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Living the Wally Lifestyle

Ghetto BBQ

April 19, 2005

In my extended group of friends we like to cook. We have a few people that are well known as being masters of the barbecue. Give them coals, a barbecue and something to grill and magic seems to happen. And since alcohol is usually involved, some bragging has happened over the years. Three people have emerged as the best known when it comes to grilling; Pope with chicken, Wally with salmon and Bruce with pork.

My friends Dane & Kathy threw a beach party this weekend and decided to make it a barbecue competition. They heard the three of us talk enough trash, now they wanted to see some action. The action would be known as Grill-a-Rama, a barbecue competition open to anyone who felt worthy of the prize, the golden tongs.

In reality, this wasn't much of a competition, it was an excuse to hang out at the beach, cook and drink a lot of booze.

The rules were simple. You could use anything you wanted to grill, but you had to drag it to the house and drag it back. The grilling had to be done in a 4' x 8' pit dug into the sand at the beach. The competitors had to share the same flame which would consist of beach driftwood or any coals we brought to the event. There was also an agreement that we would use things found on the beach.

When I arrived, Bruce had cut up a grease barrel we used last year for street fair we had helped produce. Pope used a pile of bricks along with parts from a Weber kettle. I found an old propane grill with a rusted out bottom and I went to work. none of the other competitors felt my grill had a chance. The party goers felt my grill was going to fail. Due to salt water corrosion, it was literally falling apart from it's own weight.

Pope cooked a turkey soaked in chili oil filled with oranges. Approximate cooking time, 7 hours. Bruce and his electric rotisserie was cooking pork marinated in a brine with apples. As they started to grill, I sat down and had a beer. Some took this as a hint I threw in the towel. In truth, the cedar plank roasted salmon I was cooking with lemon would need an hour to cook, so I was taking my time. I needed to give Pope a six hour head start, Bruce a three hour head start if I was going to be finished at the same time as them.

When I was good and drunk, I set up the rusted hulk on the burning driftwood, stabilized the grill, evened out the heat, added some green wood for smoke, then I added the salmon, closed the lid and went back to drinking. Anyone looking at this set-up might think twice about cooking meat on these grills. That might explain why the gas grill on the deck were chosen by those unwilling to risk the pit. But barbecue is not about the shape or quality of the grill, it is your relationship with the food, the fire and the smoke.

The pork turned out a little dry, the turkey was delicious, but finished up well after dark and every serving of salmon was gone within two minutes of being served. It was a wonderful day for a party, a wonderful location (see photos) and just a really fun time.

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