Sunday, November 23, 2014

Giveaway: Northwest Sampler Grilling Gift Basket

Yes, you read the title right. I’m having a giveaway and for as long as there has been APP, I’ve never, ever, had a giveaway.  Well, at least until now.

On a pretty regular basis, I get emails to review or evaluate products. I almost always politely turn them down. I can count on one hand the companies I have had the fortune of dealing with.  Regular readers know instantly who I’m talking about. These relationships started not with a canned email, but a mutual appreciation and passion for either grilling or beer.

It takes an awesome product and awesome people for this to happen, which brings me to Outdoor Gourmet.  Nestled in Sandpoint, Idaho, just below the Canadian border, Outdoor Gourmet is the original, modern day manufacturer of cedar grilling planks.  They are a small family-owned business and their planks, all six flavors/species, are incredible.  I’ve used them extensively for years, and I do think they are the absolute best.

In preparation for the holidays, Outdoor Gourmet is giving away one of their Northwest Sampler Grilling Gift Baskets.

Sampler Basket

What you get:

1 Wildwood Grilling 6 Flavor Grilling Plank Sampler Pack – This sampler has one each of Cedar, Alder, Hickory, Cherry, Maple and Red Oak grilling planks. The planks are 5x10” and are attractively stamped with their wood variety. All of our grilling planks are 100% sustainably produced in USA with special attention to food safety.

1 (5.7oz) Spiceologist Smoky Honey Habanero All-Natural Spice Blend

1 (4oz) Mustard and Co. Garlic Dill Organic Mustard

2 (1oz jars) Fat Daddy’s Barbecue Sauce Tasters: Mesquite and Island Paradise.

8 Wildwood Grilling Cedar Grilling Wraps

1 lb Wildwood Grilling Northwest Alder Smoking Chips

I love to plank, so if you are looking to either add another tool to your grilling arsenal, or want to pass the planking love on to someone else, this is a great way to do it.

Cedar Wrapped Asparagus

Cedar Wrapped Asparagus

Crab Legs

Lobster & Crab

Planked Chicken

Planked Chicken

Sure, you could plank chicken breasts, but it is a whole lot more interesting to plank an entire chicken.

Take a whole chicken, remove the backbone, and cut the breastbone in half to separate.  Season all over with salt, pepper, and your favorite rub.

Soak two cedar planks in water for at least an hour.

Place the chicken halves on the planks and grill over indirect medium high heat for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

Planked Chicken to the grill

Remove and enjoy.

Planked Chicken

Sorry, the food distracted me.  Now about that giveaway...

Rules & Stuff:

1. Giveaway runs from Sunday November 23, 2014 to midnight, EST on Sunday, November 30, 2014.

2. The winner will be announced on Monday, December 1st.

3. Due to shipping, entires can only be accepted from the US.

4. Outdoor Gourmet has already provided me with the same gift basket as our lucky winner is to receive.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Planked Chicken

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Turkey: Spatchcock, Smoked, & Spun

There are holidays and then there are holidays which center around food.  I prefer the latter.

While I could certainly work a grilled dinner into Flag Day, it’s a lot easier for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  It’s the gathering of distant family, the days of preparation, and that magical moment where dinner is lifted from the grill grate.  I love it all.  


With Christmas just over a month away and Thanksgiving, but days, I’ve been busy updating my grilled turkey tips for the holidays on the Weber blog.  

Ever since I had hair, I have grilled turkeys for the holidays.  This year is certainly no different.  Minus, of course, the hair.  While you could throw your festive bird in the oven, I instead implore you to chuck tradition and take your prized poultry to the backyard.  Here are three great ways to prepare your holiday turkey.

The Spatchcock

spatchcocked Turkey - Header

I’ve spatchcock chickens for years and just last year spatchcocked my first turkey.  It is my easiest, and more importantly, fastest way of grilling a bird.

Spatchcocked Turkey

The results are a moist and tasty bird with the most unique presentation.


Placing the Turkey

I love the sweet and mildly tart taste of smoked meat. With the right amount of wood, a little bit of smoke not only transforms a traditional turkey into something different, but the mahogany crisp skin will make someone at the dinner table let out an audible gasp. If not, you can call me. I will.

Smoked Turkey


Rotisserie Turkey

In terms of frequency, a rotisserie turkey is a fast second. I love the slow basting action of the spinning rotisserie motor. While the kettle provides the most vertical space, the Summit has also spun its share of poultry. Both grills always yield excellent results.  

Rotisserie Turkey

If you really want to ensure a moist bird. Grab yourself a spit and get spinning.

Finally, you can’t have turkey without stuffing and if you want great stuffing it needs to be like your turkey: grilled. All you need is a hot grill, a cast iron skillet, and two bottles of Guinness. One for you and one for the stuffing.


If you have been toying around with the idea of donning your jacket and taking your meal outside, I hope these ideas have pushed you over the edge. Cheers and happy grilling!

Note: These posts and pictures originally appeared on the blog at for which I was compensated.  The passion was all mine.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What's on the Grill #308: Kebabs with Fire-Charred Eggplant & Yogurt

When I first picked up Stephen Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible back in 1998, I am fairly certain I skipped over the chapter on ground meat.  Back then, my tastes were big, but hardly exotic.  I was more curious about steaks, and ribs, and why I wanted to stick a chicken on a beer can.  His book was, and still is, a wonderful "grillinary" journey.

With the passage of time, my appetite remains the same, but my tastes have gone around the world, literally.  If I wanted to grill a kebab in my younger days, it would have been full of cubed meat and vegetables.  I would have never thought of grilling ground meat.  Not today, ground lamb is the meat du jour and the delight of eating it off a skewer is a treat in itself.  Add in an eggplant yogurt puree and those steaks, ribs, and chicken are a distant reminder…well not too distant. I still need to eat this weekend.

Kebabs with Fire-Charred Eggplant & Yogurt

Kebabs with Fire-Charred Eggplant & Yogurt
Adapted from my stained & dog-eared copy of Stephen Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible


1 pound ground lamb
3 T minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t fresh dill, chopped
1 t salt
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t freshly ground pepper

Eggplant Puree

2 eggplants, about 10 ounces each
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 1-1/4 cups whole milk yogurt
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper

In a bowl, mix together the lamb, onion, garlic, dill, salt, cumin, & pepper with your hands.  Continue to knead for several minutes. 

Hand Mixing

On a baking sheet, divide the meat into four equal portions. Mold each portion into a long cylinder and then pierce with a skewer.  Alternately, form the meat around the skewer.  Either way, meat should have a diameter of approximately one inch and be uniform in size.

Skewer Insert

Cover the kebabs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. This allows them to set-up.

Skewers ready for the grill

Grill the eggplants over direct high heat for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes, so all sides are charred. Remove from the grill and allow to cool.

Grilled Eggplant

Removed the charred skin. Chop the eggplant into chunks and add to a food processor. Process until pureed.

Herb Prep

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the garlic, 1 cup of yogurt, the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

The puree should be loose, but if too loose, add more yogurt.  Think applesauce consistency.

Kebabs are grilled “grateless,” or rather they are grilled above the grates.

This is the precise reason I love my Weber Elevations Tiered Cooking System.  The rack for my Summit allows the kebabs to be suspended directly over the grates without touching.  It is a perfect kebab cooker.

Adding the skewer

If you are not using Elevations, two bricks wrapped in foil will accomplish the same feat.  Just balance the skewers across the bricks so they do not touch the grates.  You could grill directly on the grates, but the grates would have to be incredibly clean and the kebabs well oiled to make it work.

Grilling Kebabs

Grill the kebabs for approximately 3-4 minutes a side 6-8 minutes total.  

Grilled Kebabs

During the last few minutes, add the puree to one side of the grill to heat up.

Kebabs & Eggplant

While kebabs can be served with pitas, I prefer them bread-less.  Removed from the skewer, cut into pieces, and dunked in the eggplant puree make this a simple, yet exotic meal.  

Grilled Kebabs

Sure, I could have a steak, but there is something to be said about rich and savory lamb followed by the garlic tang of the eggplant puree.

Kebabs with Fire-Charred Eggplant & Yogurt