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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

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Grill Camp ‘06-Wrap Up

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This entry will conclude my “Grill Camp” series where I documented the week I spent experimenting with various entries on the grill and smoker. This last entry will talk some more about the EZ-Up shelter, a second round of grilled pizzas and ends with a brief wrap up of the week.

Originally I’d planned an all day cook for the final weekday of “Grill Camp” week. I had tickets for a musical in Boston for Saturday, so Friday would be the last full day I had to grill or smoke. As Friday approached the weather forecast got worse. There were high wind warnings up and I decided my EZ-Up might just end up in the Merry Old Land of Oz if I kept it up. I also had a fridge full of great leftovers from the weeks cooks. I decided I really didn’t need to fight the wind and rain. After all camp is supposed to be fun right?

The
PIT POT ROAST I made Thursday went out on the road after coming off the smoker. When I returned home Thursday night I decided to take the EZ-Up down. When I was researching the EZ-Up I’d read a testimonial letter from a woman who said she was pleasantly surprised to find out she could erect the EZ-Up herself. After trying to put my shelter up by myself, I decided this woman must own the 6’ x 6’ (1.75 x 1.75 m) model. The 10’ x 10 (3 x 3 m) bordered on impossible to put up by myself. Part of the problem is that the instructions want you to place the EZ-Up in the center of the area to be covered. You then pull the corners outward to erect it. Since my grills were in the center of the area to be covered this presented a bit of a problem. I had to erect the shelter off to the side and then drag it into place. There were two differences Thursday when it came time to take the shelter down. First it was pitch black out and second I had a helper.

I dealt with the dark by leaving the car headlights on. A helper definitely changed the degree of difficulty. I was able to quickly remove the 4 12” (30 cm) corner stakes. I was a bit surprised at just how easy this was and I shall have to keep an eye on this in the future. The base plates do not allow you to drive the stakes in at an angle. Even with two people, walking the shelter off to the side away from the grills was still the hardest part. It was easier with two people to be sure, but four would be even better-at least for moving the shelter.

Once the shelter was off to the side, pulling it down took less than a minute. You release a button at the top of the 4 corner poles to lower the poles to waist height. Then you stand at opposite corners and push them towards each other. The EZ-Up collapsed into a small compact package. Better yet it actually fit back inside the tote bag that came with it. I wish I could say this about some of the other tents and other gear I’ve owned. Most of these items only seem to fit inside their bags when they first come home from the store.

On Sunday I used some of the leftover peppers, onions, garlic and herbs from the first round of Grilled Pizza to make a second batch. This was the third time I’ve made this dish. The first time was a year ago during last years Grill Camp. I had some trouble getting the pizza on and off the grill and also getting the times and temperature right. I was glad for the Cooking Log I kept of that cook because I started off in the general ballpark and only had to refine the process. See my
KEEPING A COOKING LOG. A pizza peel took care of getting the pizzas on and off the grill in good shape. The second batch of pizzas I made on Sunday proved I had the basics down, as the pizzas came out just about perfect. It is also important to learn the idiosyncrasies of your grill. Any grill has hot zones and cool zones, it is helpful to know where they are.

On my grill I do a two zone fire. Three of the six burners were set to Medium High and three are set to Medium. I discovered High was too hot and the pizza would burn quickly. I also learned that the area to the rear of my grill was hotter than the front. As a result I had to turn the pizza 180 degrees midway through the cooking time. So the final process was cook the first side of the pizza for 3 minutes on Medium High with the lid up. Then the crust was flipped and pulled over to the Medium side to receive the cheese, sauce and toppings. Once the pizza was topped you slide it back over to the Medium High side. I cook the second side for 3 minutes with the lid closed. For the pizzas with few toppings, like the pepperoni and garlic and herb, this is enough time. For the pizzas with more toppings I slid them back to the Medium side for an additional 60 to 90 seconds to finish them off. These last pizzas were just about picture perfect.

This years “Grill Camp” was rewarding again. I was able to revisit some items I’ve had trouble with, try new items and work to perfect other items. I plan to enter all the new information I’ve learned in my cooking logs. It was nice trying new things without the pressure or trying to hit a precise time for some special family event. I simply told people: “I’ll be making X today and it should be ready at about Y o’clock. But I’m making no promises. If you can be flexible about time let’s eat!!” Direct grilling season is just about over here in New England and it may be months before I make some of these items. I’m making a point of getting all the information about prep times, cooking times and temperatures into various cooking logs. This way hopefully I won’t make the same mistake twice. I’ll have to find new mistakes to make!!. Below is a summary of “Grill Camp” Week
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BEST OF GRILL CAMP ’06 LIST:
BEST MEAL OF THE WEEK:

  BONE-IN PORK LOIN ROAST - it was the best item during last year’s grill camp and it took top prize this year.
  PORK LOIN Blog Entry

MOST IMPROVED MEAL OF THE WEEK:
  VEAL BURGERS - These burgers had been a big problem. This time around I was able to get them right.
  VEAL BURGERS Blog Entry

BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE WEEK:
  DOCTORED BUSH BEANS - Throw in a few additional ingredients and add smoke and you’ve got a whole different animal .
  DOCTORED BUSH BEANS Blog Entry

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:
  PIT POT ROAST - This item was good, but nowhere near what I’d hoped for. It was good enough that I shall have to try it again and correct a few things.
  PIT POT ROAST Blog Entry


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