How To Build Your Fire For a Low and Slow

Over the years, I’ve seen and heard countless people ask about how to build a fire in a Kamado style grill in order to get smoke through out a low and slow cook. In fact, just this morning I was asked in a PM about this very topic. If you just put wood on top of the coals, it will burn up at the beginning of your cook. You can always take out your plate setter or your heat deflector and add more wood, but you lose heat, its awkward (where do you place that hot plate setter?) and will end up adding time to your total cook. Who wants that?

The answer is pretty simple. When filling up your firebowl, add wood mixed in with the lump charcoal. Place a layer of charcoal on the bottom, then add your wood chunks (or chips. Or a mixture of both), add more charcoal, then more wood chunks and repeat until your firebowl is full. As the fire burns down, it will continue to hit fresh wood which will ensure smoke through out the cook. Voila! Easy peasy. Simple as could be.

Note that on a low and slow, you will have a small fire and it will be contained pretty much too a small cylinder in the middle of you bowl. For that reason, just add the wood to the center. No need to spread it out towards the edges as the fire probably won’t ignite any wood there.

18bd13fd1b9173b5b27f84d2b5c0a3

I’d like to be able to take credit for creating the above illustration, but in truth it’s been floating around the ole interweb for years on various forums. I believe credit should go to a guy named Stike, but sadly he is no longer active on the Egghead forum.

Happy Smoking!

Happy Friday the 13th!! And Happy Father’s Day!!

6574friday-the-13th-jason-mother-s-head-3b-final-paint-480x248

You may not know this about me, but my name is Jason.  No. Not Voorhees. If it was, this would be Voorhees Vittles or something like that.  Growing up, I heard all the jokes about Friday the 13th and Jason. It got old. Fast. But in life, you can choose to either ignore things or embrace them. I decided to embrace them.

friday-the-13th

Here’s a little guide to help you survive the day.

5a161e95b26a3e923485fd4347cc8113

And did you realize to compound the matter that there’s a full moon? Technically, it was at 12:13 ET this morning, but close enough. Won’t happen again until 2049. So be careful and be safe. ;)

But on a more serious note before I log off for the weekend, I just wanted to say Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there and especially to my Dad who has always been there for me and who has been a role model, somebody I can look up to and my hero. Love you Dad!!

Super-Dad2

Check Your Thermometers!!

Summer is upon us and people are firing up their grills across the country. Whether they be year round grillers or just fair weather grillers, I bet more grills get fired up this month than any other of the year. Regardless of which camp you fall into, it’s always a good idea to periodically check your thermometers to make sure they are reading accurately. Both your grill thermometers and instant read meat thermometers.

Firing up the Mini BGE for some brats

Firing up the Mini BGE for some brats

I was reminded just how important that was last night when I went to fire up the MINI. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mini Egg, but it hasn’t seen a lot of action lately. If you told me I had used it less than five times this year, I wouldn’t be surprised. The Large has been seeing all the action lately as we’re usually grilling both proteins and veggies.

Last night, however, I was only doing brats and so it got the nod. I lit it per my normal method (paper towel soaked in oil, shoved through the bottom vent and lit), sat down with an ice cold glass of tea and started to read while occasionally tossing the ball to Oliver, our German Shepherd, when he would actually bring it back. I’d glance over at the Mini every so often to see how it was doing. 200F. Gonna be a bit longer. Read some more. Still at 200, maybe a bit higher.

OK…something is not right here. Peeked down the top vent and there was plenty of red hot coals. Held my hand over it. NOPE. That ain’t 200F!! Thermometer must be completely out of whack. Closed my vents to where the normally are for a 350-400F cook and tossed the brats in anyway.

Happy to be using the Mini Egg

Happy to be using the Mini Egg once again

So basically I cooked the brats blind, I had no idea what temp I was at, but I forged ahead anyway. Wait a few minutes, turn, wait a few minutes, turn again. Listen for any sizzling that would be an indication that they were too hot, the skins had split and juice was leaking down into the coals, which is a bad thing, of course. While this was happening, I thought back to grilling pre-BGE. Years grilling on kettles, offsets and gas grills. Grills that either did not have thermometers or ones that read LOW-MED-HIGH. I reminisced about holding my hand over the heat and counting how long I could hold my hand there to give me an indication of how hot my grill was. A great trick every pitmaster should know and one I’m glad I learned. I figure I was somewhere in the 350-400F range. Thankful that I have those skills and don’t need to rely on a thermometer.When the brats were done, I pulled them and checked the thermometer one last time. Dead on 200F. Yep, definitely out of whack.

Definitely not reading accurately

Definitely not reading accurately

So how do you know if your thermometer isn’t calibrated? There’s two easy ways. You can submerge it in a glass of ice water and it should read 32F. Obviously, with my thermometer, that trick won’t work since it only goes down to 50F and who really cares if its accurate at that end of the scale? The other thing you can do is to submerge your thermometer in boiling water. You remember science class, right guys? What temperature does water boil at? That’s right. 212F. Plus or minus a bit depending on altitude and barometric pressure and all that. You can try and get all precise, but if you are in the 210F ballpark, I’d call that good enough.

What do you do if your thermometer is off? I can’t speak to all thermometers as there are so many out there, but if its one like this or a Tel-Tru, there should be a nut on the back. Use a wrench and turn the nut until the dial reads 212. Clockwise will make it read higher, counter-clockwise will make it read lower. Only slight adjustments should be necessary to dial it in to 212F.

As for me? I’m probably just going to toss mine. It’s the old school thermometer that used to come with the Egg. I’m not sure its even a Tel-Tru, which is what they come with now. To be quite honest, I kinda recall that the stem got bent awhile back and I had to put quite a bit of force into it to bend it back. I don’t exactly recall what I did to bend it, but ever since I’ve been moving my new Tel-Tru thermometer from Egg to Egg depending on which one I am using. I just forgot last night. After bending the stem, I’m not sure it even works anymore. I’ll just replace it with a more accurate thermometer. Heck, maybe I’ll even look into seeing if there is a digital version out there I could use….

NMT Favorite Grilled Chicken Marinade

Our take on Nibble Me This Favorite Grilled Chicken Marinade

Our take on Nibble Me This Favorite Grilled Chicken Marinade

     In case you didn’t know, we’re big fans of Chris over at NibbleMeThis (which from here on out will be referred to as NMT). When he posted his recipe for his favorite chicken marinade, back in April, I printed it out knowing I wanted to try it. We messaged back and forth over Facebook this past Saturday and he has graciously allowed me to share it with you. That being said, you still should go check out his website. Right now. Go. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Pouring the marinade into a Ziplock bag full of chicken legs.

Pouring the marinade into a Ziplock bag full of chicken legs

From NMT’s post:

NMT Grilled Chicken Marinade

makes:  enough for 3-4 pounds of chicken pieces

prep time:  10 minutes

cook time:  none for the marinade

Ingredients

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup greek yogurt

2 tablespoons lime juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dry minced onion

1/2 teaspoon dry minced garlic

Instructions

Mix ingredients together and pour over chicken pieces in a large zip top bag.  Seal, refrigerate, and marinate 4-8 hours.  Remove from marinade and drain off excess marinade before grilling.    Omit salt from the marinade if using a BBQ rub in addition to the marinade.  Tip for crispier chicken skin:  Remove chicken from marinades and allow to air dry on a raised rack in the refrigerator for 1 hour prior to grilling.

Legs on the Egg indirect at 400F

Legs on the Egg indirect at 400F

 We try and stick to recipes as close to possible the first time we try them out. However, we didn’t have minced onion, se we subbed in 1/4 tsp of onion powder instead. We let the chicken marinate for about 6 hours while we ran to the Farmer’s Market and did some other errands. When we got home, I set up the Egg for an indirect cook using  the Adjustable Rig from the Ceramic Grill Store and added a few orange and apple chips for smoke. I kept it light on the smoke as I wanted the flavor of the marinade to shine through rather than the smoke. I didn’t really time the cook, but I’d guesstimate that it took somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour. Once the chicken hit about 160F, I pulled the rig and grilled the legs directly for about a minute of two to develop a darker color and get a little crispier skin.

Chicken is done

Chicken is done

The chicken was allowed to rest for a few minutes while the lovely Mrs. G put the final touches on some potatoes and tomatoes that we had picked up earlier in the day from the Farmer’s Market.

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

     We’ve been cooking a lot of our chicken lately using the indirect method. I feel like when you are cooking chicken using a raised direct method over charcoal, it turns out really smokey regardless if you add wood chips or chunks. The fat dripping onto the coals produces a ton of smoke. You might like that kind of flavor, but I find it hides all the other flavors you have worked so hard to develop. Going indirect allows you to avoid that nasty smoke but ends up making the chicken take longer to cook. I think as a result we might have lost some of the flavor from the marinade. While the chicken was moist and the buttermilk, yogurt and lemon helped to tenderize the chicken, we didn’t get the “unique tang” that NMT was talking about. Don’t get me wrong, it was tasty, I was just looking for that “tang”. The other thing I wish I would have done differently was to allow the chicken to air dry in the fridge for an hour to get crispy skin. While the last few minutes cooking directly did help get the skin crispier, air drying it would have done a much better job. Not that we had an hour for that last step as we got home late from running errands and we were starving. Sometimes life just gets in the way. Regardless, if you are looking for a different marinade for your chicken, give this one a shot and don’t forget to head on over to NMT and check out some of his amazing recipes and if you like what you see there, keep an eye out for his upcoming book The Kamada Smoker and Grill Cookbook. I’ve already got mine pre-ordered.

Elevate Your Burger This Summer

Umami Burgers

Summer time is all about grilling burgers and dogs.

Summer time is all about grilling burgers and dogs.

     We are deep into spring and summer time is almost upon us.For some, that means pulling out the grill, dusting it off and maybe doing a few repairs to it in order to get ready for the summer. And then there are others, like us, who grill all year round.  Regardless of which camp you fall into, we all need a good burger recipe that we can fall back on to “WOW” our family and friends.  On that note, I present to you…Fish Sauce!!

This is the brand of fish sauce we use

This is the brand of fish sauce we use

     Fish sauce? In a burger? What has this guy been smoking? Yeah, I don’t blame you for thinking those things, but hear me out. For years, I’ve been hearing on the Egghead Forum and on GreenEggers about people using fish sauce in their burgers and absolutely raving about it. Fish sauce brings that umami flavor to your burger. Not sure what umami is? It’s one of the five basic tastes…sweet, sour, bitter, salty and you guessed it umami. Translated, it means “pleasant, savory taste” and what it does to a burger? Trust me…you are going to want to try it and find out for yourself, but I will say that it elevates your burger to that next level and will make your friends think you are some kind of burger genius while at the same time wondering what you did to get your burgers to taste so good. I’ll let you decide if you feel like telling them. One word of caution, do NOT smell the stuff as you are adding it to your burger. It does NOT smell like flowers, but don’t worry. You won’t smell it in your burgers when they are done.

Burgers on the grill

Burgers on the grill

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • optional – dash of Stubbs Beef Spice Rub or your favorite beef/bbq rub

 

Munster cheese added along with the buns

Munster cheese added along with the buns

Directions

  1. Mix together all ingredients together handling the meat as little as possible. Place meat in fridge to chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat your grill to 350-400F
  3. Grill burgers 3-4 minutes per side or until desired temperature is reached
  4. Build burgers using whatever condiments your heart desires
Burgers served up with corn on the cob and chips on our "best China"

Burgers served up with corn on the cob and chips on our “best China”

     So why did I wait so long to try fish sauce in our burgers if I had heard so many people raving about it? Honestly, it was because I couldn’t find it at my local grocery store. It wasn’t until a few months back when we went to an Asian market for some items for a stir fry that we found it. My wife got it for a recipe she was going to make, but I knew it would make it into some burgers in the very near future. I don’t think I will make burgers without it from now on.

     A few words of caution when using fish sauce. The stuff does smell. I mean it SMELLS. Trust me. You might not want to breathe it in. Fish sauce is also lo-ho-hoaded with sodium. Ours had 1800 mg per Tbsp!! Using 2 tsp per pound of meat and making four patties is going to add an extra 300 mg per burger. But it’s worth it. Trust me. Try it once, you won’t be disappointed.

Jalapeno Ranch Dip

J

Jalapeno Ranch Dip

     Looking for a dip to bring to your next party? Then look no further. Mrs. G whipped this up for a party we attended last weekend and it was a hit. I walked outside to say hello to some people and check out what was on the grill. By the time I got back, it was all gone! And there was already three salsas and dips on the table!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of mayonnaise (we prefer Duke’s if you can get it, just for Pete’s sake don’t use light mayo)
  • 1/2 cup Herdez Tomatillo Verde Mexican Cooking Sauce
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 4-6 jalapenos, deveined, seeded and roughly chopped (we used 5)
  • 2 one oz packets dry ranch dressing mix

Directions

  1. Add the first five ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. You may want to start with 4 jalapenos and adjust the heat level by adding more later if it’s not spicy enough.
  2. Stir in the ranch packets and whisk to incorporate.
  3. Serve chilled. The longer it sits, the hotter it will get.
4

Bet’cha can’t eat just one chip.

     Super simple dip recipe that will WOW your friends. Creamy with a little bit of tang from the buttermilk and tomatillo sauce and a bit of kick on the end from the jalapenos. Once you start eating it, you won’t be able to stop until it’s all gone. Or you run out of chips. Whichever comes first.

 

Disclaimer – I have no association with either Duke’s or Herdez and received no incentive or compensation from them. Just products we like, feel free to sub in your favorite brands.

Summer Beer

 

Summer Beer

Summer Beer. A refreshing cocktail for the hot months coming up.

     When Mrs. G and I first started dating, we would go to this pub close to her place called The Old Monk. Great pub feeling and atmosphere. Phenomenal beer and whiskey list. And the fish and chips? Out of this world. If you are ever in Dallas, I would highly recommend getting them. But that’s a topic for another time. What I want to talk to you about is a drink they have on their menu called Summer Beer. I ordered this drink one hot summer day, not really knowing what to expect. It was  recommended by our waitress and I was told it was a cool, refreshing drink which sounded perfect for if my memory can be trusted, it was approaching 100+ degrees outside. The menu simply described it as vodka, Blue Moon and lemonade over ice.

Summer Beer

Summer Beer

     I recently decided I wanted to try and recreate that drink at home as we no longer live 5 minutes away from that bar. It was a lot of hard work, and much alcohol was consumed, but I think I found a recipe that you the reader will enjoy and will get plenty of compliments for at your next barbecue or party. The things I do for you guys.  The following recipe is perfect for two good sized drinks.

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz Shiner White Wing
  • 1.5 oz of Dripping Springs Vodka
  • 8 oz of lemonade
  • orange slices
  • ice

Directions

  1. Mix together first 3 ingredients
  2. Pour over an ice filled glass
  3. Add a slice of orange
  4. Squeeze orange into glass, sip and enjoy

     I suggested Shiner White Wing and Drippings Springs Vodka because I like to support Texas whenever I can, but feel free to use your favorite brand of vodka or Belgian White. Blue Moon is pretty common and easy to find in most areas as it is brewed by MillersCoors.

Doesn't that look good?

Doesn’t that look good?

     This just might be my choice of cocktails this summer as the heat bears down on us and becomes oppressive. Cool, crisp and refreshing. Just be careful. It does pack a punch and it will sneak up on you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,626 other followers

%d bloggers like this: