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

Let's Go Have Fun Dammit

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Hobbies are supposed to be fun. When they stop being fun, you should really find another hobby. Now it hadn't come to that for me, but I found as I was making more dishes for more people and started having some unexpected technical issues, things were starting to become stressful. I would end up getting to a point in the cook where I was disgusted with myself because things were running late or I was having problems. I had picked up enough knowledge and tricks over the years I was somehow managing to pull my chestnuts out of the fire, but it wasn’t till we sat down to eat that I’d know whether the food was ok. When we would sit down to eat I was the only one that was upset about the delay. Everyone else was raving about the food. I suddenly realized I was letting things that weren't necessarily important ruin my enjoyment of my time in the kitchen and out of the grill. The last month or so I have had a new attitude and once again I am having a ball out at the grill. Plus I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but the food is coming out better than ever. This blog is about my change in attitude and how it is making grilling fun again. Read More...
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Getting Better All The Time - Pt. 4

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This four part blog entry began when I realized I was having a string of successful cooks, despite some technical issues. I was lucky enough to be able to work my way out of the difficulties and later figure out the problem. This process forced me to go back to basics and think about what was working and what wasn’t. I figured it might help some other folks if I wrote down some of the things I had learned to do or be sure not to do to insure a successful cook. While the problems I began having first showed themselves when I was baking on the Egg, I saved this baking section for last. PART 1 covered general topics related to getting started and some things that will help you along the way. PART 2 covered items specific to grilling. PART 3 covered what I learned smoking on a horizontal offset barrel type smoker and more recently my Big Green Egg. Those segments had items of interest to folks using a Big Green Egg as well as other grills or smokers. This final segment covers baking on a Big Green Egg specifically. While anyone is welcome to read it, the people who it is aimed at are people who own, or are thinking of buying, a Big Green Egg and plan to bake on it. I am limiting this entry to the Big Green Egg because that is what I know. Before owning my Big Green Egg I only baked once on a grill. Read More...
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Getting Better All The Time - Pt. 3

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As mentioned in the other entries in this series: This blog started out life when I noticed I was suddenly having a string of successes of late. Some of these have come despite some technical issues I was working through. I don’t consider myself a natural cook or a well trained cook. Some folks seem to just come at this naturally and can throw things together and get great results. Others are formally trained. I am neither. What I can do is to take someone else's great recipe and by following the directions, get great results. I recently realized I have been able to work around some issues that might have resulted in a crash and burn in prior years. I decided to try to document some of the things that I have picked up along the way. This might help some other folks just starting out or who are having issues. As I started organizing my thoughts, this entry spiraled out of control and has taken on a life of it’s own. What I originally envisioned as a single part entry, turned into 4 parts. The first entry is on general topics related to getting started and some things that will help you along the way. The second entry covered items specific to grilling. This entry, Part 3, will cover smoking and Part 4 will cover Baking. I owned and used a CG Smokin’ Pro horizontal offset barrel smoker for 9 years, before I bought my lump charcoal-powered BGE nearly two years ago and I will discuss items related to both. This entry will be somewhat more specific than the first two. I will speak about the two smokers I know and will not pretend to have an exhaustive knowledge of other models. Some of what I write here that isn’t about the gear itself, but about smoking itself, will apply to other types of smokers too. Read More...
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The Island of Misfit Grill Toys

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I am taking a break from my 4 part blog entry entitled Getting Better All the Time to write this somewhat timely blog entry. It was prompted by a spring cleaning session out at my exterior grill cabinets & in my indoor grill closet. I was trying to make room for some of my newest Eggcessories and I decided to go through every drawer in both storage areas and get rid of items I no longer use. Some of these are items that do not fit or work with my Big Green Eggs. Others are items I bought and ended up not using, or I later found a better solution. I figured a blog entry where I listed these items and described why I no longer needed them or no longer could use them might be helpful to new or potential Big Green Egg owner’s. You can read my reasons and see if they make sense in your use case. It may also help you with a budget for the Eggcessories you want. BTW for those of you who did not get the reference in the title, it was from the 1964 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, an animated cartoon I saw as a youth. The Island of Misfit Toys was where you sent toys you no longer wanted or used. Read More...
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Getting Better All The Time - Pt. 2

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This blog started out life when I noticed I was suddenly having a string of successes of late. Some of these have come despite some technical issues I was working through. I don’t consider myself a natural cook or a well trained cook. Some folks seem to just come at this naturally and can throw things together and get great results. Others are formally trained. I am able to take someone else's great recipe and by following the directions get great results. I recently realized I have been able to work around some issues that might have resulted in a crash and burn for me in prior years. I decided to try to document some of the things that I have picked up along the way. This might help some other folks just starting out or who are having issues. As I started organizing my thoughts, this entry spiraled out of control. What I envisioned as a single part entry, it now looks like it will be 4 parts. The first entry is on general topics related to getting started and some things that will help you along the way. This entry, PART 2 will cover items specific to grilling. I owned gas grills for years before I bought my lump charcoal-powered BGE nearly two years ago and I will discuss items related to both. PART 3 will cover smoking and PART 4 will cover Baking, specifically as it relates to doing it on the Big Green Egg. The first 3 parts will cover both general/universal topics and grill specific topics. So even if you don’t own a Big Green Egg or other kamado style grill, the first three parts will have useful information. Read More...
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Getting Better All The Time - Pt. 1

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Recently I have been on quite the roll, and I don't mean the larger than normal amount of rolls that I have been baking. What I am referring to is I have been on a streak where I am turning out some of the best foods I've grilled smoked or baked. It isn't just me saying this. The folks I have been serving this food too are the ones who keep saying this too, and it is nearly unanimous. My Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years & Easter dinners have gotten rave reviews. Same with many of the normal meals in between the holidays. I have begun to feel embarrassed as I post the picture entries here and keep saying: "My guests felt this was the best ______ I've ever made." Don't worry I have not become a legend in my own mind. But the food really has been getting better, despite some technical issues I was fighting for 3 months or so. I am my toughest critic most days, and even I have noticed a difference. This multi-part blog is my attempt to look at what has been going right and wrong, and share some of my thoughts in the hope of helping others. This entry will cover how to get started in this hobby and how to get yourself pointed in the right direction. Part 2 will cover Grills & Grilling and Part 3 will discuss Smokers & Smoking. The Final Part will cover some things I’ve learned about Baking on the Big Green Egg. Read More...
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Wok Talk-Cooking with the Lid Up

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This blog entry will cover a lesson I learned this past weekend about using my Big Green Egg with the lid open for doing a stir-fry. The occasion was the publication of a recipe by Grace Young in the Big Green Egg Lifestyle magazine (edition 04/14). This magazine features recipes by various well known chefs who are Big Green Egg users, either as a so-called Culinary Partner (paid spokesperson) or as a “fan”. The chefs often provide a recipe of theirs. The recipes are rewritten from their original version to specifically take into account cooking it on a Big Green Egg. I was excited because here was a recipe from a chef whose cookbooks I own, the recipe described exactly how to cook it on my grill. I had come up with a method I used, and what I discovered is the correct method may be a combination of my method and the method in Big Green Egg Lifestyle magazine.You may be wondering why this is not in the TIPS section? Simple: At this point it is a working theory that I strongly believe to be the case. But with only one test, I am not ready to declare it to be a certainty and therefor a good tip candidate. But if I had to bet money, I would say I am onto something. Read More...
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Maverick ET-733 - Foul Up

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This brief blog entry shall serve as a Follow Up to a problem (Foul Up) I encountered with my new Maverick ET-733 remote read thermometer which I REVIEWED in a Blog Entry earlier this year. I encountered a problem, which it seems like others are having, where the receiver unit runs down batteries even though it is turned off. Maverick took care of repairing it under warrantee so all is good there. But where the warrantee is 90 days I thought I would bring it up for folks who may not use the unit much. Maybe you are waiting for better weather, I don’t know. Bottom line: If you have one of these units, you might want to use it a few times to make sure you don’t have the problem. And if you do it will still be under warrantee when you discover it. Read More...
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Terrible Weather, Terrific Cook

Recently I emerged from a period where I was having various temperature control issues, both during start up and while cooking. I have detailed these in a series of blogs which I will provide links for at the bottom of this entry. This blog is a bit of a hybrid in that it covers 3 aspects of a recent low and slow cook in very bad weather. First it helped show me I am past my various issues as long as I do things right. Secondly, it also gave some more ammunition to a recent theory about how the Looftlighter lights the fire in a totally different manner than the paraffin starters I was using before. Third, on his day I was making a new dish in very bad weather and the Big Green Egg once again showed what a great cooker it can be. Read More...
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Looftlighter Lesson Learned

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I love the Looftlighter I recently purchased and would buy it again in a second. But I have come to the realization that it has probably been a contributing factor to some wacky startup issues I’ve been fighting with lately. This is a working theory right now. I may be wrong about exactly what is happening because I can’t watch and observe the process. But I am very sure my startup process has been altered a bit. This is repeatable and I just realized it has been happening since I got the Looftlighter. If you are thinking of the Looftlighter, and will be using it with lump charcoal on a Big Green Egg or other Kamado style cooker read on. Read More...
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Getting Back on Track II

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If you heard a large sigh of relief yesterday morning around 11 AM, it was most likely me. You see for the last 4 months my grilling world had stopped making sense. It was like I was in some sort of parallel universe where things were similar but different and the normal rules suddenly didn't seem to apply. Earlier in the week I had a back to basics cook, where I solved my problems of temperatures suddenly running away on me, where I had not had this problem in the past. Saturday the second problem I'd started suddenly having, baked goods with burned bottoms and still not cooked tops, was solved. All is now right with my grilling world, and everything suddenly makes sense again. This blog will focus on the second temperature problem that had suddenly cropped up and how I solved it. Read More...
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Getting Back on Track

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This blog documents my cook last Monday night, where I made JAMBALAYA-STUFFED BELL PEPPERS. I also made a concerted effort to turn around my recent streak where I've had some problematic cooks. I have been extremely lucky. Even though the cooks have been problematic, in all cases the end results were very good. Getting to those good results was quite the adventure. Struggling with my grill is not my idea of fun, and hobbies are supposed to be fun. The primary reason for this cook was to try out this recipe to make sure it wasn't going to be too hot for some of the people I would be serving it to this coming Saturday. The second reason was I wanted to get a sense of time for how long it would take to make. On Saturday I would be making something on my second Egg and I wanted to know how long these stuffed peppers would really take. The third reason, and equally important to me, was I wanted to do a cook on my own time. One where there was no set schedule and I could get back to basics and focus on good grilling practices. Read More...
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Comedy of Errors - 2014

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The cook I did this past weekend looked like it was going to be a rocking chair cook. Instead I made a mistake that started a chain reaction of missteps and bonehead plays. I always say that we learn more from our mistakes, than we do from our successes. If that's the case, this was one of my biggest learning experiences. This included some things I'd rather not have had to learn. But since I suffered through this "learning experience" I figured I'd share it with others so they could benefit too. And please, unlike me, learn from these mistakes I made so you don’t make the same silly mistakes. Read More...
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I See the Light

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This blog entry is going to try to make the case for using permanent lighting for your grill if at all possible. You will notice I am using the term grill, not Big Green Egg here. This blog is not at all grill specific and is written for all grills. There are a few times I will mention specific types of grills and it won’t be just the BGE. This past spring I added two light fixtures to my grill gazebo to replace the portable grill lights I had been using up until this point. I expected it to be somewhat more convenient, but it has really made a HUGE difference much to my surprise. I never knew what I was missing and so may you. I recently had the realization that grilling at night had now become no different for me than grilling in the day. Prior to this the experience had been a compromise and you had to “work harder” to achieve the same results. Let me make some points for your consideration. Read More...
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Are Two Eggs Better Than One?

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The answer to that question is a big YES. But before you say thanks Captain Obvious and move on, you might want to read more. Some of the reasons may surprise you and if you are on the fence about purchasing a second Egg definitely read on. Reading about my discoveries during my first year may push you to one side of the fence or the other. The things I discovered that never occurred to me, may not have occurred to you either. Also the items that were important to me, may or may not be as important to you. Read More...
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Fail & Qualified Success

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This is a blog I've thought about writing for several years now and have put off. It is about products I may have initially written an enthusiastic review about in this barbecue blog, only to find out they don't live up to expectations. In other cases they aren't a total failure, but are not a total success either. Or perhaps they aren’t suited to my needs. I will also go back and add a new item to the original blogs where I refer the reader of those initial reviews to this blog entry. This was a decision can be made based on all of the facts. Read More...
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Cold Hard Facts

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This blog entry will discuss some discoveries I made during a series of low and slow cooks on my Big Green Egg. Discoveries is a polite way of saying mistakes or bad decisions. But I also find you often learn more from your mistakes, the from your successes. The Big Green Egg (and other Kamado grills) are somewhat unique in how they cook. Some of my problems were caused by my going by past experience with my CG Smokin' Pro horizontal offset barrel smoker. Things that were the solutions to the problems on the CG, made matters worse on the Eggs. Fortunately I was able to fudge my way out of it in a couple cases. In another case, I just happened to have two Eggs going at the same temperature at the same time and was able to transfer the flag as it were. I figured some of my discoveries might be of benefit to other Big Green Egg users who haven't run into these situations before. Read More...
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