A Guest Blog Post by Steven Raichlen
The grill table arrived on the set of Project Fire in several large crates. I watched, intrigued, as our "fire wrangler" (the guy responsible for firing our grills - yes, that's an actual job) unpacked and assembled it. Sturdy metal legs. A clever wooden box doubles as a side table for hiding the propane tank. A large sleek tropical wood platform. And what's that in the center? Hmm, a long rectangular grill grate... The Angara came to Project Fire, and with it a sizzling new trend, make that a phenomenon: social grilling™
Steven Raichlen grilling on the Angara grill table on the set of Project Fire
Before the Grill Table...
iBBQ's Angara grill table may boast the latest in technology hardware - electric flame management ignition, keyed safety lockout switch, WiFi programmable color LED lighting, etc. - but the concept of table grilling takes us back. Way back. Back to the teppanyaki: Japanese table griddle pioneered by Hiroaki Aoki, founder of Benihana. Back to the communal barbecue pits of Texas and colonial North Carolina. Back to the manorial fireplace, with its mammoth turnspits, in medieval castles. Back past the focus, raised hearth of the ancient Romans (which gave us a hearth-baked bread called focaccia).
Way Before the Grill Table...
No, we need to go all the way back to the dawn of humanity. The year is 1.8 million BCE (give or take a 100,000 years). The grill master was a distant human ancestor, Homo erectus, who discovered that meat could be cooked with fire. This first barbecue set off an evolutionary chain reaction that resulted in modern man. Fire-cooked meat lead to our larger, smarter brains, our complex social networks, the gift of speech, and behaviors unique in the animal kingdom: communal cooking and eating. You could truly say that barbecue begat civilization.
Because, make no mistake: grilling is a communal activity. No one hovers over a stove to watch a pot of soup boil. No one gathers around the oven to wait for a loaf of bread. But fire up a grill and people congregate instantly. And you, grill master, become the center of attention.
The Angara Grill Table on Project Fire
As we quickly discovered on the set of Project Fire, the Angara grill table takes the concept of social grilling to a whole new level. Picture a high-style table with a long gas grill in the center. You get to grill for your friends and family, who eat your handiwork hot off the grill in front of them. Better yet, provide them with tongs and they get to grill for themselves or for you.
Mediterranean Grilled Oysters, prepared by Steven Raichlen on iBBQ's grill table. Photo by Chris Bierlein.
Steven Raichlen Recipes
We used our Angara to prepare dishes from across Planet Barbecue. Mexican Tuna Tacos with tequila crema. Moroccan Grilled Lamb Steaks. Singapore Spiced Halibut grilled in banana leaves. We used it to cook the whole meal on the grill, from appetizers (Mediterranean Grilled Oysters) to side dishes (Coconut Grilled Corn) to desserts (Cinnamon Grilled Peaches). (Stay tuned here on Barbie Q for all of these signature Steven Raichlen Recipes!)
With a table grill, like the Angara, the food never has time to get cold, because you cook and serve it hot off the grill. And guests never stray from the party - because the party is built right into the table.
Grill Table Tips from the Master Griller
When social grilling on an Angara grill table, remember Raichlen's rules:
- Keep it hot; keep it clean; keep it lubricated. Start with a hot grill grate. Clean it with a stiff wire brush or wooden grill scraper. And oil it well with a tightly folded paper towel dipped in oil and drawn along the grill grate with tongs. Better yet, oil the grate with a half onion impaled on a grill fork, dipped in oil, and rubbed across the grate.
- Set up your grill with multiple grill zones: one section hot for searing, another section medium for cooking, a third section on low for warming and resting. Kids in your party? No problem: teach them how to grill simple dishes (grilled pound cake or cinnamon grilled pineapple come to mind). Or turn the burner in front of them off to avoid the fire altogether.
- Cook the entire meal on the grill table, from appetizers to desserts. You can even grill the cocktails. Try my Grilled Sangria (made with flame charred oranges, lemons, and cinnamon sticks) or Smoked Nectarine Bellinis. And after the party is over, the grill grates can go right in the dishwasher.
Social grilling on an Angara grill table from iBBQ. It certainly revolutionized our grilling set of Project Fire. Just imagine what it can do for your grilling at home.
Learn more about master griller Steven Raichlen and his latest show, Project Fire. Thanks, Steven, for an excellent grilling history and cooking lesson all in one.
Stay tuned for Steven Raichlen's Lemongrass Chicken Skewers Recipe right here on Barbie Q this Thursday!
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