A fall request for fire

When the sky is spilling, keep on grilling

Broccoli and chicken and (not pictured) beer in the rain.

Broccoli and chicken and (not pictured) beer in the rain.

Photo by Mark Lore

Grilling for me really is one of life’s simple pleasures, right up there with sitting in your underwear and eating cereal out of the box at 2:30 on a weekend afternoon. Yep, a nice cut of meat, a great beer and the perfect (and, in my case, overthought-out) music selection, and I’m more than content. I definitely grill more during the spring and summer months … but there’s no way in hell a little rain is going to keep me off the coals.

As fall has quickly arrived, and the weather has taken a turn, I’m still good for about one ’cue a week. I recently grilled up a couple of boneless pork chops, and a few days ago, I did a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. For both I used my tried-and-true marinade, with beer and chili garlic sauce, which gives everything a real kick in the pants. (I’ve also used it on beef, so it works on any kind of meat, and even vegetables.)

While most styles of beer will work, I find that IPAs give the marinade a more robust flavor. And the brown sugar—something I use in a lot of my sauces and marinades—offers a nice, sweet counterbalance to the chili garlic sauce. Of course, the longer you let it marinate, the better (to a certain extent; you can overdo it), but I’ve thrown this together in an hour or two and the meat was plenty flavorful.

Now, allow me to step atop my soapbox. Part of the joy of grilling is the process; that said, I don’t do gas grills. Not only is charcoal a better choice as far as flavor, the extra time it takes to heat up the briquettes in a chimney gives me a little more time for prep, for flipping the record, and for cracking open a fresh beer.

Like I said, music is just as important to the grilling process as the flame—not what you listen to, but that you’re just listening to something. The Kinks always work for me (1971’s Muswell Hillbillies was my go-to grillin’ music for a while). I enjoy old country, too—Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson. Most recently, I decided to go with side one of Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog—on repeat—because it’s a righteous slab of hot rock, and “Love Hurts” will always rule.

So get to it. Here’s to doing summer all the time—minus the triple-digit heat that makes me cry like a baby.

Hot and Hoppy Marinade


2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 heaping tablespoons chili garlic sauce (or 2 teaspoons cayenne)

1/3 12-ounce IPA (I used Mosaic Eruption from Mazama Brewing Co. out of Corvallis, Ore.)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

3 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

2-3 pinches salt

cracked pepper to taste

Directions: Mix olive oil, beer and chili garlic sauce in a 6-by-4-inch dish (about 1 inch deep). Add dry ingredients and garlic. Stir until well-mixed. Taste, and add more cracked pepper if needed. Drop the meat into the marinade, refrigerate and let sit for one or two hours. Grill it up, and serve with your favorite sides.