Where There's Smoke...

Apparently, people like to eat.

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PatrickRsGhost
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Where There's Smoke...

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Sun Aug 08, 2010 2:15 am UTC

This is the topic about that most ancient of cooking methods, grilling/barbecuing. I know there have been several topics regarding grills and the usages of them, as well as various foodstuffs, but those have been few and far between, and in most cases, either a particular dilemma about grilling (grilling without a grill), or how to properly cook one particular food item (steaks, hamburgers).

This topic will celebrate grills/barbecues and the art of using them. What are your favorite recipes and foods? Any tips or tricks you'd like to share?

I created this because tonight my mom made the best damn chicken fajitas I'd ever had. Usually when she makes them she'll marinate the chicken, cut it up, then cook it on the stove along with the peppers and onions. Tonight she found a recipe that involves marinating the chicken, but grilling everything. Gee Willikers it was delicious. After she marinated the chicken, she grilled it, then grilled the peppers and onions. For those, she quartered the peppers and sliced the onions thick. Grilled both on the grill. The onions were becoming problematic (had one slice commit suicide) so I suggested putting them on some aluminum foil. She thought it was a good idea, so I went inside, got a sheet of foil, folded it over once, rubbed some vegetable oil on one side, put the onions on the oiled foil, then wrapped them up in a packet. The oil helped to keep the onions from drying out as they cooked, and it sauteed them as well. And oh, friends and neighbors, let me tell you that these fajitas were. the best. EVAR.

Just to clarify, this topic is to cover the awesomeness of outdoor grilling. Indoor grilling, especially with those little electric grills, isn't real grilling.
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Nikkisaurus
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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby Nikkisaurus » Sun Aug 08, 2010 2:57 am UTC

My 1337 hacks for grilling: do not push down on whatever you are cooking. Try to touch your meat (hehe) as little as possible!

When hand-making burger patties for grilling, push down the centers so they're kind of concave. The center of the burgers will rise more than the outside and you'll end up with a uniform patty instead of one with a really puffy center.

Finally, salmon burgers are delicious but canned salmon works so much better for making salmon patties than trying to use fresh salmon.

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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby justaman » Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:02 am UTC

Mmmmmmm tasty. I have a great grill bread made with beer somewhere around, basically it is a basic bread with beer in the place of half the water and some polenta in the mix and then cooked on the grill.

I've also hot smoked a whole chicken on the grill, it needs to be spatchcocked to make it cook properly though.
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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby dubsola » Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:55 am UTC

Someone on our street gave away their portable barbeque - just a little thing that could fit about 4-5 medium sized steaks at once. It's fantastic. I use charcoal and firelighters, I prefer them to the chemically treated charcoal that doesn't require firelighters. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour for all the coals to turn white (meaning they're all burning), but the wait is worth it. Absolutely amazing flavour. And it's so easy to carry around!

Nikkisaurus wrote:My 1337 hacks for grilling: do not push down on whatever you are cooking. Try to touch your meat (hehe) as little as possible!

People who insist on fiddling with the meat really annoy me. They don't realise that the juices should stay inside the meat.

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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby Felstaff » Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:00 am UTC

Argh! Like people who thwap the spatula down on burgers so the escaping fat makes the fire momentarily engulf the entire grillin' area.

Stop that! You're making the meat taste like moist, earthy cardboard!
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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby Thesh » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:08 am UTC

I tried to get into barbecuing and made pulled pork a couple of times. Both times it came out good, butit is just way to much work to keep the temps and I ended up burning so much wood and lump charcoal that it was really expensive (I think a lot of this is due to buying a cheapo offset smoker). Also, it's mostly just me, but even then if it wasn't so difficult to maintain temps then I would probably be barbecuing every other weekend.
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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby Bakemaster » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:36 pm UTC

Barbecue is such a different thing than grilling, though. BBQ is about low and slow, cooking all day. I would never pretend to know the first thing about actually making decent BBQ.

Grilling is pretty legitimately awesome. I got really into it after I first moved away from home, and would load up my little bitty charcoal grill and cook stuff outside my apartment in the parking lot with my roommate. Grilled veggies chopped up and mixed into brown rice to make a pilaf. Burgers, of course. Kebab skewers. I found that after all my experimenting with chicken wing techniques, grilling was the one I preferred even to Alton Brown's recipe. And I went all-out with the parboiling and shit just to try to find a way to replicate what you get at a really good bar or wings joint. In the end, just grilling them with S+P and tossing in sauce afterward turned out to be the simplest and best-tasting solution.
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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:33 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:Barbecue is such a different thing than grilling, though. BBQ is about low and slow, cooking all day. I would never pretend to know the first thing about actually making decent BBQ.


You have to remember that for our members over in the UK, Australia, South Africa, and other points beyond the U.S. borders, they refer to our grilling as "barbecuing".

As for smoking meat (U.S. definition of "barbecue"), you don't have to have a very expensive smoker. Any charcoal grill will do, just use the indirect heat method.

The indirect heat method calls for the hot coals to be on one side of the grill, and a pan of water (with or without wood chips) on the other. You only need about a cup (8 oz.) of water in a small, deep baking pan, like a 9" x 9", with a handful of wood chips (optional) inside. Place the meat you intend to cook directly over the water/drip pan, not over the coals. The pan will also catch any grease that drips off during cooking. The only downside to indirect heat is you have to constantly add more water to the pan, and more charcoal to the fire, and it tends to take longer to cook meat this way than over direct heat/flame. It requires constant vigilance in order to give your meat that nice, smokey flavor often associated with barbecue.

When I lived with my roommate, she had her boyfriend come over every other weekend. One weekend in particular they brought over a few friends of theirs from near where he lived, including his sister, her boyfriend (he and my roommate's boyfriend were friends), and a couple of other people, including my roommate's younger brother. They had been helping her parents repair the roof on their house. I decided that I would do some barbecued pork for the night that it was my turn to cook.

Whenever her boyfriend came over, the three of us would each pick a night to cook. She often cooked on Friday nights, I Saturdays, and Reggie (the boyfriend, now her husband) on Sundays. That way we all got a chance to cook something we liked, and the other two could decide if they liked it or not.

When I did the barbecued pork, I started with a method taken from a recipe I had for baby back ribs, which was cooking the meat first in a slow oven (about 250°F) for about an hour, then finish it off on the grill. Unlike the ribs, which called for being placed over the hot coals, I cooked the pork shoulder using the indirect heat cooking method. I made sure to add water and coals as needed, and within 4 to 6 hours (may take longer, depending on size of meat) we had some excellent smoked pork shoulder, which I chopped up for sandwiches. Also made a homemade sauce using crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, chopped onions, and various spices.

For those clueless in the ways of grilling and barbecuing: the wood chips here are special wood chips used solely for smoking meat. They can be found alongside the charcoal at any store that sells grilling supplies, and some people might soak them in water and place directly on the coals to give everything a particular flavor, or in the method described above. Hickory and mesquite are the two most popular choices, although oak and applewood are also very popular.
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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby PAstrychef » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:21 pm UTC

I have a cheap smoker that I got on sale and it works only moderately well. It's hard to get the box temperature up to a constant 220-250 without having a fire so hot it scorches the lowest rack of stuff. A friend who makes pottery is going to give me some firebrick so I can line the box, and I'm going to drill some better ventilation in the fire pan. I've made some nice stuff this year (before it got too damn hot out) and next year may be exceptional if the mods work out right.
Soaking the chips is essential if you want to get smoke instead of brief flares of flavor-tinged flames.
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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby Bakemaster » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:03 pm UTC

I've used soaked chips in the past a few times, just in with coals rather than using a separated method with a pan of water.

I have some cedar planks for grilling fish on as well, but I never remember that I have them long enough in advance of buying fish to properly pre-soak them.
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Re: Where There's Smoke...

Postby Telchar » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:06 pm UTC

I do ribs using indirect heat and no smoke. Stack all your coals to one side, and don't stoke them at all. Use a rub on the meat to seal in some of the juice, and turn the meat periodically for 3 hours about every 30 minutes. I use a mop of apple cider vinegar and water with a little bit of the rub dissolved in to help keep the meat moist. Overall, I get a good bark on the outside and good flavor penetration.
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