Monday, July 9, 2012

Why the Men Can Have Their Grill

Smoked Sausage and Pork Shoulder
It is still at least somewhat true that the grill is a man’s domain.  Frankly, if the men were always grilling like my brother and his friends did a few weeks back on a camping trip, I’d be perfectly okay never coming near a pile of hot coals. 

Over a weekend in Virginian Appalachia not once did I pick up so much as a pair of tongs to help with the cooking.  It was not for lack of offering.  Under normal circumstances I might have been itching to throw on an apron, but once the boys fired up the grill and the food started coming out, I was more than happy to sit back with the ladies and enjoy the spoils of their culinary adventure. 

Cabin in Virginia

I was a fool if I ever doubted the high epicurean standards of my brother’s crew. One of his friends went so far as to buy a smoker just to take the grill-out from standard to extraordinary. Friday night the R2-D2 looking contraption was put to the test with a pile of liberally seasoned chicken legs and breasts.  Even veggies found their way into the top layer of smoke- eggplant, onions, and peppers were cooked until soft and fragrant but still structured.  Both the leftover chicken and veg would form the filling for my post-hike sandwich the next day along with a liberal spread of roasted eggplant dip (yes, the boys brought that too).

Smoked pork shoulder

Chicken seasoned, ready for the smoker
The grand finale was a Saturday night barbecue to put all car camping cookouts to shame.  While playing dominoes, a snack of smoked and peppered wild boar loin appeared to whet our appetite.  This was followed about a half hour later by a plate piled high with smoked sweet Italian and spicy Andouille sausage.  Corn on the cob arrived next, still in their jackets and pleasantly charred.  A cast iron pot of potatoes mixed with peppers and onions, and was given a gentle bath of beer then allowed to bubble until the potatoes were tender.  Finally, buried beneath the sausage and wild boar on the bottom of R2-D2 a luscious pork shoulder had spent hours in a smoke sauna.  The result was pork so meltingly tender it needed nothing more than a fork to eat.

It may be still be a man’s world in a few too many ways, but if the men are cooking like they were the other weekend while the women folk are relaxing, that’s a world I am more than happy to live in.  At least for a weekend.

Amy Powell is a food and travel writer based in New York City. She is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and the French Culinary Institute. Follow her on Twitter @amymariepowell

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