Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Grill Cheese - Halloom Cheese on the Char Broil Urban Grill

My son asked me if the cheese in the refrigerator was grilling cheese. Eli adores cheese. In fact, he had a kidney stone last year at age 16. He is the ultimate cheese freak, but he only gets it for a treat now.

I confirmed that the Halloom was, indeed, grilling cheese, and I told him that if he'd fire up the Char Broil Urban grill that I'd try grilling up a pack and use the olive oil that he brought back from Europe this summer to surprise me.

Basically, I did the Halloom grilling cheese just as I'd done the Yanni before.

I sliced the Halloom about 1/4 to a bit more thick. Then, I brushed it with olive oil. Then, I sprinkled it with Garlic Gold Nuggets. The GG garlic is super mild, so if you use regular garlic, then go easy on it. You don't want to overpower the flavor of the cheese.

You can also also use different seasoning sprinkles on the cheese too. One of our very favorites is Gary's Seasonings. But, again, use a light hand when seasoning cheese, since it already has a lot of great flavor.

The Masterbuilt barbecue smoker winner, Fred, had brought the Halloom from Canada as a gift to us, so that's how I happened to have some in the refrigerator. I briefly considered pan frying the cheese, but we really had loved the Yanni grilled. I decided to give it a try and see if I could get good results with Halloom cheese.

First, I let the Char Broil Urban grill heat up good with the lid closed. This was to get the infrared grates good and hot. Foods stick to cold grates, so preheating really is important when grilling.

After about 5 minutes (does not take long to heat the Char Broil infrared grill), I opened the lid and let some of the heat out and turned the burners down low. The time on that was around a minute with the lid open. I wanted hot grates but not a whole lot of heat for cheese. It is, after all, cheese!

With tongs, I placed the cheese on the grates. The olive oil combined with the cold temperatures outside produced a lot of initial smoke as you can see. Plus, I could hear a little sizzle.

I don't doctor up my photos, and I try to show you exactly what to expect. So, here you can see that you do get a little cheese sticking to the grates. It was minimal. This photo shows the extent of any sticking. I get a much bigger mess if I'm using barbecue sauce.

The cheese basically "set" when I placed it on the hot grates. With the heat pretty low and the cheese sliced somewhat thick, I closed the lid and let the cheese grill and smoke for around a minute with low heat.

I then opened the lid on the grill and flipped the Halloom grilling cheese and left the lid open. I could tell by the feel with the tongs that the cheese was basically ready, but I let the bottom side also set up and get grill marks. Again, this took very little time - under a minute I'd say. It could vary depending on the heat. I'd just lift a piece of cheese slightly and check.

The grilled Halloom cheese turned out perfect. It was delicious, and Eli said that he hopes we have it "at least once a month." I'm sure he'd say every day if he did not have that kidney stone issue.

I still rate Yanni grilling cheese as the tops, but Halloom is very good as well. My son at UNC can get Halloom or something similar, so we'll be grilling cheese around here.

If you've not tried grilled cheese, give it a try. It's easiest to do on a gas grill, since you can control the temperatures better, but I also do it on charocal. With charocal, I offset and do the cheese on the side without direct charcoal heat. It's a little harder to master charocal grilled cheese, but you get extra smoke flavor.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Barbecue Meet Up at Lexington #1 Including a Visit to the Smoke House

Today, I got together with a couple of North Carolina Barbecue buddies (John and Wayne) as well as the Masterbuilt BBQ Smoker winner, Fred from Canada, at Lexington # 1 Barbecue in Lexington, NC.

Yesterday, I had a chance to meet Fred and hand off the smoker that he won here on my blog when Masterbuilt sponsored a nice contest for readers in the fall. We worked it out for him to swing by here on the way to see his parents in Florida.

Here's the barbecue crew in Lexington #1 where the man at the next booth was kind enough to snap a photo for us. I'm easy to pick out, since I'm the only female. Fred is to the left with Eli (my son) sitting beside him. Wayne is close the front with me standing behind him. Then John and his son Johnathan are at the table across, because they would not fit in the booster chairs, and a big church group took up all the large tables.

We all had, of course, chopped barbecue. And, it's Lexington style served on buns with slaw and vinegar based barbecue sauce. Though it could be argued as to has the best barbecue in Lexington, the lines at Lexington #1 would certainly give a clue that they do know how to rock Carolina BBQ.

Today was no exception. The barbecue was yummy as usual. But, I think the really stand out thing at Lexington # 1 is the sauce. That's the mop sauce, and you have to order extra for the table. There's a hotter version they have bottled on the table as well, but that fresh steaming mop sauce from the kitchen is . . . yum . . . all that.

The guys even had room for cobbler with ice cream. I never can eat dessert after a barbecue meal. I should have been born taller I think.

We asked about seeing the pit, and the nice lady at the cash register sent us around back to find Rick and Rick. Yes. That does sound like a radio DJ team, but they are the pitmasters.

We followed one Rick around back. The fire feeds from both sides. And, we found out that he's been the pitmaster at Lexington # 1 for 23 years, and that was his mother at the front register who sent us out back to find the Ricks.

Rick gave us a peek at the barbecue shoulders. Pretty amazing. We'd just eaten, but that meat smelled so good, we were all tempted to eat again.

Here we are with pitmasters Rick and Rick. Yes. This does look like a police line up huh? Everyone can decide who looks like the guilty party (-:

On the way out, I snapped a shot of the smoke stacks. Yes. That's smoke. The sky was a solid beautiful blue. The air was filled with the scent of wood burning and shoulders slowly smoking. Hard to beat that!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Barbecue at Winks Salisbury NC with Fred from Canada - the Masterbuilt Smoker Winner

Fred won the Masterbuilt Barbecue Smoker back this fall in a drawing the Masterbuilt company sponsored on my Barbecue Master blog. Since Fred's from Canada but has family in Florida, we thought it would be fun for him to stop here in North Carolina barbecue country and pick up the smoker on the way down to visit his folks.

Well, today was the BIG DAY.

After a few months of being a boxed lamp table in my living room (so that I'd know for sure the smoker stayed in perfect condition), it was off to the Days Inn to personally present the really cool looking smoker with a window, light, and thermostat probe to Fred.

Fred picked some bad weather to drive from up North there, but things were clear tonight in Salisbury - just cold. Not as cold as he's used to though I'll bet.

First things first, the guys helped me unload the smoker, so now Fred has a brand new smoker which I'm sure he'll enjoy.

After dropping off the smoker, the crew went up the road to Wink's Barbecue. It is one of the few wood burning barbecue joints in the area. Most have had to switch over to gas or electric due to health codes and the labor involved in running a stick burning barbecue restaurant.

We all had chopped barbecue on buns which is the major style in this area of the country. The sauce was vinegar based with some red (any type of ketchup or tomato product with variations depending on the BBQ joint).

Wood burners vary night to night, since that kind of work is much more art than science. The barbecue was good tonight, but I've hit it on stronger nights. They sauced just a little heavy in the kitchen, but the que was still excellent.

We varied on our sides. They have quite a selection and all good. Fred tried out the fried okra. He'd never had okra before, and I think he liked it. He also had a chance to taste good hush puppies. He'd not been a fan before, we converted him.

As usual, the meal was big, so . . . no desserts. Jimmy did get a banana pudding to carry home though, so I guess he'll have that for a treat tomorrow.

Fred and I both picked up items (mostly barbecue related) to share across our borders. I got him a case of Cheerwine (a local soft drink) from the factory in Salisbury. It's kind of like a cherry Coke but not really. It's just different and a local favorite and served at most all barbecue restaurants around these parts.

I also picked up a range of barbecue sauces from around here and Frank Corriher country ham and Carolina Blonde beer. Oh yes, I also got Pig Pen's seasoning made also in Salisbury. So, Fred will have a taste of North Carolina to take back to Canada.

Fred brought me some fabulous looking barbecue sauces and a grilling book that made me drool just looking through quickly. Eli has already picked out this huge stacked burger that he wants me to make from the cookbook.

I also had to put on the super cute Canadian mittens Fred brought. They are from the Olympics and have the maple leaves on there. Just perfect for a cold January night in North Carolina.

I'll be back with more posts about all the "North of the Border" products Fred shared. I'm still backlogged with this sinus thing which has made it hard for me to taste things. Today was a better day, so maybe this crud is starting to back off.

Tomorrow more of the North Carolina BBQ folks are meeting at Lexington #1 to have another taste of barbecue with Fred.

Welcome to North Carolina Fred! Great to meet you. Enjoyed the heck out of the evening. Glad you won the smoker and that you're getting to check out our local barbecue world.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grilled Dry Rub Chicken Wings with C-Dub's Test Wing Sample

Tonight I fired up the PK Portable Kitchen outdoor cooker or grill and made dry rub wings with C-Dub's Hot Wings test sample. I'm friends with C-Dub on Facebook, and he was asking for folks to test out his new hot wing rub. I think most of the testers who posted up were general consumers. I'm a consumer too, but I write on barbecue and grilling and have this barbecue blog and Yes You Can Grill web site. That didn't rule me out which I think is a good thing. I'm a tough critic, so when folks let me check them out, they get what I really think as do my readers.

Dry Versus Web Rub Wings

I should probably first explain the dry versus the wet barbecue or Buffalo swings. That could be a little confusing.

If I'm doing wet Buffalo Wings, then I fry the wings and use butter in the frying pan with barbecue sauce to sauce the wings. These are wet and drippy and really yummy barbecue wings. Our wet hot wings here really are hard to beat.

On the grill, you are going to have a mess if you try to do wet barbecue wings, so you want a dry rub on grilled wings, unless you are using a cast iron skillet or perhaps a griddle with sides and just put those on top of the grill, and it's hard to get a temperature high enough to do the wings.

How to Make Dry Rub Buffalo Wings on the Grill

There are many ways to do chicken wings on the barbecue grill. I could talk about that forever, but I'll just go with the basic version.

I put my chicken wings (sans the tips which I cut off) in a bowl with buttermilk with C-Dub's Wing Rub sprinkled in. This is a very Southern techique (the milk thing) and adds moisture and makes the meat real moist and tender.

Afer a couple of hours in the milk marinade, I drained the chicken wings and then rubbed them with olive oil (vegetable oil is fine too) and then sprinkled on C-Dub's wing rub.

Grilling Chicken Wings

The Kingsford charcoals were going good in my PK grill. The heat retention is excellent in the PK. I had the coals offset meaning that I had hot coals on one end but none on the other in case the grilling got really hot which can happen with charcoal.

I put the chicken wings to grill close to the hot charcoal but not right over the flames. This is indirect or offset grilling. I let them smoke along for 25 minutes or so.

Then, I put the grilled chicken wings over the hot coals as you see in the top photo to crisp them up and to finish them off. That's really the trick with bone in chicken. You need to grill the chicken lower and then hit them with heat. This is easier to do with gas which is adjustable rather than charcoal where the longer you grill, the better and hotter the coals seem to get.

I do not Photoshop my grillig pictures, so you do get a real feel for what your food will look like. You see darker spots where the wings had more rub but not as much color where the rub was skimpier.

Right before I served the grilled chicken wings, I put them right over the charcoals to crisp them up and add color and flavor. That's where you see them in my photo.

What Did We Think of These Dry Rub Grilled Chicken Wings?

The grilled chicken wings turned out perfect in terms of the amount of time grilled. They were moist and tender. We could pull them apart or use a fork, and the meat was was really nice. The milk marinade and offset on the charcoal made a difference.

As far as the new chicken wing grill rub, it's not on the market yet. C-Dub's is just testing. I respect a company for doing that. You never know until you ask.

We found the rub to be really HOT. It was so hot that I could not really taste the chicken or the smoke. I had to get an ice cube and suck on it, since my tongue and lips were on fire. On the plus side, I am dealing with a sinus infection that has lasted several weeks. The hot dry rub by C-Dub's did help on that, since my nose and eyes were running after eating our grilled chicken.

I do love hot foods, so this one is pretty hot. Same with the boys' Dad. He goes for heat but found the wings tonight to be too much. My son who is a mild kind of guy when it comes to spicy foods just said, "A whole thing of celery and half a bottle of Ranch dressing for three wings. That is kind of a record I think. I hope I'm near a bathroom tomorrow."

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Grilled Country BBQ Ribs with Nephew's Cherry'Potle Sauce

Tonight I decided to grill some country ribs and Greek grilled potatoes. I lived in Greece for a couple of years, and it was fun coming up with the Greek variation of potatoes for the grill. Be sure to check them out. They are really tasty.

If you're not familiar with country ribs, they may be called something else in your area. Basically, they are the rough cut in and around the rib area that might be thought of as leftovers in the meat industry. While country ribs may not always be beautiful, since some have bones and others do not, they are meaty and can make an inexpensive grilled meal.

As far as grilling the country rib odd cuts, I do them more like pork chops than ribs, since they really are not ribs. Generally, I offset charcoal and let country ribs smoke low and slow, so they are tender and gets lots of flavor. Instead of taking a couple or more hours, they run around 45 minutes to an hour on smoking. That's why I'd consider them more in the pork chop range as far as grilling.

Here are the grilled country ribs from tonight. Two had bones, and one cut was solid meat. So, they are a little different. Still, the meat for tonight came in at $2.50, and you can't beat that with a stick. Plus, we really get more meat all in all than with racks of ribs.

In addition to slow smoking the country ribs, I like to try different barbecue sauces on them. Tonight, we had Nephew's Cherry'Potle (cherry chipolte). Nephew's has a great range of sauces and with fruit flavors. They don't overdo the fruit taste, so you get some sweet and some heat.

Dylan sent me a selection of his gourmet sauces. He's out of Raleigh, NC where I attended NCSU. I was really hoping his sauces would be good, but they have turned out even better than I hoped for. Tonight, the boys' dad who dropped over and sampled the ribs said:

"Yum. These are the best country ribs you've made so far."

I must confess that I was thinking the same, but it was nice to get a confirmation on that. I did the BBQ random ribs the same as always, so it was the cherry barbecue sauce that pushed them over the top to make the grilled country ribs super yummy. You can, of course, sauce your ribs up with any sauce you like, but an exceptional barbecue sauce can make a huge difference.

Regular readers may remember that I tried Nephew's Pumpkin Barbecue Sauce on a pork loin, and that smoked grilled dish turned out great as well. That was back around October or so, but the pumpkin is excellent even when it's not the holiday season.

I think the Nephew's barbecue sauce line will be offered in Raleigh at Whole Foods and around the area soon, but you can always order online. The sauces really are impressive, and our low cost dinner tasted like a million bucks tonight. Can't beat that!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Gary's Seasoning - Great for Grilled Foods, In the Kitchen, and on the Table

Gary's Seasoning - Yep - It really is THAT Great

My son summed it up when he opened the sample pack that Gary sent of Gary's Seasoning for me to check out. "This is the best smelling package ever," Eli said. And, no, he's never said that before.

Sadly, I've had the sinus infection from heck for 10 weeks now, so I've not been able to smell or taste which is a sorry state of affairs for a grilling blogger. I could catch a little scent from Gary's seasoning, but I've been waiting so that I could really savor it and see what I've been missing or not missing.

Last night, I did some kitchen cooking - GASP. I fried up some pork chops and used Gary's Seasoning rather than my usual on that. The light must be at the end of the tunnel, because I could taste a bit, and I was impressed. Then, all the guys at my kitchen table mentioned that the pork chops were extra good. I've done the grilled chops for years, so I knew it had to be the seasoning.

Steaks with Gary's Seasoning - YUM!

My older son goes back to college tomorrow, so I wanted an extra special meal for his last night. Steaks - of course. Since Gary's Seasoning went over so well on the pork chops, I thought I'd rotate that in over my usual - lemon pepper on the seasoning for grilled steaks.

Yum! The steaks were great. I'm still not up to palate speed, but I know top pick when I taste it. And, the guys noticed that the flavor was rocking.

Do note that this is not a barbecue rub. You do not slather Gary's Seasoning all over the food to grill. Just sprinkle as you would salt and pepper or lemon pepper. I like to do that before grilling, but Gary's Seasoning is great on the table for an extra flavor burst.

I enjoy a lot of seasonings for variety, but pick very few go-to or top picks. Gary's Seasoning makes the grade. Of all the seasonings I've tried out (and that's been a lot), this is my favorite. It does smell fabulous and tastes just the same. It's not over the top, so Gary's goes on the back of the stove with my regular grilling and cooking staples. I only have about five all purpose seasonings that I keep close at hand like that.