Saturday, January 30, 2010

Power Out (or not)? Break out the Barbecue Grill!

We got hammered with snow this weekend in North Carolina. While other folks were grabbing the bread and milk, I hit the charcoal and the meat sections at the grocery. No sandwiches and cold beans here.

Grilling is a great option if the power goes out - hot food with either charcoal or gas as fuel.

It can be a little tricky to grill in cold weather, so check out my Cold Weather Grilling Tips. And remember that it may take longer to grill foods when the temperatures outside are low. It helps to offset the charcoal and use the lid to hold the heat.

Remember also that you do not crank up a grill inside. Well, the George Foreman electric model is meant for inside/outside, but outdoor grils can catch your house on fire or the fumes can kill you. So - keep it in the yard or on the porch.

If you did not get charcoal or fill up your propane bottle before this storm, remember to do that before the next winter storm. You can have a hot meal, and it's fun to get out and grill in the snow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Be a Super Bowl Winner with Dean's Dips - Win Free Dip

The great folks at Dean's Dips are sponsoring a free dip contest for the Super Bowl XLIV here at Barbecue Master. Five contest winners get two free Dean's Dip coupons each - any flavors. YUM!

Flavor It Up with Dean's Dips

Eli and I had a Dean's Dip party last night with French Onion and Utz chips. French Onion is a terrific thick and creamy dip packed with flavor. My favorite Dean's Dip would have to be guacamole. It's perfect with my grilled nacho chips or for Seven Layer Dip.

There are a bunch of flavors to pick from with Dean's Dips, so it's neat to be able to pick your own favorite or try out something new for free. And, you can imagine it would not be too cool to mail you actual dip which needs to be kept chilled. So, the coupons let you get free dips of your choice (2 of them to each winner) and includes the 12 or 16 ounce sizes.

How to Enter to Win Free Dip

Scoring some free dip is much easier than making a touchdown at the Super Bowl XLIV. All you have to do is comment and leave me some way to get in contact if you are one of the five winners.

Simply post your favorite food to dip for entry.

And, you can Tweet this post and Facebook it (can do both) for an extra entry or entries in the prize pot. Bloggers can also post the contest info to get an additional chance. Just be sure to post that you tweeted or shared the deal with your Facebook buddies or blog friends, so I can add the extra entries.

And, the Dip Drawing is . . . Drum Roll BOOM BOOM BOOM

You can enter right through the end of the Super Bowl game (-: So have those laptops and cell phones handy.

Winners will be drawn the day after the Super Bowl XLIV (Monday February 8, 2010), since Momma does not stay up that late. You'd all love my Momma, and she's honest as the day is long. So, I'll be folding slips of paper, and this will be an old fashioned hat draw.

Good Luck and Pass the Word about This Super Yummy Super Bowl Contest!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No Barbecue Tonight - Son Won Medal of Honor Cross Palms - Boy Scouts

No grilling out tonight here. We were invited to the NASCAR reception room where my son was awarded the Medal of Honor Cross Palms by the Boy Scouts.

For those who are not familiar with the medals in Scouting, they have a group of medals for bravery with the Medal of Honor with the crossed palms being the highest of the awards. It is given only when a Scout or leader saves or trys to save someone's life at great risk and with resourcefulness.

Folks who follow my Barbecue Master blog may recall the my kid jumped in the Yadkin River last May when I was hosting a Carolina Cook Out through Food Buzz. The cook out was supposed to be the excitement (and it was fun), but the real action happened in the water.

Here is What the Water in the Yadkin Looked Like that Day

We were at RiverPark Cooleemee (better known as the Bull Hole). The water was way up and looked like ocean or whitewater except it was dark like chocolate milk. I had taken photos of the raging river and then went up the hill to grill.

My Mom came up and said Eli went in the river and they could not find him.

I think I went into shock.

I didn't know what was going on, but my son had heard the other teen yell for help and went in after him. The other kid pulled him under, so Eli had to push him off. Then, the kid sank, so Eli dove under for him. All the while they were being pulled down the river by the current, so no one knew where they were or if they got out.

The story had a happy ending - thank God. Eli was a strong enough swimmer to get himself and the other boy out. Eli joined us back at the cook out, and the other boy went to the hospital for the night by way of ER. He was back in school the next week though.

So, tonight I put away my tongs and went and saw my son get that medal. And, I sure was proud of him. There were at least 100 people on the sand beach that day, but he was the only one who went in after a kid he'd never met but who needed help.

Eli is a young hero, and I am really happy the Boy Scouts gave him a medal. It's nice when the community supports those who do the right thing - even if doing that thing sure scared the heck out of this proud momma.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tips for Grilling in Cold Weather

It has been COLD here, and this is North Carolina. I shouldn't complain, because I know a lot of other folks are snowed totally under. We've only had three or so inches of snow and then freezing temperatures but hovering around that 30 F mark.

I really love to grill, or I would not take my thin blooded self out there with the weather experts saying this is expected to be the coldest winter in 25 years. But, I've got charcoal smoke in my veins too, so when I go a day or two without barbecue or grilled food, I start to get cabin fever.

Some of my barbecue buddies have been emailing asking for suggestions for grilling in the cold or snow, so I figured other folks might be needing some help on that too. Since I ordered in Pizza Hut on the $10 deal this evening, I have some extra time to share some cold weather barbecue tips besides the obvious like bundle up.

Barbecue Master Cold Weather Barbecue and Grill Tips

1. Finding a Good Spot for Cold Temp Grilling

If possible, place your grill or smoker where there's some protection from the wind. I take our grills or smokers up close to the house on the non windy side or hit the corner of the back porch with two sides providing some wind blockage.

Do be safe though. Never grill or smoke in an enclosed porch area or in the house. If you don't burn down the house, the fumes might do you in.

2. Extra Charcoal or Other Fuel for Cold Temperature Outdoor Cooking

Cold temperatures will make an impact on the heat in the grill especially the thinner metals. Ceramics like the Big Green Egg and cast like the PK outdoor cooker have more insulation so fewer issues with keeping the temperatures up.

My general rule of thumb is to consider the amount of fuel I'd use in the summer and add about half again for cold weather. For instance, if I'd go about 30 chunks of charcoal usually, I'd go 45 in cold weather. On gas, it's harder to measure, but be sure to have plenty as grill warm up times are longer in cold weather. One good thing about cold temps is that you can see how much gas you have. The lower part with gas will cover with a thin coat of ice, clearly marking the level.

3. Warm Up Times for Grills in Cold Temperatures

It stands to reason that it will take longer to warm up a grill or barbecue smoker when it's cold outside. And, the grill warm up is important. Foods stick on cold grates. Also, if you like a sear, you won't get that if your grates are not hot.

With charcoal, fire up the coals (a chimney starter is a huge help) and then put the lid on the grill with the vents open. This keeps the fire going but allows the grill to get hot. With gas, turn it on and put down the lid and watch the temperature guage. Or, plan on approximately 15 to 20 minutes of perheating rather than the warmer weather rule of thumb 10 minutes.

4. Really Quick or Really Slow Dishes Work Best for Cold Days Grilling

If I'm grilling in cold weather, I tend to go for foods that grill up quick. Fish, brats, and hot dogs are real quick. I will do hamburgers and steaks but go thinner than usual if doing them while standing out in the cold, and grilling does require close attention.

Barbecue (or smoking), on the other hand, is low and slow. It may get a bit cold on the set up - getting the fire right and the smoker up to temperature. But, after that, if you have a good quality smoker like the Weber Smokey Mountain Bullet, then maintenance is low. You just run in and out every couple or few hours and make sure everything is cranking along.

5. Offsetting on Charcoal or Low Heat on a Gas Grill

When I grill in cold weather, I offset the charcoal which is simply having hot coals on only one side of the charcoal grill or heat one side or portion of the gas grill to high and the other side to low.

What this does is allow for some variation in cooking times on the food. If one steak gets done quicker, I shift it to the cooler area to rest and stay warm while I finish off other steaks or vegetables. If doing this, then slightly undercook items, since they will continue to cook along a bit on the cooler side.

7. Cast Iron Pan for Finished Grilled Foods

Anothr tip is that I will have a cast iron pan with a lid warmed up - either on the grill or inside. Cast iron really holds the heat well, although I do recommend a good grill glove if working with cast iron.

As foods are coming off the grill, like hamburgers for example, I just put them in the warmed cast iron pan and put the lid back on. Again, I cook a little less done than I want in the end as the burgers or other foods will continue to cook a bit more in the warm cast iron holding pan.

Those are the cold weather grilling and smoking tips that come to mind. Feel free to add your own. I'm sure I didn't think of everything, but those ideas will hopefully get you out in the cold and grilling up some good dinners while you look out the window at the snow or just that winter wind.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Grilling Out Rib Eye Steaks on a Very Cold Day

My son's girlfriend came for a visit - for the first time, so I thought that I'd put some steaks on the grill. It is, however, really cold here. I finally had to peek at the weather report, and it was 30 degrees when I was headed out the door to gril and wind chill at 24 degrees. With the sun dropping while I was out there, I can attest that it was pretty darn cold. Brrrr!

I figured I'd go with the PK Portable Kitchen outdoor cooker, since it's made of cast aluminum and holds the heat better than other grills. In fact, the PK can be used as a smoker if the coals are offset. I offset the charcoal tonight anyway, so if some steaks got done faster than others, I'd have a space for them to rest without getting cold.

Before I started grilling, I ducked outside and got the coals going with my chimney starter. One of the best grill purchases I've ever made. Just dump the coals in, wad up a piece of newspaper there in the bottom and light it. Instant fire and perfect red hot coals.

Here you can see the coals are super hot. They're Kingsford charcoal. I still like that brand the best. Some folks prefer natural lump charcoal, but I must like chemicals or something. Kingsford is what I associate with grilled foods and flavor. Yum! And, I know I'm not the only one. That's the best selling charcoal in the United States.

I let the grate heat well which is always important but especially so in cold weather, and the steaks quickly seared (or got grate marks). If the grates are cold, then meats will tend to stick, so always heat up those grill grates. You can also use Pam cooking spray to help with any sticking problems, but it's rare to have foods stick to good hot grates.

These are thinner steaks. With it being so cold out, I wanted steaks that would grill quick. The rib eyes were not real thin - about 1/2 inch thick. My favorite cut would be around 3/4 inch up to an inch. That's a good thickness for grilling steak and a nice starter cut. You have to watch thin steaks as they will be overcooked in a heartbeat, and the real thick ones are hard to nail in terms of doneness.

The meal turned out good, and my younger one got back from a swim meet just in time to eat with us. So, he got to enjoy his ribeye steak with hash browns, salad, and rolls without having to heat them back up. That's always good timing.