Kettle Grilling: #2 ~ Using Water Pans & Drip Pans

Lesson 2

Chefs and Pit-masters use drip pans and water pans for a number of reasons.

First, placing meat over a drip pan helps prevent flare-up and scorching caused by juices dripping down onto the coals as the meat cooks.

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While that action adds flavor, it can be hard to control over the long haul (and get get plenty of it, when you searing the exterior of the meat in advance of the low and slow cook time.

While many outdoor cooks will place the water pan on one side of the coal grate, with the coals on the other side (meat over the pan), I’ve found that I get much more even cooking and browning, by placing the pan in the center, and the coals all the way around it (see: Kettle Grilling: #1 ~ Advanced Charcoal Techniques)

Lesson2

I also recommend just using hot water in the pan (always start with hot water, or you’ll drop you temps too much, while it heats. Some folks will add wine, beer, herbs, fruit juices, and other flavoring in the water pan, but I haven’ found that this has much effect on the flavor of the food.

It can smell great, but it’s really just water vapor escaping while everything else reduces in the pan.

If I’m cooking something that I know is going to produce a LOT of drippings, I’ll add a small amount of complimenting stock (beef, chicken, or pork) in the pan, to keep the juices from burning off, so I save the flavorful dripping for stocks, sauces, or gravies.

Weber Ribs Beef1

More reasons to use drip/water pans:

  • Water pans create a space for indirect cooking, and will protect meat from excess heat.
  • Water pans create a moisture, which helps cooking food retain IT’S moisture.
  • This moisture traps smoke particles from the air and holds them to the surface of the food, inscreasing its “smokiness.”
  • Water pans help control the temperature and maintain consistent heat between 225F and 250F (ideal for BBQ). The water absorbs heat and the steam stabilizes temperatures.

When using a water pan, be careful not to over fill it, and remember to check the liquid levels often, adding more (hot) water as needed.

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Split FireWater pans work best for low and slow BBQ, so use it with meats such as pork shoulders, ribs, roasts, and briskets.

For poultry, I don’t typically add water to the pan, and only a little stock, as excess steam will keep skin from getting crispy, leaving the best part of the bird flaccid and rubbery.

(And when is “flaccid” EVER a good thing?) 😉

In our next lesson, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of an advanced technique known as “reverse grilling.”

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See you then…

~Chef Perry


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Sanbeiji (Taipei 3-Cup Chicken)

Taipei

Here’s one of my favorites from my upcoming book, “Grilling: A Home Chef’s Guide”.

Sanbeiji (Taipei 3-Cup Chicken)

Sanbeiji (literally “3-Cup Chicken”) derives it’s name from the 3 sauce ingredients: Soy Sauce, Sesame oil, and Sugar. Originating from the Jiangxi province of China, this is a hugely popular dish in Taiwan.

  •     1 cup Sesame oil                                      1 cup soy sauce
  •     1 cup white sugar                                    4 cloves fresh garlic
  •     8 bone-in chicken thighs                         2 inches fresh ginger

*For shorter cooking time, you can substitute boneless-skinless thighs, but only marinate fro 4 hours, max.

In a mortar and pestle (or food processor) reduce the garlic and ginger to a past.

Mix all ingredients together, adding chicken last. Marinate overnight (or at least six hours) turning one of twice. Pat dry, and brush both sides lightly with oil.

Split Zone Indirect Grilling
Split Zone Indirect Grilling

Spread prepared coals for Split Zone Indirect Grilling

Indirect-Cooking-5050-Split-Method

Set the chicken in the cool zone, cover (or close the lid), and cook for 20-30 minutes to an internal temperature of 160F.

One the thighs are at temp,  move them to the hot zone, and grill until well marked on both sides (3-5 minutes per side.)

TaiPei Chicken Thighs

Allow to rest 10 minutes, the slice and serve with Perfect Thai Rice, and a steamed veggie!

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Let me know if you would like to recieve a one-time notification, when “Grilling: A Home Chef’s Guide” is available on Amazon.com!

You’ve chosen the cover! (plus a recipe from the upcoming book…)

 

Okay, votes have been tallied!

First there were 12, then there were three, and then…after 3 rounds of tie-votes (Gahh!) we have a winner!

Now to send it to my graphic artist (she’ll make the sub-title bigger, by the way.)

Final1

Looking at about 30 days to release date!

Here’s a little preview recipe…

Carolina Gold

Carolina Gold Baby Back Ribs

Now, mustard barbecue sauces are completely different than your regular red sauces, obviously, but not just due to the mustard. They’re also much, much tangier, especially the Carolina ones, than the average joe sauces, too.

  • 1 rack baby back pork ribs, (rinse, pat dry, remove sinew from back)
  • 1/2 Cup Dry Rub
  • South Carolina Gold Sauce (see below)

Place a large sheet of foil, several inches longer than the ribs at each end, onto working surface dull side-up. Spray center with non stick spray. Place ribs, meat side-up, onto foil. Coat with a little over half of the dry rub, coating well.

Turn ribs over, making sure they are in the center, and coat bone side with rest of rub. Bring long-edged sides of foil up to meet and carefully roll down to meet the top of the ribs.

Fold ends of foil inward like an envelope and roll up. It should be a nice closed package touching the meat. Just be careful not to tear the foil. You want it sealed closed.

Place rib package onto foil-lined baking sheet folded side-up (meat side-down). Let rest and preheat smoker.

Pop into preheated 300º F smoker for 2½ hours.

Remove ribs from foil, coat well with 1/2 of the sauce. Increase smoker temp to 350º F.

When smoker reaches 350,  return the ribs, uncovered, and smoke for 5 minutes, bone up.. Flip the ribs over, and baste with rest of sauce. Smoke for 5 minutes longer.

Remove from smoker and let rest at least 10 minutes.

Slice into serving-sized pieces and serve hot with any extra sauce if desired.

South Carolina Gold Sauce

  • ½ Gal. yellow mustard ½ Gal. cider vinegar
  • 1 C light brown sugar 2 Tbsp. sea salt
  • ¼ C Worcestershire 2 Tbsp. black pepper
  • ¼ C hot sauce (to taste)

For each of these recipes, combine ingredients, heat to a low simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Chill for at least 24 hours (72 is better) before using.

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Chef Perry’s Guide to Creating Your Own BBQ Sauce

bbq chx (2)

Hey boys and girls!

Well, Valentine’s day has passed, and if you didn’t get your copy of my “Valentine’s Guide for Guys”, you’re just going to have to wait until next February. (Sorry!)

The good news is, that means it time for a new promotion!

This time, I’m offering my exclusive “Guide to Creating Your Signature BBQ Sauce!”

Available ONLY to Newsletter subscribers, and only for a short time. Sign up now to the free weekly newsletter, and you’ll get this PDF guide with your welcome email, in seconds!

From the basic elements of a bbq sauce, to recipes for regional favorites, to my own favorite recipes…they’re all in there!

Don’t miss out, get it now!

~Chef Perry

National Taco Day Recipes

The Home Chef's Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking(Excerpt from “The Home Chef’s Guide to Frugal Fine Cooking” Available October 15, 2017. This is the first in a series of guidebooks to delve deeper into specific topics discussed in, “The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen” – available on Amazon.)

It’s #NationalTacoDay, baby!

We actually made these last night (my planning skills being what they are) but I figure that’s close enough…

Here are my favorite recipes for “the real thing”, as well as an awesome “Gringo” taco!

Tacos al Pastor

Tacos Al Pastor

This dish, developed in Central Mexico, is based on shawarma spit-grilled meat brought by the Lebanese immigrants to Mexico.

You’ve never really had Tacos Al Pastor (roast pork and pineapple tacos) until you’ve gotten then hot off the grill from a street hawker in Mexico City, but these are a pretty darn good second, for a quick and delicious dinner.

  • 1 lb pulled pork shoulder
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks, divided
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 8 corn tortillas (6 inches), warmed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Warm the pork in the microwave until warm through, and the juices have liquified.

Coarsely shred the pork (if not already shredded) mixing with the juices.

Crush half of the pineapple with a fork.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the un-crushed pineapple chunks; sauté in oil 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned, turning occasionally.

Remove the pineapple from the pan.

Add the enchilada sauce and crushed pineapple to same skillet, and bring to a simmer; stir in pork and reserved juices. Cook over medium-high heat 4-6 minutes or until liquid has reduced to a thick glaze on the meat, stirring occasionally.

Serve in warmed tortillas with pineapple chunks, onion and cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.

Now, while you should definitely try the Tacos Al Pastor, sometimes you just want a good old fashioned “American” Taco (the kind we grew up with).

Here’s how Mom did it…

Gringo taco recipe

Best “Gringo” Taco Meat Ever!

This is my favorite “gringo” taco meat recipe…

Now, in all fairness these aren’t “real” Mexican-style tacos (which I love with all of my chubby little heart) but a “next level” upgrade to the weekly suburbanite special that I grew up on. Pretty darn tasty, too!

The big deal about this recipe is that it doesn’t include “taco seasoning” which, in my opinion, just makes everything taste like…well…taco seasoning. If I wanted that, I’d “make a run for the border.”

If I go to the trouble of buying good, fresh meat, I want to taste meat!

I like these best the old-fashioned way: crispy taco shell, sour cream, shredded mexi-cheese, chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes and avocado.

My wife and daughter prefer flour “soft” tacos, and once in a while I get a hankerin’ for some fresh corn tortillas from the local Hispanic market.

Hey, if you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 lb. 80/20 ground beef (none of that “lean” nonsense!)
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. Chili powder
  • 2 Tsp. seasoned salt (to taste)
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper

Mise en Place:

Dice onions, heat water, combine all spices.

Gringo taco recipe

Prepare the Dish:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook onions until just starting to brown, add hot water and simmer until all the water had cooked away (about 10 minutes).

Add the ground beef and ground pork, in chunks, cooking until it begins to brown. Using a spatula, or flat-edge wooden spoon, begin chopping the meat. Add the spices, and continue chopping until the meat is evenly browned and broken in to pieces no larger than 1/2 inch round. Stir, cover skillet, and remove from heat. Allow to rest 5 minutes, stir, and rest another 5 minutes.

Great for soft tacos, crispy tacos, burrito or enchilada filling, nachos, and taco salad!

 

5 More Terrific Taco Tips:

  • Always warm crispy taco shells (or tortilla chips) in a 250F oven for 5-10 minutes. Warming them releases the natural oils, making them crispier and tastier.
  • To jack the flavor up even more, skip the lettuce and cilantro, and buy a bag of “Fiesta” or “Southwestern” salad blend. Mix it up according to directions, and use it as you would plain lettuce in your tacos.
  • If you haven’t tried “Crema” (Mexican sour cream) you should, it’s bolder and more tangy than the regular stuff.
  • Like the taco shells, four or corn tortillas are MUCH better when warmed. Heat them in the dry pan, over medium heat until they just start to brown on the bottom. Flip and repeat. When the tortilla starts to puff up, remove and place inside a  folded towel. If cooking in advance, or in large numbers, wrap 10-12 of the warmed tortillas in foil, and place in a 150F oven to stay warm.
  • Lastly (and this is my favorite) I always mix beef and pork 50/50. Pork has tons of flavor, but is very dry on it’s own. Beef adds a richness, and the necessary fat. Together…amazing! This goes for meatballs, and meatloaf, as well!

Easiest way to Grill a Mess of Shrimp

Easy Grilled Shrimp

So, I needed to grill up a whole mess of shrimp appetizers (recipe below) for a cook-out yesterday. While shopping, I found these kabob baskets on a clearance shelf for $3 each (normally about $10 for a set of two on Amazon), and had an epiphany.

What I don’t like about grilling shrimp kabobs:

  • It takes up a lot of grill space.
  • You’re constantly turning and keeping an eye on a lot of individual pieces of shrimp.
  • I always forget to soak my skewers long enough.
  • Served on the skewer (the way I like) can leave for sooty fingers, which my clients aren’t wild about.

What I like about shrimp kabobs:

  • They’re awesome.
  • They’re easy to eat.
  • They help with portion control (ie: everyone gets some, without breaking the bank on shrimp gluttons!)

So, I had a thought…what if I grilled up a bunch of these beauties at a time, and THEN added them to the skewers for serving. Problem: now instead of a dozen or two skewers to keep track ff, I have a couple of hundred individual shrimp to keep turning and moving…and quickly!

Shrimp will overcook or burn quicker than it takes to say, “Oh, S***!” Especially when marinated with an oil or alcohol base.

The solution? The kabob basket!

Kabob basket for grilling shrimpI loaded 40 large shrimp per basket, set them on the grill, and cooked about 3 minutes per side, flipping baskets (40 servings at a time) just three time each.

The best way to grill a lot of shrimp
Photo by Kristen Renner

Open the baskets, a quick flip of the wrist, and all the shrimp were in the bowl ready to skewer!

Grilling shrimp with a kabob basket
Photo by Kristen Renner

The result? Enough appetizers to keep the whole crowd happy, in less than 20 minutes, AND I was able to work on other dishes at the same time!

Then, just pop a couple of the en of each clean skewer, spritz with some lemon juice, and sprinkle the whole platter with chopped parsley.

I will NEVER grill shrimp any other way again!

Chef Perry

If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!

Shrimp Salmoriglio
Serves 40 (2 skewers each)

  • 1/2 cup salted capers
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 6 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • 150 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice for spritzing
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, minced

On a cutting board, finely chop the drained capers with the basil leaves and garlic.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, along with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season the sauce with pepper.

Place shrimp in a large zip bag, pour in the marinade, seals and toss to coat. Let rest in the fridge 2-8 hours.

1 hour before grilling, remove from fridge and let sit on counter.

Light a grill, coals, etc

Drain the shrimp, and load as many as will fit into each kabob box, without packing them too tightly. Close the box.

Grill over high heat, turning once per side, until the shrimp are lightly charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the shrimp from the box and transfer them to a platter (or a bowl, if you’re going to skewer them, 2-3 per skewer). Sprinkle more pepper on on top (optional), a healthy handful of minced parsley, and serve.

Home Chef Note: You could easily change this up to a great “South of the Border” version, by swapping the capers an basil for chili powder and minced jalapenos, limes for the lemons, and cilantro instead of parsley!

Mexican grilled shrimp