Like most stereotypical American men, my husband, Jonathan, has always ruled the family barbecue. And, fulfilling the corresponding stereotype of the female helpmate, I am usually left passing crudités to guests and making limp small talk to compensate for Jon’s absence as he prods endlessly at embers, brow furrowed.
I’d like to say our attitudes became more enlightened when we moved from New York City to Los Angeles five years ago. But the only change was Jon’s growing grill envy. Everywhere you go in L.A. it’s grills, grills, grills. Just about everyone had a stainless steel behemoth proudly displayed on a spacious poolside patio. Since our house featured an enclosed porch but no lawn, Jon had to be content with a tiny hibachi on the asphalt driveway.
Then one evening, while I was caring for our infant daughter, Jon attended a party at the home of a friend celebrating the acquisition of a dome grill. As the host explained to Jon, these large, ovoid-shaped devices have thick ceramic walls that retain heat well. (The best-known brand is probably the Big Green Egg; our friend’s was made by Primo.) Dome grills are very versatile: They can be used to cook food low and slow for 20 hours or more using a single load of charcoal—that is, they can produce Southern-style barbecue. They can also roast at 300 degrees or sear at 750 degrees. The dome lid and ceramic walls help seal in moisture, preventing food from drying out.