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

Grill Camp ’07 - Wrap up

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This entry will sum up my third and best Grill Camp yet. It was both the most ambitious and the most successful. Out of the 9 days I was off I grilled or smoked 8 of those days. I made 14 meals on those 8 days. You know it’s a good day around here when I go out back and both the grill and the smoker are in use, filling the backyard with wonderful odors of grilled or smoked food. If you haven’t read the other Grill Camp blog entries, this whole thing started 3 years ago. I got an extra weeks vacation due to time served at work. I’d forgotten about the extra week and had to use it in October on short notice. With nothing planned for it I decided to experiment with new items on my grill and then new smoker. I wanted to get used to using my smoker to see if I could learn enough to use it through the winter. A friend called it Grill Camp. The name stuck and this was the third and definitely the best year. While there were a few bumps in the road the important thing was the end results, the food, tasted great.

Another great thing about this food themed week is I took time to visit many food related stores: a restaurant supply house, several Whole Foods, cooking stores like Williams-Sonoma, Linens and Things, and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Instead of my usual late night or busy weekend quick hit and runs, I was able to go off hours. There were no crowds and I could spend quality time seeing who stocked what. I got ideas for future cooks and made mental lists of what each store carried. That way if I needed something in a pinch I knew who carried what. Since the stores weren’t crowded then, I could also talk to the people at the butcher and fish counters and in the produce section and learn a few things along the way.

On to the summary. This was indeed the best and most satisfying of the 3 grill camps. This time around just about everything I made was new. The only meal that had the potential to be a bust was the first round of Chili Stuffed Cheeseburgers. They split apart during cooking and leaked a bit. Although they weren’t pretty, they tasted just fine. So with all the new things I tried that week, if that was the worst of it I have zero to complain about. The other problems revolved around my meals using the infra red rotisserie on the gas grille running long. But once again they turned out great once they were done. Everything else was uneventful and turned out to be excellent. So like last year I have made some categories to sum up the week. I’ve also added some new categories that I didn’t mention last year.

The last two years it was the Bone-In Pork Loin. As described in my Day 6 entry, I tried to make it again this year, but couldn’t get the meat. It was a really tough call this year because everything turned out so well. Now before you think I am bragging , I give full credit to the great recipes. I just managed to follow them without screwing up. I would have to say it was a virtual tie between the two fish entries. I am going to award it to the Stuffed Trout. The reason: I like stuffing so that gives it a slight edge over the Kohala Tuna Steaks. So for best meal: Stuffed Trout
  STUFFED TROUT Fish Picture Entry

Chili Cheese Burgers-these burgers were a bit of a problem the day last week that I made them. Unlike other Grill Camps where I’ve waited till next year to revisit some items, I made these three times and go it right the second time. This time around I was able to get them right.
  GRILL CAMP ’07 - DAY 5 Blog Entry
  GRILL CAMP ’07 - DAY 6 Blog Entry

FISH - I have been a bit scared of doing fish on the grill and even more so on the smoker. But I decided to force the issue this week. After al Grill Camp is about learning new things. I found that with the right recipes it is relatively easy to turn out a moist tasty piece of fish. The short cook times might even make it so I can smoke fish this on weeknights. At least in the summer.
  GRILL CAMP ’07 - DAY 3 Blog Entry
  GRILL CAMP ’07 - DAY 5 Blog Entry

London Broil - Who knew something this good could be this easy. I’ve had enough bad London Broil that I’d shied away from it. My Mastering the Grill cookbook claims cooking is an art and a science. This recipe proved they had their act together in both areas.
  GRILL CAMP ’07 - DAY 1 Blog Entry
  GRILL CAMP ’07 - WEEKEND Blog Entry

Day 4 - While their were technical problems cooking the kabobs, they turned out great. As a carnivore I have to pick this day: Lamb Kabobs for lunch and ribs for supper. Where the cooks ended up overlapping, I had the grill and the smoker going at once. You can only imagine the great smells out in the back yard.
  GRILL CAMP ’07 - DAY 4 Blog Entry

NONE - Now before you go rolling your eyes thinking I am saying everything was perfect: I am not. What I am saying is this time around everything turned out well. I cooked everything to the right temperature and doneness. I followed great recipes and was rewarded with great food in return. I can always get better at what I do, but nothing was glaring. Example: With the bone-in leg of lamb I didn’t get the remote probes in it and I had to use the instant read thermometer. I didn’t tighten the set screws down on the rotisserie forks when making the chicken, but I caught it before there was a problem. The only thing I needed to do better on was the Chili Cheeseburgers but I made those three times and had them under control the second time out. So I fixed the one big problem I had before grill camp was over.

Before I close: I can’t tell you how much fun it is to take some unscheduled free time like this and use it to experiment with grilling or smoking. The low key atmosphere makes it fun and if all goes well you end up some great meals and a fridge full of great leftovers to share with friends and family. Even if you don’t do a full week like I did, you should take a few days here and there to try this.

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