How Do You Do Q?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by kyheirloomer, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    When I was young we did all our grilling on a simple round metal grill on tubular legs, with no cover. Things have come a long way since those days.

    In fact, on another thread, BDL and I were talking about Bobby Flay, and the number of "barbecus" he uses on his BBQ Addiction show. Near as I can tell, he has at least 11:

    1. A gas operated cooktop.

    2. A monster gas grill

    3. Two (at least) webbers.

    4. A Char-Broiler type rectangular charcoal grill

    5. A Grillworks parilla grill, with all the accessories.

    6. A Santa-Maria type, with all the bells and whistles

    7. One I can't idenify: It's blue and has three horizonal rods (spits?) arranged in a triangle.

    8. A smoker

    9. A China box

    10: A Green Egg, the largest size they make

    11: A tabletop hibachi

    All in all, about 15-20 grand worth of "grills." And it wouldn't surprise me to find that I've missed one or two along the way. Hardly the stuff of the typical backyard set-up.

    Got me to wondering, though: What type of grills, and how many, do you use at home?

    Me, I've got three set-ups:

    1. A colonial-style in-ground fire pit, with all the associated ironware and faux hearth. This is used strictly with wood, primarily for proofing historic recipes we've adapted.

    2. A Char-Grill "Professional" (ha!) grill/smoker, with offset side grill. This is used with charcoal and wood, for both direct and indirect grilling and for smoking.

    4. A Char Broil gas grill: Five standard burners, a sear burner, and an outside cooking burner. This was purchased a year ago and has seen an unsuspectedly high amount of use, because for years I maintained that I saw no use for a gas grill. But I've come to change my mind on that.

    I also have a small, square, tabletop charcoal grill. We'd bought it with the idea of carrying it when traveling. But we've never used it, so that one doesn't really count.

    We do a lot of outdoor cooking, here. Fortunately, I can grill year round, just about, and do so. While I certainly don't grill as broadly as Flay does, we do many things beyond the typical backyard barbecuing.

    What about everyone else? How do you do Q?
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  2. french fries

    french fries

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    I LOVE barbecuing, or grilling if you want to call it that (I've never smoked anything in my life except on the stovetop), and yet I only have: 

    - one old charcoal kettle that is so rusted I'm afraid if I make one more fire in it, it will disintegrate, 

    - one tiny old gas grill a friend gave to me. 

    I have to set up some kind of way to cook over a firewood in my backyard, and get a better gas grill. One day. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  3. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    There's no reason, FF, that you can't use wood in any charcoal grill.

    I run into this all the time, with folks who want information about building a cooking firepit (as opposed to a social one) in their yards. And I always wonder why? It's a lot easier to cook standing up in front of a grill then it is kneeling on your knees.

    Don't get me wrong. If somebody want to pay me a consulting fee, I'll be out in their yard with a shovel. I just don't understand why they want to have one.

    I'm overstating this, of course. If you want to replicate hearth cooking, outdoors, then you need some sort of stone apron. But other than that, a grill, burning wood, does the same job.
     
  4. oldpro

    oldpro

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    I have the following necessities for grilling/smoking:

    1  Offset smoker for brisket, ribs, chickens,sausage, game, or whatever.

    2  Weber 18 1/2" Smokey Mountain for the same thing.

    3.  Char Broil Professional four burner gas grill.

    4  Huntington Forge three burner gas grill  because it's better than the Char Broil..

    5. Three 22" Weber kettles..

    6 No name cheapie portable gas grill for tailgating in the field (along with a Weber Kettle).

    7. Numerous grates for digging a hole and cooking steaks with mesquite coals from a fire pit in the field -  probably the best cooker.

    I know there is another pit/cooker I have to have, but for the life of me I can't remember what it is.  When the Chairman of the Board questions me regarding why i need all these pits and accessories, I inquire into the number of pairs of shoes she currently has unopened in her closet.

    For what it's worth, that doesn't seem to be an effective argument.
     
  5. french fries

    french fries

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    I know, but to me it's a .... feel/look thing I guess. There's nothing like cooking over an open fire. I used to do it all the time as a kid, I've done it a few times at friends or family, and I want to replicate that experience at home. So even if I know it would be easy to cook over wood in a kettle, that's not really the experience I'm looking for. 

    You could say I like things to be complicated - and you wouldn't be entirely wrong. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
  6. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Well, then, FF, the pit is the easy part. All it takes is a spade. Or, if your ground is very rocky, perhaps a pickaxe.

    For most people the inclination is to build a round firepit. That's ok for a social fire, and for cooking hot dogs and marshmallows on sticks. But it's not the most efficient shape for a cooking fire. For that a rectangle makes more sense.

    FWIW, here's a description of mine. Just adapt it as necessary.

    The pit, itself, is roughly five feet long by 20" wide, and about four inches deep. I know that sounds shallow, but it's really all you need. Lining one long side are 16 x 16" pavers, to simulate a hearth. Much of the cooking is actually done on them.

    Centered over the hole are a pair up upright fire irons, fourish feet high, supporting a crosspiece that's a few inches shorter than the pit. Mounted to it are various hooks, trammels, rachets, and chains for adjusting the height of kettles and pots. I also have a self-supporting grate, a custom-made gridiron, and several trivets of various heights.

    As you can see, it isn't the pit that's a problem so much as acquiring the ironware that goes with it. Much of mine is custom made by blacksmiths.

    A problem for me, which wouldn't affect you, is that all my cookware is period correct to the 18th century. This means, as one example, that I don't use flat-bottomed cast iron skillets, because they weren't available then. Instead I have legged skillets and spiders, Dutch ovens, griddles, and flat-bottomed skillets made of other materials, such as tinned copper.

    My firepit at Fort Boonesborough is considerably larger, because there I'm cooking numerous dishes at one time. So I might have as many as three Dutch ovens, a spider, two kettles, a couple of skillets, and a griddle all working at once. At the same time, I might have a waffle iron heating in the coals, while butter is melting in a posnet. But for a backyard firepit, to feed just the family or a backyard cookout, one my size is sufficient.
     
  7. maryb

    maryb

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    Table top Weber grill, 22 1/2 inch Weber grill, Traeger 070 for smoking, various grates and concrete block for pit cooking.
     
  8. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I've got a gas grill on life support (needs new parts) and an off-brand bullet smoker.

    I do a fair amount of my week night grilled meals on a cast iron reversible grill/griddle. Not quite the real thing but  it's been worthwhile as I have a good exterior vented hood.

    I have a Cameron stove-top smoker that's been interesting to experiment with. I've got some recipes from Jane Butell that would work well in it.
     
  9. pohaku

    pohaku

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    Table top Weber for car camping and picnics; 22" Standard Weber that is at least 25 years old, for when I want to do turkeys, indirect Q and minor smoking; and a gas grill that runs off the house gas line and is right off the kitchen and back door that gets used all the time - we just knock the snow off it and grill in January.
     
  10. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Great topic!!!! I've got:

    -22 1/2" Weber kettle grill

    -a Kenmore gas grill that is heaving it's last breath

    -a Bradley smoker

    -a small tabletop Weber kettle grill that I take with me on picnics
     
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    1.  Backwoods Fatboy with Guru for "normal" smoking. 

    2.  Klose 24 x 40 "Santa Maria style" Steak Grill (with swing set and hood) for grilling.  It also has a nipple in the side for a smoke box which allows me to use it for cold smoking, too.  

    3.  O-Grill for picnics or for hamburgers and hotdogs just for the two of us.

    As I told KYH, I'm thinking of getting a "kababinator" which is what the SoCal Armenian community has named a particular sort of charcoal fired grill with kabab racks, but as I also told KYH we probably won't.  Our backyard is already populated.

    For fuel, we're using large, fireplace-size oak splits in the Klose.  And in the Fatboy, we're using mesquite lump charcoal for heat, and either peach or oak splits (much smaller than the ones I use in the Klose) from Fruita Wood Chunks

    The best oak for the Klose comes from a local commercial wood and charcoal supply around here called CalChar.  Their commercial mesquite charcoal is excellent as well -- evenly charred, not too many sparks, lots of big pieces and very few small ones.  If it's got a fault... it's too many big pieces and not enough small ones to easily start a fire.  We also use Lazzari Mesquite in the 40# bags, which is a lot more convenient to buy and has a more normal distribution of sizes -- without too many tiny chips and dust.  Lazzari is very good stuff, but Cal Char is better. 

    Bobby Flay used his Santa Maria style grill in an episode of Barbecue addict and used soaked chips over hardwood lump charcoal (could have been mesquite, could have been something else).  That is so not the right way it made me laugh.  I've got a lot of respect for Flay, but there's nothing wrong with a little schadenfreude.  Next time Bobby, sticks not chips.  Trust me.

    I'm not thrilled with the identification of the swing-set grill with Santa Maria.  There are plenty of other towns and coastal valleys in central California with the same history of beef barbecue using the same sort of rigs.  As far as I'm concerned it's a Santa Ynez or Lompoc grill... so there.

    In my experience grilling with wood in anything but a largish grill which allows a lot of height adjustment between fuel and food racks, or burning sticks for heat AND smoke in a small offset is such a pain it's impractical for most people.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  12. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    In my experience grilling with wood in anything but a largish grill ......

    I suspect, Boar, that's because you associate it with the Santa Maria/Lompoc/Santa Ynez swing-set (hows that? Better?) type grilling, which uses a roaring fire. In most of the rest of the grilling world, wood is allowed to burn down to coals, and you cook over them. In practical terms, this is little different that cooking over charcoal, except that charcoal burns hotter.

    As I used to tell my Boy Scouts, if you hold food over coals we call it cooking. Hold it in the flames and we call it burning.

    The whole point of those California style hoist arrangements is so you can get the food high enough so that you have heat control, but the food is not actually sitting in the flames. And that, as you say, takes a lot of room; both in the firebox and above it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  13. benway

    benway

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    1. An old cast iron charm glow gas top on a wooden stand and a cooking surface stolen from a commercial until and cut down to fit.

    2. Tabletop hibachi used mostly for tailgating.

    3. Portable gas grill that I've never used yet.

    4. An offset smoker that I don't use enough
     
  14. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    KYH, I do not have near the experience of BDL, however, my XFIL cooked Santa Maria style for something in excess of 50 years and I NEVER saw flames in his pit when it was cooking time, 6"-8" of glowing Oak Bark, but no flames. Now, I WILL agree it was HOT, 24" above the coals might be a 2 to 3 potato heat (hold your hand over saying one potato, two, potato, dammed, it is HOT), and as the cooking went on, the grill surface dropped lower and lower.

    IIRC, the tri-tips took 30-45 minutes for medium-rare, after about 15 years, I was allowed to wire brush the grill before it cooled completely down. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
     
  15. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    That may be, Pete. My personal experience with those style of grills is zero. But everytime I've seen them used it involved lots of tall flames and intense heat. If you're going to use wood to create that sort of environment you need a largish firebox if for no other reason so you don't spend half your life feeding it.
     
  16. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Big, deep bed of oak coals will burn hot.  Coals are ideal, when the wood is flaming there's often too much pitch and other stuff in the hot air which actually cooks the meat then is really good for you.  But when you're pushing a lot of food across a grill which needs constant feeding for a long cook -- you do what you can.  Cooking is a practical art.  And health considerations from poorly combusted fuel aside, a slightly immature wood fire will bring more flavor to the meat than one that's all the way down to coals.

    Are we not men?

    To combine the wisdom of Pete and KYH, the point of the swing-set over a very hot fire is control.  The idea with "California Beef Barbecue" (and no, it doesn't have to be beef) is to get the meat (or whatever) at just the right distance from the heat source so that it cooks in some "perfect mix" of radiant and convected energy.  That's how you make the perfect tri-tip (or Prime, center cut top sirloin, which I get cheap) without a cover over the grill.  It's also plain ol' open pit barbecue... but at a higher heat than you'd see in the South.

    I think the clear implication is that you can do just about the same thing in a kettle or other well-built, covered pit (like a Char Broil 940 X) by either searing the food over high, direct heat -- then moving the food away from the fire and covering the pit; or -- if you have some degree of temp control -- using a controlled fire and cooking covered all the way. 

    The techniques involved in getting good results from a pit -- whether grill or smoker -- can be very equipment dependent.  But if you use the right techniques for the pit you can get excellent results from just about anything that isn't too small, too light, or too drafty.

    FF -- time to buy a new pit; or better yet, two.  Your wife will thank you.

    BDL
     
  17. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    We have a weber smoker and a weber grill.  We don't grill much in the winter except on days when the weather is exceptionally good.  Of course we also have a spit that we use for our easter lamb primarily.  In our house in Greece we are planning on building an outdoor wood-fired oven but are only in the planning stages.  The problem is finding good workers to do it as I have seen many ovens in the area that are cracked.
     
  18. scubadoo97

    scubadoo97

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    I have a Weber gas grill but for Q I use my digital electric smoker.  No staying up late tending a smoker in the wee hours of the night.  Good Q too except no smoke ring
     
  19. maryb

    maryb

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    I miss my Klose offset but the constant fire tending was not agreeable with my spine anymore.
     
  20. durangojo

    durangojo

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    at home in colorado i have a very large brinkman which we inherited when the neighbors bought a new one. it has a side burner, side shelf and upper racks...since i've always pretty much been a professional dinner cook,on boats, or just too busy, i had never invested in one, but i sure love it when i do get a chance to use it now that we got one. we also have bear problems in the summer, so i have always been hesitant about attracting them....to hell with them, i love to grill, so i'll take my chances!!  in the motorhome we have a tabletop, foldable, portable, lightweight O grill. looks like a small weber... perfect really for our needs....it heats up quickly and has a decent sized grill area(approx11x18). it is also very bright orange(think jailhouse jumpsuit or construction cone orange.) a funny aside to the O..when my husband went to get it after finally deciding on which one, the last thing i said to him was "get any color  other than orange". he said the picture on the box was blue.....go figure...men, i just truly love you guys...truly...the color is actually growing on me!!!

    joey
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012