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|The Foodie Quipper:
by Joe Ferri
The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to project the innovative.
It was April 14, 2014; we were working the night watch on the barbecue detail.
My partner’s Eddy Pitco. My name is Fry-Day. Grill Sergeant Joe Fry-Day.
It was 2:06 PM when we got a call from a cook in distress. She needed help with a problem. A cooking problem.
“I need a Char-Broiler.”
“A 4 foot char-broiler.”
3: 58 PM, Eddy and I drove over to the restaurant and we talked to the owner. We intended to grill her over why she wanted a char-broiler.
“What’s the source of the smoky flavor from a char broiler?”
“Just the fats, ma’am.”
Considered one of the most flavorful ways of cooking, grilling can be done indoors or out. There are many choices in grilling equipment. The char-grill (not to be confused with “grille”, an architectural term) can be gas, solid fuel, or some combination of these. Electric is not prevalent in the commercial world.
Mistakenly referred to as “barbecues” in the northeast, and also known as “under-fired broilers” (due to the location of the heat source), these units are anything but under-fired! They are hot, hot, hot. There are several options to make them hotter still. Cast iron components, and higher Btu input equate with more heat to better sear the food and seal in its juices.
A bed of ceramic or lava rocks is typically laid out under the grilling surface, while the open flames are directed up from below. The stones are there to absorb and burn off the grease and drippings from the food. Metal bar stock, known as “radiants” alternatively take the place of the stones. A popular consumer brand calls these “flavorizer bars”, due to the fact that they act in lieu of the rocks in creating the smoke that enthusiasts crave in grilled food.
Although burgers remain a contender for the most frequently char-broiled item, up-and-comers now include vegetables, whole fish, seafood, and of course the perennial favorite, steaks.
Connoisseurs will specify the size of the grill marks, a function of the rods or casting making up the cooking surface, and the spacing between them. Narrow spacing is preferred for fish and other delicate items. Chrome or cast iron are two other available options for the grids.
Heat can be harnessed from underneath the char broiler as well, with optional slide-out racks performing as bun toasters.
We humans have been grilling meats for approximately ½ million years. Cook-outs were popular even in classical times. Currently, controversy over the formation of certain compounds in the smoke competes with the claims of the health benefits of cooking with less shortening.
Can I install a char-broiler under my hood?
“That’s right ma’am, only if it is executed in the manner prescribed by law”