BBQ 101: Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills are the most traditional choice for BBQ. However, the first step in understanding a charcoal grill is understanding its fuel.  Charcoal is a piece of wood that has been burned down to the point that all water and resins have been removed.  At this point, the wood becomes pure fuel. Charcoal has the ability to reach much higher temperatures than wood, with much less smoke.

Advantages to Charcoal Grills

Charcoal adds a rich smoky flavor to meats and vegetables. Like other types of grills, charcoal BBQs add texture and flavor to meat by sealing in the meat’s natural juices, and some people contend that charcoal does this better than gas grills. These grills can be made from stainless steel or porcelain-coated steel, both of which are stylish and easy to clean. Different charcoal grills come with a variety of features like thermometers, adjustable air shutters or charcoal trays that make it easy to add fuel or smoking chips to the grill. Overall, the grills provide just as many interesting features as gas grills, as well as an authentic grilling experience.

The high temperatures reached by charcoal – up to 700 degrees F – makes charcoal the ideal fuel for creating a good char on the outside of a meat while keeping the   inside pink and moist. For that reason, charcoal grills are the number one choice for   steaks, burgers, and other meat such as lamb.  Since charcoal is a radiant heat fuel (which means that instead of warming the air,   heat comes out of the charcoal and is absorbed into an object), charcoal is also the   ideal fuel for long and slow cooking processes. The radiant process also infuses the   delicious smoky flavor that is associated with BBQ into the food.   Charcoal grills are the top choice for BBQ pitmasters and enthusiasts.

However, the nature of the charcoal grill can make it tricky for a beginner. Unlike gas grills, the level of control over temperature is low, and it can take a bit of practice in order to   acquire your desired temperatures.  Another drawback to charcoal grills is the prep and cleaning time.  You must first prepare and light the charcoal and then, once lit, it usually takes a minimum of 20 minutes to heat up to grilling temperatures.

Charcoal grills must also be scrapped  after every cooking and the ashes must be removed on a regular basis.  While it often takes more practice to get it right, most BBQ diehards swear by the cooking process and taste of the charcoal grill.

Different Kinds of Charcoal Grills

One unique type of charcoal BBQs is the built-in barbeque. These grills are usually rectangular in shape and fastened to the ground using bolts. For many patio islands and other outdoor decor, these grills provide a unique and functional centerpiece around which people can add tables and chairs to complete an awesome outdoor entertainment area. Sometimes these grills come with wheels attached to them. Ideal for large outdoor parties catering to many guests, wheeled grills are functional and portable. You can bring them anywhere in your backyard, out to the street for block parties, or to a neighbor’s house to grill there. Wheeled grills sometimes come with folding features that make them even more portable and easy to use for tailgating or other parties.

Charcoal BBQs come in different shapes and sizes as well. The common shapes include rectangles, circles and squares, while the sizes range from very small to about 6 feet squared in area. A few grills are small enough that you can use them on a tabletop for hosting a dinner party or enjoying a romantic evening.

Shop for Grills at the BBQ Depot

The BBQ Depot carries a wide selection of different grill shapes, sizes and brands. You can use our site’s navigational features to narrow down your choices based on brand, size and category as well.  With both small and portable grills and large permanent charcoal BBQ fixtures, there is something for everyone in our collection. On orders above $99, we provide free shipping within the continental United States. Visit our collection to find the grill you need today!

 

How to Pick the Right Sized Grill

Shopping for a new grill can be very exciting.  Images of family barbeques and summer parties can whet your anticipation.  When choosing a grill, many people focus on the type of grill (charcoal, gas, electric) and all the accessories that come with it.  However, one important factor to keep in mind is the size.  Picking the right size grill will ensure that you are able to do all the different types of grilling that you are imagining on a grill that comfortably fits in your space.

An important thing to remember when considering grill sizes is that grills are measured both by the actual physical size (as in how much space they take up and their square inches of cooking surface. Buying a physically big grill does not necessarily ensure that you are buying a grill with a lot of cooking space.  Make sure that you keep both sizes in mind when picking out the grill for you.

When picking out the perfect grill size, there are two main questions that you need to ask of yourself. The first question you need to ask is, “What is my intended purpose?” Do you want a grill that is perfect for you and your companion? To feed the whole family? Or one that handle hosting large gatherings?  The more people you plan on routinely cooking for, the larger surface space you will require.

However, it is important to remember that meat actually cooks better when placed close together as the different pieces will share the heat. If you regularly barbeque other food items, such as vegetables or side dishes, then you will want a grill with a large enough surface space to handle all your items.  It may also be a good idea to buy a grill that has individual burners or that has different shelves where you can separate the food.

The second question that you need to ask yourself is, “Where will I put my grill?” It is always a good idea to physically measure the space where you plan on putting your grill.  Precise measurements will allow you to know exactly what will fit and what will not.  This will help prevent you getting attached to a grill that will never physically be able to stand in your space. Always make sure that, when you look at actual grills, that you take into consideration the space needed for any accessories.

Cooking the Perfect Steak

Steaks are the epitome of barbeque cooking.  Yet, cooking the perfect steak can sometimes seem like an impossible task.  In order to get the steak perfectly charred on the outside, yet juicy on the inside, here are some simple steps to follow.

Have everything ready to go.  The best chefs and barbeque masters know that preparation is the first, and essential step, to making any great food.  Place all necessary plates, utensils, accessories, and seasonings near your BBQ so that they are readily accessible whenever you may need it.  Not only does this help you in the timing of cooking your perfect steak, it also keeps your, your loved ones, and your home safe from the dangers of an unattended grill.

Once everything is ready, the next steps is to light your grill.  Depending on the type of grill that you own, make sure that you light the grill with plenty of time for it to heat up and be ready to cook.  Charcoal grills take the longest to heat up, while gas and electric grills need a much shorter preparation time.

Once your grill is lit, the time has come to take the steaks out of the refrigerator.  Room temperature steaks cook more evenly than cold steaks, so make sure that they have plenty of time to warm up before you place them on the grill. If you are using a marinade, leave the steak in the marinade until it is time to put it on the grill.

Otherwise, prepare the steak for cooking by brushing both sides of the steak with a light layer of olive oil and a generous dusting of salt and pepper. When you’re grill is ready for the steaks, there is one final step in your preparation.

If you are using a charcoal grill, move the now gray-ish colored charcoals over to one side in order to create a cooler spot on the grill.  On any grill, keep the steak away from large or jumping flames.  The flame size will increase as the juices and fat run down the sides of the steak.  These flames can burn the outside of your steak and should be avoided.

The amount of time that you leave a steak on the grill depends on how “done” you want your steak, as well as its size and thickness. For a one-inch thick steak, “rare” will be 5 minutes on the first side and 3 on the second.  Medium-rare is 5 minutes and then 4. Medium is 6 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second. And well done is 8 minutes on the first side and 6 minutes on the second.  If you want to create the diamond pattern on your steak, leave the steak on the grill for 2-3 minutes and then, with a pair of tongs, rotate it 45 degrees, and cook it for the remaining time on the side.  Always use a pair a tongs when rotating of flipping your teaks in order to keep them juicy.  Stabbing or cutting your steak will cause the moisture and juices to run out of the steak, leaving it dry.

Once the steak is done, take it of the grill and let it rest on a wooden board for 5 minutes before cutting into it.  This will help keep the meat juicy, and leave you with the perfect steak.

 

 

Inspecting and Cleaning Your Gas Grill Burners

When you are the owner of a gas grill, you want to make sure that all the parts continue to work properly.  Regular inspection of parts will allow you to spot any potential problems early, saving your money on expensive repairs.  It will also make sure that your safety is ensured every time that you use your grill.

One of the areas that you need to regularly inspect is your burners. The burners are the heart of the grill, and should be checked at least several times throughout the summer grilling season.  If your burners are working correctly, that you are well on your way to making sure that your entire grill is safe, effective, and efficient.

The first thing you want to look for with your burners is how the flame burns.  If the burner flame is burning evenly around the entire perimeter of the burner, and continues to burn evenly at all different control settings, then you can be sure that the burner is currently operating properly.  However, even when your burner appears to be working correctly, it is always a good idea to inspect it in order to catch any early warning signs of problems.

To properly inspect your burners, you will want to remove them from the grill.  Use a wire brush to clean the outside of the burner.  The brush will remove any residue or loose corrosion that is attached to the burner.  Stick an opened paper clip into the gas holes to clean any clogs and a venturi brush into the venturi tubes to remove any potential blockages.

Once the burner has been removed, check the assembly for corrosion.  The biggest place for corrosion is along the seams at the edges of the burner ports, as the seams have a tendency to trap grease. Check the strength of the assembly by applying pressure with your thumbs to all the solid metal areas. This will help you ascertain is there are any weak spots. The last thing you want to check for is any clogged holes or flaked away openings. Both will cause the burner ports to enlarge, causing an uneven burn.

On average, burners will last between 2-5 years.  Their life depends on the quality of construction, the climate, location, usage, and maintenance.  By regularly inspecting and cleaning your burners, you can make sure that you get the most out of their lifespan.

Grilling Essentials – Utensils

When you’re planning the perfect BBQ,  you always want to make sure that you have the right tools on hand.  Here’s a look at some of the best utensils that you can add to your BBQ arsenal to help the ease of your cooking and the quality of your food.

Grilling Tongs

Tongs are one of the most essential grilling utensils.  Grilling tongs have a longer body length, which keeps your hands far from the heat while allowing you to turn the different pieces of meat of vegetables with ease.

Meat Handlers

For those of you who want to create the most tender pulled pork, meat handlers are a great utensil to have in your BBQ arsenal. These two, heat-resistant, utensils help pull and shred your pork perfectly and also help you transfer the meat to the plates of your guests with ease.

Marinade Turbocharger

If you are a lover of marinades, increase their potential through the use of a marinade turbocharger.  This spiky device is plunged into the meat, creating holes that prepare the meat to better soak up both wet and dry marinade.

Grill Fork

A grill fork is a special grill utensil that aids in your placement and flipping of your meat.  The extra long handle protects your hands from the heat while the sharp fork easily pierces the meat, giving you full control over its motions.

Silicone Basting Brush

A basting brush allows you to brush your meat and vegetables with the marinades that you have prepared. A silicone brush will last longer than a normal brush, cleans-up easier, and will remain odor-free.

Thermometer

Thermometers allow you to monitor the temperature of your meat, making sure that you get your meat to your desired level.  It all lets you know if your meat is cooking evenly, allowing you to either adjust the heat or the position of your meat on the grill.

Meat Cleaver

If you like cooking full pieces of meat (such as whole chickens) or ribs, then it is important to keep a meat cleaver in your tool kit.  A cleaver will let you hack through the bones of the meat without any issues.

Wide Spatula

Make sure that you get an extra wide, stainless steel spatula to use on your grill. The sharp edge will allow you to slide easily under a piece of meat and the size will make sure that the full piece of meat gets picked up with ease.  Also look for a spatula with holes or perforations in order to keep your food from getting soggy.

Cleaning A Cast-Iron Grill Grate

Cast iron grill grates are popular choices due to the cast irons toughness and durability, as well as for its ability to heat evenly and retain that heat for extended periods of time. While cast iron grill grates may be resilient to many different conditions, they need to be properly cleaned and maintained in order to last.  Here is an easy guide to cleaning your cast iron grill, keeping it in tip-top condition.

The first thing to remember is that the best time to clean your grill grate is right after you’ve finished grilling.  Cleaning as soon as you are finished means that the food and residue do not have any time to harden or attach to the grill grate.  Allow the grill grate to cool only enough so that you can safely handle it.

The second, and perhaps most important, thing to remember is that the biggest enemy of your cast iron grate is water.  Water that is left on the grill grate will cause it to rust and deteriorate.  While water is used in a few steps off the cleaning process, it is imperative that it is fully removed by the time you are done cleaning.

The first step in cleaning your grate is to scrub it down with a wire brush in order to remove any food particles that may be lingering on the surface.  Once you have brushed the biggest particles of food off, spray down the grate with a solution of one part apple cider vinegar and four parts water. Wipe off the solution with a paper towel, repeating as necessary until all food residue is removed.

Once all food particles have been removed, the next step is to remove any extra grease.  The grease can be washed off with a sponge dipped in warm water and a mild soap.  Again, make sure that the soapy water solution is completely rubbed off with a clean cloth.

After your grill has been completely cleaned, you want to season the grill.  This can be accomplishing by applying a light film of oil (vegetable or olive) or shortening to the grill grates. Seal the oil by wrapping each grate in foil and then placing in the grill. Turn the grill on high, close the lid, and heat the grates for around 10 minutes.

Seasoning your grill will help protect it from rust.

By following these steps you can make sure that your grill remains is good shape and that you are always ready to fire it up for your next barbeque.

 

BBQ 101: Electric Grills – It’s Electrifying

To round out our overview of different types of BBQ’s, today we are going to take a look at the electric grill.  While not as popular as the gas and charcoal grills, electric grills have made huge strides over the last few years, making them a viable choice for your BBQ.

Modern day electric grills rival the gas grill in terms of speed and precision. Electric grills have one of the fast heat up times, making them ideal for weeknight cooking. Most grills heat up within 7-8 minutes, and a quality grill can reach up to 600 degrees F. Electric grills also reduce the hassle of having fuel, as all you need is an electrical outlet.

Another big advantage to electric grills is that they give an even heat across the entire cooking surface. This consistency erases the worry of keeping an even temperature or from developing hot or cold spots. Electric grills do not have an open flame, making them perfect for condos or apartments. They are also easy to clean.

One final advantage to electric grills is the fact that they come in a variety of sizes.  Some are small enough to keep inside you kitchen, while others are perfect for your balcony or backyard.  Electric grills are often the top choice for apartment dwellers, for those who do not have a backyard conducive to a more traditional BBQ, or for those who want to BBQ a hamburger when it’s chilly outside.

The biggest disadvantage to an electric grill is that it can lack the “pure” BBQ flavor that is associated with a charcoal grill. While an electric grill can cook high quality food, its does not provide the same smoky flavor that many BBQ lovers crave.  Therefore good seasoning for your food is key.

BBQ 101: The Smoker – When you like it Slow and Low

For many BBQ lovers, the epitome of BBQ meat is that which is cooked low and slow. The low and slow process (i.e. cooking a piece of meat over a low temperature for a long amount of time), brings out the full flavor of many meats, while creating a juicy, moist, fall apart in your mouth culinary delight.

For those who want to have the best possible experience and technique at creating a low and slow piece of meat, one of the best BBQ accessories to have is a smoker. In a nutshell, a smoker is an appliance that keeps a BBQ controlled at the desired low temperature while producing and trapping smoke that is absorbed into the meat.

While smoking can be accomplished on charcoal and, sometimes, gas grills, the addition of a smoker, their size and structure make them less than ideal.

There is a wide variety of smoker types, including wood, pellet, charcoal, gas, and electric. Smokers are designed to hold a consistent temperature without too much observation or maintenance by the cook. This allows the cook to place the meat in the smoker and walk away for longer periods of time.  In fact, many will put the meat in the smoker before going to bed, and allow it to cook overnight.

Smokers also create a stronger smoke ring on the meat. A smoke ring is created by the buildup of nitric acid (formed when the nitrogen dioxide in the wood smoke mixes with the water in the meat) on the meat.  This buildup creates a pink discoloration that happens just under the skin of the meat.  The smoke ring can be anywhere from ¼ inch to ½ inch thick, with the thickest ring signaling the highest intensity of smoky BBQ flavor.

If you are looking to create a juicy, smoky, and tender BBQ meat experience, considering looking at adding a smoker to your BBQ accessories.  Your taste buds won’t ever regret it.

 

Tips to Building an Outdoor Kitchen

Many homeowners are discovering the huge benefits that come from having an outdoor kitchen.  Outdoor kitchens extend the heart of your home outside, creating a great place for entertaining and socializing. There are several different types of outdoor kitchens, so take a look over our list of ideas and tips and create in order to create the type of outdoor kitchen that is right for you.

Many parts of your outdoor kitchen are similar to your indoor kitchen.  Design your kitchen to have enough storage and organizational necessities. Drawers, cupboards, bins, and baskets will give you adequate space for all of your tools, plates, and cleaning supplies.

When creating an outdoor kitchen, you want to make sure that you use materials that will withstand whatever Mother Nature sends your way.  Materials such as stainless steel, slate, stone, stucco, and tile are all great, durable choices.

Pick the right grill. The grill will be the center point of your outdoor kitchen, so make sure you pick the right type and size and that you have all the accessories that you will need in order to create your perfect meals.

You may want to consider building some sort of overhead shelter.  A shelter will increase the number of days that you are able to use your outdoor kitchen and will protect both you and your space from the sun or rain.  If your space is semi enclosed, consider adding some ceiling fans to help keep the space comfortable.

Don’t forget the lights.  While you will want to take advantage of all the natural light that is provided by the great outdoors, you also want to plan for when the sky is overcast or the sun goes down.  Ensure that your lights are waterproof so that they will stand up against the weather.

Don’t forget the outlets either.  This is especially important if your outdoor kitchen is freestanding.  You need to make sure that you have a place to power all of your appliances.

Another important aspect of your outdoor kitchen is that you have a water source. Water is important to help keep everything clean and sanitary, and having a water source (such as a sink) will help prevent numerous trips inside your house.

Consider planting a garden near your outdoor kitchen. Fresh vegetables and herbs will add great flavor to your meals and add a beautiful aesthetic to your outdoor space.

By knowing what you want out of your outdoor kitchen, and keeping in mind some of the more important aspects, you can make sure that you design the perfect outdoor kitchen for your home.