There is a little caveman in every manly man and every once in a while we get this manly urge to cook things using an open fire. They say that what distinguishes Homo Sapiens from the rest of his predecessors is the use of tools and the application of fire. We are a specie that gained dominance over this planet not through brute force-- like the dinosaurs before us. We learned to use our head and extended our limitations through our tools and of course fire.
Grilling is almost second nature to any man. Everytime he sees fire the first thing that comes to mind would be “Could I cook with that?”. Thus the necessity of having his own grill is probably one of the most essential part of a man’s house. Here’s a hot tip for all the women out there: don’t let the man design your kitchen. If you do, you’d end up not having a stove, but you will never run out of firewood. At least your kitchen would look like something used by George Washington.
My first grills were the aluminum thingy that you buy from the grocery. Made from aluminum and tin scraps-- not very strong. A few weeks later, the thing is ruined –softened by the intense heat of the charcoal.
My next attempt at fiery love took the shape of an old steel drum. I had it split length wise, had a hinge made on the cut mark and viola, a barrel grill similar to the ones you see in those roadside eateries. Having two barrel halves meant that I could use one of them as the cover for my grill. Came out quite nice. The shape of the bottom half created a nice shape to concentrate the heat on my meat (heat on my meat..I don’t quite like the sound of that). I was cooking steaks and barbecues like a pro. A one inch, 8 ounce steak would be medium done in ten minutes or so. But just like any hot and sordid affair, all things have to end. I was having so much fun with my barrel grill that I forgot about how heat changes the chemical composition of metal. High heat and exposure to moisture would result in rust. Thus, my barrel grill ended up like the rest of the metal barrel population, eaten by oxygen and turned to a rusty hulk.
At this point, I should have given up and just simply bought one of those expensive high end porta-grills that you see at ACE Hardware. But there is something inside me that would not accept the idea of defeat and settling for one of those ready-to-have, nice to look at LPG/ electric combo grill. Ok..not to mention the fact that I am bone stingy (Ilokano here..).
So I embarked on a new quest. This week my trusted handyman Peter made me a concrete pit grill. The grilling are is BIG, about 26 inches long and about 16 inches wide. When I saw it taking shape, I almost had a woody (maybe not..hahaha) . I know that I had to get the perfect grate for me to cook on. Never mind those stainless grates you buy in the grocery, I just had to get one from a foundry. So off to the phone books I went, looked for a foundry shop selling cast iron metal grates. Luckilly, I found one in Baesa.
The place was a sweat shop! Run down factory, dilapited walls and furniture, scrap metal strewn all around. But, in the midst of what seems like ferrous hell, I knew what I came in for : METAL GRATE, CAST IRON, HEAT TEMPERED. I was imagining metal grates that I saw on a TV cooking program.
What they had in the factory were ditch covers. But the covers were cast iron and had the perforations I needed to sear through meat. They were thick too, about ¾ inch thick and quite heavy at around 15 lbs each. I bought four of them so when placed together will cover my grill.
When I got home, I was overwhelmed by the size of the grill and how manly it appeared after I placed my cast iron grates. Having a grill 26 x 16 inch meant that I could cook in one sitting eight large cut of steaks or about thirty sticks of barbecue. All cooked and seared by charcoal and the direct heat of cast iron.
My next project will be a rotisserie like the ones they have in Kenny Rogers. Now all I need to do is tear down the living room.