Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Curing a Smoker or Grill (Seasoning)

So you have acquired a new smoker and are wondering what to do before cooking on it. Well, if you’re like me, you have a bag of parts left over. Quickly go hide those and then come back and finish up here. No one need ever know except us! Curing a smoker or grill is an easy process. Some refer to it as seasoning a smoker or grill.
Actually, the first thing to do is to make sure you have beer in the refrigerator, then ensure all your screws, bolts and nuts are good and tight. The last thing you want to experience while cooking outdoors is a water bowl falling into your hot charcoal pan, or worse yet, a grate of food that spills. After you have double checked for tightness, grab the salt and pepper and let’s get ready to season that new grill, shall we?
Again, I’m kidding. When we season a new or just de-greased smoker, what we are doing is removing oils, dust, and other debris left over from the manufacturing process. If your new grill is like most others, it has a light coating of oil or a similar substance on it. I wash that off using a mild soap detergent and a sponge. Be careful not to scratch your smoker’s interior surface. Allow it to air dry. If you have a new smoker it should be cured before you cook on it. (See below for a few good reasons why)
In the case of a degreased old smoker that needs re-seasoning, you can skip the wash step, because you have used a degreaser and thoroughly rinsed away loose material and chemicals.

You should rarely need to clean and re-season a smoker, but if you have a build up of grease that has gotten to ignition stage, it’s best to remove it then leave it, for safety’s sake. I have been smoking for more then 20 years and still have my very first original Brinkman pit-master. It’s solid and heavy, like they used to make them. I have only cleaned it once, and that was to transport it inside a van from Virginia to Florida.
OK, once it is dry, go ahead and spray a can of olive oil or some other cooking oil in a spray can. Thoroughly cover the sides, top, cooking grates, racks etc. Do not coat the fuel pan or electric element if using an electric smoker or the water bowl. (My water bowl is filled with sand and covered with foil, more on that in another blog) Be generous enough to coat everything well, but not to where the oil is dripping. If you need to, you can let the smoker sit for a few minutes before the next step.
Our next goal is to heat the smoker up and simulate smoking in it for 2 hours minimum. If it’s an electric smoker, go ahead and set it to high, which should be about 225 – 250 degrees F. For charcoal smokers, use a starter chimney and once the coals are hot, fill the charcoal pan and some wood. You do not need to use the water bowl for this seasoning step. We are going to keep our smoker empty during this curing or seasoning event. (You can place thick cut bacon strips over the grates for the initial curing. The rendered fat will season the grates and you’ll have something to munch on with your beer or beverage of choice).
After about 2 hours, open up the smoker and let the fire die off and air cool on it’s own. Your smoker is now ready for use to churn out some awesome BBQ. If anyone is wondering why we must do this for a new smoker, here are just a few good reasons:
  • The manufacturing process will leave oils, solvents and other undesirables inside of our smoker.
  • We want to cure the paint and promote rust prevention.
  • Seasoning removes any odors from inside the smoker caused during manufacture
Happy Grilling!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

No Fuss Pickles

Homemade pickles without the canning

No Fuss Pickles

Nothing goes better with barbecue than coleslaw or pickles. This recipe is easy to make and it cuts out the sodium from canned or store bought pickles. Once you try these, you won't ever want to eat store bought pickles again!

These No Fuss Pickles are great to make if you have a garden and grow cucumbers. My last garden had cucumbers growing all over the place. I gave a lot of them away to friends and neighbors; when they kept growing, I decided to learn to make pickles.

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

  • 6 cups thinly sliced cucumbers (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  1. Divide cucumbers and onions into two half-gallon mason jars.
  2. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a medium sauce pan, stir well. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute. Use a canning funnel and pour mixture over cucumbers.
  3. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 days.
Pickles may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months.

These pickles go great with BBQ or enjoy them on sandwiches or by themselves as a snack. There is no better pickle. These remain fresh and have a crunch that you won't find with the store bought variety. They also have far less sodium. No Fuss Pickles!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

EPA to Regulate Backyard BBQs?

Grilling BBQ steakThe Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it has funded a study to reduce the particulate matter that is emitted from barbecue grills in an effort to clean up our air. The University of California project seeks to limit emissions from grease drippings with a special tray that is inserted under the meat before it is flipped, then the tray is immediately removed. They are also proposing a new catalytic filtration system.

The school claims that the $15,0000 study has the "potential for global application".

The expected results, according to the proposal:
"We expect to limit the overall air pollution PM [particulate matter] emissions from barbecuing and to alleviate some of the acute health hazards that a barbecue pit master can experience from inhalation. The particulate matter present during cooking with and without the grease diverter and PM2.5 filters will be tested and compared to that of current data using a conventional propane barbecue using a fumehood chamber with detectors at CE-CERT. Personal exposure of PM2.5 will also be monitored throughout the experimentation period to determine the degree of acute exposure of particulates to the cook."

A Missouri state Senator, Eric Schmitt (R), on Monday kicked of a #PorkSteakRebellion to grow awareness of the study and to call for the EPA to back off of backyard BBQs.

Senator Schmitt called on people to grill in their backyards this week as a form of a "peaceful protest".

“The idea that the EPA wants to find their way into our back yards, where we’re congregating with our neighbors, having a good time, on the 4th of July, barbecuing pork steak or hamburgers, is ridiculous and it’s emblematic of agency that’s sort of out of control,” Schmitt said.

According to the EPA:

Objective: To perform research and develop preventative technology that will reduce fine particulate emissions (PM2.5) from residential barbecues. This technology is intended to reduce air pollution as well as health hazards in Southern California, with potential for global application.

Expected Results: We expect to limit the overall air pollution PM emissions from barbecuing and to alleviate some of the acute health hazards that a barbecue pit master can experience from inhalation.