Barbecue vs. Grilling: What’s the Diff?

grillQuestion: Do you know the difference between the barbecue and grilling?

Second Question: Do you care?

I was getting ready to grill a few burgers when my neighbor walked over. We struck up a conversation about yard work, planting and my grill. You would never guess that an innocent conversation would turn into an outdoor cooking learning experience. It started when he asked a very innocent question. “Getting ready for a barbecue?”

“Nope,” I responded. “I’m firing up the grill for some burgers.”

“That’s what I said; you’re getting the barbecue going.”

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Tips For Grilling In Small Spaces

kamado ceramic grillA spacious backyard is not needed in order to create a great grilling environment.  Even urban lifestyles with some outdoor space can have enough room to be able to have an ample sized barbeque and not the kind that is set up on two cinder blocks either.  In reality, only a small space is needed even in the largest setting because the grilling space only takes up a couple of feet, so you really only need enough room for the grill and some space between you and the entrance to the home.  Another thing to keep in mind is to not set anything combustible next to the house.  Be sure to know the rules and guidelines of your apartment or condo for grilling outdoors, there may be some limitations to know beforehand.

How much room does a barbeque actually need in order to enjoy grilling and keep the space comfortable?  6 feet is the usually the norm for a small place to set up your outdoor grill and the biggest grill that will fit in the allowed space is the one you should get.   Even if the grill is a tight fit, you will use it more and have better cooking results.  Be sure to take down different measurement ideas to be able to accommodate this. There are many residents who have figured out a way to edge in a 7 foot grill and a cooking island to do all the preparation on the deck or allotted space.   This is a very important aspect because a smaller grill will limit your size capacity for certain meats.  Will you be content with just limiting your outdoor cooking to burgers and hotdogs, or is taking up a couple more feet worth more food options?

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Basic Anatomy of a Pizza Oven

outdoor_pizza_ovenAre you thinking about adding an outdoor pizza oven to your back yard living area? If so, then it’s probably a good idea to understand the basics of pizza oven construction. The good news is that the basic design of this type of oven has been the same for generations. Have you seen drawing or pictures of American Civil War cooks baking bread in an earthen oven? What about World War II bakers cooking in makeshift ovens while serving in the Pacific, Africa or anywhere else bread needed to be baked? Think about all of the images you’ve seen with wood fired ovens grills in magazines, books and even movies… it’s the same basic oven.

Before deciding on your pizza oven purchase I suggest that you read over this article and look at the large selection of outdoor pizza ovens available from Outdora.

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Picking a Campsite Cooker / Grill

dual_burner_gas_grillAre you going camping? Are you going once, several times, with one or two people or a group? Does your campground allow for open flames, gas grills, campfires? How are you going to cook your food? If you’re planning on cooking for more than one or two people then looking into a few different cooking options is worth a few minutes of your time.

Before deciding what size camping grill or cooker to purchase you should probably evaluate your needs. This part of the process is actually pretty easy. Look at your level of camping skills or what type of camping you do, the number of people you are going to cook for and what your budget will be. That’s it! Once you answer those questions you can move forward.

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Three Tips for a Safe Cookout

200295822-001Cooking outdoors makes for a wonderful family meal or a great dinner party. That’s all the more reason to make sure you follow a few simple safety tips. For many outdoor cooks, refrigeration and the closest sink, is located inside the house and away from the grill. Chances are there won’t be any food safety related problems during your next outdoor grilling session but I thought sharing three safety tips would be a good idea.

Wash Your Hands

Have you read the articles about shopping cart contamination? Research from the University of Arizona found that 72 percent of shopping carts that were tested were found to be contaminated with fecal matter and a solid 50 percent also contained E.coli. How does that translate to outdoor cooking? Simple, wash your hands. Because of the outdoor setting you may be separated from your sink. Think about it. How many times do you wash your hands, rinse items and wipe down surfaces when you’re cooking in your kitchen. Hopefully the answer is either “a bunch” or “too many times to count.” This act cuts down on cross contamination.

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Common Mistakes Made on the Grill and How to Avoid Them

grill-mistakesWhatever your level of experience on the grill may be no one is immune from making mistakes. There are countless little nuances to cooking, and if even a few of them are overlooked your results can be dramatically different from what you were expecting. Most errors made on the grill result from overlooking a small part of a simple technique or process. Below are some of the most common mistakes people tend to make when grilling, and some easy ways to avoid them.

Not bringing your meats to temperature before they go on the grill: That’s right, the pre-cooking temperature of your meat can be just as important as the temperature when you take it off the grill. If you are using previously frozen meat products, make sure that they are completely defrosted before attempting to season or cook them. Also, unless you are trying to sear the outside of a very rare steak, it is a good idea to allow your meat to rest at room temperature for a half an hour or so before placing it on the grill. Allowing your meat to come closer to room temperature will promote even cooking, and reduce the chances of your meat drying out the grill.

Not cleaning your grill properly: Your grill should be cleaned with a wire brush and other grill cleaning supplies every time you use it either before or after each use. Your grill grate should be cleaned while it is hot with a wire brush or other cleaning utensil. Having a properly cleaned grill will prevent sticking, help produce those nice grill lines that we are always looking to create, and insure that no remnants from your last grilling adventure make a cameo on your current one.

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Fondue on the Grill

cheddar-fonduePreparing fondue on the grill will take this classic dish to a whole new level of culinary bliss.  The fire from the barbeque adds an element of smoky undertones that compliment the rich depth of cheese-based fondues and the ease of cooking meat in oil based fondues without the mess.   Creating fondue dishes go beyond just cheese.  There are sweet versions made with dark chocolate, and savory ones that either use high quality oil or rich broths to braise meats and vegetables.

Preparing all of these types of fondue is quite simple to execute outside on the grill whether it is with a charcoal or gas grill.  Cheese and chocolate-based fondues require more attention than oil or broth-based fondues. When using a gas grill, set the temperature dial to low but always keep an eye on the fondue.  For a charcoal grill, an indirect grilling technique will be needed, which basically is placing the heat source on one side of the grill and the fondue on the colder side.  If your charcoal grill has a large cooling rack above, then setting the embers directly under them is also doable.

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Turning Up the Heat for Valentine’s Day

patina_personalized_firepitIf you’re anything like me, grilling is your first love, but when it comes to Valentine’s Day, most men play it safe and focus more on igniting the flame in their wife’s hearts than the propane fueled flames burning in the coals on the grill.   For those who have plans to pop the question I have the perfect Grill Master’s proposal idea, so you can spark the flames in your relationship without putting out the flame on the grill.

Nothing could be more romantic than dinner by the fire, especially when that dinner is cooked on the flames of the Primo Oval Junior Grill.  A nice salmon dish with a sweet honey glaze for your sweetheart will be a breeze because of the even heat distribution.  Overcooked salmon can be more tough than tasty but you can avoid this dinner disaster by preparing your fish properly and taking advantage of the Primo’s even heat design. The Primo uses natural coal instead of briquettes which will allow you to enhance the flavor of your fish. Incorporate some nice veggie and shrimp kabobs with a tasty Primo-style baked potato and your romantic dinner is ready in minutes.

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Charcoal VS. Gas | The Great Debate

charcoal_vs_gasThe history of grilling food over an open fire can be dated back to Paleolithic times of the caveman.  While there is no real concrete evidence of who invented the barbeque in the States, the debate between charcoal and gas is one not to be taken lightly.  The preference between the two ultimately comes down to convenience and taste, although grill masters will defy the art of grilling with charcoal as one of the highest status.

The invention of charcoal was patented in 1897 by a man named Ellsworth Zwoyer after World War One.  There are circulating debates that Henry Ford invented the briquette in 1920, although he just invented a more efficient way to make the briquettes out of left over sawdust from the process of milling wood.  It was mixed with various binding agents and  then formed into neat little cubes that ignited with the assistance of lighter fluid.

Purists will proclaim that there is some residue always left over and that it can alter the flavor of whatever is being grilled.

For the proclaimed home pit masters, charcoal is the only option.  The authentic smoky flavor off the fire is the strongest with wood or charcoal and generally requires the most work keeping the grill’s flame consistent. That’s why beginner grillers, who have not had much experience cooking over an open flame, opt for the ease of temperature control of gas fueled grills.   There tends to be less fire or smoke with gas grills which is ideal for smaller spaces.

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Char Wood or Charcoal – What Is The Difference?

charcoalIf you are an avid user of charcoal grills, you may have wondered what the difference is between char wood and charcoal or if there is a significant difference between the two.  Char wood is a form of charcoal  that is processed or made differently out of primarily all natural wood products.  Both products produce the desired smoky flavor that is favored with charcoal grills.

Char wood or lump charcoal is usually created from hardwood and can burn up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.  This lump form of charcoal is preferred over manufactured briquettes because it tends to produce more of a classic wood flavor without the after taste of chemicals used in making charcoal. It also creates less ash and with its all natural ingredients, it is preferred among the environmentally minded griller.  Most brands of char wood are made from natural state pieces of wood, like limbs and branches.  While others are made from lumber scraps and it is important to know what types of wood scraps are being used.  Some brand may use scraps from carbonized wood that contain glue which is not safe for fueling grills used for food consumption.

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