Fellow Americans! You will be grilling foodstuffs today, right? Right. Perhaps you’ve read articles with tips and tricks — rub kosher salt into the pork for a minute, ignoring the cultural disconnect; drizzle with macerated basil — but they’re always aimed at people who know what they’re doing. No one ever gives tips to people who have no idea what they’re doing. Allow us to help. Herewith some common questions and concerns.
Q. The last time we grilled chicken — to be honest, my first time — it wasn’t anything like restaurant chicken. That always comes with lettuce and some mayo on the side and maybe a bun if it’s a place where you can get the food through a window. This was horrible: It had this gluey white stuff on the bottom, and the top smelled like plastic.
A: You have to take it out of the package first. Many novices just take it out of the freezer and throw it on the grill, but some preparation is involved. Don’t worry! It’s not hard. Using a sharp instrument like a Bowie knife or an ax, open the package, turn it upside down and let gravity do the rest. It will fall onto the cutting board with a disgusting sound, because it is dead.
Remember: Chicken is full of bacteria. It’s basically poison, so you have to be careful. Take short, shallow breaths around the chicken. Do not look at it for more than 15 seconds.
You will see a wet pinkish rectangle that previously was beneath the chicken. That is a sponge, which soaks up excess gross bird fluids. Using an ordinary set of poultry tongs, pick it up and put it in the trash. Burn the tongs. Cover the breasts with a sheet of plastic wrap so you can flatten it to ensure thorough cooking; any kitchen hammer will do. Remove the plastic sheet, carry it outside and bury it in a lead-lined box. Now wash off the cutting board with caustic lye until the board has dissolved; submerge hands in bleach until the stinging sensation is replaced by numbness.
If the grill is hot, brush with olive oil and antiseptics, then place the chicken on the hot surface. Cover and count to 350, then turn the chicken, but DO NOT TOUCH THE CHICKEN; turn it by kicking the bottom of the grill hard until the chicken flips. Count to 350 again; cut the chicken to see if it is cooked; if there is pink, then chicken germs got on the knife. Throw the knife into your neighbor’s yard. When chicken is cooked all the way through, microwave for a minute just to be sure. Serve with mustard or mayo or anything that adds flavor because the chicken doesn’t have any.
Q. I like my hamburgers rare, but my partner likes them plentiful. How do I cook them to make sure they come out at the same time?
A. Set the grill to MED-HIGH; brush with oil, hand-form the meat to the desired thickness, then place on the hot surface. On another grill, use the LO-MED setting; this will ensure the other burger is rare.
Warning: The American Society for Food Paranoia recommends that burgers be cooked until they are indistinguishable from the charcoal lumps below the grill. Undercooked meat can make you sick, unless it’s steak that comes from good cows that behaved themselves.
Q. Does pork have to be cooked all the way through? I read that some chefs now say no, a little pink is fine.
A. Some chefs also like to drive in the wrong lane at night with the headlights off. Pork can have trichinosis. Ever looked at “uncured bacon” and wonder what it came down with? Obviously something they couldn’t cure. Don’t take chances.
Q. Pork, chicken, meat — what about something interesting, like Fugu, the Japanese Death Fish?
A. Fugu requires special training to prepare. It comes from the pufferfish, whose powerful venom can lead to total organ failure within the hour. Somehow someone found the one part that doesn’t kill you, and what motivated him to figure that out I can’t imagine. It’s like looking at a box full of rabid badgers and saying, “I’ll bet there’s one spot I can scratch that will make them purr.” Finding the right sliver of nonlethal fish is incredibly complicated, so watch that YouTube video very carefully. Have your last will and testament on the counter along with insurance papers. If anyone should start to look blue, pick up the phone immediately and dial 411. Ask for “cremation services.”
Q. What’s better, gas or charcoal?
A. Neither tastes very good. If you mean which is better for cooking, each has its own disadvantages. Charcoal can heat unevenly, but when it goes out you probably have half a bag left. When the gas goes out in the middle of cooking because you didn’t check the tank, you have to drive to SuperAmerica with the tank, which rolls around in the trunk like a big severed head, and the clerks laugh after you’re gone because you acted like buying a tank was totally just a spontaneous impulse purchase. I’ll take a Powerball, and, er, this Snickers. Say, now that I think of it, some propane would hit the spot.
Q. Can I cook vegetables on a grill instead of meat?
A. Sure! And you can sing the French national anthem at the baseball game, too, you tiresome Bolshevik. Simply stab the vegetables with a skewer and put them on the grill until they are as good as hamburgers.
Q. Is it possible to cook bratwurst without fat hissing out and causing a huge grease fire that blackens the wurst and makes them look like someone threw a length of garden hose into the sun?
A. No. But never apologize for burning anything. The correct term is “caramelized.” As in, “My uncle caramelized his business for the insurance money.”
Bon appétit! Don’t forget: Ketchup cures anything. Happy grilling.