Grilling glossary

July 29, 2009

grilling glossary

Label me lazy or christen me clever, but today’s post recycles some of my past links so that you (and truthfully me, too) have a glossary of all my grilling and barbecuing recipes and tips:

Buying and using grills and barbecues
Budget grilling
Grill master quiz
How to buy a grill
Lighting briquette
Winter grilling guide

Smoking and smokers
How to use cedar smoking sheets
How to use smoking briquettes
Matching meats with woods
How to turn your grill into a smoker

Cooking on the grill
Best rib recipe (2008)
Perfectly sticky gooey ribs (2009)
Burgers: basic and beyond
How to grill a steak
Chimichurri steak
Gourmet brie burger & cheeseburger tips

Grill safety
How to calibrate an instant read thermometer
How to use an instant read thermometer

Do you have a great grilling tip or a fabulous, hot-off-the-coals recipe you’d like to share? If so, please post it below. Links are welcome!

Be a discerning smoker

November 5, 2008

Stepping outside on Saturday evening to go to my car, I was reminded of how wonderful grilling food smells on the cool, crisp, leaf-scented air. Ahhh! I just stood there for a few seconds and breathed in the mingled scents of the neighbours’ grilling pork chops and my maple leaf-covered lawn. A truly Canadian form of aromatherapy!

As I was driving away, I fantasized about how that aroma could have been even more enticing if my neighbour had added some wood chips to his grill as it was preheating to add a smoky element.

Smoke has been a growing flavour trend for several years, but now it’s being more clearly defined on menus and food package labels so that consumers can choose the type and intensity of smokiness they prefer. Besides the wide variety of regular wood chip varieties sold at most hardware stores, these new wood ‘biscuits’ are making adding smoky flavour to your food ever easier. All you do is add one to the grate as you preheat the grill. Once the grill is hot, the biscuit will smolder and fill the covered grill with great smelling smoke. Then, after you cook, you dip the spent biscuit in cold water and toss it in the composter. No muss, no fuss!

Truthfully, I think most home grillers can get good results using almost any combo of untreated wood chips, some water, a foil pan and food; however, aficionados who want to match their smoke to the most appropriate foods can use the following guide to help them:

Fruit woods (apple, pear, peach, cherry, persimmon): cooking poultry, fish, shellfish, pork (chops and tenderloin), veal, cheese and fruits
Hard woods (hickory, maple, mesquite): game, poultry, stronger cheeses, tuna and steaks
Soft woods (cedar, alder): salmon, arctic char, trout, turkey, pork (chops and tenderloin), creamy cheeses and fruits.

If you have more basic questions about wood smoking on a home barbecue, check out this post from earlier in the year.

Do you grill into the autumn or pack away the propane until spring?


June 17, 2008

Since smoke was in second place on the top ten list of flavourings mentioned on restaurant menus last year (yes, it really is someone’s job to keep track of these things!), it’s true that smoke is hot with consumers and chefs alike. While chefs can use tools such as The Smoking Gun to short cut to smoky flavour, home cooks need to put in a bit more effort. But the effort is well worth it!

Below are my tried and true tips for turning your grill into a smoke filled cradle that can infuse steaks, fish, chicken and even grilled veggies with intense, deep flavour.

Smoking box:
• You can buy a cast iron smoking box for your grill for $25 dollars or so at many department and hardware stores.
• Lift the grate off your gas grill and place the smoking box in a corner of the grill where it will be exposed to intense heat.
• Next, close the windows in your house and car.
• Fill the smoker box with wet wood chips and fill the reservoir with water; put on the lid (if it has one) and replace the grate. Turn the grill on high and heat until enormous clouds of smoke billow out of the vent holes in the lid. Reduce the heat to desired cooking temperature and proceed as usual.

Foil pan:
• No smoking box? Choose a small, disposable foil baking pan that will fit between the grate and the burners. Position as recommended above.
• Soak enough wood chips to cover the bottom of the pan completely in water for 15 minutes or so before draining and adding chips to the pan and proceeding as above.

Choosing wood chips:
• Wood chips designed for culinary smoking are usually available in the same section as smoker boxes.
• Prepackaged hickory, mesquite, fruitwood and other specialty wood varieties (such as bourbon soaked, wine wood, etc) are all great options.
• Never use pressure treated or scrap building materials for smoking food since lumber can contain toxic chemicals.
• If using wood from your own trees, make sure it is fully dried and brittle before use. Chop into cracker-sized pieces so that it burns quickly and easily.
• Moisten or soak wood chips before adding to the foil tray or smoking box to ensure that they smolder and don’t produce flames that can singe food.
• Before storing the grill, drizzle the wood chips remaining in the smoker box with additional water to ensure that the fire is completely extinguished.