Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night
My dad taught me that grilling is not a weather-dependent activity. This was especially important growing up in Minnesota, where winter lasts six months and during the other six months of the year the weather can change directions on a dime. Grilling is a method of preparing food, not necessarily an activity to be enjoyed with volleyball, sunscreen and watery beer.
Special meals at my parents’ house often involve the grill. This means there are many occasions for winter grilling. I have a distinct memory of one Christmas break during college, hanging out with my dad on the deck while he grilled steaks. My beer froze before I could finish it. Ah, Minnesota.
I can also remember many an evening up at the lake (Minnesotans go “Up North” for summer vacations and weekends) when the rain swept in at dinner time. No matter – that’s what umbrellas are for!
We’re a little spoiled here in the Northern California when it comes to weather. Sure, it gets cold and foggy in San Francisco, but for 9 months out of the year we don’t even have to think about rain. Then there are nights like last night.
We dinner for six at our house last night. It rained all day. This meant two things: 1) since rain turns Bay Area Traffic into gridlock, we knew the timing of the dinner would need to be flexible, and 2) I’d be grilling in the rain.
I decided to go with pork tenderloin. I used three different rubs, for a little variety: a chipotle rub from Pampered Chef (a great purchase idea when invited to a party), the Black Hills Barbecue rub from Savory Spice Shop, and Sweet Mama’s Chicken Rub from Savory Spice – one of my favorites. One interesting note from the Pampered Chef rub – it called for a coating of olive oil prior to rubbing. This was a good idea, since the rub had nice pepper flakes that otherwise might not stick well to the meat.
A few observations and tips about grilling in the wind and rain. First, I hedged my bets on the fire starters. Usually I use one Big Green Egg fire starter split into four pieces. Last night I used two, each split into two pieces. This trick saved me, because only two of them caught and stayed lit.
Second, I realized that the BGE is a great rainy day grill. When my dad and I grill in the rain Up North, we usually have one guy standing with an umbrella over the Weber until the coals were ready to go. With the BGE, you can get your fire going then shut the lid. This leaves only a small hole (at the top) for the rain.
As expected, some of our guests ran into traffic. No big deal! This gave me time to let the cast iron grill warm up. I’ve come to realize that I really need to take the time for this step. It’s hard because I usually use the cast iron grill on a quick cook, when I’m ready to eat! But the extra preheating time really does make a difference.
Third, I wonder if the rain affects the temperature gauge in the dome. Whether it was because of the extra preheating time, or the relatively small cuts, my pork cooked way faster than expected. My quick read thermometer jumped past 145 degrees after only fifteen minutes at about 400. The pork wasn’t fatally overdone, but I was lucky I didn’t wait until 20 minutes to check it.
These guys were delicious! A real nice char and still plenty juicy.