One Fire – Many Meals

No recipes this time, just some thoughts on making the most of what’s left of our fleeting daylight and fall grilling weather.

I got inspired to rethink how I plan meals on the Big Green Egg after reading the Kingsford U: Grill Once Eat Twice post over at Nibble Me This. Chris makes the point that it takes the same amount of time and fuel to to cook two chickens as it does to cook one chicken, and you end up with more tasty grilled chicken for future meals.

Even though I’m usually just cooking for the two of us, I put this idea into practice by typically doubling or tripling most recipes on the grill. The extras end up in my lunch, or as dinner later in the week, or they get frozen off  for those nights when nobody wants to cook.

Now I’ve started working on a variation of this that I call one fire – many meals. The idea is that once you’ve gone to the effort to get the grill set up, you might as well try and pass as much food over that flame as you can.

For instance – the other night I made steak for dinner. While I was getting the BGE fired up, my dear wife said that there were also a couple of packages of chicken tenders in the fridge that she would like cooked up for salads and snacks. She had planned on baking them, but they would be ever so much better grilled, wouldn’t they?

Fire = good so, of course, they would taste better. My only question was how to go about cooking the steaks hot and fast and then modifying the heat so that the tenders would get a little char on them, but not get overcooked and dried out.

I pondered this while I prepped the steak with some fresh-ground sea salt and black pepper. I had the tenders laid out in a 9×13 pan and was hitting them with a little Dizzy Pig Swamp Venom when an idea clicked – I could leave the heat alone after the steak was done and resting and then cook the tenders quickly over the roaring flame and move then off to a baste á la  Adam Perry Lang, cut the heat, and let them finish there.

Not bad, but wouldn’t the heat move too fast through a metal pan and just scorch the tenders?  Probably. Hmmm, how about a Dutch oven? Yeah that’d work. Or, even better, use the tagine. Genius!

I poured a couple of glugs of olive oil into the base of the tagine and then added about 4 cloves of crushed garlic and about a teaspoon each lemon zest, thyme, and sage.

With the BGE running at about 650°F, I put the steak on for 2 minutes a side and then moved it off to a warm plate, covered it with another plate, and let it rest while I cooked the chicken.

The tenders went on in batches. With the heat this high, by the time I finished putting the last row of tenders on the grate the first row was ready to be flipped. Once they had some nice grill marks on each side (but where still pretty raw on the inside) I moved them off the heat to the tagine, making sure to toss them a bit in the oil.

When all the tenders were in the tagine, I swirled another glug of olive oil over the top, put the lid on, and moved the tagine to the grill.  I closed the lid on the BGE, shut the bottom vent down to reduce the heat, and went inside for a lovely steak dinner.

When I checked on them 30 minutes later, the tenders were done and basting in their own juices. I moved everything inside, removed the lid, and let them cool before packaging.

Cooking this way does take a bit more time and fuel, but not much more effort. You’re essentially letting your downtime and residual heat work for you. For this cook I spent maybe an extra ten minutes packaging off the tenders, but we ended up with a steak dinner, a dinner of tenders and veggies the next night, chicken salad lunches for a couple of days, and about a dozen tenders frozen off for chicken stew the next week.

Not bad for a little extra work.

6 thoughts on “One Fire – Many Meals”

  1. Great post. I really should think this way when I’m firing up that grill. Which by the way, my poor little Weber is shivering beneath 10 inches of fresh snow this a.m.

    1. I heard you guys got hit with some snow. We’re still (knock on wood) about 3 weeks out from seeing any here. It won’t hit until everyone is on the roads for Thanksgiving.

  2. Let us not forget that we can use the FoodSaver and vacuum-bag/freeze those extras! Half a meat loaf in from last night. Egret’s Chili freezes well too; freeze in a plastic storage container, pop out the chili when frozen, bag, and back in the freezer.

  3. Dave, this is a fabulous idea. Every time we take chops or steaks off the grill, I take a look at the PERFECT glowing coals and think, wow, I wish I had something else to grill. Which of course, I don’t, because that would involve thinking ahead and meal planning. I am now going to meditate on “One Fire, Many Meals” and see if it helps…

  4. Great concept, Dave, I like it.

    A third variation of this idea is “rest period side dishes”. We need to catalog a list of great side dishes that can be fired on the grill in the 10-15 minute rest period of most grilled meats. You already have it going and the meat has to rest anyway, right?

    1. Great idea! I’ll start with my dear wife’s favorite veggie – grilled asparagus. I typically take a big bunch of asparagus and hit it with a little kosher salt, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maybe a little mustard. While the steaks are resting I grill up the asparagus and toss it back into the marinade before serving.

      Another dish I like is sautéed mushrooms and onions. I toss them with some olive oil and cook them until almost done, grill the steaks, and while the steaks are resting give the them another 5-10 minutes on the grill to finish them.

      Other ideas?

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