Archive for February, 2012

Sauces for the Grill

If you’re looking for something to spice up your grilled beef, chicken, or fish, a grilling sauce will give you just the flavor surge you’re looking for. Unlike marinades, sauces are usually applied during or just after cooking. They can also be used for dipping during the meal. There are plenty of sauces for the grill available at your local grocery store, but making your own sauces gives you the opportunity to experiment and make just the perfect complement to your grilling masterpiece.

Basics of Sauces for the Grill

When it comes to grilling sauces, most people immediately think of thick, tangy barbecue sauce. While this type of sauce is a staple in many American back yards, it is by no means the only option. Sauces can be spicy, sweet, fruity, garlicky, or any flavor combination you choose. The best recipes are those that don’t overpower the flavor of the meat, but rather enhance it. Before we talk about types of sauces, here are a few tips for incorporating a great sauce into your recipe lineup:sauces for the grill

  • Apply during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. This is especially important for sugar-based sauces, since these can quickly burn in a high-heat environment. If you prefer, you can brush the sauce on after removing the meat from the grill.
  • If you plan to use some of the sauce for dipping, make sure you divide it before you brush onto raw meat. This will prevent cross-contamination. Discard any leftover sauce that has come into contact with a brush that has touched underdone meat.
  • Apply layers of sweet sauce a minute or two apart during grilling to form a glaze.
  • Barbecue sauce can be made a day or two ahead. The extra time in the fridge will enhance the flavor of the sauce.

Types of Sauces for the Grill

Sweet sauces can be made from a variety of ingredients including sugar, corn syrup, fruit, fruit juice, jam, and honey. These sauces make an excellent glaze. Try fruit-based sauces with pork or chicken and sweet barbecue sauce with any type of meat.

Savory sauces include garlic-herb recipes, spicy flavors, and Asian-inspired sauces. Many of these sauces combine an oil with a more acidic ingredient such as citrus juice or vinegar. An easy example of a flavorful savory sauce is to combine butter, lemon juice, and Worstershire sauce.

Dipping sauces complement just about any meat and are extremely versatile. Simply whisk ingredients together and serve alongside the main dish. Start with an oil and vinegar base and try adding herbs, lemon or lime zest, salt and pepper, garlic and capers or finely chopped tomatoes. For an Asian flavor, add soy sauce and finely chopped peanuts. The sky is the limit with dipping sauces, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavor combinations.

Using Leftover Grilling Sauces

Grilling sauces can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days, provided they haven’t been contaminated with raw meat juices. If you don’t plan to grill again in the next day or so, try blending with cream cheese or sour cream for a flavorful dip, mixing with baked beans, chili, or tacos for added flavor, or using in place of ketchup for fries and burgers.
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Vegetables On the Grill

When most people think of grilling, they think of beef, pork, chicken, and fish. Meat is the grill’s best friend. But cooking vegetables on the grill adds an appealing flavor as well as those aesthetically pleasing grill marks. Believe it or not, grilling your vegetables is both quick and easy.

What You Need to Know About Vegetables on the Grill

If you’re new to grilling vegetables, here are the basics you need to know:

  • Vegetables cook quickly, so don’t leave them on too long.
  • Keep them from sticking by marinating or brushing with oil.
  • Some veggies, like artichokes, can be pre-cooked and then added to the grill for a couple of minutes to add flavor.
  • Use a skewer to grill small veggies like cherry tomatoes or small pieces of larger vegetables. Voila! Shish-ka-bobs!

vegetables on the grill

The Best Vegetables on the Grill

While you can cook just about any vegetable on the grill, certain ones seem to stand out from the crowd. Some favorites include:

  • Corn–Peel back husks, remove strings, brush corn with butter, and replace a few layers of husk. Wrap in foil before placing on grill.
  • Potatoes–Slice, chop, skewer, or wrap in foil and bake. Potatoes are the perfect complement to most grilled meats.
  • Artichokes–Boil or steam to complete most of the cooking; then place on the grill for a few minutes to give these veggies that smoky grilled taste.
  • Mushrooms–Portobellos are some of the best mushrooms on the grill. Marinate first for a delicious flavor.
  • Asparagus–Coat with olive oil, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and grill over high heat to desired tenderness.

Tips to Grill Veggies Like a Pro

No matter which veggies are your favorite, cooking them on the grill presents a few extra challenges. With a watchful eye, however, you can overcome these challenges to present perfectly grilled vegetables every time.

  • Don’t overcook–Because vegetables cook so much more quickly than meat, it can be easy to overcook. Keep a close eye on them and test with a fork for tenderness.
  • Prevent charring–Some vegetables, like potatoes, can char on the outside while remaining underdone in the middle, especially if cooked over high heat. To prevent this, sear the outside over high heat first, and then finish cooking in a cooler part of the grill.
  • Add flavor with seasonings–The smoky, charcoal flavor vegetables get when cooked on the grill may be enough for you. If you like different flavor combinations, however, try marinating your vegetables or simply brush with oil and then sprinkle with your favorite herbs.

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Pork on the Grill

When it comes to cooking pork on the grill, the optimal technique and temperature can vary wildly from one cut of meat to another. We have all bitten into a perfectly seared bone-in pork chop only to find a dry, leathery flip flop inside. While at times it can be frustrating for the beginner, pork is one of the most versatile and rewarding meats on the grill.

Basics of Pork on the Grill

Different pork cuts will require different cooking methods. For example, a tenderloin should be treated differently from a shoulder. Unfortunately, pork is not as forgiving as beef when it comes to moisture, so it is very important to know your meat and be prepared to grill it properly.Pork on the Grill
Remember that, in general, the meat you grill is muscle tissue. On a pig, different muscles are used in different ways. Some muscles, such as the shoulder, are used constantly as the pig moves about during its life. Other muscles, such as the tenderloin, are rarely used at all. The more a muscle is used, the more developed the muscle fibers become. Long and strong muscle fibers are naturally tough, but they also retain moisture. Less developed muscles are naturally tender, but they dry out easily because of their lack of collagen.

In general, the more developed a muscle is, the slower it needs to be cooked. A long slow cook allows the collagen in the muscle fibers to break down and lose cohesion. This is where we get pulled pork barbecue. A less worked muscle can be cooked hotter and faster, but extreme care ought to be given when it comes to temperature monitoring.

Flavors for Perfect Pork

Perhaps more than any other meat, pork pairs well with sweet flavors. Citrus, pineapple, blueberry, even maple flavors complement the natural sweetness of the meat. This is not to say that savory flavors do not work well with pork, but sweet flavors tend to have a more pleasing effect on guests.

Two Key Tips for Pork on the Grill

Temperature monitoring is important when grilling any meat, but it is especially important when dealing with pork chops, loin, and tenderloin. Purchase a good leave-in meat thermometer and use it to make sure you don’t overcook your meat. Take your meat off the grill when it is about 5 degrees shy of the target temperature. It will finish coming to temperature during the next most important stage of grilling: resting.

Resting your meat is nearly as important as not overcooking it. The rest allows the tight and strained meat fibers to relax and reabsorb juices. Without a rest, you will have dry meat in a pool of flavorful juice that would otherwise be in the meat.


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Beef on the Grill

Beef is perhaps the most rewarding meat to grill and eat. It is most often associated with the “all American” cookout. Because there are many cuts of beef, there are many preparation styles. The key to grilling beef is to know your meat and understand what makes it different from other cuts.

Basics for Beef on the Grill

Grilling techniques for beef vary wildly from one cut to another. Brisket is typically cooked “low and slow” for Texas style beef barbecue. Flank steak, and hanger steak are tougher cuts, but their size allows them to be seared on the outside and left rare on the inside. Slicing these cuts thinly against the grain breaks up the muscle fiber and leaves a tender bite. Steak cuts come from moderately tender muscle regions and are perfect for searing to whatever doneness you prefer. These are only three of the many cut types that could be considered.

Different Cuts, Different Techniques

When determining how to cook your beef on the grill, consider what type of muscle you are dealing with. Muscles that see much use will be tougher, since their fibers are long and well defined. Less used muscles are much more tender, and the fiber structure is almost indiscernible. Of course, ground beef bypasses the muscle fibers by grinding them up for you, making even the toughest muscles useable.Beef on the Grill
For tougher cuts, it is typically best to cook them at low temperatures for an extended amount of time. This allows the collagen in the muscle fibers to break down and become tender. The exception to this is the flank steak and its variations. Because of the flank steak’s thin profile, slicing it against the grain breaks up the muscle fibers and makes it tender.
For tender cuts, a medium to medium-low grill is best for temperature regulation and avoiding overcooking. A grill thermometer is crucial for getting a good result because it allows you to monitor the meat’s internal temperature and remove the meat from the grill at just the right time.
For steak cuts and ground beef, a medium to medium-high grill is best for achieving a good sear on the outside without overcooking the inside.

A Word About Seasoning Beef on the Grill

It may come as a surprise to some home chefs, but beef packs a lot of great flavor on its own. A robust seasoning blend, while imparting a unique and powerful flavor profile to the meat, often actually detracts from the meat flavor. Steak sauces and seasonings work wonders to cover many grilling failures, but a truly stunning steak is one that features the flavor of the beef as most prominent.
The mark of a great outdoor chef is his ability to draw out the complex savory flavors of the beef without muting them with extra flavors. You will taste sweet success when your guests realize that they don’t have to flood their steak with a sauce that steals the entire dish. To achieve the best simple steak, rub your steaks down with a liberal application of kosher salt and freshly ground coarse black pepper. Wrap the steaks individually in plastic wrap for at least 45 minutes to let the salt work it’s hydrophilic magic. After the wait, unwrap the steaks and either grill them immediately, or leave them on a wire rack in the refrigerator overnight, uncovered. The overnight method intensifies the “beefy” flavor of the steak.


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Chicken on the Grill

Everyone loves grilled chicken. It’s a simple meat that is cheap and forgiving to the beginner chef. Of all meats, chicken is perhaps the best suited for marinades and flavorings. It has little flavor of its own, and easily takes on any flavor the chef chooses to apply.

Basics of Chicken on the Grill 

Grilling chicken is a relatively simple affair. In fact, many outdoor chefs are able to grill a decent piece of chicken their very first time. A common problem, however, is that most do not know how to take their decent chicken to the next level and make it taste truly amazing. In many ways, the properly butchered chicken breast is an ideal cut of meat. It is a whole muscle, very lean, with a muscle fiber structure that retains moisture when cooked properly. The breast accepts marinades and rubs, absorbing their flavoring and color. Nearly any flavor pairs well with chicken, from paprika to pineapple.

Grilled Chicken Recipes

Chicken on the Grill The best recipe for grilled chicken is no recipe at all. This is not to say that you shouldn’t measure your ingredients, or even use recipes as a guide, but strict adherence to a recipe will tend to impede your success as a chef. The best way to procure delicious chicken on the grill is to begin by deciding what flavor and texture you want. Remember that the best meals have a variety of complementary flavors and textures and plan accordingly.

The Secret of Perfect Chicken on the Grill

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when grilling chicken is that you should not overcook it. Overcooking chicken is easy to do. We have all heard about the dangers of undercooked meat and we want to be sure that no bacteria lingers to wreak havoc on our bodies. Chicken does not have to be leathery in order to be safe. The best way to ensure your chicken is not overcooked is to use a good, leave-in meat thermometer. Insert it into the chicken before you begin grilling, and monitor the temperature until it comes within 2 or 3 degrees of the FDA recommended temperature. The chicken will finish coming to the desired temperature as it rests. Resting is the second most important part of grilling chicken. Any whole-muscle meat needs to rest for about 5 minutes per pound after being taken off the grill. This allows the muscle fibers to relax after the strain of the heat, enabling them to reabsorb moisture and distribute heat evenly. If you cut into freshly grilled meat too early, you will have a puddle of juice around a dry chicken breast.

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Bubba Keg Grill Reviews

The unique advantages of Bubba Keg grills, with their kamado shape coupled with the strength of steel, are well known. If you’re not familiar with Bubba Kegs, visit our grill brands page to understand more about them.

For the most part, Bubba Keg lives up to the hype. Their advertising is spot on in nearly every area, which is something that can be said for few manufacturers. However, there are a few design flaws worth noting.

Bubba Keg Grill Reviews: Overview

Bubba Keg grills receive much praise from their users. The steel grill is durable, fuel efficient, and well insulated. Because of its durability, the grill is easily transportable and very weather resistant. There is something to be said for a grill company with such a loyal user base. The overwhelming praise from Bubba Keg owners shows that the company is doing a lot of the right things with their grills.Bubba Keg Grill Reviews
The grill is shaped like a Japanese kamado cooker, but has been stylized with the appearance of a beer keg. The low brow looks of the grill stop there, however. The grill is designed to maximize efficiency and minimize moisture loss in food. These two things, the Bubba Keg accomplishes easily; all the while imparting great flavor to the food being grilled.

Bubba Keg Grill Reviews: Pros and Cons

Fortunately, the list of pros from Bubba Keg owners is much longer than the list of cons. The following is a compiled list of the most common pros and cons found in Bubba Keg grill reviews around the internet.

Pros

  • The grill shape allows it to be used for high or low temperatures with a remarkable level of stability
  • The grill’s steel construction makes it durable and is easy to transport
  • The grill features an insulated layer to minimize heat loss
  • Because of the easy airflow, the grill is easy to light
  • The grill is easy to turn off by shutting the air vents.

Cons

  • The grill top vent is not water proof, which allows rain to get into the grill and can cause mold if the grill is not kept spotlessly clean.
  • The steel grates and cooking utensils can scratch off the enamel coating on the grill interior, allowing the steel underneath to rust.

Conclusion

Overall, the Bubba Keg is a great grill with many advantages. Its steel construction creates a few drawbacks, but these are minor when compared to the advantages of steel. The grill should be cared for properly to ensure water does not damage the interior and care should be exercised when the grate is being moved around.

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Bubba Keg Grills

Bubba Keg grills have a unique shape that catches the eye. Maybe you have seen one such grill and wondered if its odd shape is anything more than just a cosmetic novelty. Bubba Keg grills

The shape of the grill is for more than just looks. The shape takes advantage of the unique properties of charcoal to maximize the heat and flavor they produce.

Bubba Keg Grills: Unique Shape, Unique Flavor

Bubba Keg’s grill lineup uses the unique benefits of the kamado grill style to maximize heat distribution and minimize moisture loss in the food. Kamado cookers have been used for centuries in Asia because of their cooking advantages. The shape of the grill creates a natural draft from the bottom of the grill (or “keg”) to the top. This shape draws heat from the flames to the grilling area evenly, which makes the cooking surface heat evenly and helps the fuel to burn evenly. Unlike most kamado grills, however, the Bubba Keg is made of enamel coated steel rather than the traditional clay or ceramic. Because of its steel construction, the Bubba Keg is more mobile than other kamados. The differences between ceramic construction and steel construction are not all advantages, however. Visit our Bubba Keg grill reviews section to see what the consumers say.

Benefits of Stable Heat and Fuel Efficiency

One of the advantages of the kamado shape is its fuel efficiency. Bubba Keg took the kamado’s fuel efficiency to the next level by sandwiching a layer of oven insulation inside the enamel-coated steel grill body. The result is a grill that can be an 800 degree inferno on the inside with very little heat loss on the outside. As a result, a very small amount of charcoal goes a long way in the Bubba Keg. When you are done grilling, just shut all of the air supply doors to snuff out the flame. The grill will be ready to light next time you open the lid.

Bubba Keg Grills: Ready To Go Wherever You Are

Because of its steel construction, a Bubba Keg grill is very portable. Traditional clay or ceramic kamados are easily cracked, especially during transportation. Even a small, sustained vibration if placed properly can break a ceramic cooker in half. This is not a problem with the Bubba Keg. The steel grill is designed with portability in mind and can be hooked up to a trailer hitch for easy transportation to a party or for tailgating.

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