Safe Holiday Grilling

In case you hadn’t

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Meat Temps

heard, the US Department of Agriculture recalled 1.8 MILLION pounds of ground beef earlier this week because it is contaminated with deadly E.coli bacteria.  Unfortunately, some of this contaminated ground beef made it to grocery store shelves (see list from the USDA here) which means you may have unknowingly purchased it.  We know that many of our friends will be grilling burgers this holiday weekend and since ground beef is likely the main ingredient for said burgers, we want to make sure you have this meat temperature chart handy.

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Adding an Outdoor Kitchen

Adding an Outdoor Kitchen doesn’t have to be an overwhelming project.  Devoting some time to research before begin will definitely pay off.  We have created a checklist that you can use as a reference to help you get started.

Location, location, location…

Think about placement and where you want your new space installed.  Are there any existing challenges like trees, water features etc.?  Is there adequate flooring already or will you be adding that as well?  How will you power your grill?  Do you have Natural Gas piped in to your house?  Or will your outdoor kitchen use propane?  Do you need to contact your utility provider?

Now is a good time to think about any particular shape or layout concerns.  Most outdoor kitchens are typically shaped like an “L” or a “U” depending on how much room there is.  Pay attention to access from other areas of your patio, yard and house.  An outdoor kitchen that is not easily accessible will not likely be used as often as you’d like.  For example, do you want any of the counter space to function as an area for sitting and eating as well?

Is shade, privacy, weather or lighting a concern?  Will you be incorporating features like a pergola or awning?  Will you need outdoor heating (i.e. patio heaters, fireplaces)

Function & Design

How do you anticipate using your outdoor kitchen? Are you the “go-to-grill-guru” of your social group?  The house where most cookouts tend to be hosted during holiday weekends?  Or are you the busy feeding your kids (and their seemingly endless parade of hungry friends) burgers and hot dogs every week?  Durability and maintenance is what to think about because if you plan to stay in your home (and use this outdoor kitchen) for at least 10 years, then think about how your needs may grow and change during that time as well.

The type of food will you be cooking will help determine what sort of equipment to buy.  Let’s say cooking steak is all you care about; then accessories like a rotisserie or pizza oven may not suit you but refrigerated storage might be a priority.  Side burners are typically a tremendous asset to any outdoor kitchen.  Matter of fact, I’m tempted to install just a side burner outdoors so that I can cook the “smellier” foods like onions or fish. Depending on the outdoor kitchen components installed, you may need to plan for plumbing and electrical work as well.

Final helpful tips:

1)     Obtain and compare warranty information about replacement parts BEFORE purchasing any equipment.  Are replacement parts for your equipment available?

2)     Stainless steel is extremely durable and can last a lifetime if properly maintained.

3)     Extreme weather (heavy snow or rain) may affect the location of your outdoor kitchen

4)     Combustible materials (wood) should be avoided in your design

5)     “Neutral” tones and finishes (countertop, back splash) are usually a good idea because most people will like them (think future buyers if you need to sell your house)

How to Throw a Fantastic Memorial Day Party

Memorial Day weekend is usually the kick-off of the summer.  Not only is the weather starting to warm up, but the kids are getting ready to get out of school, and summer planning is in full swing.

One great way to have a great Memorial Day weekend is to throw a fantastic barbecue for your family and friends.  Here are a few suggestions to help you in the planning and hosting a memorable Memorial Day party.

The first thing you need to do is to pick your venue.  If it’s a small gathering, consider your backyard, which can be a fun, yet intimate venue.  Memorial Day parties are also a great day to open up the pool.  If you don’t have a pool in your backyard, considering going to your community pool or local club.

Once you have your venue, the next thing to do is to pick a theme.  Themes will help you in your decorating, your menu, your invitations, and in picking your games.

Themes can be as simple or as elaborate as you want – you are only limited by your imagination. With the nature of the holiday, and as a great reminder that Memorial Day is to remember those who have sacrificed their lives in order for America to stay free, consider including patriotic colors and decorations in your theme, including an American flag. Make sure that you have plenty of festive decorations.

Balloons and streamers are a great way to get everyone into the party spirit.

The next step is to create your guest list and send out the invitations. Make sure that the size of your guest list is appropriate for your venue. Invitations can either be sent through traditional paper invitations or, for a more causal feeling, consider using the ever more popular email or electronic invitations.

Things that you need to plan before the big day are your menu, your set-up, and your activities.  Traditionally, Memorial Day parties are a great excuse to break out the barbeque.  Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken are standard Memorial Day fare, along with chips and dip, salads (including fruit, macaroni, and potato), and corn.  And make sure that you don’t forget the drinks and desserts.

Once you know your menu, make sure that you have tables set up that will handle all the plates of food. Set up tables and chairs that will accommodate all your guests as well as leave space for any games or activities that you want to have available.

Some of the most traditional Memorial Day activities include volleyball, horseshoes, and baseball, as well as pool games such as Marco/Polo, sharks and minnows, or races.

By following all these steps, you can make sure that you will have a fun Memorial Day party that will be enjoyed by all who come.

 

Safe Ash Disposal

We’re all about safety at TheBBQDepot.com

If you are the owner of a charcoal grill, ashes are a part of your culinary experience.

While barbecuing can be one of summer’s greatest activities, it is unfortunate that the improper storage and disposal of ashes is one of the biggest problems of deck and house fires – especially during the hot and dry summer months. In order to make sure that you and your family have a safe time barbecuing, it is important that you follow the important steps in disposing of your ashes properly.

The most important steps to disposing your ashes is making sure that you give them adequate time to cool. If possible, keep the ashes in the same place for several days before trying to dispose of them. Embers can stay concealed under a pile of seemingly cold ashes, and can easily reignite a fire for several days after it has been extinguished.

A few things to remember before you start to dispose of your ashes:

  • Never use a vacuum to suck up ashes
  • Never put your ashes into a plastic container or bag
  • Never put your ashes into a cardboard box
  • Never place your ashes into a container that has previously held combustible fluids or fumes

Once your ashes have been adequate time to cool, transfers them to an approved ash metal bucket.  Don’t try to transfer the ashes on windy days, as the wind can spread the ashes around your yard.

Once your ashes are safely in your metal bucket, wet the ashes down to help get rid of any lingering embers. Cover the ashes with a tight fitting metal lid to make sure that they do not leave the bucket. Until you are ready to throw the ashes out, keep your ash bucket at a safe distance from your home or any other buildings.

When you are ready to get rid of your ashes, make sure that you are familiar with the disposal rules and regulations of your county.  Some areas will allow you to throw out your properly extinguished ashes into your normal garbage can.  Again, it is important that they have had a least a week to cool and have been thoroughly wetted down in order to prevent fires from staring in the garbage trucks. Many counties have disposal stations where you can bring your ashes in order to make sure they are properly taken care of.

 

Grill Safety – Charcoal Grills

When you are getting ready to enjoy the wonders of a barbecued meal, the last thing that you want is to damper the occasion through a grill accident.  Each type of grill has its own unique dangers as well as the precautions that you, as the griller, need to take to make sure that you and everyone around you remain safe.

One of the biggest dangers inherent to a charcoal grill is the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. When charcoal is burned, it produces the colorless, odorless gas carbon monoxide that can quickly reach toxic levels.  In fact, every year, there are about 30 people who are killed and 100 people that are injured from the carbon monoxide fumes that emit from charcoal grills. (Source: http://www.clevelandcounty.com/emfm/grillsaf.htm)

The easiest way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning is to never use charcoal grills indoors. This includes homes, tents, and campers. Carbon monoxide accumulates quickest in closed environments and can reach toxic levels even when there is ventilation. Since carbon monoxide is emitted from coals until the moment they are completely extinguished, this also means that you should never store a grill inside that has freshly used coals.

Outside of carbon monoxide poisoning, there are other simple fire safety steps that you can take to make sure that you have no problems while you are at the grill.  The first step is to properly prepare your grill.  Keep it a safe distance from any buildings, tress, or other items that could catch fire. It is also extremely important that you keep any children or pets away from the designated grill area.  Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby in the case of any small fire emergencies.

Specifically with charcoal, make sure that once your charcoal is lit that you refrain from adding additional lighter fluid. This is a dangerous practice lighter fluid turns to gas at low temperature. This means that as the fire can return into the fluid container, which will lead to an explosion. Always follow the instructions on the lighter fluid container.

The final steps in grill safety are how you prepare your personal self.  Never wear loose clothing while you are grilling.  Loose clothing can accidentally pass over the flames, catching yourself on fire.  The other big precautionary step is to always use appropriate, specifically designed grill utensils.  Grill utensils have longer handles, which allow you to keep a safe distance away from the flame.

 

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.