Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Kingsford Charcoal - Burns Too Hot and Does Not Have Charcoal Flavor

New Kingsford Charcoal

I am not at all happy with the new Kingsford charcoal. It burns way too hot and fast, and it does not have that distinctive Kingsford flavor. I think Kingsford made a "new Coca Cola" fail move with a favorite brand that was perfectly wonderful before they started messing with it.

I've been grilling for over 35 years, and my first pick brand for charcoal is Kingsford - or it was. Although I know the foodie trend is to favor natural lump which is said to give a hotter burn and cleaner flavor, I found Kingsford to be perfect. It did not burn super hot which is why a lot of people burn the outside of foods with it still uncooked in the middle. I see this all the time especially at tailgate events (not on my grill - but newer grillers or those who don't grill often). And, I personally love the rich charcoal flavor that Kingsford used to have. That extra flavor is especially nice on burgers and steak.

This is not the first time I've used the new Kingsford. The other time I had the Mesquite flavored and thought perhaps that was the difference. Since I just finished up my back stock of barbecue charcoal and since they had a great sale going on, I decided to go with the Original Kingsford. The deal was 2 twenty pound bags for $9.98. That is a great price. The bags were, however, shrink wrapped together partially which meant lifting 40 pounds up on the grocery store conveyor belt at once and then loading and unloading. The plastic does not totally cover the bags, so I had a mess in my car seat and also on the front of my shirt.

Although Kingsford does have the Original charcoal in the familiar blue bag, the bag (other than these sale bags I bought) are smaller. The company says that they made the briquettes smaller and that they burn hotter and longer. They also have grooves which they state mean they light up easier. Other than those things, this is supposed to be the Kingsford charcoal many of us know and love.

When I put the Kingsford Original (new version) in the chimney starter, I went inside as typical. It usually takes 15 minutes or so for a full chimney starter to be hot and ready to use. When I went out to check, the charcoal was basically gone. OK. I added more charcoal and watched it. Within 3 or 4 minutes, it was ready to go in the grill.

My son went out to put on the steaks but had to come in to get a grill glove. This has not been necessary before with a 22.5 Weber kettle. So, the charcoal was cleary burning hot even with the lid on. Fortunately I had offset the charcoal, so the steaks did not burn. They were, however, more done than we like due to the really high heat.

The night before last I decided to grill a pork loin and decided I'd better do the grilling duties, since the guys have not done a loin over charcoal. I ran into the same problem with the charcoal burning down right in the chimney starter and had to add more once I put the briquettes in the Weber. These caught right up and were burning hot as blazes which you don't want with a whole pork loin.

When I went out to check the grill and charcoal, I touched the lid handle and burned my hand. Geez. I forgot about my son mentioning that now being an issue. After I got the grill glove and looked into the grill, it was all singed (including the side handles) and had white ash particles all over. The charcoal was almost gone again. Added a little more. Very annoying.

The Weber kettle is usually easy to use for a slower smoke on a pork loin, but it was very labor intensive trying to damp down the heat with the the new Kingsford charcoal. To make matters even worse, the charcoals were so hot that they slightly warped the Weber kettle lid. Now it does not close up tight. This is an 8 year old grill, and I've never had problems with a Weber. This is a case of the charcoal burning insanely hot. So, they are right that it burns hotter, but they are dead wrong that it burns longer. The new Kingsford charcaol is gone in a heartbeat, meaning you have to try to add charcoal to a terribly hot grill. No fun.

The heat and fast burn are issues certainly, but the biggest beef I have about the new Kingsford charcoal with is billed as the Original is that they wrecked the flavor. Food tastes like it has been grilled over natural lump or maybe hardwood or pellets. It just has a little smoke flavor and not a charcoal flavor. This is not the flavor I grew up with and loved. If I wanted wood smoked, then I'd just buy natural lump or get some wood off the woodpile. I buy Kingsford charcoal (or I did), because it did taste different, and I happen to like that distinct charcoal taste.

I sure hope Kingsford puts the real deal back on the market. The new Kingsford charcoal burns way too hot and fast. It made my grill lid handle hot enough to burn my hand and warped my Weber grill lid. And, the steaks and pork loin just weren't all that with ash on them and semi-wood smoke flavor (but not quite that). All in all, the new Kingsford is a bust. I'll just pick up a store brand or something, unless Kingsford brings back real charcoal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cajun seasoned Bison burgers with Blue cheese

Grilled Bison Burgers


Enjoy delicious grilled bison burgers with Gary House of Cooking Outdoors to start off your summer right.

Gary wrote my first guest chef blog here at Barbecue Master, and he is also one of the first outdoor bloggers I stumbled across online. I loved his site right off the bat and signed up for email alerts. I'm glad I did, because Gary has terrific recipes, he explains them so that they turn out when I grill them at home, he has beautiful photos, and well . . . he's just an all round great guy and grilling friend.

Thanks for the recipe Gary and for being my first ever outdoor cooking guest blogger.

Grilling with Gary House

Did you know that bison meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef?

Bison has less fat than Turkey and Chicken with the skin removed or even most fish. They spend their lives grazing on natural grasses. Antibiotics, Steroids or Growth Hormones are never used in the Bison industry and Bison meat has a rich, beef-like taste.

Bison or Buffalo, once virtually extinct has now risen back to prominence as a sustainable food source. There are approximately 500,000 bison in captive commercial populations (mostly plains bison) on about 4,000 privately owned ranches.

My recipe today comes from inspiration I received while having lunch with a good friend of mine, Barry “CB” Martin of “Sizzle on the Grill” fame. Last year we were both at a food blogger's convention and took a minute to sneak out to grab a hamburger at a local restaurant. I can't for the life of me remember the restaurant, but the hamburger that I had, seasoned with Cajun spices and topped with blue cheese has stuck with me ever sense!

Making this burger with Bison meat was something I had been wanting to try for quite a while. Bison meat is not cheap compared to ground beef, turkey, pork or chicken. It runs in the neighborhood of eight dollars per pound at one of the stores I shop in. Bison meat is so rich that there was absolutely no need to add any sauces, seasonings or flavoring when I mixed the bison meet up to form patties.

Bison Meat is Expensive but Rich and Great for Burgers

To me a burger, whether it be a hamburger or a bison burger must have additional toppings. This bison burger was no exception, beautiful grilled red onion rings accompanied by bison burger with slices of tomato and lettuce. All of this was inserted between two halves of sourdough sandwich buns. I bison burger was so juicy that I chose not to apply any additional BBQ sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup or whatever spread you may choose to apply to your normal burger.


  • 1 pd Bison meat
  • Cajun seasoning
  • crumbled blue cheese
  • red onion slices
  • sourdough French roll
  • lettuce, tomato and any other goodies you'd like to add

I simply took my 1 pound of Bison meat and gently formed it into two rectangular patties, generously sprinkled both sides with Cajun spices and placed them over direct heat On my preheated grill. I prefer mine cooked to medium well and this took approximately 10 minutes at 350° F.

Form and Season Your Bison Burgers

About 2 to 3 minutes before your Bison burger is completely cooked you'll want to top it off with blue cheese. Yep, you heard me right, blue cheese. There's something about this combination of Cajun spices, meat, and blue cheese that is just over the top!

Sprinkle Blue Cheese on Burgers

For my onions, grilled red onions that is, I simply sliced 3/8 inch slices and applied olive oil to both sides and grilled them at the same time. Of course they only took about five minutes to grill.

Toast up your bun, assemble your goodies and build one of the best burgers you ever had.

Enjoy a Hot and Flavorful Grilled Bison Burger

I hope you can handle a half a pound of Bison burger with all the fixes, sure to leave you rubbing your belly trying to figure out how you can get that other half pound down.

Until next time…

Gary House - the ”Outdoor Cook

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grilled Boneless Chicken with Ralph's Barbecue Sauce

Ralph's Barbecue Sauce from Salisbury, NC

Last night I grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the PK cast aluminum grill. I work with Ralph at the college but did not know that he was a BBQ sauce guy until this month. We tried out his Bar-B-Que sauce on smoked pork butt (which takes a lot of time and work). Ralph mentioned that he liked his barbecue sauce best on chicken, so I wanted to do chicken too.

Ralph's barbecue sauce is a traditional Lexington, NC type of sauce. That means that it's a mop sauce - thin with a vinegar base and with it being western for NC, then it's got a little red (ketchup). There are also pepper seeds to give it a little kick. Mostly it's not real hot around here, but you can get some of the guys around to notch it up. Ralph said that he triples the peppers for his preacher who likes his barbecue smoking hot.

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts Marinating in Ralph's BBQ Sauce

First, I put our chicken in a bowl and covered the chicken with Ralph's barbecue sauce. I let it sit about 20 or 30 minutes to let the chicken come up to room temperature. If meat is real cold, then it will tend to stick to the grates. Also, this allows the sauce to flavor the chicken some even before it goes on the grill.

Grilling Chicken on Our Portable Kitchen Aluminum Cast Grill

While the boneless chicken was grilling, I moppped it some. I used a brush and just put a little extra barbecue sauce on as the chicken was grilling. This works well with a thin mop sauce. If you have a thick Kansas City style sauce, then you only want that on at the end, because it has more sugar, and it will burn before the chicken is done. With a mop sauce, you may get some dark spots, but it's not a burned taste. It's just yum.

Yum. Chicken Looks and Smells Great with This NC BBQ Sauce.

I flipped the chicken over. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes with these small pieces. You can see the white grilled or cooked color coming up the sides. When it's about half up the sides, you flip the chicken and finish off the other side at about the same time.

Ralph's Barbecue Sauce Chicken

We loved the grilled pork butt with Ralph's Bar-B-Que sauce, but I'd have to agree that it rocks the chicken. You can grill chicken and mop it as I did here (and with a print off recipe below), or you can fry the chicken and then lather on some Ralph's barbecue sauce. That's the next thing we plan to try. Barbi-fry chicken is popular here with the vinegar based sauces, and Ralph's sauce is so yummy that the local Village Inn Pizza uses his sauce on Wednesday wing night.

print recipe
Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Go healthy on the grill with boneless, skinless chicken breasts that taste so great that you'll not feel deprived one bit.
  • 4 or as many as wanted boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup or so (more if grilling more chicken) barbecue sauce
Be sure boneless, skinless chicken breats are thawed out and let them rest in a bowl with a mop style barbecue sauce marinade. You can also use Italian style dressing, but you get a very different flavor.While barbecue chicken is marinating, start grill. You want the grill about 350 degrees F or medium hot. Preheating helps prevent sticking. Put boneless chicken breasts or tenders on grates to grill and let grill until cooked about half done. Time will vary, but this should take 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size on the chicken and the heat of the grill. If using a mop barbecue sauce (thin vinegar base), then you can brush on more sauce while the chicken is grilling. Turn the chicken over when it has grill marks, and you can see a white cooked grilled color coming up the sides.Again, you can mop on more of the North Carolina barbecue sauce with is thin and heavy on vinegar. Let the chicken grill for, again, about 5 to 10 minutes. You do want chicken grilled through but not dried out. You can use a knife and cut into one of the thicker boneless breasts to double check. After you grill the chicken a few times like this, you will be able to eyeball it and know. Take chicken off the grill with tongs, and it's ready to serve immediatly, or it can rest a few minutes while you're finishing up the rest of the outdoor meal.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings or more