A new toy

 

We added a new toy to our arsenal this past week…a Blackstone 17″ griddle. I wanted to get the 36″ cuz bigger is always better, but I reigned myself in as our back porch really doesn’t have the room and I knew if I stored it in the garage, it just wouldn’t get used. The 17″ will easily stow away in one of the cabinets that we are building into our outdoor cooking area when not in use. And 17″ will probably work out just fine for the three of us.

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Seasoning up the Blackstone 17″ griddle

I started off by thoroughly washing the griddle in hot soapy water, then heated it to medium to medium warm and applied grapeseed oil and wiped it around with a paper towel. I hear flaxseed oil is the best to season steel and cast iron, but my grocery store doesn’t carry it and grapeseed oil has a high smoking point so I figured it was probably good to go. I repeated that for around 30 minutes until it had started to get a nice color.

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Cooking some onions

After that, I threw on one chopped onion and started sautéing that. From what I’ve read, this step will take away the metallic taste and help further season the griddle. Throw away the onions when you are done and after the have cooled off.

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BACON!!!

The next step was bacon because it’s bacon and you really don’t need a reason to cook bacon and because we were making bacon cheeseburgers.

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Smashing the patties

Our first “official” cook was smashburgers. Not going to go into detail because it was our first try, and while they were great, I feel like we could do better and that we could should perfect the technique before sharing it.

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Cheese please

I also got the Cuisinart melting dome so that we could melt cheese. The description on Amazon said it had a 9″ diameter, so I only got one thinking that 9+9=18 which is greater than 17″, but either my math is wrong or the dimensions of either the griddle or the dome are wrong because I can easily fit 2 on there. I’ll have to pick up another one regardless.

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Yum!!

Mrs. G said that it was one of the best burgers she’s had in a long time. Now, she has always been a fan of a griddled burger and I can understand. All that contact with a hot surface produced a nice crust on the burger that is just so tasty. Don’t get me wrong…I still love a grilled burger, but a griddled burger is damn tasty too.

I can’t wait to do burgers again and to see what else we can whip up on this new toy…

 

FYI I picked this up at my local Ace Hardware for $79.99. You can order it online and have it delivered to your closest location and it should arrive in something like 5-8 business days. I can’t remember. Or for a bit more, you can have it shipped to your house. It’s also available on Amazon for over $100 with free shipping with Prime right now.

And as always, I have no connection or affiliation with either Blackstone, Cuisinart or Ace Hardware. I purchased these products with my own hard earned money and are not receiving any kind of compensation for this post.

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Soy Vay Island Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

Picked up some pork tenderloins the other day at Sams’s. 3 went in the freezer and one took a 24 hour bath in this stuff.

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First time trying it out, sounded interesting. For this cook, I decided to use the Mini since it’s been sitting dormant for a while. Went and ahead and hooked up the new Flame Boss 100 to see how it would work on the Mini and a direct cook. Set it for 400.

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Tenderloins sure do take up a lot of room on the Mini. Almost done.

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Took about 30 minutes or so to hit 145, I was shooting for 140. Don’t tell anybody.

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You  noticed the tooth picks sticking out of one end? I like to fold over the skinny end of a tenderloin and secure it in place. I find that if left alone, that skinny end will end up being way overdone. I’ve tried using butcher’s twine, but the skinny end tends to slip out when the tenderloin is flipped. Toothpicks just seem to work better for me.
As always with large proteins, I let it rest about 10 minutes before slicing.

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Look at all that juice!! We served it up on a bed of rice and drizzled on some of the reserved marinade. When using marinade that has touched raw meat, I boil it for 10 minutes and then let simmer until it reduced and thickened up a bit. I don’t know if that is technically “safe” and might not be restaurant approved, so do it at your own risk. I’ve never gotten sick, nor has anybody I’ve ever served, but I’m throwing out a little warning there for you to heed or not.

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I was actually a bit surprised. It came out really good. Not really like your average teriyaki at all. Not overly salty, but had a sweetness to it that was very interesting. Even though I overshot the temp I was gonna pull it at by 5 degrees, it was still plenty juicy and oh so tender.  The leftovers are gonna make some great sliders served up on some King’s Hawaiian rolls. 😀 I just wish I had made some kind of slaw and/or caramelized onions to go along with it.  Will definitely use this marinade again in the future.

 

Brisket, ABTs and the New Flame Boss 100

Flame Boss 100 Trial 1
Flame Boss 100 Trial 1

This is the follow up post on the new Flame Boss 100. For its trial run, I figured go big or go home and nothing tops brisket! I had a 13 pound brisket all trimmed up. I rubbed it down with mustard and a mix of Fiesta Brisket Seasoning and Dizzy Pig Cow Lick. Normally, I just use a 50/50 mix of salt and freshly ground black pepper by weight for brisket, but after realizing just how many spices and rubs I have during our move, I thought it was time to clear some out. No more Fiesta. Started the Egg around 10:30 Friday night to allow plenty of time for the Egg to get dialed in with the new controller. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get up to temp and didn’t want to mess up the finishing time on the brisket. Nothing worse than having a horde of starving masses at your house and you don’t want them filling up on chips and dips and such.

Brisket on the Egg
Brisket on the Egg at 235F

Played with the temps a bit between 10 and 12 and it did a really good job responding. Brisket went on at midnight with B&B oak lump and mesquite (both chips and chunks scattered in the lump) for smoke. Temp set at 235F. Went to bed around 1:30 and all looked good. Not sure what time I got up, but the Egg was steady at 236. 1 degree difference. I think I can live with that.

What a sight to greet you first thing in the morning!
What a sight to greet you first thing in the morning!

I’m pretty sure I pulled it at 1PM (13 hours or so) when the temp had hit around 200F in most places and the probe went in like “buttah”. Forgot to take a pic. Sorry, totally gotten out of the habit of writing posts and documenting the cook with pictures. The brisket was wrapped in foil and placed in a cooler (FTC or foil, towel, cooler) to rest for a few hours as it wasn’t time to eat just then. Then it was time to bump the temp to 250F the ABTs on.

ABTs, poppers, ass burners (new one to me)...whatever you want to call them.
ABTs, poppers, ass burners (new one to me, JB Smith)…whatever you want to call them.

Yes, there were 3 nekid, vegan ones for my cousin. How a Griffin became a vegetarian? I blame it on living in California for a few years. 😕

Just in time for the Baylor game!
Just in time for the Baylor game!

The brisket was so tender after sitting in a cooler for a few hours. I was able to separate the point and the flat with the back of a knife. Here’s the flat. For some reason I can never get a smoke ring on a brisket on the Egg. Not that effects taste, just cosmetic.

The flat
The flat

Some people really like the flat or the “lean” portion of the brisket. Not me.

Look at that!
Look at that!

I could cook a whole brisket, toss the flat and just eat the point or “fatty” portion of the brisket and be totally happy. A little bend test. Fork tender.

Yep. That's bendy and tender and juicy!
Yep. That’s bendy and tender and juicy!

After pulling the ABTs, I raised the temp from 250 to 375 so my cousin could cook his vegan patties. The Flame Boss had no trouble bringing it up to temp in less than 15 minutes. No pictures of that cuz well they  were frozen vegan patties. Who cares?

So what are my thoughts? I did notice when installing the Flame Boss, that the new fan does not have those two bendy wires that attach it to the adapter. Kinda freaked me out finding that at first after having a few drinks. I thought mine must have been defective.  Turns out it has a new lip design that keeps it attached. Forgot to take pics of that.

Old fan. You can see the 2 bendy wires?
Old fan. You can see the 2 bendy wires?

Do you need a pit controller to take care of your Egg? Absolutely not. Is it nice not having to worry about the possibility of your fire going out overnight? You betcha!! Is it nice to just light you egg, plug it in, walk away and know that it will hit your desired temp and not overshoot while you’re prepping your meal? Or watching tv? Or having a cold beverage? You’re darn tooting!

As far as performance, I’m totally happy. Works like a champ. Besides the way it attaches, the new design of the controller itself (the most obvious change and appears to be just cosmetic) and new wires that I have no info on, it works just like the original…perfect IMHO. Quickly brought the egg up to temp, held it there for over 13 hours then quickly brought it up to a higher temp to direct grill some burgers. The “Open Dome” function works just as it should, stopping the fan from coming on when you are checking your meat.

No it doesn’t have internet or wi-fi. No it won’t keep track of your temps and graph them. No it won’t tie your shoes or open your beer, but then again I don’t want or need a pit controller that does all those things. If you do, hey, that’s your thing and this one isn’t for you. No biggie. Different strokes and all. Actually, if it could open my beer…

If you want a controller that just controls your pit and that’s all without all the fancy bells and whistles, this one deserves looking at. Obviously, I’ve only used it once, but I’ll keep testing it to see how it does over time and how durable it is. So far, I am pleased with it. In fact, I’d love to try it out again this coming weekend but I’ve already got plans on Saturday. Maybe there will be some time for ribs on Sunday…

 

**Edit – since I wrote this, I was asked on the Egghead Forum by a fellow named BRushOO “Here’s the bottom line of the Flame Boss 100 as I see it:  If this flame boss was stolen/broke/you were no longer it’s owner….. would you buy another one at retail cost?” I thought about it and quite honestly I would say that yes, I would. I would not hesitate to buy one. Unless, I opted to check out the DigiQ just for sake of change and in order to do review a different brand.

Bratwurst Burgers

This past weekend, I was cleaning out the freezer and found some home made bratwurst (using this recipe) hiding in the back. This package of brats was in bulk form (ie wasn’t stuffed into casings) and I thought it would be perfect to make some burgers.  Now, if you don’t happen to have fresh, home made bratwurst in your freezer (I do feel sorry for you), then you can always grab some links from your grocery store, slice open the casings and form them into your own burgers. I happened to have a pound of bratwurst which was perfect to make 3 patties as I like my burgers around 1/3 lb each. Feel free to make your patties to whatever size makes you happy.

Bratwurst patties on the grill
Bratwurst patties on the grill

I set up my Egg for a direct cook around 500F. The bratwurst burgers were grilled for about 2 minutes, then turned 90 degrees, grilled another 2 minutes, then flipped and repeated on the other side. Grill until the temp reaches 160F (carryover will take it to 165F). Even though the FDA says pork is safe at 145F, with ground pork (ie sausage), I like to play it on the safe side, especially if I didn’t grind it myself and it’s store bought.

Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns
Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns

I know pretzel buns are probably “so last year”, but while at the store getting some other things, I spotted them at my bakery for the first time. I’m not always the first to jump on every food bandwagon. Often times, I just watch it pass by and shake my head. Some of them make no sense to me, but pretzel buns with bratwurst burgers? Seemed like they were made for each other. Made me take a short trip down memory lane. Sitting at a biergarten in Germany. Drinking beer and snacking on pretzels and sausages.  Good times. Sorry. My minds started to wander there for a bit.

So how to top these bratwurst burgers? I decided to keep it simple. Some spicy, brown mustard and a bit of sauerkraut. And why not some more pretzels on the side and a cold beer to wash it down (not pictured)?

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

Taking a food that is normally eaten as a link and serving it in a burger form was different, to say the least. I mean I knew on a mental level what to expect it to taste like, but picking it up, it was like some kind of mental muscle memory kicked in and I almost expected it to taste like a burger. Like the eyes and sense of taste and mind just weren’t meshing up. It’s hard to explain. I think I had the same experience when we made King Ranch Mac and Cheese. I expected that to taste like Mac and Cheese, but then got all the flavors of King Ranch Chicken. Weird what the brain can do to you sometimes. Regardless, it was a pretty tasty burger/bratwurst burger. The only thing I think it was missing was some kind of cheese. What kind of cheese would you serve on a bratwurst burger?

Fajita Chicken Wings with a Creamy Chipotle Dipping Sauce

     Some of you may know that yesterday was National Chicken Wing Day (7/29/14). If you lived in my house, you would have known for sure. One of my favorite food holidays of the year. What’s not to love? Crispy, bite sized food? You’re expected to use your hands? People don’t frown down on you if you get a bit messy? And most often come with some kind of tasty dipping sauce? Check, check and check. Sounds like the perfect food group to me.

     I’m always on the look out for a new wing recipe. This time, I used a little influence from growing up in South Texas and a nod to Chris over at NibbleMeThis to come up with my version of fajita chicken wings and a creamy chipotle dipping sauce. A little fusion of Tex-Mex and chicken wings.

Fajita Chicken Wings for National Chicken Wing Day
Fajita Chicken Wings for National Chicken Wing Day

     While Chris’s recipe is a little more in depth with more ingredients and a marinade process, I kept mine fairly simple by just using Fiesta Chicken Fajita Seasoning for two reasons. I like the flavor and I find that marinades can prevent the skin on chicken wings from getting crispy.

Ingredients

  • chicken wings
  • Fiesta Chicken Fajita Seasoning (or any brand you may prefer)
  • cornstarch (optional)
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 chipotle peppers, chopped + 1 tsp juice
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • juice of half a lemon or lime
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash of ancho chile pepper
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Chicken Fajita Seasoning and my lil devil bottle opener
Chicken Fajita Seasoning and my lil devil bottle opener

Directions

  1. Lightly dust your chicken wings with corn starch (optional – this will help the skin get crispy as it cooks). Then dust the wings with fajita seasoning. Arrange the wings in a single layer on a platter and cookie sheet and place in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 12 hours. This process will allow the wings to air dry and will also help them crisp up.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set the bowl in the fridge and allow flavors to marry for an hour or two.

    Creamy chipotle dipping sauce
    Creamy chipotle dipping sauce
  3. Preheat your grill to 400F. If using a Kamado style grill, set it up for a raised direct cook. If using other grills, set it up for a two zone cook (one side with the coals or burners on and one side without) so that you can shuffle the wings back and forth in case of flare ups.
  4. Grill wings for 30 minutes, turning two or three times to ensure even cooking. Keep an eye out for flare ups and move wings to the unlit side of the grill if necessary.
  5. Wings are safe to eat at 165F, but I usually like to take mine to 175-180 to get that crispy skin. Not to worry. The wings will not dry out.
Wings cooking at 400F raised direct. Almost done.
Wings cooking at 400F raised direct. Almost done.

     I went back and forth on what to serve with my wings. On the one hand, I wanted to keep with the Tex-Mex thing and thought about going with Mexican rice. Maybe some boracho beans. But that would require using a utensil and would counter balance part of the fun of wings…eating with your hands. Or I could just go with one of my other favorite foods…Tater Tots!! Yep, tater tots won out.

Wings and tots makes me happy.
Wings and tots makes me happy.

     It’s always interesting to switch things up on wing night. That first bite you expect to get some heat. These wings don’t bring the heat, though. They bring those flavors that you have come to expect from fajitas. Cumin, garlic, onion and a hint of citrus. The Chipotle Dipping Sauce doesn’t serve the same purpose as the normal bleu cheese or ranch that you get with Buffalo Wings. It’s not there to cool off your mouth from the heat from the wings. Most people enjoy their fajitas with sour cream. This sauce gives you that sour cream along with the smokiness of the chipotle peppers and some heat from the cayenne and ancho. Completely optional, but it adds that extra dimension to the wings that really set them off.

Demolished
Demolished

     Next time you are thinking about wings, try thinking outside the box. How could other cultures influence your wings and take them to a whole nother playing field? You might surprise yourself. You just might come up with a recipe that replaces Buffalo Wings as your favorite type of wings.