Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Laid Plans...

I had a really great post planned for today.  Honest, I did.  It was all about chicken, and how chicken is my comfort food.  It was going to be great.  I had even started writing it.  I had three different chicken recipes I was going to include.  I butterflied a chicken all on my own for the first time ever and I was very proud of that.

I am sure that it will get posted some day.

But not today.  Because last night, while cooking the best and finest of my three chicken recipes - what was supposed to be Greek chicken - we had a massive grease fire.  My house is fine.  I'm fine.  My husband is fine.  The chicken was edible (barely).  The grill is dead.  Seriously.  The fire burned through metal parts. I regret for the sake of this blog that I was in too much of a state of panic to think to take pictures.  It was out of control.

So, I thought I should take this opportunity to talk a little about kitchen safety.  Especially outdoor kitchen safety.  Specifically: clean your grease trap out, people.  And not once every other year, either.

I'm fortunate because my father and step mother are Volunteer Fire-Fighters for the city of Elm Grove.  This fire was what I would refer to as a "raging inferno," and someone had to be called.  If I couldn't have called home, I would have had to call 911.  And that would have been embarrassing. 

I walked into my back yard to find black smoke pouring out of my grill and flames shooting out any cracks they could find.  My first instinct was to open the lid, my brain saying, "hey, that looks like it's on fire.  Is it really on fire?  Well say, I guess it is!"  And then I proceeded to shut the lid and turn off all the gas.  My husband had the presence of mind to turn off the gas tank as well.  And then we stood there.  Black smoke still poured out the top.  Flames still shot out any cracks they could find.  "Hey" (in my brain again) "that looks like it's still on fire.  Is it really still on fire?"  My husband opened the lid to check.  This was the WRONG choice.  Air shot in and fed the flames and the grill sent out a huge fireball which I am surprised did not burn my poor husband's eyebrows off.  My poor husband who, I should mention, graciously (and wrongfully) took all the blame and all my anger when I was SUPER PISSED that my chicken was now inside of a giant fireball.  

Here are the rules for fighting a grease fire (many thanks to Fire-Fighting Step Mom!):

  • Don't panic!
  • If fire is threatening to spread to other structures, call 9-1-1!
  • Grease fires and water do not mix!
  • If it is safe to do so, turn off the propane gas, and close the lid.  Limit oxygen, and limit fuel.
  • Use a chemical fire extinguisher if you have one.
 So, as I understand it, here are the steps I should have taken:

1. Recognize that grill is on fire.  Do not feel need to open grill to check.
2. Turn off gas burners.  Turn off propane tank at tank.
3. Continue to recognize grill is on fire, and continue to NOT open grill to check on this.
4. Allow fire to go out on its own.  Keep a hose near by and be prepared to call 911 immediately if fire spreads to any other area.
  • Misc fire facts:
    In 2004-2008, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,700 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,200 structure fires and 4,500 outside fires. These 7,700 fires caused an annual average of 13 civilian deaths, 120 civilian injuries and $70 million in direct property damage.
The one thing I was very concerned about was sparks dropping from the grease trap down onto the propane tank.  I was sure that thing was going to explode.  However, I have since learned that it is very hard to explode a propane tank.  So that was panic not well directed.

In conclusion: house = fine, people = fine, grill = dead.  But I get a new grill, so, really, that is better than fine!!

And here is your recipe:

(Really, Really, REALLY) Blackened Chicken
  • 1 chicken, any size, butterflied (because why not be fancy?) (L)
  • Seasoning if you feel like it; doesn't really matter by the end of the night (some of it was L)
  • Old ass grill
Use grill extensively and don't clean out grease trap.  Place chicken on grill and have a big roaring grease fire.  Follow steps above for grease fires carefully.  Once fire is extinguished, pull chicken off grill.  Don't be surprised if the wings and legs are burned right through the bone.  Be prepared to finish the chicken in the oven, because it's probably still raw in the middle.  Eat the inside parts, not the charred parts, because burned meat causes cancer.
    "If life gives you chicken charcoal, set a really
    pretty table."  That's a saying, right?


    1. Well Done Kate. (The blog article/receipe, and the chicken!)


    2. Thank God for firefighters and their knowledge. Good thing your flare-up was contained.

      Better luck with your next chicken!