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Santa brought me an infra-red mini-grill

this past Christmas, thereby completing

my trilogy of fire cookery.

My Dear Readers might recall last year's search for the perfect Hibachi, a quest that ultimately yielded my hand-built-to-order Kotai Grill. A few years before that I had landed my MGrills® reverse-flow smoker-grill, a.k.a. the 400 lb. Doomsday Device. With these two iron beasts already reposing in our garage, what more could any connoisseur of fire-cooked seafood, fowl, and mammal ever want?

The short answer? Something that gives meat a mouth-watering scorch just like the big-city steakhouses, that's what... like the joint I referenced in THIS essay I posted for last Valentine's Day.

If you'll recall, 28 years and several careers ago I was the wine steward at Grill 23 & Bar, then and now one of Boston's swankiest dining destinations. While there I was a bit surprised to learn that the "grilled" steaks with which I was pairing three-figure Cabernets were not in fact grilled, but rather broiled on each side beneath 1500ºF infrared burners... something impossible to do at home until 2015, when the German inventor Otto Nils & family created the OTTO GRILL and crowd-sourced its development.

The Otto Grill Pro model is as compact as my Kotai hibachi, and similarly heavy... Panzer-tank-heavy in a way that betokens sturdiness and quality of build. It was simple to set up and use, and the first test steak was fabulous. I'll be honing my technique with this amazing appliance over the next few weeks, and then I'll bring it down to Mother-In-Law's house for a full-blown "Steakhouse Night" dinner gathering. (Unlike charcoal grills, the propane-fueled Otto cools rapidly enough to transport home after dinner.)

One's taste memory of the char imparted by a big city steak broiler is both incomparable and indelible. But make no mistake... no one actually needs an infra-red steak grill that costs way more than a typical new car monthly payment. Serious steak aficionados-- the folks willing to foot the tariff for fancy beef like Wagyu and grass-fed Prime-- know that the breed, feed, and cut are the primary determinants of bovine excellence, and that its deliciousness can be fully realized either in a well-seasoned iron frying pan or atop a traditional charcoal grill. I don't plan on abandoning those methods any time soon.

And so in that sense, my new Otto Grill completes not one but two distinct trilogies-- three different open-fire grills, and three different cooking methods for wringing sheer excellence from a high-end slab of beef.

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