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Everything posted by MikeRobinson

  1. For "sear," I usually put my cast-iron skillet on my stove top, gradually crank it to "way up," add a small amount of (heat-proof ...) coconut oil, then drop the meat on. In a matter of just a few minutes you get a very-reliable "sear." (And you can actually do this before or after(!) the meat itself is cooked.) Once you're finished, put the skillet into your cool oven to return to room temperature naturally. Many cuts of meat have "bones that you must pay for," but these Tomahawks certainly look delicious!
  2. Well now, "here's the latest update on this." After carefully slicing-off a piece of the roast, "just in case," I decided to use the rest of it to try to finally figure out what was actually meant by, "low and slow." ("No, it doesn't bother me at all to 'appear [to some ...] to be an idiot in public places,' if I'm learning.") This morning, I re-lit the fire, prepared a second smoke-chips packet, put the food-thermometer back in place, put the pie-pan back over the fire (adding water ...), and put the roast back on the fire. I throttled-down both the top and the bottom vents to where they were barely open. (Only the thermometer persuaded me that the fire was even still lit ...) I wrangled the oven temperature to 170-200ºF, adjusting the vents by fractions of an inch every fifteen minutes or so. The food temperature, I finally accepted, would be only a very few degrees less than that. And, I kept this up for the next four hours, watching the "oven and food temperature readings" like a hawk. I saw that I could maintain a temperature, ± 10º or so. "Big revelation!" As the smoking process continued, I observed a definite change in the meat. The connective tissue relaxed. Fats started to appear. And then, when I finally pulled the meat and let it "rest" and cool ... well ... "I think that I am finally beginning to see what all the fuss is about." The formerly-tough meat, now even more richly smoked, now very simply "fell apart." I'm learning ... I'm learning ... I'm learning ... But it's also now equally obvious to me exactly why "Kamado cooking" makes such a tremendous difference: "because it gives you control." The ability to fairly-precisely regulate a process by "fractions of an inch" adjustment, guided throughout by an external-reading (in my case, "Home Depot $30 wireless") thermometer. The ability to establish a target temperature and to "keep it there, for hours."
  3. A little while ago, my Dad's "ostentatious gas grill" finally blew a hose, and I seized the opportunity to show him that "something far better now existed." After dutifully taking him to hardware stores where he could consider "The Big Green Egg®," I took him to Lowe's where we bought – an "Akorn Senior." Yes, "this one's bigger," but otherwise it's basically the same: insulated steel body, cast iron grate, "and a few extras." After showing him how to properly season cast iron, which he correctly did, and after acquiring another remote-reading wireless thermometer at Home Depot, we have since enjoyed many "grilling weekends" together. (He's becoming quite good at it ...) "These are the times to remember, for they will not last forever ..."
  4. Finally, success! This time, my $27 beef roast turned out perfectly despite the lack of "official gear." I began by salting the roast down with "Montreal Steak" mixture – and poultry seasoning. I let the meat then sit in the refrigerator for three hours, also soaking the "smoking chips" which would be placed in an aluminum-foil envelope. (To be punctured with a fork.) After starting the fire and letting it coast up to about 250º, I added the smoke-chips envelope and a steel pie-pan, which would serve as a heat deflector. I added a small amount of water to the pan, periodically adding a small amount of water throughout the cook as necessary. Then I added the meat, flipping it several times, until it reached 120ºF internal temperature. Then, I "opened all the vents and let 'er rip," in order to get a bit of last-minute sear with active flame touching the meat. Flipping the meat often, I let it get to 135ºF. Then I pulled it off and wrapped it in aluminum foil to finish cooking off-heat. Final temp, as expected, was 145ºF – between medium-rare and medium. Delicious! P.S.: I continue to be mystified about "low and slow" reports of beef being cooked "for several hours." I still don't know anything about "that cooking process." How do you keep the meat from turning into a rubber bumper? How is it that you talk of "cooking meat until the connective tissue dissolves," without first destroying it?
  5. In any case, just put the ceramic anywhere inside.
  6. Obviously I let the temperature go off-the-charts ... because I'd read various stories about "cooking for many hours." As in, "five or six." I guess that I have utterly no idea what they mean, or at least how they did it. My usual rule is to "shoot for 130ºF and then tent it." Works every time. And it takes much less than one hour. I gambled with this "Manager's Special" cut ... and obviously lost. I'd love to discover what I did wrong. "How on earth do people talk of 'many hours?'" What do they do that I didn't?
  7. Even though the complete failure of my most-recent attempt at "low and slow" is also documented here, simple steaks and so-forth are easy to do: Use a chimney starter. Dump the fire in, set the bottom grate to about an inch, the top vent open slightly. Wait a bit for the fire to stabilize at about 300ºF. Once it gets there, it will stay there. Optionally add smoke-chips wrapped in an aluminum-foil envelope punctured with a fork. "Cook and enjoy!" If you want "sear," do it in a cast-iron skillet on your kitchen stove after the grilling. Close all of the vents at the end of your cook in order to recover nearly all of your charcoal for next time. Thoroughly clean your grill between uses. Prop it slightly-open to promote air circulation. "Rinse and repeat." A kamado-style grill is essentially "a charcoal-fired convection oven," and is best considered that way. The food is ultimately cooked by recirculating hot air – not by radiant heat from the charcoal bed.
  8. Unfortunately, I concluded that the meat was simply "too tough to eat," and discarded it. Even when cutting away the fairly carbonized exterior, the core of the meat was simply too dry and tough to be edible. I guess that I really don't understand "higher temps." I thought that "140ºF is medium rare, and so on." So much to learn. So much to learn ...
  9. Well, I bought a beef roast this afternoon and spent the next several hours attempting "low and slow." Here's my diary of the attempt: I stopped the process when the internal temperature reached 190ºF, vaguely remembering from some other forum that this was the "fork-tender" point. Slicing through the meat ... through its rather hard outer exterior ... maybe I could see "fork tender" ... but I really think that it's just that I have so much yet to learn. Therefore – while I sit down to dinner with what is certainly a very tasty chunk of beef – what do you Gurus think? What did I do wrong, or right? What do I need to know for next time?
  10. FYI – "yes, a honing rod actually works." In the referenced article, Cook's Illustrated magazine actually "scientifically demonstrates" not only that "knife steels" work, but precisely how. So – before doing your next carve, and whether or not you also use a knife-sharpener, go ahead and give your knife a few swipes along "the steel." Yes, it actually helps. Your "crazy uncle" actually wasn't that crazy, all those Thanksgivings ago ... (Note: the article includes a section – "when to hone and when to sharpen.") I enjoy CI, and "America's Test Kitchen®," because in a very-practical way "they analyze 'cooking.'" Although for whatever reason I've never watched their popular PBS television show, I love their magazines and books.
  11. Your daughter has a delightfully quirky sense of humor! So, exactly where did she buy this?
  12. The one thing you forgot to mention is: "where do you live?" Because I'd like to drop by and have dinner! ("Leftovers by now," of course ...)
  13. This week, I attempted a more "low and slow" approach by modifying my usual practice with my Akorn, Jr. I used my usual chimney starter, but loaded it only with the charcoal left-over from my last grill. I prepared two aluminum-foil-wrapped packets of water-soaked smoking chips, placing both of them on the growing fire. Then, I added raw charcoal around it. When I closed the lid, the temperature settled at around 200ºF – less than the ~300ºF that I'm accustomed to – and the grill was soon filled with aromatic smoke. To this I added my pork ribs, then left them to cook and smoke while I observed that the chamber temperature remained about the same – more-or-less 200ºF. After about an hour, I removed a very-delicious dinner ... and several days' additional lunches! Next day, as I was cleaning everything up and scrubbing it down, I found that I removed more-or-less the usual amount of unburned charcoal, even though I had for the very first time added unburned charcoal following my initial "chimney-starter dump." The smoking-envelopes had been reduced to charcoal, so I added them to the bag.
  14. As long as both pieces of meat will fit on the grill at the same time, it will not take any more time to cook two. Simply insert your food-thermometer probe into one of them, and assume that the other one will be the same. (Please note that my cooking experience is so far limited to "grilling and roasting," with only my just-now this-week first foray into "low-and-slow smoking.")
  15. I have the experience of routinely cooking for a family which includes "folks from every preference." Therefore, I stick my remote-reading electronic thermometer into the piece of meat that I've resigned to become shoe-leather, and subtract from there. In each case, I'm looking for a target temperature 10ºF below my actual target. (140 = medium rare, etc.) I take the meat off the grill at each temperature point, "tent" it under aluminum foil for about ten minutes, and watch as it "coasts up" the additional ten degrees to arrive at the target. It works every time. Although my "wireless remote-sensing thermometer" works great for steaks and roasts, I did find that they didn't work for hamburgers. With such a slight piece of meat, I found that I also needed an electronic, instant(!) reading thermometer to achieve consistent results. (Because the other thermometer was "reading the fire," instead of "the meat." And, "non-electronic" probe thermometers did not react fast enough.)
  16. Well, I don't know if I'm a proper participant in this discussion, but ... Even though I bought an "Akorn Senior" for my dad, my grill of choice is a tabletop ... non-ceramic ... "Akorn, Jr." It's lightweight, is easy to take on camping trips (where it can easily be set on any available surface), and cooks great food. (Because: by now, I've learned how to work with it.) But, really, "it depends entirely on your situation." I frequently take my grill on car-camping trips ... my dad never does. "Popularity" is an entirely subjective decision. Therefore, carefully evaluate the criteria that you think applies most-directly to you. "Make your decision, resolve to be happy with it, and start cooking!"
  17. I personally think that "what's really significant about a 'kamado' grill" is not the construction of the grill itself, but the cooking method – it is a charcoal-fired convection oven. The meat is cooked mostly by recirculating hot air, passing between the body of the grill and the inner liner. Ceramic will give it more "heat inertia," but I suspect that "radiant heat" is much less important than with other styles of grills which entirely depend on it. A few years ago, I bought a "toaster oven" that had a convection ("turbo ...") feature, and I was very surprised as to the difference that it made. "A simple fan" really did make it cook much faster, and much differently . . .
  18. Definitely – anything that you plan to use in the fire chamber should first be brought up to fire temperature.
  19. "Crumpled up aluminum foil" is a "Waffle House® trick" that I actually saw being used at a Waffle House. Otherwise, a plastic scrubber or a Brill-O® Pad will work very nicely. Be sure to give the grill plenty of time to dry thoroughly.
  20. Cswschweiz, you will find that, if you immediately close both the top and the bottom vents at the conclusion of your "cook," you will be left with a substantial amount of unburned charcoal. For my "junior," I simply let it fall into the bottom pan, remove the pan, and pour it back into the charcoal bag for next time. It's really surprising how little charcoal is consumed ... I think that this is because of the "convection oven" nature of the grill itself. The meat is mostly cooked by recirculating hot air, not by radiant heat from the coals as in a "Smokey Joe."
  21. By "storing the ash pan upside down," immediately removing the charcoal and ash the next day, and thoroughly cleaning everything, I'm preventing anything that would allow moisture to accumulate anywhere. I maintain the cast-iron grate exactly as I do any of my very-many pieces of cast iron cookware: using sandpaper to remove any tiny spot of rust and "seasoning" the grate as I've described in another thread. Nothing ever sticks to the grill. I have never seen any rust anywhere on the body of the unit, but if I ever did I would immediately zap it with heat-resistant stove paint (inside), or Rustoleum (outside). But that has never happened in these many years. It is, literally, "as good as new," and I expect it to just stay that way.
  22. Thank you all, once again, for all of your responses. I sincerely appreciate it, and I'm learning a lot. In all of the above, I think that I do understand the various issues clearly. I use food temperature – right now – exclusively, and very successfully. I'm beginning to get the sense that you folks are talking about cooking techniques that I simply haven't experimented with yet: "smoking" vs. "roasting," and (I presume, "because of that ...") indirect heat. I've never yet even tried to use a deflector, nor to cook a wood-fired pizza. In other words – I am so-far either grilling or roasting things, with a "smoke wood-chips packet" in the oven at the same time to impart "smoke flavor." So, the processes that I'm using right now would focus on "food temperature," exactly as I am doing now. Yes, this insight explains a lot of things. John, I'm not "hyphenated" when it comes to precision, but I do rely on it to enable me to produce very consistent and tasty results every time I cook – whether it be on the grill or in the kitchen. (No, I'd just call it "data," not "precision." Nothing's ever that precise, nor does it need to be.) This "data-driven approach" comes in very handy when I've been put in charge of a "family grill" session where some like it medium-rare, some like it medium, and some like it burned to a crisp well done. I can reliably give each guest what they prefer, and "reliably" is huge. Likewise other common situations: "How long should that pork loin cook in order to come out perfect [to me]?" It's very nice to think that you know so that you don't waste food. Now, it's time to start researching what "smoking" really is!
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