This post has to be about grilling, or I run the risk of alienating some new readers. The existence of this blog was revealed to a group of information technology specialists during a meeting I attended last week, and they were eager to get the URL so they could check it out. Unfortunately, the person who sang my praises gave the impression my blog is focused on barbecue, which seemed to be the driving factor in the audience’s interest. Those of you who are regular readers know that while I do blog, often passionately, about the grilling arts, I am eclectic in my topics. If any of these barbecue-loving techies have logged on since the meeting, they may be scratching their heads trying to understand why I most recently wrote about cattle decapitation without any discussion of cooking beef over an open flame.
If any of them are back for more, they may be interested to know the last two grilling feasts I prepared were, coincidentally, for IT professionals. Two Saturdays ago, I smoked ribs for a few close friends and colleagues I have worked with on many technology projects over the past ten years. Pork spareribs – marinated in a dry rub for four hours and smoked with apple wood for four and a half hours – was my way of saying thanks for the countless hours of requirements gathering, coding, and testing (sometimes in production). That’s right, my geeky friends, stick with me, and there may be ribs in your future.
This past Saturday, I grilled pork loins for a large group of friends and family, an assemblage that includes two software developers. I brined the loins for ten hours in apricot nectar, salt, sugar, and garlic before grilling them over indirect heat and basting them with an apricot preserve-cilantro glaze. To go to the live fire extreme, I paired the pork with a salad composed entirely of grilled flora: roasted bell peppers and grilled zucchini, asparagus, and romaine lettuce. Yes, grilled romaine lettuce. It can be done, and it is spectacular.
In keeping with the technology theme, I was delighted to make use of the highest-tech grilling gear in my pit boss toolbox when cooking the pork loins: the dual probe remote thermometer rig that I wrote about previously. The ambient air temperature probe let me know that my grill was running hotter than I planned (dangit), and the meat thermometer probe confirmed that the internal temperature of the loins was rising to the desired finishing temp well in advance of the scheduled meal time (grr). Even the best tech can’t overcome human shortcomings, but the thermometers gave me great insight about how to do better next time. Despite the timing problems, the food was delicious, and the programmers were satisfied.
In preparing both feasts, I made use of a somewhat less high bit of tech: nitrile exam gloves. After meat thermometers, disposable rubber gloves are the most essential grilling equipment I employ. I buy 200 count boxes of them at Costco, and I highly recommend them for three reasons:
- The “Ick” Factor – When you grill large slabs of meat, you are required to touch large slabs of meat. Those spice blends aren’t called “rubs” for nothing, and retrieving pork loins from brine is messy business. I am not squeamish, but I don’t love touching icky things, and the gloves make it less gross.
- The “Batman” Factor – Aside from ickyness, cooking that involves wet, slimy ingredients can demand a lot of quick changes, like the need to insert a meat thermometers into a slab of meat. Stopping to wash your hands between each cooking task can slow you down, but cross-contamination can really slow you down. The gloves allow for Batman-swift conversions between sticky and sterile, dry hands. I would say Superman-swift, but grilling demands the utilitarianism and gear wielding best exhibited by the Dark Knight.
- The “Soft Skin” Factor – Cleaning a grill after a busy weekend of smoking is dirty business. Without gloves, my hands become coated with tough to wash grease and grime. Scrubbing with Lava heavy-duty soap is tough on the skin, not unlike washing with sandpaper. The gloves keep my hands silky smooth. In truth, my hands haven’t been silky smooth since I was five, but they would be much worse without exam gloves.
You may have figured out that I hope one day to write a book about my collected knowledge about backyard barbecue. In the meantime, though, I will continue to use this blog to babble about a number of topics, including writing, running, managing, and occasionally heavy metal bands like Cattle Decapitation. I hope you’re intrigued, or at least hungry.