Dear next door neighbors,
I'm sure you are lovely and upstanding citizens, generous of spirit and cup and plate. I've not yet met you in person, but seemingly your friends come over each weekend to bask in the warm glow of your hospitality. They're surely not there for the food.
How do I know, without ever having tasted, that the things you grill have a flavor akin to scrapings from the crumb tray of Satan's toaster oven? Well, because each Saturday or Sunday afternoon since you moved in, at around five o'clock, my whippet, who's usually been basking in the dappled sunlight on the chaise by the back window suddenly stands bolt upright, sniffs furiously and flees toward the front of the apartment. Dogs, in my experience, tend to run in the direction of cooking meat, but she can hardly be blamed in this case.
You may not know this, because seemingly there's some sort of hell-borne current that guides airflow only in the direction of your house to mine, but your grill produces an acrid, evil smoke that vaults the eight foot fence between our backyards, hangs a sharp 90 degrees and roils into my kitchen until I can no longer breathe. Twice already, I have had to postpone my own dinner preparations and leave the house because the fumes - your fumes - were giving me a stabbing headache.
And you're doing all this with a gas grill. How in the world is that possible?
I have a few theories.
Bless your heart, you grew up in a grill-less society and had no idea you are actually supposed to clean the thing after each use so it doesn't become thickly caked with crap and horror. This goes for the drip pans, jets, vents and grates (nope- that doesn't count as "seasoning"; it's just gross baked-on food.) and I will happily march down to the local dollar store and lob a brass brush and a roll of paper towels over the fence if that's what it takes.
2. You're globbing on sweet, bottled barbecue sauce at the beginning, rather than daubing it on - sparingly - at the end. The sugars in that stuff burn quickly and start to smoke. It smells like brimstone and tastes even worse and - you really, truly don't realize that something is amiss here? I have the name of an excellent ear, nose and throat guy, and I'm happy to refer you.
3. You're using those awful little smoke pellets impregnated with microscopic shavings of "real wood" for an "authentic smoke flavor." Know what also brings great smoke flavor? Real wood. You can soak chunks and chips of hickory, mesquite or fruit wood in water or a bit of beer and fold them into a perforated foil pouch instead of setting toxic-smelling little chunks of chemicals on fire next to food you will be serving to people you love.
And if you're that desperate for real smoke flavor, I'd be more than happy to introduce you to the folks on the other side of my yard. They've got one of those fancy Big Green Egg smokers that I've never seen - or smelled - them using in the six summers I've lived in this apartment. They might be happy to let you come over and give it a test drive, or even cut you a sweet deal in exchange for never stinking up our side of the block again.
It would be the neighborly thing to do.
See all our best grilling advice at Grilling 101
From around the web
Next entry »Box lunch: Bar faux pas and foamy fads
« Previous entryBreakfast buffet: Almond butter crunch day