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Everything posted by MikeRobinson

  1. I have a number of books that talk about "the science of cooking," and one of them is about spices. It has a section that talks about "meat rubs and sauces." It's actually very easy to make your own – there are only a few "key" ingredients. I don't like to use commercial products anymore, because of three things: too much salt, too much sugar, and MSG (often disguised as "hydrolized yeast extract" or "celery extract"). I have a food allergy to the latter, so this is very important to me. Before you buy it, read the label carefully. It's kind of disturbing to read the ingredients list of that appealing-looking box or jar on the shelf. (If the name has more than three syllables or sounds like it came from a chemistry lab, you probably don't want to eat it ...) If you make your own mix, you know and can control exactly what's in it. (You also learn simple tricks such as lightly grinding the spices with a mortar and pestle before adding them, to release their flavors.)
  2. Hmmm ... I haven't heard of "Brewer's Wash" before. Can you post a link? (I can only imagine what kind of gunk a "brewer" might need to "wash" ...) I don't think that a dishwasher would be good for baked-on cooking residue, anyhow: I don't think that "a blast of hot soapy water" would do the trick, and the residue might clog up the drain. Steel wool, dish soap and elbow grease usually does it for me, but an "overnight soak" makes good sense.
  3. A cast iron grate should be re-seasoned after a trip through the dishwasher (and a thorough drying), or after any intense scrubbing process involving soap. (But if properly seasoned, nothing should stick to it anyhow.) The Lodge website contains definitive information on this, but it's basically a light spray with canola oil, wipe off excess with a paper towl, bake in the kitchen oven at 450ºF for an hour, turn off the oven and let it cool down naturally. There will be some amount of smoke because this exceeds this oil's so-called "smoke point," and you need that chemical/polymerizing reaction to occur. https://www.lodgecastiron.com/discover/cleaning-and-care/cast-iron/all-about-seasoning Should you ever see rust on a cast iron grate, remove it with sandpaper or a wire brush and re-season. Does not apply to stainless steel of course.
  4. Your definitive source of information should be an external-reading thermometer which has separate probes for firebox and food temperature. I bought a very nice wireless unit at Home Depot for about $40. You should bring the firebox slowly up to cooking temperature: you will probably be surprised at how small the bottom and top openings are. To me, the bottom one is most important because that's where the oxygen comes in. I usually have it open half-an-inch or so. Make slight nudges, then wait for the thermometer to tell you the effect.
  5. I often use parchment paper when cooking breads, croissants, etc. – most often in my convection toaster-oven. As long as you stay well below the ignition point of paper ("Fahrenheit 451 ..."), it's a very handy way to keep things from sticking to cooking surfaces. But your "black bottom" probably comes from excessive bottom temperature, and a double-stack as described should solve that problem. You could probably use anything which provides an air gap. I enjoy a local restaurant which fixes "Neopolitan pizzas," and a certain amount of carbonization of the lower surface of the pie is – to me – "part of the taste." They cook the pizzas directly on a grill in a large hot oven.
  6. The grate on my grill is made of cast iron, which I treat exactly like I do my many cast-iron skillets. (The grill itself, an Akorn Junior, is also made of metal.) I simply keep my grill and grate clean. Next morning after every cook, I scrub the grate and wipe down the inside of the firebox, then arrange things so that air circulates freely. The whole ceremony takes five minutes. Years later, the grill still looks almost like new. I've "re-seasoned" the cast iron grates a couple of times: you would not need to do that with stainless steel. A rolled-up clump of aluminum foil is "an old Waffle House trick" that actually works very well. So does a simple scraper or piece of steel wool. Dish soap is just fine even on cast iron. If you've got some piece of gunk that for some reason you want to burn off, use a blowtorch. But a flat-bladed screwdriver would probably dislodge it. A dishwasher could be used, yes, but it probably would not get rid of "baked-on" residue. Two minutes of "elbow grease" would. (Then, "dishwash it if you want to.")
  7. You all might be interested to know that borax is extremely effective against mold, quickly destroying it and preventing its return. It apparently disrupts the cells such that someone once quipped that "what it does to them is an act of war." You can buy a box in the laundry section of any grocery store: keep the box sealed in a gallon plastic bag because it will readily absorb moisture and then crystalize. Never pour it down a sink or toilet. Dissolve a small amount in a bucket of water and wipe the surfaces down; let dry.
  8. To me, that's still the most amazing thing about "kamado" ... rock-steady temperature control, even over very long periods of "mostly unattended" (if you like ...) time. And yet, "all powered entirely by charcoal." "My 'smokey joe' could never, ever, do that!"
  9. When driving up the Parkway, don't speed! There are cops up there, and they do have radar. (But also: the terrain is such that the posted speed limits really are correct for the conditions.)
  10. The thing isn't that heavy, and the leverage isn't extraordinary. I wonder why it failed at all?
  11. A technique that has worked well for me is to do the "sear" – if anyone wants that – in a cast-iron skillet on the kitchen stove. Systematically move it up to very high temperature, to avoid excessive heat-stress on the metal, and use a temperature-tolerant oil such as coconut oil. (Also the secret of delicious popcorn. No, your steaks won't taste like coconuts. Grapeseed oil is another choice. Olive oil or vegetable oil not advised.) Remove the skillet from the stovetop using your ever-present oven mitts, wipe away and discard excess oil, and let it cool down naturally in the (cool) oven. Keep your meat-thermometer in place so you can observe the effect on internal temperature: a "flash sear" usually doesn't change it very much. That's been my experience anyway. Now the meat goes into its aluminum-foil "tent" for the final ten-degrees finish.
  12. One of the great secrets of cooking, especially for long and complicated cooks, is that all of the sustained heat doesn't have to come entirely from your kamado: it can come from your kitchen oven, if you take the hot food from the grill and put it in a (cast iron) Dutch Oven. The grill has already contributed the smoky flavor, the bark, and so on. And of course, the Kamado-style grill has done that with very precise temperature control which you can continue or vary in the oven. (If you like, "searing" can also be done on your stovetop in a (cast iron) skillet, usually before the main cook.) As long as the food is exposed to the right temperature for the right time in the right way(s), it will come out delicious. Glad the meal came out so well! Ummm... what time's dinner?
  13. The local Ace Hardware sells a very nice self-igniting blowtorch ...
  14. My instincts at this point tell me that if you "tie it up," and then put a remote-reading meat thermometer into the middle of it, you should be able to come away with a satisfactory cook. The thermometer will tell you authoritatively what to do. Cook it slowly, e.g. 250ºF. And, if "the lack of fat" seems to be a problem, consider layering the folded pieces of meat with a thin coat of bacon fat before cooking, and poke it well with a fork as you do so.
  15. I bought mine for about $35 at Home Depot. It consists of a unit that sits outside the firebox, and a second unit that fits easily in my pocket. Two AAA batteries for each. (I also found it necessary to remove those batteries when not in use, since otherwise it "trickle drains" the batteries to zero.)
  16. "Congratulations, Dad!!" If it were me, I'd find a neighbor with a welding setup who could fabricate exactly what you need in short order.
  17. Love the way it all turned out, except for one small thing: "you forgot to invite your entire online community over for dinner!"
  18. Your external-reading food thermometer – mine cost $35 at Home Depot and it's wireless(!) – should be your only god when cooking. It will tell you the temperature within the heart of the meat and the temperature within the firepot ... which you don't have to open in order to read it. I politely opine that "searing," which is inherently a high-temperature process, is inconsistent with the very-temperature-controlled, fairly low-temperature (300-350ºF) cooking process that I have become used to. I don't ask my kamado grill to do both. "I don't do it that way." My opinions otherwise are neutral: I cannot speak to anyone else. With regards to "rinsing it off" ... you will find that it doesn't matter. The meat will not taste "salty." (Nor should you use "much" salt.)
  19. Return it to Costco for refund or replacement. Someone in the warehouse either ran into it with a forklift or let it fall over. There was obviously some sort of significant impact at the seam level because the cracks are symmetrical ... and "you are the customer, so it's not your problem."
  20. A friend of mine built a small pole-shed of sorts that sits on his back patio. Made of 4x4s with a simple plastic corrugated slightly-slanted roof and not that much bigger than the grill. About 8 feet high. He attached hooks around all four sides and he hangs a couple of tarps from these to keep the blowing rain off. (He removes the tarps before using the grill.) Unlike a grill-cover, moisture won't become trapped underneath it.
  21. I'd start by dry-brining it: lightly salt (and pepper) both sides, starting today. You might use a salted spice-rub that you really like. Keep it in the fridge in a glass tray covered with foil or shrink wrap, sealed tightly. Let it brine and "rest" and take up flavors for several days. Your Kamado will give you the control that this beauty deserves. When cooking it, use an external-reading meat thermometer to guide doneness – take it off 10ºF below target and "tent" it in aluminum foil. The meat will gain the remaining temperature from residual heat. (Keep the thermometer in place to observe.) I'd lock-in the firebox temperature around 300ºF or maybe even a bit less ... "low and slow" effect so that all of the meat comes up to target smoothly at the same time. I'm not much for "sear," but when someone wants that I do it on my kitchen stove in a cast-iron skillet using a high-temperature oil such as coconut oil. In this case you might want to sear the outsides – both sides and edges – before putting the steak on the grill to help hold in the juices. (Your meat will not taste like coconuts.) This steak is well-marbled and will have a lot of delicious juice. Set the vents carefully and watch them closely because that fat will hit the fire and burn hot. Then – invite the rest of us over for dinner!
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