Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Unboxing: Weber’s “new” 26 3/4 inch One Touch Gold – Part 1

Finally!

Well here she is, my late Christmas present, now early birthday present, from Zoe. After having been on order through Amazon for about 6 weeks, I finally learned Wednesday that she was shipping. Funny enough, Amazon emailed me on Monday asking if I still wanted it! It was past its original ship window, so they wanted to see if I was “hanging in there” with my purchase. In retrospect, I think they were trying to thin the herd, so to speak. After saying that I still wanted it, it shipped. Thank you perseverance!

Last night we arrived home and found that UPS had nicely hidden the box behind the fence. Thank you brown! Although UPS was on my side, Mother Nature was not. What is it with unboxing grills on freezing cold days? The same exact thing happened with the 650 almost two years ago.

Anyway, enough blabbering, lets get to it. Part 1 will deal with the actual unboxing and assembly. Part 2 will go into some visual comparisons with a 22 1/2 inch kettle. Part 3, which will hopefully be tomorrow, will be the maiden cook.

I say this grill is “new” because Weber had previously manufactured a 26 inch kettle. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of one for comparison.

Why this grill, and not the Ranch Kettle? One word: cost. I just couldn’t convince Zoë justify the $1000 price tag.

The Box

The shipping weight of the grill is 59 pounds. The box arrived beat to hell, so I was a little worried on the condition of the kettle.

Under the Lid

And it begins…

Instructions

Besides being cold, it was windy. The Smokey Joe came in handy to hold down the instructions book. As you can see, the instructions were easy to follow as they were written in the easy to understand language of pictures.

Next out of the box was the charcoal grate:

Charcoal Grate

Underneath the charcoal grate was the ash catcher and hardware:

Ash Catcher

I noticed that the recipe book is now printed on cheap paper. Gone is the nice heavy stock booklet with pictures. I imagine the change can be attributed as a cost savings measure. Fine by me, I bought the grill for the grill, not the recipe pamphlet.

Recipe Book

Here is the ash catcher and the hardware bag:

Ash Catcher

With that removed, you can see the bottom of the kettle:

Kettle Bottom

Bottoms up!

Bottoms Up!

I found a small ding on the bottom side of the kettle. It corresponded to a side of the box that had some puncture damage. Nothing serious, so I’m not going to worry about it. Weber may want to beef up the side protection with some extra cardboard. The box was really in rough shape.

A little blemish

At the bottom of the box was the grate, legs and wheels:

Grate & Legs

First up was the assembly of the ash catcher holder:

Ash Catcher Holder

Next, I assembled the wheels and the bottom rack. I guess the “lawnmower” wheels are a classic look, but I just don’t like them. I wish they would have used the ones on the Performer instead.

Lawnmower Wheels!

Bottom rack assembled:

Bottom Rack

Sleeping on the job Inserting the bottom struts.

And push...

The “third leg” awaiting its cap:

The

Metal to metal. Make sure the legs touch the bottom of the kettle when they are inserted:

Metal to Metal

Half way there, she can stand!

Half way there

Placing the ash catcher:

Ash Catcher On

A little wrench on bolt action to secure the lid holder:

A little wrench on bolt action

The lid holder:

Lid Holder

The charcoal grate in place:

Charcol Grate in Place

The main grate:

Main Grate in Place

Kettle with the charcoal baskets:

Charcoal Baskets

Assembled!

My new baby...

Handle with heat deflector:

Handle w/heat deflector

Lid holder…that actually moves the lid out of the way. Unlike my old performer. Nice!

Lid Holder

Close-up:

Up close

The thermometer is really a nice touch:

Thermometer

Underside. It is replaceable:

Probe from underneath the lid

Close up of hinged grate:

Hinged Grate
Assembly was a piece of cake…outside of the cold weather at least. It took me about 25 minutes, and that was probably because I stopped every minute to take a picture!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will compare the 26 to the 22…

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed

My new 26 3/4 inch toy...

More to follow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What’s on the Grill #119

Grilled Lamb Chops with Yogurt Chutney and Kale!  A bit of warm weather hit us today.  On warm day’s like today whenever I leave work I immediately think, “what can I grill tonight”.  OK, truthfully I think that on about any day, but the weather was extra nice today.  After getting home I ended up raiding the freezer and found some lamp chops I bought last month from Aullwood.

Grilled Lamb Chops

I love lamb, but have a love hate relationship with lamb chops.  It’s probably the carnivore in me, but I always want more meat than the chops can offer.  These small morsels always slow me down.

Anyway, to round out the meal I stir-fried kale leaves that were left over from the weekend and mixed together some Greek yogurt and Major Grey’s chutney. 

Verdict?  Kale, good.  Yogurt chutney, great.  Lamb, ahhhh so-so.  This is the third thing I have bought from Aullwood.  The leg of lamb I had before was good.  The ribeye was alright.  Tonight’s lamb chop is just average.  It was cooked to my usual medium rare, but I found the meat tough and the flavor a little lacking.  Thankfully I had a ton of yogurt chutney and some Flying Dog Porter to help it go down. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

What’s on the Grill #118

Grilled Greek Garden Packets!  It was back to the Mediterranean Grilling book again.  Originally, I was planning on talking about the Greek Lemon Grilled Split Chicken I grilled, but these vegetable packets absolutely stole the show.  The chicken was good too, but man…the magic of foil cooking never ceases to amaze me.

Grilled Greek Garden Packets

According to Diane Kochilas, the packets were inspired by a Greek dish known as briam.  Briam is essentially thinly sliced vegetables that are baked together.  This recipe was adapted for the grill by wrapping the veg in foil and throwing them on the grill.  Kochilas calls the packets “smoked”, but in reality they are just grilled.   No smoking involved.  Better yet, Zoe handled all of the prep, so I was just the guy with the heat.

I envision these as a great side all summer long.  Summer.  Hmmmm, yes.  Something I hope to experience very, very soon…because it was 20 degrees when I was grilling these things and I am so tired of running in and out the door to avoid freezing to death.

Anyway, the magic of campfire cooking and aluminum foil once again consumes me!

Grilled Greek Garden Packets

Adapted from Mediterranean Grilling by Diane Kochilas

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
6 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick rings
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into thin slivers
12 whole basil leaves
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4 thick rings
6 ripe, plum tomatoes, cored and cut into yup, you guessed it 1/8 inch thick ovals
6 tablespoons crumbled Greek feta

Heat your grill to medium.  Make six aluminum foil rectangles with heavy duty aluminum foil (roughly 18 x 9).

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano.  Toss in the potatoes, garlic, and onions.  After everything is covered in the marinade, remove the potatoes, garlic, and onions and place into equal piles on each of the foil rectangles.  The key is to reuse the marinade for all of the ingredients, so let everything drip well into the bowl before placing on the foil.

With everything equally divided, place a basil leaf on top of each pile.  Next, add the zucchini in the marinade and then add the zucchini to the piles while preserving the marinade in the bowl.  Add another basil leave.  Continue this process with the peppers and tomatoes.

Finally, add the feta across all of the piles and then fold the packets together so they are sealed shut.  Place the packets on a cooking sheet, and then place on the grill.  The packets will grill over direct medium heat for approximately 35 minutes.

To eat, you can either dump them on your plate, or have them right out of the foil.  Either way, they won’t be around long.

 After the Grill

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Congratulations Marisa!

Slashfood is a Top Blog!

Slashfood was named one of the top 25 blogs of 2009 by Time Magazine.  I know for a fact Marisa has poured her heart and soul into Slashfood for the past year and a half.  Her effort is probably the reason I have longed considered Slashfood one of my daily reads.  Informative, concise, and fun.  Way to go! 

Monday, February 16, 2009

What’s on the Grill #117

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Ouzo-Plum Glaze!  I mentioned last week that I was going to try and break out of the routine I felt stuck in on the grill.  The breakout was in part inspired by a new cookbook we picked up: Mediterranean Grilling: More Than 100 Recipes from Across the Mediterranean by Diane Kochilas.  With Zoë having spent several years working aboard cruise ships across the Med and me wanting to try something unique and different, this book seemed like a great fit.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Ouzo-Plum Glaze

To make this meal even better, Zoë did almost all of the work while I was off in the garage brewing all day!  She prepped the dinner, the side and dessert while I played with my new mash tun and tried not to burn anything down.  I later showed up to fire up the grill and mix her a martini (or two).  Now that is cooperation.

As with any new ethnic cookbook, there is always something we don’t have.  In this case it was the Ouzo.  Ouzo is an anise flavored liquor that, not surprising since this is a Greek recipe, is popular in Greece.  Fortunately, I always have room for a new bottle of booze on the bar, so neither finding, or picking some up, was a problem.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Ouzo-Plum Glaze

Adapted from Mediterranean Grilling By Diane Kochilas p. 124

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup strained orange juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 (2-pound) pork tenderloin

For the Glaze
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh pitted prune plums
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup Ouzo
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup strained orange juice
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves, cracked
4 whole cloves

Whisk olive oil, orange juice, and sherry vinegar in a small bowl and then pour into a plastic bag.  Place the tenderloin in the bag, turn to coat, seal, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Meanwhile…place the plums, sugar, and ouzo in a large bowl and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion until soft and lightly colored, about 12 minutes.  Add the plums and their juices as well as the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, sage, bay leaves, and cloves.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, season with salt and pepper, and cook the sauce uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it is very thick and jamlike in consistency.  Remove the bay leaves and cloves.  There will be more glaze than needed for the recipe; save the remainder in a lidded jar in the refrigerator or serve with the pork.  We did both.

Here’s my part: heat the grill to medium and oil the grates.  Remove the pork from the marinade and wipe dry.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Place on the grill, and cook for about 10 minutes per side, turning every 4 to 5 minutes.  Brush with glaze during the last 6-7 minutes of grilling.  Let rest and serve.

The only thing better than dinner, was Zoë’s dessert.  Based on an idea from Diane’s book, Zoë prepared a grilled banana split with nutella and crumbled biscotti.  Is there really anything better than grilled bananas?

Peel down

I am looking forward to exploring Diane’s book in greater detail. If the first few recipes are a glimpse of things to come, I am in good hands and excited about the new grilling challenges ahead!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What’s on the Grill #116

Bengali Shish Kebabs

Bengali Shish Kebabs with Bengali Mango-Tamarind Barbecue Sauce and Naan!  I was talking to Zoë the other day about how she felt my WOTG (What’s on the Grill) series was becoming a little monotonous (Although, I think  she was seriously just getting tired of seeing grilled meat all the time).  Grilled steak this, grilled steak that and so on and so forth.  Admittedly, one of the reasons I started down the WOTG  path was to document what I had done in hopes of one, remembering what I did do; two, learning from it; and three, trying new things.  One and two are working well but three, I need to improve.  This brings me to tonight.

About ten years ago I purchased Stephen Raichlen’s The Barbecue! Bible.  This was probably the first cookbook (most certainly grilling book) I had ever bought.  I remember flipping through the pages and being amazed at all of the recipes.  Since grilling is essentially the oldest form of cooking, it should have been no surprise that a number of the recipes spanned not only traditional American staples, but Asian, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian as well. 

While stumbling for ideas for dinner, I pulled out the BBQ Bible and in so doing, had obviously forgotten what a great international resource this cookbook was. We already decided on kebabs for dinner, now the question was what kind.  The Bengali Shish Kebabs won out and mostly, because I had everything on hand!

I shall dutifully note in reference to the kebabs I skimped a little and used sirloin instead of tenderloin.  I went cheap and wished I wouldn’t have.  Not a deal breaker, but just not as tender as I would have preferred.  For the kebabs you use a rub of garlic, ginger, salt, coriander, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  All of the ingredients are mixed together and then placed on the meat to marinade for two hours.  I deviated from the recipe by adding in onion, green pepper and mushrooms.  The recipe calls for the meat to be grilled alone and then cucumber, tomato and onion added later.  I wanted that wonderful rub on the vegetables as well.

Kebab Prep

After the marinade, the meat is skewered and then grilled over direct medium heat until done.  I also made Naan, which I have done before and absolutely love.  But, by far the best part of the meal was the barbecue sauce.  I have had a block of wet tamarind sitting around for months and I was thrilled because I finally got to use it. Good times my friends, good times!  The barbeque sauce, with its sweet and sour taste, absolutely made the dish.  With the skewers cooked, I loaded a mound of meat and vegetables on to the Naan and then covered it in the sauce.  Great flavor and a great meal.

Bengali Mango-Tamarind Barbecue Sauce

Bengali Mango-Tamarind Barbecue Sauce

From The Barbecue! Bible p. 464   

1/2 cups Tamarind Water
1 cup diced ripe mango
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 piece green bell pepper finely chopped
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar ( I ended up adding a 4th.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

The tamarind water, mango, onion, peppers, ginger, brown sugar and salt are placed in a pot.  Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for approximately 20 minutes.  The mango and onion should be soft.

Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and remove from the heat.

Using a food processor, puree and then serve.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What's on the Grill #115

A reverse sear Porterhouse with beer reduced onions and twice baked horseradish potatoes!  Zoë was off with some friends last night, so I was left to my own culinary devices.  As many of you know, Friday is typically Ribeye Friday.  Nothing closes a work week better than some fine grilled meat.  Well in order to mix things up a little bit, I set my eyes on a Porterhouse at the store and decided to try a reverse sear. 

Porterhouse with...

The idea behind the reverse sear is to promote even cooking.  To do so, cook the meat indirectly (or in an oven) at a low temperature until the meat’s temperature hits about 90-100 degrees.  Then, finish off the meat by searing it over high heat.  This is a process that works well with large cuts of meat, not wafer thin steaks.  The difference is that if you try to cook a large piece of meat over high heat you will have a very pink center with rapidly browning color as you approach the outside of the meat.  By using a reverse sear, you will have more pink throughout the meat because of the immediate lack of direct high heat pounding on the surface.

I have found success using this process with large tenderloin filets for Zoë.  She likes her meat well done, as I have sadly documented before.  In order to cook a large filet for her without butterflying, the reverse sear works great because I can cook the meat evenly until it hits 140 degrees internal and then finish it off over high heat to pretty it up. 

Reverse Sear

I placed my rubbed (Salt, Pepper, & Paprika) Porterhouse on a cast iron skillet over indirect heat.  The hood temp was about 300 degrees, which in hindsight was a little high.  Using a temperature probe, I cooked the steak until its internal temp hit 100 degrees.  I then moved it over the direct high burners and seared it for about 2 minutes a side…I think.  I was running around with my head cut off trying to get everything else done!

The Sear

Ideally you would let the meat rest about 10 minutes undisturbed.  I of course have to molest my meat by taking a bazillion pictures.  By the time I finally sat down to eat, I found it a nice medium pink throughout.  I much prefer medium rare, so I should have gotten my act together sooner…or at least checked the temp to see if I was there.

I have seen reverse sear discussed a number of other places, including America’s Test Kitchen and Good Eats.  For me, it is something that warrants further experimentation.

Oh, I almost forgot the onions.  I thinly sliced a yellow onion and then sautéed it in a cast iron skillet with 3 tablespoons of butter.  I then added a bottle of Sam Adams Irish Red beer.  I cooked the beer and onions until it was reduced by half.  I would have preferred a stout, but I was out.  I didn’t want something too hoppy either, so I choose the Sam Adams, the most malty-ish beer I had.   It worked pretty well…although I may have used a tad too much butter.  Of course in my world that is just an oversight, not a crime! 

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hoptacular!

One thing I look forward to in January is the availability of Bell's Hopslam.  I first "experienced" Hopslam with Eric several years ago.  It was only the next day, with throbbing headaches and difficulty in keeping both eyes open at the same time, that we learned that wonderful hoppy beer had an ABV of 10%!  Yeah, it was like drinking a bottle of wine.  But boy, is it good.  To this day we still laugh about that, and on occasion cry too.

Hoptacular!

Now that we are older...by a couple years...we know to take Hopslam in moderation, and with the price of hops that's a good thing because buying a six pack is like buying a case of Boone's Farm.    Not that I have any idea what it is like to buy a case of Boone's Farm mind you.  Honestly, no clue.