a load of briquettes, and it’s much safer than a gas grill because you generally can’t get them to light. They’re little bricks, for goodness sakes. At most, you’ll get them to start smoking, and wind up engulfed in a plume of smoke, trying to guess when your food is done and where on the grill it is exactly.
At our house, we have a propane grill. Basically, you buy a tank full of flammable gas, and you try not to think too much about the fact that you’re leaving it unattended in your backyard all year. But it’s pretty easy to use: You open the valve, push a button, and then you thank Hashem that there was no explosion. (I also have my kids stand by with the garden hose.)
I love my grill. I’m thinking of getting one for dairy.
On the other hand, a propane grill can run out of fuel with no warning. This happened to me just this week. I had my whole family over – parents, siblings, nieces and nephews – all waiting in the living room for me to finish cooking, and suddenly my brother, who was outside helping me because there was nowhere left to sit, said, “Hey, did the fire go out?” And I said, “That’s ridiculous! It lets off some kind of warning! No?”
So we came inside nonchalantly and headed straight for the kitchen, holding all the stuff we didn’t get to make yet. Everyone was like, “You’re inside; does that mean the food’s done?” and we said, “Almost!” all the while hoping they wouldn’t see us boiling the frankfurters. Thank goodness we’d already done the shish kabobs, or they would’ve walked into the kitchen to see us holding them over a burner.
STEP 2: FIGURE OUT WHAT TO GRILL
The most common foods that people barbecue are hot dogs and hamburgers, which are both pieces of meat that look nothing like they did when they were in the animal, and we’re pretty sure that if you take them out of an animal, it wouldn’t even notice they were missing. Hot dogs are particularly popular, because you can fit about five hundred of them on your grill to make up for the fact that they’re constantly rolling onto the ground. Whenever that happens, I pick it up with the tongs, very gently, and put it back on the grill.
No, I’m just kidding. I throw it over the fence into my neighbor’s yard. My neighbor has a tiny annoying dog that is constantly barking, especially when it smells meat, and I find that throwing hot dogs over the fence gets it to stop.
Another fun thing to make is shish kabobs. Shish kabobs are great, because they allow you to serve something that is not just hot dogs or hamburgers without actually coming out and buying everyone a steak. Basically, you’re giving each person like three bites of meat, except that no one is saying, “He only gave us like three bites of meat.” They’re all saying, “Ooh, shish kabob!” The name “shish kabob” is specifically designed to sound appetizing, coming from the word “shish”, which means “stick”, and “kabob”, which means “that is on fire.” My sticks always catch fire, and I can never quite put them out with the tongs, so most of my guests end up eating some shish.
You should definitely also add some vegetables to the grill, so you could tell people, “What? I’m also making vegetables!” Like corn, for example. (Corn on the cob, we mean. Learn from our mistakes.)
STEP 3: PREPARE YOUR MEAL
1. Make sure to set up your skewers ahead of time. It takes a lot more time than you’d think to thread pointy sticks through hundreds of pieces and meat and vegetables.
2. About ten minutes before the guests show up, yell, “Oh my goodness! I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer!”
3. Take the big block of chicken cutlets out of the freezer and wonder how on Earth you’re going to thaw it. Put the entire block on the grill.
4. While the chicken is thawing, shuck the corn. Put that on the grill.
5. If a corncob rolls off the grill, pick it up with your tongs and throw it over the fence at the little barking dog. If you do this correctly, you will hear a slight “BONK!” and the dog will stop barking.
6. Yell, “Oh my goodness, I forgot to make the hamburgers!” Go inside and make patties.
7. Come back outside, take the corn off the grill, and check on the big block of chicken. Note that the part touching the grill is black, and the other side is frozen solid. Flip it over.
8. Put the burgers on the grill and keep them there until the middle is no longer pink. But don’t poke them open to check, or the pieces will fall through the grates.
9. Look at your chicken. It should now be black on both sides and frozen in the middle. Flip it back onto the other black side and hope for the best.
10. Put the shish kabobs on the grill. If any of the sticks catch fire, put them out with the hose.
11. If you want your food to cook faster, close the lid. If you want it to cook even faster, go inside for a few minutes. You won’t believe how fast things cook when you’re inside.
12. When the neighborhood smells like it’s burning down, run back outside to see smoke billowing out from under the lid. Open the lid and get blasted by a cloud of smoke.
13. Come inside, your face black and your eyebrows missing, and announce that the food is ready.
STEP 4: ENJOY THE COMPLIMENTS
“What happened to my skewer?”
“Why are the burgers wet?”
“What is that big black rock in middle of the table?”
“These frankfurters are great!”
“You like them? He made them on the sto— Ow! Why’d you kick me?”