Saturday, March 20, 2010

Making Way for the New Grill

70 degrees today! A truly wonderful Spring day indeed. A small post to show you what I was up to.

Big Steel Keg and the Lawn
Well fairly early in the morning I went out to Lowes to get some supplies:
-Lawn fertilizer
-Patio Paver Stones
-Crushed Stone Base Material
-Leveling Sand
-Lump Charcoal

I started off feeding the lawn for the early Spring time, and the grass is already looking pretty good. One can hope for miracles after all the rain.

The main show was getting my new Big Steel Keg set up. I assembled it yesterday after work and it was break in time.

I washed all the grates and top valve. After drying I rubbed everything down with Crisco to coat up the cast iron. It was very messy to say the least.

I set up some lump charcoal (maybe 8 small-medium pieces) an used a starter block to get things going. The grill started off a bit slow but after about 10 minutes the grill was over 500 degrees! I had to mess around with the vents to get it to the suggested target of 400 degrees for the grate seasoning step.

After getting set around 450 (I will need to practice) I put all the grates in and let it run. That thing stayed at 400-450 for about 3 hours on the small amount of lump charcoal I used! Amazing.

While it was burning I built a small patio for the grill to be placed on in the back. I used the crushed stone as a base, level sand to well, level, and then used 4 slate patio pavers that were 18X18 for the grill's new home. Here is a picture of the small patio:

Not bad for an amateur!

Here is the new grill:

The white thing is the Big Green Egg indirect heat plate for smoking that I bought.

I will be testing it on real food tomorrow (Kielbasa I think) so wish me luck as I am very new to charcoal cooking.

Have a good night.


Stagflationary Mark said...


I offer a musical tribute for your grill. :)

What's that coming over the hill?
Is it a monster?
Is it a monster grill?

GawainsGhost said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of grilling, GYC. Nice job on the patio slab.

The thing about charcoal is this, you have to add some wood chunks. Mesquite is best in my opinion, but others prefer hickory, cedar or apple wood. I guess it all depends on taste. But wood chunks make for good smoke and add flavor to the meat.

The thing that puzzles me about grilling is that outside of Texas people only barbeque pork. There is nothing better in this world than a sirloin grilled over an open charcoal-and-wood fire. Just don't overcook it.

Beef, beans, beer, and bread, the four major food groups. That's what I grew up on.

getyourselfconnected said...

My dream is beef ribs!

Great selection!

zydecopaws said...

Wheel that bad boy out and fire it up. Keep in mind you don't need a lot of charcoal in these, make sure you use lump, and keep an eye on it as it can really come up temperature in a hurry.

Good luck with your first cook!

getyourselfconnected said...

thanks so much for stopping in. I am ready to go this afternoon for the test drive!

GawainsGhost said...

Beef ribs are always good. My friend Boogity has a black belt in ribs. He makes this marinade and soaks the ribs in a zip lock bag for five hours, then slaps them on the grill. He told me the secret is that you don't want your ribs to be too tender (that'll get you disqualified at a grilling contest). In other words, you dont want the meat falling off the bone. Juicy and succulent, yes, but still tough enough so you have tear it off.

The thing about charcoal grilling is this. You have to time the food preparation to coincide with optimum fire temperature, that is when the coals are just right. They should be grey and evenly spread out.

My speciality is steaks, sirloin, ribeye. (Note: you should never grill a filet mignon. This steak should be pan seared and oven baked at 500 degrees.)

As for seasoning, Kosher salt, freshly ground black peppercorns, and rosemary make for a very good rub. I like Lawry's seasoning salt and lemon pepper (but not too much!) Omaha Steaks has an excellent season salt as well.

To properly grill a steak, you must prepare correctly. If fresh, allow it to thaw on the counter for at least an hour, so that it reaches room temperature. If frozen, you should thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours beforehand, then thaw it on the counter. Once thawed, you should lightly oil the steak on both sides. Vegetable oil works fine, but depending on taste you could use olive oil or corn oil or some other oil you like, even butter. (Sunflower oil is best, if you can find it. I haven't seen it in years.)

Now thawed and oiled, season to taste. Or don't season at all; some people like only the flavor of the meat. The steak is now ready for the fire.

You should carefully monitor the grilling of the steak. Keep a spray water bottle handy to put out flare ups. But I like a small flame, because I like my steak slightly seared. When juices appear on the top, the steak is ready to turn. Never turn a steak more than once; it dries out the juices.

Depending on how you like your steak, rare, medium, well done, you should keep a clock handy to carefully time the grilling. 4-5 minutes on each side for rare, 6-7 minutes for medium, 8-10 for well done. It will take a couple of times to find out exactly how many minutes to wait before turning, so that the steak comes out precisely how you like it.

Once grilled, place the steak on the counter and allow 5 minutes for the juices to settle before eating. Enjoy.

Charcoal grilling is an experimental process at first, GYC, and like all arts practice makes perfect. It may take a while for you to learn how to properly build and time the charcoal, and to properly time the steaks, but once you get it down, you'll be eating better than ever. It's very gratifying to take the time to learn the process and feast on the reward.

When I was a kid, we used to have family barbecues at my grandparents' house. My grandfather had built this large brick smoker on the patio slab of his backyard, and all the relatives would come over for grilled steaks, brisquet, sausages, ribs.

My uncle Buddy was a trucker, who smoked filterless Camel cigarettes. He liked his steaks extremely rare, almost raw. He timed his steaks for like 1-2 minutes on each side, just enough to cook the first few outer cell layers, so that blood would trickle out of the corners of his mouth while he ate. He was a hard man.

As a child, that always freaked me out. But I loved him, and he could make the best chili in the world.

GawainsGhost said...

By the way, I hate to ruin everybody's afternoon, but this is an absolute must read.

I don't know about this or the American Party PAC. I'll have to do some research and find out if they're legitimate. But from what I've seen so far, they've got some pretty good ideas. Whether those are workable or not is the question.

getyourselfconnected said...

thanks for the great information. I can say that it is going to take some practice for me using charcoal. Yesterday I think I buolt the fire better because today the lump charcoal would not stay it. I may not have used enough lump. I reset the coals and added some more lump and things went ok after that. Made some kielbasa and hot dogs and they tasted much better than gas grilled food items. This will be a learning experience to be sure.

GawainsGhost said...

Over at Market Ticker, Karl Denninger has a post on the link above, as well as prescriptions to get us out of this disease.

He's right. A debt-backed monetary system at some point reaches a saturation level and then collapses totally.

Take the housing market. You know, almost all of our recent sales have been to buyers with FHA loans. Even the Fannie HomePath loans are backed by FHA. Very few cash sales or conventional loans with 20-30% down. This is deeply troubling to me.

I read an article on Clusterstock the other day that argued FHA has become a Ponzi scheme. This is because of the risk analysis scheme the FHA employs. There are good loans (those which refinance into a conventional loan and thus remove FHA insurance), bad loans (those which default and require foreclosure--these then become HUD homes, by the way), and ongoing loans (those that neither refinance nor default and thus maintain FHA insurance).

The problem is that now the FHA loans that do refinance do not use conventional loans, but new FHA loans! In other words, they're paying off old loans with new loans. Definition of a Ponzi scheme. This will all come crashing down hard when there are not enough new loans. It always happens.

We got a PDF form on the revised FHA requirements for repairs the other day. Among them are the following: as-is appraisals are now allowed (they weren't before?); cosmetic repairs (i.e., fresh paint, new carpet, missing rails, etc.) are no longer allowed; only structural repairs (i.e., roof leaks, foundation wall problems, significant interior damage) will be required.

I don't know how many of you have ever been in a distessed home, but I've been in more than a few. I'm talking about houses that have been completely gutted, down to the exterior walls. Only an investor who has a lot of capital can buy a house like that. No lender will make a conventional loan, and FHA will not authorize the necessary repairs. So it's either a cash deal or the house remains unsold, and a blight on the neighborhood.

I don't see a recovery in the housing market for the foreseeable future. There really are only two things you can do with real estate. You can either sell it, at a gain or for a loss, maybe break-even, or you can improve it and increase its value. That's it.

You've done a good job of improving your property, GYC. But I hope you plan on living there for a long time, because if you try to sell into this market, you're going to have a hard time of it.

Welcome to the new normal.

S. Gompers said...

Do not use mesquite for smoking though, it gets to strong. My favorite smoking wood would be Jack Daniels whiskey barrel oak.

Any fruit wood works wonderful for poultry, one of my favorites is cherry smoked turkey.

Charcoal always tastes better than gas, and smoking is a good excuse to drink beer...

Kid Dynamite said...

after I conquered maple syrup i was considering giving SMOKING a try... smoking meats that is...

you'll kill me, but i used tons of applewood as fuel for my maple syrup evaporator... woulda been SICK grilling wood.

getyourselfconnected said...

I almost posted a short one about that Market Ticker post. I think Kid Dynamite would agree it seems weird that Karl wants reserves when we all know reserves do not matter!

I think I agree, mesquite can be overpowering if you are making meats that absorb a bunch of smoke which leads me to....

Dynamite, apple wood chunks are my fav to use in a grill and now I can actually do low and slow smoking with the new Keg grill. Looking forward to beef ribs and making my own pastrami. I think meat tops maple syrup, but that's just me HA!

TomOfTheNorth said...

I've been checking back to see how the grill (and the chef) performed....

That is a very cool grill....gonna have to look into then bad boys...

Here at the OTCB Global Headquarters Shed we use a little Smokey Joe Webber as the ex wifey has the gas rotisseriie grilling monster.

FYI on adding wood for flavor, you may want to soak the wood chips for a bit so thhat they don't just burn up....

Bon apetit!

S. Gompers said...

Apple is indeed a good smoking wood, I have 2 cords of it split and stacked just for that purpose...

I segregate my woods, my neighbors and I use a smoke house.

Pecan is very good also, and don't rule out Oak.

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