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Monday, May 25, 2009

The Grillin Fools have moved!!!

If you have found this page you have need to know that we have moved our website to a new provider. I will always leave this information here but I have moved everything over to and all new content will be at that location.

I regret that if you are a follower that our new site home does not provide that service. If you want to continue to follow the site you can follow us on Twitter. I promise never to hit you with a tweet that is not grilling related. Mainly you will just get updates indicating new content on the site.

The newest content on the new site will be pulled pork, brisket that was so tender and moist we called it pulled beef, as well as grilled melon. We look forward to seeing you at our new home...
Click here for the rest of the process

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Low Maintenance Grilling for a Crowd

Myself and my fellow Grillin Fools will be asked to cook for large groups quite often over the next few months. My family needs no more than word that the sun is going to rise as an excuse to get together for a family function in the warm months. And with us that means grilling. With Memorial Day a few days away, graduation parties, pool parties, and 4th of July right around the corner we find ourselves cooking for a crowd much more often than in the cooler months.

Sometimes we find ourselves seemingly strapped to the grills while the party goes on around us, only able to mingle with the people that wandered over to us to see how the food is coming along. We may be at a party but sometimes we feel more like hired help than party attendees. This post is all about ways to cook for a crowd and still be able to join in the festivities. To be able to feed the group but also have fun with them at the same time. Click below to find a number of possibilities for low maintenance high yield grilling recipes.

Brats and Dogs

The first thing that comes to minds of most people when it comes to feeding the masses at a cookout is brats and dogs. Both cook fairly quickly over high heat. But cooking 30 brats and 15 dogs can take quite some time. This is where the beer bath comes in. Grill your brats and dogs prior to your guests arrival. Buy a high sided disposable aluminum pan, pour in your favorite beer, some slices of onion, maybe a garlic clove or two, place directly on the grill, and put the brats and dogs in the new beer Jacuzzi you just made. Place the pan over enough of the coals to get a simmer going, or put it in the oven at about 200. Now, go get a shower and when the party starts the grilling is already done. If someone does not want the beer dripping off their brat, just throw the brat back on the heat for a couple minutes to steam that off.

How about taking those brats and dogs to the next level? Walk right past the meat cases with the Johnsonvilles and the Oscar Meyers. Go to the meat cutter at your local grocer and see if they have specialty brats and dogs they make in house. They will be better than the mass produced stuff in the cases. Even better. Go to a local butcher and see what they have. Throw a few Jalapeno brats on. Maybe a garlic brat. Try some Italian sausages or some other ethnic sausage like an Irish banger, Polish Sausage, Chorizo, Greek brat, Cajun brat, or Hungarian brat. How about my favorite the apple brat? Natural casing hot dogs are heads and shoulders better than what Oscar Meyer makes.

Now that you have your primo tubular meats, how about taking them to yet another level - at least for the brats. I have not tried this trick yet but Dad swears by it. While it may say that a brat is a beer brat do not believe that till you see it soaking in beer yourself. So pick your favorite brew and soak the brats in beer overnight. Sure that’s not all that interesting in terms of taking brats to the next level, and not my Dad's trick, but this is. Take a needle and insert the blunt in into a cork from a wine bottle. Then use that needle to poke tiny holes in the brats. Some will scream that this will allow all the juice to run out when grilling them. That will happen if a knife is used to poke holes. But the pin prick will allow the beer to be infused into the meat over night but not allow the juices to leak out during the cooking process. Or so Dad says. But has he been wrong so far?


Next up, Burgers. Everyone makes burgers. Everyone knows how to make a burger. But does everyone know how to make a good burger? First, don’t thaw out any meat for this. Go buy it fresh. The morning of the event would be best. Think of the hamburger meat as the vehicle to get all the extra goodies you can mix in with it to your mouth. Put the bulk burger in a large mixing bowl and make that boring meat into much more than a boring old burger. There are all sorts of things you can add:

Diced bell or jalapeno peppers
Grated asiago/parm/romano
Blue cheese
Ground pork
Even better, ground chorizo
Herbs like basil or oregano
Hot sauce
BBQ sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Andrias Steak Sauce
Snd of course salt and black pepper to taste.

This is not an all inclusive list. Get creative. Just don’t spring a new combo of those ingredients on a group of people without trying it out first.

Get your hands dirty. Mix it all together and then make the patties. Another big time saver is to make up the patties the night before and put them in the fridge.

Now that the burger is done right, don’t scrimp on what goes around the burgers. Next to the meat, the single most important item on the burger is probably cheese. Get exotic here. Don’t settle for simple American or Cheddar. Try smoked cheddar on a burger. It’s amazing. Or maybe a Lorraine Swiss? Pepper jack provides a nice kick. Blue cheese crumbles are incredible.

Don’t go with basic buns. Get a good quality bun. My favorite is the onion bun. Also, have good ripe tomato. If you have access to vine ripened tomatoes at you local grocer but still buy the cheaper ones, I beg you to try the vine ripened maters one time. You will not go back and gladly pay the extra. Even better, grow some yourself. I’m not much of a gardener yet I was able to grow them quite successfully the last 3 years. Here is the second year I grew tomatoes. They were so big the first year I helped my FiL build a trellis for them. Here they are on August 9th of 2008. The top of the trellis is 7 feet tall and these are 5 different plants:

Back to the burgers. Skip the iceberg lettuce. Get a leafy lettuce and go with some sweet Vidalia onions. Don’t forget the pickles, both kinds - the sweets and the regulars.

Top shelf compliments to the burgers (wine optional):

Tomatoes from my Garden:

Burgers are not as low maintenance as some of the other items I will mention in this post. But something can be done to make them lower maintenance. Again, the high sided disposable aluminum pan is your friend here. Place BBQ sauce in the pan and submerge the burgers in the sauce. You may want to cut the sauce with beer as to not overpower the burger. Burgers will not remain as juicy in the sauce bath as say a brat will but it will save some time to allow you to mingle.

With a relatively short cooking time cooking them during the party is not all that bad. One way to be more part of the party is not to throw them all on a platter and take them inside. Have people come to you. As you are cooking have the party guests get their sides on a plate and come to you for their burger. Do a little chit chatting while the cheese is melting.

While this is not low maintenance I do love a toasted bun:

Gotta love cross hatch grill marks on a bun!?!?

If you want the toasted bun but not the extra work of tending to two sides of a bun for every burger, throw the buns on a cookie sheet, bread side up, and put under a broiler till golden brown.

In the end here we have garlic, basil burgers on toasted onion buns with green leafy lettuce, fresh tomato and Loraine Swiss cheese:

Ribs, Brisket, Chicken, Fatties

If you have a relatively stable smoker that holds the temps fairly constant there is no reason you couldn’t smoke ribs, brisket, chicken, fatties or a combination of these. If all it requires is adding more fuel or smoke wood every 30-60 minutes and maybe a location adjustment of the meat then smoking these items is extremely low maintenance. Maybe go with a beer can chicken. Or even better the Grillin Fools new and improved beer can chicken - beer can chicken stew:

While ribs are not always the cheapest alternative they sure are divine and very easy to do:

Or maybe some brisket. How good does that smoke ring look?

Or ribs and a brisket - Brisket on the upper rack, ribs below:


One way to cut the cost of ribs for a crowd is to supplement the ribs with a lower cost alternative. Instead of making enough to feed everyone ribs make less ribs and throw on a few fatties. Generally fatties take just as long as ribs to cook. As long as the space is there, go with a few fatties which are always a hit.

Rib Eye Steak Sandwiches

Something that is not all that common and will likely blow the minds of your guests – Rib eye steak sammiches. Go to your butcher, have him/her thinly slice a rib eye into 1/3-1/4 inch thick sliced of rib eye. Marinade in Adria's (Worcestershire and emulsified garlic for those not able to get Andria's), coke, garlic and black pepper. Grill over high heat for just a little bit and then throw then in an aluminum pan with more of the marinade to keep the meat warm and moist. This is not a cheap alternative to cook for a crowd but definitely low maintenance.

Grillin the rib eye slices:

In the pan to simmer. These will get a tin foil cover and be thrown in the oven on low heat. They could be left on the grill but this was shot the day of the 2009 Super Bowl so it was a little chilly outside:

After being in the oven a couple of hours they are ready to serve:

A bun, some cheese, a little mayo for me and I had heaven on a plate:

Pork Steaks

And now we come to the pork steak. What an amazing cut of meat. Not all that prevalent outside of the Midwest but this is a true gem of low maintenance BBQing. Click here to see how to not only ask for pork steaks at your local butcher but one of the many ways of cooking them. Speaking of the many ways to cook pork steaks, you can smoke them slow and low for many hours. You can BBQ them at a medium heat, indirect for a couple of hours with some smoke wood or you can grill them hot and fast. For me, I go the indirect route for a couple of hours on the side with no heat and some good smoke wood on the coals. Sort of the best of both worlds.

At the end, a BBQ hot tub in a (you guessed it) aluminum tray will keep them warm and juicy for hours. The high fat content makes it very difficult to dry them out and it also keeps them oh so tender. You can feed an army with pork steaks and do so really inexpensively.

Pulled Pork

Some would argue that pulled pork is a cheap and easy way to feed a crowd. Total work is less than 90 minutes but that is stretched out over 8-12 hours. It can be started the night before but if the smoker has a hard time keeping a constant temp then it will require some maintenance in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn or both. For the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend the GrillinFools will be attempting a quicker method for making pulled pork. Total time about 6 hours. Sorry, no pics just yet as we haven’t done it. But if you want to give it a whirl the method is this:

Rub the pork shoulders with your favorite rub and then head out to get the grill going. You could rub the shoulders the night before if you want to.
Get the grill up to 375-400 – the temp will drop down to the desired temp of around 350 once the meat is added
Place the pork shoulder(s), fat side down, in one of those disposable aluminum pans you’ve heard so much about in this post.
If the temp drops below 350 be ready to add more fuel to the fire
Smoke for 3 hours at 350
Cover the pans with foil
Cook for another 2 hours until the internal temp reaches 195
Remove from heat, wrap in foil and place in a cooler to rest for 1 hour leaving the thermometer in the meat
When the internal temp reaches 200 it’s time to pull
Cut the meat into large chunks and let cool a bit before pulling. This will make the pulling process much easier.
Or you can try another method my Dad just heard about. Place the cooked shoulders after resting into large ziplock bags and than smack the crap out of them a couple of times with the bottom of a large frying pan. Cast iron is recommended. The jolt seems to make the pulling process much easier.

I will try to update this thread with pics of the pulled pork process soon after the holiday weekend… But until then, enjoy the holiday weekend and happy grillin!!!

Click here for the rest of the process

Monday, May 11, 2009

Grilled Romaine Lettuce. That's right, Salad on the grill!!!

I got this idea from the Foruns. I spend a lot of time in their BBQ forum, but they also have a lot of other great sub forums on the site.

Back to the grilled salad. Sounds nuts right? I thought the same thing but a few people tried it on NetCookingTalk and they raved about it. So after grilling burgers and brats for the fam on Mother's Day, I decided to give it a shot. I am extremely happy I did. This will become a regular staple at future GrillinFools cookouts. Something about the combination of the charred flavor, the crispness of the lettuce and the fresh grated Romano cheese that was simply amazing. Click below to see how you can add it to your menu too....

This is so easy that and so incredible. The ingredients?

1 head of Romaine Lettuce
Enough olive oil to slather both sides
1/2 cup of fresh grated Romano (Parm or Asiago could also be used, just nothing from a green can)
Pinch of salt
Couple turns of black pepper
A dusting of granulated garlic

That's it.

Prep and cooking is even easier than compiling the ingredients. Start off with a head of Romaine Lettuce rinsed and dried:

Slice the Romaine in two length wise and pull away the few leaves that will separate when you slice it:

Drizzle liberally with olive oil and put a little coarse salt, fresh cracked black pepper and dust with granulated garlic:

Repeat on the other side:

Grate about a half cup of a hard cheese like Asiago, Parmesian, or Romano. In this case I used Romano:

Now off to the grill:

You didn't think that all I made was grilled lettuce did you? We did burgers and brats as well. The lettuce thing was just something I wanted to try. But I think I lose all credibility as a serious griller if I don't show some meet on the pit. Brats, resting in a beer bath:


Place the Romaine right over the hot side of the grill. This doesn't need to be high heat for say searing a steak. Medium hot is about all it needs:

This only takes a couple of minutes so keep checking the underside. Look for the lettuce to blacken a bit. A nice char is the desired result without having the lettuce wilt too much under the heat:

After about 2-3 minutes on each side I now have a nice char on both sides of both halves:

Now, place on a platter, sprinkle the cheese on and eat:

This was devoured in pretty short order by about 5 or 6 people. All those that were sort of chuckling at the notion of grilling lettuce raved about it. This may be the perfect side to go with a steak. Once the steak is pulled off to rest, throw the lettuce on. The steak, depending on thickness, should be perfectly rested when your grilled salad is ready to be plated.

Click here for the rest of the process

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Smokin some Fatties, again, not those kind of fatties, and some grilled beans

This is not the first post I have done about smoking fatties on the grill. You can see the write-up of previously smoked fatties here. And I will say again that they are not that kind of fatty. A fatty is simply smoked bulk sausage. Often it is breakfast sausage. Sometimes they are stuffed and sometimes they aren't. Sometimes they are sweet and sometimes spicy. The number of different ways to cook fatties is limitless.

I smoked two fatties in this cookout. One is the recipe that I get the most raves about; sage sausage stuffed with cheese, and a new recipe that I created on the fly; regular sausage stuffed with yellow pepper, white corn and cheddar. I also grilled some beans.

In the spirit of trying to be more quantitative I actually did some measuring and wrote down amounts for the recipe. Click below to find those measurements...

Here are the basic ingredients I used for the two fatties:

In the picture above are two different kinds of sausage. The sage sausage was used with the garlic, asiago, havarti and garlic. The regular sausage was used with the garlic, asiago, yellow pepper and sweet white corn. What I omitted from this picture was granulated garlic that I used as a rub on both fatties.

Let's start with the sage fatty first. The ingredients are as follows:

1 LB of sage breakfast sausage (other types of sausage can be used)
1/3 LB of havarti cheese (I have uses white cheddar in the past)
2 heaping tbsp of minced garlic
1/2 cup of loosely packed asiago cheese
10 turns of a pepper grinder
Enough granulated garlic to dust the outside

Combine the sausage, garlic, asiago and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Sausage and garlic:

Now the asiago and black pepper:

Using your hands mix the ingredients together well. Really get in there and squish it all up. Then spread the meat on a piece of wax paper and spread out evenly:

Chunk up the havarti and place in the middle of the sausage leaving plenty of room around the edge to seal the cheese in. Here I chunked up an entire half pound of havarti. I know I said only a 1/3 pound above. I had too much:

When I tried to roll it over to seal the cheese inside the sausage I realized I had either too much cheese or not enough sausage:

So I pulled some of the cheese out:

That's more like it:

I simply rolled the sausage up and patted it really well to get rid of any cracks or crevices. Then I dusted the outside with granulated garlic:

I placed the fatty in a gallon plastic bag and put it in the freezer to firm up a bit and on to my second fatty; yellow pepper, sweet white corn and cheddar stuffed fatty:

1 LB of regular breakfast sausage (again, use what you like, it's your fatty!!)
1/2 yellow pepper chunked
1 small ear of white corn with the kernels sliced off (you can used canned or yellow corn, but fresher is better)
1/4 pound cheddar cheese
2 heaping tbsp of minced garlic
1/2 cup of loosely packed asiago cheese
10 turns of a pepper grinder
Enough granulated garlic to dust the outside

Here we have the yellow pepper chunked into half inch chunks and the kernels from a small ear of white corn.

These ingredients are not going to cook enough while insulated inside the sausage so I precooked them a bit. First the yellow pepper in a skillet in a little olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes:

Then add the corn for another three minutes:

While the corn and pepper are sautéing, mix the sausage, garlic, asiago and black pepper up in a bowl very well and place on a piece of wax paper as before. Then place the cheddar along the middle of the meat:

Spoon the peppers and corn over the cheese:

Roll up the sausage and pat it well anywhere there seems to be a crack or a crevice and dust with granulated garlic.

I put this fatty in gallon plastic bag and into the freezer as well to firm up. I left both in the freezer between 20 and 30 minutes. Then I got to work on my beans. Here is a shot of the ingredients:

2 - 1 LB cans of just original baked beans (you can use other varieties but you will be adding tons of flavor on your own that you don't need any other varieties but it is up to you)
2 heaping tbsp minced garlic
4 heaping tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of honey mustard
1/4 cup of honey
2 tsp of hoisin sauce (optional and not in the picture)
10 turns of a pepper grinder
2 sliced of maple bacon (other bacon can be used and you will need enough to cover the top with one inch square pieces so this number may vary)

Dump all ingredients except the bacon into an oven safe pot and mix together well as this will be the last time you stir them until they are ready to be served:

Slice the bacon up into one inch squares and cover the top leaving gaps between each piece. If you don't leave a gap the pieces will insulate each other and take much longer to cook:

Now out to my smoker. I made a few modifications to my offset in order to keep the temp up and more constant and this was my first chance to try them out. You can see the modifications here.

For this session I will be using apricot wood. Very similar to apple:

There are a bunch of different woods you can use for this. For a pretty extensive write up about different smoke woods click here.

After spending some time modding my grill to keep the temp up a windy day wiped that effort away in seconds. After 30 minutes I was getting a boatload of smoke but the temp was struggling to get to 150:

I needed 300 for these for 2 hours. If I left it at 150 it would take closer to 8 hours so it was time to improvise. I took the grill grate off that was on the opposite side of my firebox in the main chamber and added a pile of hot coals:

Within minutes the temp started to climb:

After an hour of heavy smoke at 150f (took me another 30 minutes to get a half chimney of coals hot) I was cooking at close to 300 at which point my cheese started to ooze out of my sage fatty which is why both are sitting on foil to save that cheese:

My pepper and corn stuffed fatty is doing just fine:

While carrying my chilled cheese stuffed fatty outside I bumped it and split it open a bit. Trying to pat it back together when that cold didn't work all that well so I had the foil under it from the beginning.

Here are both fatties with some smoke rising up:

About 90 minutes into the process the bacon on the beans is browning up as are the fatties:

Now I am building up quite a bit of grease in the foil:

This is easy solved with the probe from my remote thermometer. I just poked a hole in the foil of each fatty to let the fat drain out:

Here we have 2 hours in:

At 2.5 hours everything is ready to come off the grill. Remember, they only need 2 hours at 275-300 but I got off to a slow start:

Here are the fatties resting. Despite the cheese oozing out of the one already, I let them rest for about 10 minutes. If I were to slice into them earlier the hot cheese would run right out:

Here are the beans. That bacon has rendered its fat into the beans during the cooking process to add that extra flavor punch that only bacon fat seems to provide:

Here are my fatties ready to be sliced. The cheese has cooled enough on the outside that it actually stuck to the meat rather than the foil:

Here we have the sage cheese stuffed fatty:

Here is a close up so you can see the nice smoke ring:

And here is the yellow pepper/white corn/cheddar stuffed fatty:

These are so much fun to do and so simple. You really should try one. Follow one of my recipes or try your own. The possibilities are endless!!

As for what I would do differently, well, I may be at my wits end with the offset smoker. I may be in the market for a vertical smoker in the near future so check back to see what I can create in one of those…

Click here for the rest of the process