When we were doing our due diligence for opening GrillBillies Barbecue Supply, we reviewed most of the gas grills on the market which proved to be a confusing task. If it is confusing to us avid grillers, it must be that much more confusing to the homeowner. Below are some basics to consider when purchasing your next gas grill.
A quality gas valve is one that will work properly on any setting and especially on low eliminating “flame out”.
By the same token, when turned on high it should get blistering hot.
Manufacturers of lower quality grills will usually “skimp” on these.
Unfortunately, price dictates the longevity of the cookbox.
The cookbox is usually the first thing to go on less expensive grills.
Now, you may think you got “ripped off” when you bought your last grill but in most cases you pay for what you get.
Better quality cookboxes are made of cast aluminum, stainless steel or heavy duty porcelain coated steel.
A better quality cookbox can extend the life of a grill 5 to 10 years.
Some are warrantied for the life of the grill.
Another thing to look for is a deep cookbox.
It helps to eliminate flare ups and makes for better heat retention.
Less expensive grills usually have thinned walled burners that are subject to corroding quickly.
Also, they may burn unevenly lacking uniform heat distribution in the cookbox.
Better burners are made of stainless steel, cast stainless, thick steel or cast iron.
Side ports on the burners avoid fat and juices from clogging them.
Plates covering the burners play an important part in creating better results by capturing more of the juices rather than having most fall to the bottom of the grill and requiring more frequent cleaning.
Capturing most of the juices on the plates/bars creates vaporization of the juices and adds flavor back to the meat.
Usually a good quality 4 burner gas grill will be $450 and up.
From there price is determined by the size of the grill, accessories, how “flashy” it is etc.
Manufacturer warranties are an indication that the product has been built to last and last as long or longer than stated.
Look for warranties that apply to the burners, cookbox, gas valves and pedestal/stand.
Less expensive grills will not come with any meaningful warranty.
Select a knowledgeable dealer.
One that just doesn’t sell grills but also cooks on the grills he sells.
The better the dealer knows his product the better he can fulfill your needs.
“The best relationships are those that are based on trust and integrity”
“We are not actually grilling the pizza, we are using the grill as an oven”
Brought to the US by Italian immigrants in the late 1800’s, pizza has become one of the most widely eaten foods in the country. Over the years pizzerias have popped up all over the place making pizzas in every shape, way and form.
With the advent of pre made foods, making your own pizza from scratch has become increasingly popular. Being able to buy quality pre-made dough at your local supermarket has made the process easy and fun to the extent that the whole family can get involved.
With that being said, knowing a few techniques will make the process less frustrating.
We ran into hurdles in our first attempts such as just rolling out the dough, thin centers, dough “spring back”, under cooked areas and more. With a little research, and some trial and error, we have gotten the process down pretty “pat”.
OK, here are some basics:
Buy decent dough. This may require trying a few and evaluating.
ALLOW THE DOUGH TO REST. This makes forming the dough a lot easier.
Use a pizza stone. A stone will distribute heat evening over the bottom of the pizza.
Give your grill time to completely heat up (lid, sides, all its components etc.). You need radiant heat to properly cook the top.
Don’t over heat the grill. Too hot you burn the bottom and under bake the top.
Flour and flour. Flour any area the dough will touch to keep the dough from sticking.
Place flour on the peel before putting the formed pizza on it.
Minimize “liquidy” toppings. It will make the top soggy.
This should go without saying, cook raw meats before topping.
Open a bottle of red wine, turn on some opera and get to work.
1 Ball of Dough
2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
Topping of Choice
Gently remove the dough from the wrapping. The less unnecessary handling the better.
Lightly flour the surface where you plan on working the dough.
Place the dough on the floured surface and gently form the dough into a ball and place a bowl over it. Allow to rest for about 1 hour.
After one hour, push your index finger into the center of the dough and if the indentation remains it is ready to kneat.
Start spreading the dough from the center first just to start flattening.
Move to the edges and start to spread.
Move back to the center and again start to spread to the center.
Caution: don’t over spread the center or it will become thin.
As the dough starts to flatten, pick it up off the surface and hold by the edge and work the edges turn the dough in doing so.
Place the dough back on the surface and keep moving from edges to center until you have spread the dough to size.
Apply your toppings.
Coat the edge of the pizza with the vegetable oil.
Slide the peal under the pizza.
With the grill heated up to 450 to 500 (including the pizza stone).
When you hit your target temp, wait about 5 minutes before putting the pizza on the grill to allow the grill interior to heat up completely.
Place the pizza on the stone sliding off the peal and close the lid.
A fresh piece of salmon is hard to beat when grilled over charcoal or on a gas grill.
Here are couple of tips for a successful cook:
Check the fillet for “belly bones” (pinbones) and remove.
Make sure your cooking grate is thoroughly cleaned to avoid sticking.
Make sure the grill is preheated before putting the salmon on the cooking grate.
Place the salmon on a piece of foil, season and use the foil to easily slide the salmon onto the cooking grate.
Place the fillet perpendicular to the cooking grate.
For smoking, Alder is a preferred wood but at Grillbilllies we can only source kiln dried wood which we will not sell so we use sugar maple as a substitute.
When cutting to serve, cut the fillet width wise but do not cut through the skin. Use a spatula and place it between the meat and the skin to serve.
Serves 4 to 6
2+ lb. skin on salmon fillet
2 Sugar maple wood chunks 2″ to 3″ or 1/2 lb. of sugar maple pellets
3 oz. Vegetable oil
2 tbsp. Dizzy Pig Raging River, Tsunami or Pineapple Head
1 medium size lemon
1 tbsp.. Fresh chopped parsley
Mix the Oakridge Game Changer per the label instructions.
Place the fillet in the brine, cover, place in the fridge and let sit for about 3 hours.
15 mins. before removing the fillet from the brine start the grill. If cooking on charcoal start the grill 1/2 hour before.
With a paper towel, oil the cooking grate well.
Grilling with charcoal-
Once you have achieved a good coal bed place wood chunks right on the lit coals. Give the coals about 5 to 10 mins. to produce “good smoke”.
Grilling with a gas grill-
If you decide to use pellets, follow the instructions on the package for placing pellets on the grill. Unlike wood chunks, once the pellets are lit and the is grill up to temp place the fillet on the cooking grate.
Take a piece of foil that is large enough to fit the fillet, lightly coat the foil with oil large enough for the flllet.
Remove from the fillet from the brine, place on the heavy duty foil skin side down, blot dry, coat the topside with a light coat of oil and season.
When the grill temp is around 350 degrees, slide the fillet off the foil onto the grill and close the lid.
The cook time is dependent on the thickness of the fillet but normally 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When the internal temp reaches 145 degrees remove from the grill with 2 regular sized spatulas or a wide fish spatula..
Add a few thinned cut lemon slices on top and sprinkle a light coat of parsley and serve.
“Difference between a great one and an OK one”
Hamburgers appear to “reign supreme” when it comes to outdoor cooking. We may eat 10 million hotdogs per year but the average American eats 150 hamburgers per year or a total of 50 billion per year. Everybody cooks them and therefore there doesn’t seem to be much forethought as to what they’re comprised of or how they are cooked.
We tell customers that when it comes to brisket, butts, ribs etc. half the battle of getting good results is the quality of the meat. Low quality meat low quality results. It is the same with hamburger meat.
To understand the quality issue is to understand what you are buying. There is hamburger meat and there is ground beef. The USDA allows processors of hamburger meat to add fat. Fat is not allowed to be added to ground beef. With that being said, you may elect to purchase the ground beef over the hamburger meat but remember you still need a certain amount of fat to make a good burger.
We recommend the following, NEVER purchase either one! With either one you never know what part of the cow you are buying, how old it was, was the meat frozen etc. Remember, the USDA does not inspect meat unless it travels over State lines. Some States have State inspectors but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee high quality meat. You can be getting anything from the head to the a-s. Most butchers have scruples and will grind up better parts of the cow than a processor but again some can take their scraps mix in some fat and you have hamburger meat.
How do you avoid this problem and buy high quality hamburger meat or ground beef? First you buy the meat and have it ground. Doing so insures you have control of purchasing high quality meat and the cuts that you prefer. You determine the amount of fat content that you prefer by selecting a cut with a lot of fat or not so much.
Which cuts should you buy? There are several choices based on taste and price. The main cuts are chuck roast, short ribs, brisket, sirloin and skirt steak. The most flavorful and economical are chuck and short ribs with short rib being a little more expensive. We prefer chuck. So, purchase your chuck roast and while at the supermarket ask the butcher if he would be willing to grind it up for you. You’ll have to tell him the fat content you would like for example 15% or 20%.
The best burger we found are those where the chuck is coarsely ground, only ground once and has no less than 20% fat content. The coarse grind allows for more places for the juices to collect during cooking and has much better texture. The 20% fat content adds great flavor and a lot of moisture to the burger.
When you make the patties don’t over form them. Keep the meat packed just enough to hold the burger together but loose enough so the juices can collect. Cook to your desired temperature. Medium rare is 135 degrees and well done 165 degrees. It is important to know that a burger whose internal temperature is cooked below 160 degrees runs the risk of having e-coli. Now does this happen frequently, no, but people do die each year from hamburger meat that has become contaminated. If that’s the case, why don’t we eat our steaks well done? Because if e-coli is present it is only present on the surface of the steak. When you throw the steak on the grill the surface heats quite rapidly to 160 killing any e-coli that may be present. The difference with ground beef or hamburger meat is that during the grinding process the e-coli gets mixed in with the meat and is spread throughout the entire patty including the center. If you don’t cook the center to 160 you can be exposed to active e-coli. Most people prefer to have their burger cooked below 160 degrees internal temperature to avoid drying the burger out to the tenderness of a hockey puck. If you still want a well done burger then increase the fat content. Some will increase it up to 30%.
So, take control and “up” your burger cooking by purchasing good quality meat instead of leaving it up to the processors. You and your guests will notice a big difference in the taste, juiciness and texture.
Grilling is a great way to spend time with family and friends. If you grill enough, there are times when somethings can go afoul. When this happens it takes away from the wonderful grilling experience.
So, hear are some things to avoid:
Meat sticking to the grill:
Don’t-oil the cooking grate
Do-oil the meat
Don’t-grill all meats direct
Do-learn which food requires direct and indirect grilling
Don’t-throw fatty meats over direct heat
Do- an indirect cook for these meats
Do-season but still taste the meat; season to compliment the meat
Don’t-assume you know when the meat is done
Do-use an instance read thermometer
Don’t-get the entire grill the same temperature
Do-set aside a cool area on the grill as a safe zone
Don’t-avoid cleaning the grill
Do-thoroughly clean your grill a couple to 3 times during the season
Don’t-sauce in the beginning of the cook
Do- sauce when the meat is fully cook, put back on, low heat, to set sauce
Don’t-use lighter fluid to light charcoal
Do-use one of the many natural fire starters available
Cooking a variety of foods:
Don’t-throw them all on at the same time
Do-determine the timeline for cooking each item
Don’t-skewer different variety of foods on one skewer
Do-food on a skewer that have the same cooking time
Don’t-let thin cuts of meat rest
Do-let thicker cuts rest to redistribute juices
Don’t-skimp and have only one propane tank or bag of charcoal
Do-keep spare available so you don’t end up in an embarrassing situation
Don’t-put cooked meat on the same platter that was used when it was raw
Do-cover the plate with foil, place the raw meat on the foil, when the meat is cooked remove the foil
When a cow is broken down into edible parts such as roasts, steaks, ribs etc. it can get confusing as to what to buy. With beef prices rising, processors are always looking for alternative cost options without compromising a good eating experience.
When it comes to steaks there are so many options based on the cuts and prices. Ribeyes and strips reign supreme but for most of us they are usually designated for a special occasion. So, what is a viable option for the steak lover? Try the flat iron steak. It is not the quality of a ribeye but if it is chosen carefully and cooked properly it makes for a great meal without “breaking the bank”.
The flat Iron steak was discovered in early 2000’s and goes by many names. The more popular ones are top blade roast and top shoulder blade roast. It is part of the muscle that comprises the chuck part of the shoulder. It is the top part of the shoulder and is usually about 3/4″ to 1″ thick and weighs around 12 ounces. There will be two in a pack. The key to having a good eating experience is to pick a pack that has great marbling (striated fat within the muscle fiber). This marbling is an indication of tenderness and great flavor. Another key element is the cooking process. Do not over cook them. We prefer medium rare (130 degrees) and would not cook beyond medium (140 degrees) for fear the steak will toughen up and dry out.
OK, here’s what to do and what you need:
Cook Time: approximately 7 to 8 minutes
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
2 well marbled iron steaks
Obie Cue’s Double Garlic Pepper
Smokin Guns Hot
Big Poppa Double Secret Steak Rub (unfortunately we are not permitted to sell Big Poppa seasonings online so for online purchases use Historic BBQ Black Bird & Beef).
If the membrane has not been removed, ask the butcher to remove it. In most cases it is removed.
Brush on a coat of Butcher’s Steak House Grilling Oil (helps seasonings to stick).
Apply a first layer of Obie Cue’s Double Garlic Pepper (VERY light)
Apply a second layer of Smokin Guns Hot (VERY light)
Apply Big Poppa’s Double Secret Steak Rub (or Historic) medium coat.
Place the steaks back in the fridge for 2 hours.
Preheat the grill to 450 to 475 degrees.
Place the steaks on the grill.
After 1 1/2 to 2 minutes pick up each steak and rotate a quarter turn and place back down. This will give you the cross hatched grill marks.
After another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes turn the steaks over and do the same process as above.
Once completed, temp the steaks with a good digital thermometer for the desired doneness. If not done enough, let them sit for another couple of minutes.
Rare 125 degrees
Medium Rare 130 to 132 degrees
Medium 145 degrees
Do not let the steaks rest. They are thin cuts and will cool off quickly.
Meat selection is one, if not, the most important detail to turning out great barbecue. Why with all the hard work and hours that go into making barbecue would one select inferior cuts of meat? It makes no sense. Doing so puts you behind the “eight ball” right from the start. Sure, purchasing better meats will cost more but if you keep a look out for store sales or just have a good eye (and know what look , for) may be not.
So, what to do?
If your time is limited, and you don’t want to put the energy into searching around, then establishing a good relationship with a reliable butcher may be best. With his expertise and knowledge he should able to guide you and offer good cuts.
Beef is rated by the USDA as Select, Choice and Prime. There are lower grades than Select but they aren’t worth mentioning. AVOID SELECT!! Your greatest selection will be Choice grades especially when purchasing from a supermarket. Certified Black Angus is an industry standard not a USDA Grade but it is usually a better cut of Choice. Butchers can supply you with Prime but it may have to be ordered.
So what differentiates a superior cut of beef verses a marginal one? Intramuscular fat or “marbling”. Marbling is the fat that is interwoven with the muscle fibers. The theory is, the more marbling, more tenderness and flavor. Prime cuts will have the most marbling. The fat around the outside of a steak is inter-muscular fat and does not help flavor or tenderness. In fact, most of us will trim this away when chowing down. Below are examples of good marbling.
Most chicken in the supermarkets are “shot up” with all kinds of stuff to make them bigger and help make them grow faster. Usually you can notice this be the yellowish skin color. This is an indication that the backside of the skin is harboring a lot of fat. This fat does absolutely nothing to enhance the cook. Many Pro Pitmasters when competing will many times take the skin off chicken thighs and scrape the fat off. After they do this to a dozen thighs they will have a large pile of fat. Besides not being healthy the fat causes flare ups on the grill and keeps the skin from becoming crispy.
Buy chicken with nice white skin and where the label indicates it has not been “shot up”. Candidates are kosher chicken and a brand we like a lot, Springer Mountain Farms.
Pork is a little harder to distinguish. But one of the first things you should look for is how much “purge” is in the cryovac. “Purge” is the reddish liquid. It is many times construed as blood. It is not. The animal is bleed thoroughly at the time of slaughter. This reddish liquid is “myowater” or myoglobin, the natural liquid in our muscles. If there’s a lot of “purge” you should continue to look further. So, less purge is better.
Next, look at the color of the meat. It should have a nice light pinkness to it. Check the sell by date. Are you buying a lot of fat or meat? Most pork that we find in the stores today comes from “commodity” pigs. Remember years ago the saying, “pork, the other white meat”. Producers have leaned out their pigs to meet the demand.
If you want to purchase pork the way it was produced many years ago you will have to buy what we call Heritage Pork. Heritage pigs are raised with more intramuscular fat. There are many but the most common are Berkshire, Duroc and Cheshire. You will most likely have to order these breeds off the internet. Google Heritage Pork. A pork chop from one these breeds looks like a ribeye steak with all the marbling.
So, don’t cheat yourself. Go and get a good cut of meat. You’ll be happier and so will your guests.
For those of us that haven’t lived in Central California, Tri Tip is knew to us. This cut from the lower section of the sirloin is really gaining some traction and rightly so. It’s texture is slightly “chewy” and just full of “beefy” flavor. Not crazy expensive, it is ideal for a medium to larger gathering. The cut is usually 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. and will easily feed 3-4 people.
Years ago this cut was relegated to the grinder for hamburger meat. There are couple variations to its origin but one story goes that a Californian butcher had too much ground beef and decided to throw the Tri Tip on a rotisserie, and there you go, people loved it.
This is an easy cut to cook whether on a smoker or a gas grill. Cook it to medium rare and slice cross grain and it will be a hit. No need to over season. It may also called a Santa Maria Steak.
2 Tablespoon of Himalayan Salt
1 Tablespoon of Coarse Ground Pepper
2 Tablespoons of Butcher Steak & Brisket Rub
Cooking temperature 300.
Approximate cooking time: 1 to 1.5 hours
Remove the fat and silver skin if necessary.
Apply a light coat of vegetable oil and apply Himalayan Salt, Coarse Ground Pepper. If possible let the Tri Tap sit for 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Just prior to going to the smoker or grill, apply Butcher Steak & Brisket Rub.
Start your fire and stabilize the temperature at around 300.
Add a few chunks of hickory, oak or apple to the charcoal (no soft woods!). On a gas grill Hickory pellets or chips. You can use smoke generators such as GrillKickers, BBQr’s Pellet Pot and Amazing Pellet Tube.
Wait for the wood to catch fire (see our article on “Good Smoke Bad Smoke”).
Place the Tri Tip in the cooker right from the fridge. Cooking on a gas grill, use the “reverse sear method“.
- Cook to medium rare, 130 degrees.
When serving cut slices across the grain.
That’s it! Easy, simple and delicious.
Have a feast!
Lard have mercy!
Tri Tip in the foreground, Ribeye in the back and a nice glass of Salice Salentino.
This is an easy recipe to cook either on a gas grill or in a smoker. You need to purchase good quality center cut pork or rib cut chops 1″ or greater in thickness. Avoid blade cut or sirloin cut. You will utilize the reverse sear technique which is to cook the inside first and then sear the exterior.
Thick Cut Center Cut Pork or Rib Cut Chops
Approximate cooking time: 45 minutes
(Note-When brining cut back the amount of salted seasonings)
Apply the seasonings in the order listed above except hold off applying the Pineapple Head and the sauce. When applying the seasonings think in parts therefore apply a 1/2 part of the Double Garlic Pepper. The others one part each.
Wrap the chops up and place in the fridge for 2 hours (if you brined, go directly to the grill).
Bring you cooker up to 300 degrees.
Remove the chops from the wrapper on place on the grill using the methods of reverse searing.
Bring the internal temperature of the chops to about 130 degrees.
Apply a medium coat of Pineapple Head to each side of the chop.
Sear the chops until the internal temperature is 145 degrees (flip often to avoid burning).
Remove the chops from the hot side of the grill and apply Blues Hog sauce.
Put the chops on the warm side of the grill and let sit for 7-10 minutes to set the sauce.
Take off the grill and serve immediately.