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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The story behind my favorite sauce…

sriracha-sauce

I love Sriracha sauce, specifically this brand, but I love the story behind it even better…

In Vietnam, David Tran (the owner) sold his hand-made sauce in re-used milk bottles from a street cart.

He spent 5 years trying to get a travel visa, and volunteered on a cargo ship, in trade for passage.

He came to America in the early 1980’s with $15 in one pocket, and an envelope of pepper seeds in the other.

Once he got his business started (and his citizenship, btw), David slept on the floor of a tiny rented warehouse, for three years, so he could invest everything he made back into his business.

I think about this story every time I hear some whiny hipster complaining that there are “no opportunities” for his generation.

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

PS – David named his company “Huy Fong” after the cargo ship that brought him from Vietnam to his “new life.” (his words)

Foil-Pouch Cooking Tips

Foil Pouch Chicken Thighs

I grew up a grub-scout, and we cooked a LOT of foil-pouch dinners over campfires. We called them “Hobo Packs” back then (way before anyone had heard of “political correctness” lol)

MY KITCHEN CookbookNowadays, I make some up and freeze them before leaving for camping trips, to get a delicious dinner, with no clean up!

I have an exhaustive list of foil-pouch recipes and idea in the “MY KITCHEN Cookbook“, but here’s a couple of tips we teach the kid’s before we let them loose on the ingredients table:

One thing I see done a lot, when people are assembling foil-pouch meals, is that they want to place the meat on the bottom, and pile their veggies over that. While they probably think that this will ensure that the meat cooks faster, and thoroughly, it’s actually the opposite of how you want to build your pouch, and will only dry out and/or burn the meat.

The juiciest ingredients need to be placed closest to the foil (tomatoes are best), as they will be the least damaged if burnt, then ingredients with less moisture content on top of those, then your seasoning, and LASTLY the meat (pre-seasoned with salt and pepper.) Top with a little butter or olive oil, and close it up.

The reason for this layering: Fats/oils from the meat drips down to flavor the veggies, while the tomatoes, potatoes, onions, etc., contain water, which mixes with all those natural juices, and steams the meat into tenderness. That excess moisture also helps to keep your veggies from drying out.

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I also like to wrap the pouch, seam side down, in a second piece of foil, to help prevent leaking and scorching.

Personally, I like to brush a thin layer of bacon-fat, or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) on the foil before I add my veggies.

It adds a little more flavor, and also helps prevent your veggies from sticking to the foil.

Then start cooking with the outer seam down. Try it and see what you think!

Boning HindquartersHome Chef Note: Don’t use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for foil-pouch cooking…just don’t do it.

They dry out too easily in this form of cooking, and they don’t bring any fat or flavor to the party.

Bone-in skin-on chicken thighs and hindquarter work great, though. Slice along both sides of the bones (but don’t remove them) before seasoning and cooking.

This not only gets more flavor into the meat, but it helps the meat cook faster, and more evenly!

Have any foil-pouch cooking questions? Let me know!

Enjoy!

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

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Three Little Pigs Chili

3 Little Pigs Chili

Three Little Pigs Chili is one of my favorite “get rid of the leftovers” recipes!

  •     1/2 pound of ground pork
  •     2 yellow bell peppers, 1/2-inch dice
  •     1 lg yellow onion,  1/2-inch dice
  •     4 cloves garlic, minced
  •     4 lg beefsteak tomatoes, peeled & crushed (see video)
  •     Olive oil
  •     salt and ground black pepper to taste
  •     1/2 pound leftover pulled pork
  •     1/2 pound leftover roast pork loin*, cubed
  •     4 cups chicken stock
  •     1 cup black beans, dry

    1 cup kidney beans, dry

*Boneless picnic ribs, pork chops, pork steaks, whatever you got!

Homemade chili seasoning

  •     1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  •     4 teaspoons New Mexico chili powder
  •     2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  •     2 teaspoons ground cumin
  •     2 teaspoons dried parsley
  •     2 teaspoons salt
  •     1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Home Chef Note: Buying your beans dry, and soaking them overnight is not only a huge money-saver, but it’s much, much healthier (canned beans can have up to 20x the sodium of dried), and your final bean is firm and delicious, not a bowl of mush that tastes like the can. It’s really a simple swap: for each can called for, soak 1/2 cup of dry beans in 2 cups of water for 8-10 hours, or overnight.

In a bowl, stir together seasoning ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Blanch and crush your tomatoes (see video)

Saute onions, garlic, bell pepper, and a little sea salt, in 1 Tbs of olive oil over medium-low heat, until softened. Scoop of the solids and set aside.

Raise the heat to medium and, in the same pan (un-wiped), brown the ground pork, with a little more sea-salt, breaking it up until crumbled into 1/2 inch chunks.

Add the onion-pepper mixture back into the pan, add chili seasoning, and stir to combine. After 1-2 minutes of stirring (it’ll get thick), add tomatoes and stir to combine, then stir in the chicken stock, beans, and remaining meats.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 60-90 minutes. Taste, and adjust salt, and ground black pepper to taste.

Remove from heat, and allow to cool 1 hour, then serve.

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Enjoy!

~Chef Perry

The Home Chef
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Kettle Grilling: #1 ~ Advanced Charcoal Techniques

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Home Chef Techniques for the Weber Grill: Part One

Advanced Charcoal Techniques

(Excerpt from Grilling: A Home Chef’s Guide)

I started out with a good old fashioned Weber Kettle (you’ve already read that story), the most popular charcoal grill in American since…well, ever. 😉

Sadly, these marvels of simplicity rarely get used to their full potential. Sure, you can grill up endless burgers, dogs, and brats…and they’ll be awesome, but let’s look at some advanced (dare I say Home Chef?) techniques to take this old classic to the next level!

I have used the Weber to make everything from jerky, to smoked salmon, to traditional Southern Pulled Pork, to authentic Texas-Style Briskets and Pork Bellies, and I’m going to show you how to, as well.

Over the next few posts, we’ll take a look at:

  • Advanced Charcoal Techniques
  • Using Water Pans
  • Real “Pit-Smoking” with a Weber Grill
  • Turning your Weber Grill into the Ultimate Pizza Oven
  • The Perfect Steak: Reverse Grilling
  • Amazing Mods YOU can make to your Weber Grill

So, let’s start with:

4 Advanced Charcoal Techniques

Direct Grilling 3

Direct vs. Indirect

There are two basic styles of grilling, direct & indirect.

Direct Grilling cooks your food “directly” above the hot coals. Best for searing and charring foods that you want to grill quickly.

Of course, with this higher heat, you have to be more watchful to ensure that foods, especially those with sugary marinades or glazes,, don’t burn before they’re cooked through. A double layer, direct fire on a standard kettle-style BBQ can get as high as 500F.

Rule of thumb: Thin foods, with low sugar and water content, and that cook quickly, cook best over direct heat:

  • Steaks
  • Fruits & Veggies
  • Chicken breasts
  • Hamburgers
  • Fish fillets & shellfish
  • Pork tenderloin

Indirect Grilling uses an area of the grill that doesn’t have coals directly beneath it. By placing your food over this “cool” zone, and covering it with the lid, your kettle becomes an oven, allowing you to bake, roast, or BBQ, foods that take longer to finish, without burning the exterior. Temperatures typically run in the 225f-250F range, making this method ideal for BBQ and smoking.

Rule of thumb: Thicker and sugary foods, and tougher cuts (especially of beef) that requires longer cook times at lower temperatures:

  • Roasts
  • Ribs
  • Whole chickens
  • Large whole fish
  • Pork shoulders, and loins

Direct Grilling 3

Single Zone Grilling

Single Zone grilling is your basic, direct heat method. Coals are layered evenly across  the coal grate, the number of layers dependent on the amount of heat you need.

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2 Zone Grilling

As we saw above, 2 Zone grilling is best for “low & slow” techniques.

Prepared coals are spread over one side of the coal grate, while the opposite half (or more) is left clear. This let’s you “roast” thick cuts of meat with burning, though you’ll typically need to rotate large cuts at some point, so they cook evenly on both sides.

Another common technique for 2 Zone Grilling is to caramelize (char) the exterior of the meat over direct heat (all sides), then move it to the indirect area to complete cooking.

Tri-tip roasts, steaks thicker than 2″, and bone-in chicken peices grill best by this method. Caramelization (the technical term is the “Maillard reaction*” adds tons of flavors to foods, and some believe that it can help deal in the juices of meats, to help prevent any unnecessary moisture loss. It’s a fantastic method for roasting whole (brined) chickens, as well.

You can even serve grilled “baked” potatoes that will drive your guests crazy!

*Maillard Reaction: A chemical reaction between the amino acids and the reducing sugars that gives browned and grilled food its distinctive flavor.


Giveaway Time!

91p7yLnTXJL._SL1500_TODAY…one lucky reader will win this new Digital Meat Thermometer!

Waterproof
Fast Instant Read
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I’ll pick a random comment from today’s post, and YOUR thermometer will ship tonight!

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Split Fire3 Zone Split Grilling

This is the method I use most often, as it finds it provides the most consistent results (and is most forgiving of my ADHD forgetfulness!) 😉

Prepared coals are split evenly along the opposite sides of the coal grate, leaving a place (cool zone) between, large enough to move the meat to once the outsides are browned. This allows medium to thick cuts to finish cooking, while providing even heat from both sides, and save you the trouble of having to rotate the meat, halfway through cooking.

There are also times when you might prefer a three-zone “split” fire, where the coals are separated into two equal piles on opposite sides of the charcoal grate.

Split Zone Indirect Grilling
3 Zone Split Grilling

This gives you two zones for direct heat (high, medium, or low) and one zone between them for indirect heat. This also works nicely for cooking a roast over indirect heat, such as pork loin or beef tenderloin, because you have the same level of heat on either side of the roast.

You can also use this method to create “High, Medium, and Low” zones in your kettle. By stacking two (or more) levels layers of coals on one side (high), and single layer on the opposite side (medium), the middle section, with or without a water pan*, becomes the “Low” zone.

*We’ll talk more about water pans in a future post.

Weber Ribs2

Ring o’ Fire (low & slow/smoking)

Ring of Fire Smoking Method
Setting up for slow smoking

The ring of fire is…awesome! By layering your coals in a semi-circle around the outside of the coal-grate, and then lighting one end of the “ring”, you create a domino effect, as each coal lights the next, working it’s way around the ring for hours, and provided low, even heat.

To turn your Weber Kettle into the perfect smoker, just pre-soak a few chunks of your favorite hardwood, and space them evenly atop the first half to three-quarters of the ring.

Meat will only accept smoke for the first three hours or so, so there’s no point in wasting the extra wood.

Plus, over smoking can leave meat with a bitter, acrid flavor, and a nasty tar-like coating.

I used this method for many, many years, with great success, until I discovered the A-Maze-N Smoker products, which are even simpler to use that this method. (I’m all about the “idiot-proof!” LOL) Here’s a quick video on how I use them in my roasting boxes, and it’s the same method I use with my Webers.

chefperryperkins.com and/or lacajachinacooking.com are not affiliated with, endorsed by, or sponsored by the product manufacturers of any products mentioned in this post, or any of their affiliates or subsidiaries. We declare no affiliation, sponsorship, nor any partnerships with any registered trademarks.

 

In our next lesson, we’ll take a look at how (and why) to use water pans and drip pans in your Weber Kettle.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog (top of right column), to make sure you’re notified when the next post in this series is live!

See you then!

~Chef Perry

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A Funny Thing Happened at the Deli Counter this Morning…

Melvin

Ahhhh…the struggles of the adventurous eater…

So, I woke up this morning jonesing for headcheese (c’mon…it’s ME…) I know, I know, it’s not everyone’s thing, but I love it. And when I need it, I NEED it!

(NOTE: The more you control your desire to express a negative opinion about one of my favorite foods, here, the less likely you are to end up deeply offended by my response…just, you know, an FYI…) 😉

So anyway, I zipped over the the grocery store where I usually buy it, and walked up to the deli counter, where I was met by some greasy pre-teen who looked like maaaaaybe some of his bingo-balls were still floating around in the tank.

(Seriously, he had a definite “I pick my nose after I put my gloves on” kinda vibe going on.)

My request for my beloved lunch-meat was met with a blank stare – and I mean blank, like you could look in this kid’s eyes and see the back of his head… – I repeated my request, still my typically cherub-like, friendly self.

“Uhhhh…I don’t think we carry that…”

(pick…pick…pick)

*sigh*

I pointed out the headcheese on the second shelf, and after about 3 days of fumbling with the slicer (I offered to help!) he comes back with my tasty bundle.

“Soooo…uhh…what is this stuff?”

This, friends and neighbors, is where I should have just sucked it up and lied…but, of course, I didn’t…

I told him.

“Dude…(I swear to GOD, he called me “dude”) that’s gross, I wouldn’t eat that…”

(I think we all know what comes next…)

“Of course you wouldn’t…MELVIN, you’re too busy picking tide-pod chunks out of your teeth! How ’bout if I worry about what I’m eating, and you focus on not giving me E. coli, m’kay?”

Our relationship soured a bit after that… 😉

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

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Pre-Order the Home Chef BBQ & Grilling Guidebooks, and save!

Both Books

Okay, it’s time to start taking your pre-orders for the upcoming Home Chef Guidebooks, “Barbeque” & “Grilling.

Get a head-start on BBQ season, and get both books, with FREE shipping (pre-orders only) for just $30!

Both books will ship together on Tuesday, April 3rd* (5 days before “GRILLING” even releases on Amazon!)

I will be handling all pre-orders PERSONALLY this time, and all pre-orders will ship on the 3rd! 😉

Order You Copies HERE!

Copy of FullSizeRenderBARBEQUE: A Home Chef’s Guide

Barbeque is not just a method of cooking food– it’s an experience. It’s a culture, a link to our past, a tribute to the resourcefulness of our forbearers, and a reminder of times both great and terrible.

It’s about the age-old mainstays of good food, good friends, and good times. It’s rugged but romantic.

It’s charcoal and chatter.

Here are my most popular dishes, tips, and techniques from nearly four-decades of cooking in, over, and with fire and smoke.

If you’re looking for great recipes and insights for taking your culinary skills to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. From bacon weaves, to melt-in-you-mouth brisket, to whole roast pigs…if you can cook it, low and slow, in sweet, sweet smoke…

I’ll show you how.

Welcome to the fire, Home Chefs!

7GRILLING: A Home Chef’s Guide

Grilling. It’s the most primitive of all the cooking methods. Picture our ancient ancestors spearing chunks of raw meat on sticks and gathering around a communal fire to cook their meal.

What would summer be without the sights, and sounds, and smells of meat searing to perfection over glowing coals? The laughter of friends and family, and the sharing of a delicious, flame-kissed meal?

“Grilling: A Home Chef’s Guide” includes dozens of Chef-tested, fully-illustrated recipes, tricks, techniques, and resources for grilling just about anything you can cook over fire!

I guarantee that you will see an instant, and significant improvement in your outdoor cooking! No more wiener flambé, carbonized chicken, or particle-board steaks.

Clear your calendar, strap on your apron, you’re about to become the grilling-god of your family!

~Chef Perry

Order You Copies HERE!


About the “Home Chef” Series

FullSizeRender - CopyThere are plenty of cookbooks out there, but a Home Chef’s Guide wants more than just the instructions on how to make single dish a single way.

It means continuing you kitchen education, learning the professional-level tips, tricks, and techniques the pro’s use to become a better cook…to understand cooking, healthy real-food cooking, it means advancing your culinary skills until recipes are no longer really necessary.

It means becoming a Home Chef.

Additional Home Chef titles are available on Amazon at: http://www.perryperkinsbooks.com, including:

  • The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen
  • Frugal Fine Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide
  • BACON! A Home Chef’s Guide
Prelaunch
See all of the Home Chef Titles on Amazon at: www.perryperkinsbooks.com