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Grills vs. Smokers – What You Should Know

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Whether you’re upgrading your BBQ island into a full outdoor kitchen or adding a brand new cooking to your home, the appliances you choose will impact the design. For many, the grill is the center of their outdoor kitchen, but there are a few other cooking appliances worth considering, most notably the smoker. So, you have an important decision to make: should you go with an outdoor grill or smoker? Or, do you choose both?

While many may assume that these two types of cookware perform the same basic functions, grills, and smokers, and their benefits and uses are actually quite different. Here are the major differences between a grill and a smoker.

How They Work

As the name suggests, smokers use actual smoke to cook food. While smokers can be charcoal, gas, wood or electric, the gas and electric varieties are generally much easier to use and require less adjustment. Smokers use indirect heat and work through the combination of a water basin and a wood chip basin placed in the bottom of the smoker chamber. The wood from the wood chip provides the smoky flavor and produces the smoke, while the water helps keep the internal temperature stable.

Grills, on the other hand, offer the flexibility to cook your food in many different ways. Grills may be powered by electric, charcoal or gas, but gas and charcoal grills are generally preferred to electric grill models as they produce a better flavor. (Check out this guide to more about the different types of grills.)

What’s great about grilling though, is that you can use direct heat (placing your food directly over the open flame) or indirect heat (placing your food next to the open flame) to cook your food. By using indirect heat, you can slow down the cooking process and cook thicker cuts of meat without burning the outside.

In addition to indirect and direct heat. Another type of grilling called infrared has gained popularity. With infrared grilling, the heat source is made up entirely of infrared technology. Many people have started to invest in these types of grills because they can produce higher temperatures much faster than normal grills. For instance, they can reach over 700 degrees Fahrenheit in around 7 minutes. With grills, not only is there the flexibility to cook your foods with different techniques, but your meals will be ready to eat in no time.

Cooking Temperature

One of the biggest differences between grills and smokers is that they use very different temperatures to cook food. In general, the internal temperature of a grill will be very hot – getting as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit or more to cook food.

In contrast, the internal temperature of a smoker will range much lower – anywhere between 160 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat smokers also tend to take a lot longer to complete the cooking process, but that is also part of the appeal.

Time

For many, grills are easier to use and produce results more quickly. Cooking on direct heat means your food will be done quickly, but conversely, it can also burn quickly if the food is left unattended. Whether foods are grilled at high or low heat, they will finish cooking with relative ease and less room for creativity in the process (unless you’re a marinade master). And with a grill, you’ll be able to cook a large amount of food in a relatively short period of time, which may be better for entertaining or cooking for large groups.

With smoking, the goal is to cook meats for an extended period of time and at a low temperature to infuse the flavor into the meat. The process is much slower (can often take hours), but requires less tending, since the meats do not have to be turned or adjusted as frequently as with a grill. However, one drawback of using a smoker is that, without a meat thermometer, it can be difficult to determine whether or not the meat is fully cooked.

For large cuts of meat, like roasts, ribs, briskets, and ham, or dried foods like jerky, smoking is the preferred option. However, small cuts of meat such as chicken, steaks, and fish are better cooked on the grill.

Flavor

When you use a smoker, you can expect the signature authentic “barbecue” flavor that comes from smoking meat (especially with charcoal and wood smokers). Through this method of cooking, foods take on a smoky, barbecue flavor.

Grilling your meat won’t give it that same smoky flavor that you’ll get with a meat smoker, but there are some flavor perks. For example, with a grill and if cooked well, foods stay more moist and flavorful than with a smoker. In addition, grilling is usually a healthier option, since it burns off fats, and vegetables and meats also retain more vitamins through grilling than with smoking.

Grill vs. Smoker… or Both?

At the end of the day, whether you choose a smoker or a grill for your outdoor stainless steel kitchen will depend on the type of food you want to cook, and your food preparation preferences. Do you want grilling hardware that works quickly and can feed large groups in a relatively short amount of time? Or do you prefer to enjoy the process, and relish the flavor of a well-barbecued meal?

Keep in mind, you don’t have to choose one or the other. Many BBQ aficionados have both a grill and smoker as part of their outdoor kitchen. Many of the outdoor kitchens we design include ceramic egg smoker – a unique and popular grill/smoker.

Ready to create your own stainless steel outdoor kitchen? Call our design team at 203-269-2300 or visit our website for more outdoor kitchen ideas.

The post Grills vs. Smokers – What You Should Know appeared first on Danver.

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Chapli Kebab

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When my wife suggested having kebabs recently, I imagined I'd be cooking meat on a stick because that's inevitably where one's mind goes when using the word “kebab.” With new recipes for the site always a priority, I set out to find or create something not previously covered here and began scrolling the interwebs and Instagram for inspiration. When I came across a video of chapli kebab being fried in a large pan on the street, I was immediately taken. I dug a little deeper and familiarized myself the best I could from video, words, and pictures with the different varieties of chapli kebab made in Afghanistan and Pakistan and knew this highly seasoned ground meat mixture was going to be right up my ally. So I gave it shot and was completely won over by these non-skewered little discs of beef that I can't say represent authenticity for sure, but they certainly deliver on immense deliciousness.

The variation in chapli kebab between the two countries seem mostly to be around the exact seasoning mixture, but they are also not that far separated in that arena. I assume there's differences from vendor to vendor as well, so I doubt there's one right answer, which gives me hope that my initial combination of spices that included coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and pomegranate seeds, which I toasted and ground, was starting out on the right foot.

Chapli Kebab

The spices were just the beginning though, these kebabs had a ton of veggie mix-ins too—the chopping of all the onions, green chilies, tomato, cilantro, scallions, and garlic represented the most time and effort in this recipe. Once those were all prepped, it was quick to mix everything together with the high-fat ground beef plus the gram (chickpea) flour and egg used as binders.

Chapli Kebab

Once I had the mixture looking evenly distributed, I began portioning and shaping. I did this by breaking off roughly a 2-inch ball of meat and flattening it between my palms into a disc a little over three inches in diameter and about half an inch tall.

Chapli Kebab

Now frying in animal fat is the traditional way to cook these kebabs, but I figured they had to do well on the grill. That confidence was slightly defeated as I found they didn't grill with the ease I was imagining. The amount of veggies that went into the meat made it looser than things like meatballs and burgers, and that led the first couple patties I tried to flip to fall apart.

Chapli Kebab

I was able to avoid that folly going forward by ensuring the first side we very well seared before trying to move them at all. For something like a burger, this would make me nervous about uneven and potential overcooking, but I did want these kebabs cooked all the way through, plus a deep sear seemd to be the right course of action given chapli kebab is usually fried and get just as browned, if not more, in the hot oil.

Chapli Kebab

Once the patties were all done, I plated them up on fresh naan-e-afghani along with fresh sliced tomatoes, red onion, and lime wedges. I knew by just reading the ingredient list that I was going to love these, but I wasn't prepared for how much I was going to love them—for someone attracted to big flavors, these probably delivered the most flavor of any kebabs I've ever had. There was an upfront heat that had a great freshness to it which melded with the cilantro, scallions, and tomato. There was then a background sweetness that I attributed to the onions, while the spices gave that earthy quality which is common in a lot of Middle Eastern and Persian dishes. I didn't include the fresh veggies and bread accompaniments when I originally wrote up this recipe, but they felt so central to the meal as a whole that I thought they had to be added in to really deliver the full experience that brought me so much joy the day I made these chapli kebab.

Published on Thu Jul 29, 2021 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

  • Yield 3-4 servings
  • Prep 20 Minutes
  • Cook 10 Minutes
  • Total 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried pomegranate seeds
  • 1 pound ground beef (at least 20% fat)
  • 1 cup finely minced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/3 cup finely minced fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green chili (such as Anaheim or jalapeño)
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced scallions (about 2 scallions)
  • 3 tablespoons gram flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  •  
  • For Serving
  • Sliced fresh vegetables (such as tomato, red onion, and cucumber)
  • 1 lemon or lime, wedged
  • Naan-e-afghani

Procedure

  1. Place coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and pomegranate seeds in a small skillet set over medium-high heat. Toast until spices become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer spices to a spice grinder or granite mortar and pestle and process into a coarse powder.
  2. Place beef in a large bowl and add in ground spices, onion, tomato, cilantro, green chili, scallions, gram flour, garlic, salt, crushed red pepper, and egg. Using hands, combine mixture until ingredients are evenly distributed. Break off a roughly 2-inch ball of meat mixture and flatten into a patty roughly 3-inches wide and 1/2-inch thick. Place patty on tray and repeat process until all meat has been shaped.
  3. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place patties on grill and cook until well seared on first side, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip patties and continue to cook until second side is well seared and meat is cooked throughout, another 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer patties to a serving platter and serve immediately with fresh vegetables, citrus wedges, and/or naan-e-afghani.

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By: meatmaster@meatwave.com (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Chapli Kebab
Sourced From: meatwave.com/recipes/afghani-chapli-kebab-recipe
Published Date: 07/29/21

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Cooking Tips

Seafood Butter Boil

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This is one of those dishes that I make all the time and just assumed that I had documented it for the website. I hadn’t and that’s a shame. This is one of my go-to recipes that can be made in minutes and is absolutely amazing! Did I mention that this is low calorie too? No? Good, because it’s not. I mean, we are cooking seafood (which is pretty healthy) but we are simmering it in butter, wine, herbs and garlic. I guess if you don’t dunk the seafood back in the butter it’s not terrible. My problem is, that utter/wine/herb/garlic sauce is sooooooo good that I dip in it every time. Aaaaaaand that’s why I’m fat.

This recipe can be done with just about any seafood. I’ve done this with scallops, lobster tails, bivalves, chunks of hearty fish, shrimps, prawns (honestly, I have no idea what the difference is between the last two), and all manner of herbs and white wines. There is no wrong answer here. Just go with what you have that looks good. Now let’s get back to this amazing and oh so simple recipe. 

Seafood Butter Boil Ingredients:
2 lbs little neck clams (soaked in tap water to remove the saltiness and any sand)

1.5 lbs U16-U20 shrimp

1.5 lbs mussels (de-bearded and rinsed)

1 lb salted butter

2 tbsp fresh garlic (minced)

2 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf (optional)

1 cup buttery white wine

The Ingredients
First off, take the clams and put them all into a bowl that they can be completely submerged in tap water. Soak them for 20-30 minutes before cooking. I’d show you some pics of how to do this, but we forgot this step and ours were really salty. Don’t make the same mistake we did!?!

Tip 1: When it comes to any bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters), make sure they are tightly shut or will shut themselves if you tap on the top or bottom. If they don’t close, it means they are dead. Since there is no way of telling if they died 12 seconds ago or 12 hours ago, throw them away. Likewise, after they cook, if any don’t open, don’t serve those either. 
Next up, “de-beard” the clams. Some of the clams will have little hair looking things sticking out of the flat side of the mussel. Pin the hairs between your thumb and a the edge of a butter knife to get a good grip and pry them out of the mussel. We did do this step but nobody got any pics. A quick google search will show you how this is done. 

Now, prepare the grill for medium to medium-high heat (350f-400f degrees), which, in this case is my American Made Grills “Muscle” Grill made by Summerset. I love this grill because it is not only super high quality and made in American, but also I can use it as a gas grill (as I did here) or charcoal or charcoal and wood chunks or just wood chunks and even split logs like for my fireplace. Talk about versatility. It’s the perfect anchor for any outdoor kitchen. 

Once the AMG is up to temp, I placed the grill safe pot or pan over the heat. I went with a standard cast iron pan and everything barely fit. Be ready with a secondary pot or pan to dump some of the butter/wine/herb/garlic sauce and seafood into. The other option is to put as much in as fits, serve that portion once it is ready and then add in the rest of the ingredients. 

Begin by dropping the butter, wine, garlic and herbs into the pan:

What better buttery wine than one named Butter?
Once the butter/wine/herb/garlic concoction starts to bubble, it’s time to put the seafood in. For this recipe, we went with the little neck clams first because they take the longest to cook:

Round 1 of seafood
Tip 2: If you need to add more liquid to cover more of the seafood, add more wine. No one has ever claimed that was a bad idea, ever.
After a couple minutes, we added the shrimps:

Round 2
Then I dropped the lid on the cast iron pan to help to steam all the seafood that is not in the butter sauce:

Cover it to trap all the heat
Some magical things are happening inside there!
After about 90-120 second of the shrimps cooking, I drop in the mussels:

Round 3, Mussels for the Muscle Grill
And then the lid goes back on until the clams and the mussels pop open:

This is how to know the clams are ready to eat
Then simply spoon some into a bowl or, if you are a little more daring, hand everyone a fork and let them all go to town. That’s completely up to you. We used soup crocks:

I can’t think of a better use of a soup crock, can you?
Finally, make sure to pour some of that butter/wine/herb/garlic sauce over every bowl for dipping:

Like I said, healthy. Oh, wait…
And just because I love action shots, here’s a bonus:

I just love those action shots!
As shown here we have a wonderful bowl of butter poached seafood sitting in a slurry of butter, wine, herbs, garlic and seafood stock:

I give you a bowl full of seafood and buttery heaven!
As I mentioned above, there are no wrong answers here. Go with whatever looks good at your local fish monger or grocery store. Because once you simmer it in butter, wine, garlic and herbs, it’s all going to taste amazing. Trust me! Also, toast up some crusty bread to dunk into the butter sauce. Trust me on that one too!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or send me an email. 

Also, if you are a seafood junky like I am, and love some oysters, I have a couple dynamite recipes for you. Oysters Picante and Char-Grilled Oysters with Butter and Wine (see a theme, here?)

Save Print Seafood Butter Boil Author: Scott Thomas Recipe type: Appetizer Cuisine: Seafood Prep time:  20 mins Cook time:  15 mins Total time:  35 mins Serves: 6-8   Shrimp, clams and mussels poached in butter, wine, herbs and garlic all in a cast iron pan Ingredients 2 lbs little neck clams (soaked in tap water to remove the saltiness and any sand) 1.5 lbs U16-U20 shrimp 1.5 lbs mussels (de-bearded and rinsed) 1 lb salted butter 2 tbsp fresh garlic (minced) 2 sprigs thyme 1 bay leaf (optional) 12 ounces buttery white wine Instructions Completely submerge the clams into a bowl of tap water for 20-30 minutes to clean out the sand and salt water "De-beard" the mussels Set the grill for 350f-400f Place a grill safe pan or pot big enough to accommodate all the ingredients Drop in the butter, wine, garlic and herbs Once the butter melts and begins to bubble, toss in the clams After a couple minutes of the clams simmering in the butter concoction, drop the shrimp in and set the lid on top of the vessel After 90-120 seconds, remove the kid and add the mussels and put the lid back on Once all the clams and mussels open up (about 3-5 minutes) remove from the heat and serve Ladle some seafood into a bowl and then add some of the butter slurry to each bowl to dunk in Toast some crusty bread for dunking in the butter sauce
 The post Seafood Butter Boil first appeared on GrillinFools.
Author informationScott ThomasScott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.

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By: Scott Thomas
Title: Seafood Butter Boil
Sourced From: grillinfools.com/blog/2021/05/05/seafood-butter-boil/
Published Date: 05/05/21

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Cooking Tips

Cajun-spiced Bacon

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Now that I'm on the homemade bacon train, I'm all in—it's been well over a year since I last purchased bacon from the grocery. Smoking up a steady stream of bacon has afforded me the ability to experiment with seasonings a lot over a short period of time and I mostly treaded familiar ground at first with things like peppered bacon, maple bacon, and spiced bacon. That has now left me starting to venture into the more experimental spaces like pastrami bacon and this Cajun spiced bacon. To be honest, I've seen Cajun bacon before and that's why it popped up as a recipe to try, but I don't think it's something I would choose over other bacons when shopping, so I went into this recipe not quite sure how much I'd be into it on the other end.

Developing the recipe itself was pretty easy for me since I've done many Cajun and blackened recipes over the years that use this common earthy and herbal spice mixture that has a light touch of heat to it. Paprika serves as the foundational red base while garlic and onion powders give the seasoning a lot of its sharpness. Cumin is what enhances that earthy quality and it's a mixture of thyme and oregano that bring in the herbal components. To transform this into a cure for bacon, I merely had to add kosher and curing salts into the mix and I was done.

I utilized around a three pound piece of skinless pork belly for this bacon, which was half of what I bought that day—I've been smoking up one regular bacon and one experimental one in each of my cooking sessions. I coated the belly liberally with the cure, then transferred it to a Ziploc bag and set in the fridge for a week. Every morning and night I flipped that bag over to help the bacon cure evenly throughout.

At the end of those seven days, the pork was pretty firm, a good indicator that the cure worked as expected. I had been running my bacons under water before smoking to remove excess salt, but I didn't want to remove any of the seasoning for this bacon, so skipped that step. A few of my past bacons were not quite salty enough, so I wondered if skipping the washing might solve that problem, or possibly end with a bacon that was too salty. It was going to still be some time until I got an answer to that question though as I moved onto the next step of transforming this pork belly into bacon by putting it into the smoker running at 255°F with a couple chunks of pecan wood tossed on the coals.

When the pork hit around 150°F in the center, I removed it from the smoker and let it cool off at room temperature for a bit before wrapping it in plastic wrap and sticking it in the fridge to chill completely. The final bacon had a solid earthy red hue to it all over, which gave me hope that the seasoning would be substantial and really give the final strips that boost of Cajun flavor I was hoping for.

Once the meat was throughly chilled, I cut it into strips utilizing my meat slicer. I went a little thicker than I had been for other bacons mainly as a change of pace, but also thought you'd really want all the boldness you could get out of this bacon, so heftier strips would best deliver that.

Once I was done slicing, I portioned the bacon out into vacuum sealed bags and then placed those in the freezer to wait until I was ready to use them. I know I can always re-portion and freeze store bought bacon, but I never do, and making these single serving bags has been one thing I've really loved about going homemade—I always have the right amount of bacon for just me and wife.

From here, you can choose to cook the strips in your favorite manner, which for me is grilling. I decided the first use of the Cajun bacon would be in blackened chicken tacos, which I was cooking on the grill already, so it made sense to use the existing fire and get the added advantages of not making a mess in the kitchen or smelling up the house like bacon for days (although I personally don't mind that second part much).

On the grill, I placed the bacon over indirect heat and then covered. I let the strips cook, turning and flipping them occasionally, until the fat rendered and crisped up the meat nicely. For this use in tacos, I wanted an extra crispy texture to contrast against the chicken, so I let this batch cook until they were very well browned.

At this point in time, it was weeks from when I actually started the process of making this bacon, so expectations may have grown even more with the added wait and it felt really great to bite into that first crackling strip. Initially I was hit with the comforting smoky, meaty, and salty bacon flavor that was a tad saltier than most of my previous bacons, but also tasted more “right.” After that came a light heat that was the first unique stamp of the Cajun seasoning that was then built upon by garlicky and earthy flavors as I ate more. There was no doubt this had a flavor above and beyond the standard bacon, whether I would pin point that as uniquely Cajun if it wasn't called out by name is debatable though, but it was an amazing tasting bacon none-the-less. That being said, that strong earthy heat isn't going to be warranted in every bacon situation—which is why I always like smoking up a standard bacon alongside my more experimental ones—but when that extra Cajun flavor is desired, this bacon is going to serve you well, big time.
Published on Thu Apr 22, 2021 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

Yield 10 servings

Prep 10 Minutes
Inactive 5 Days
Cook 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Total 5 Days 1 Hour 40 Minutes

Ingredients
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon pink curing salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 lbs boneless pork belly, skin removed
Procedure
In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, curing salt, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Coat pork belly all over with the cure and place in a large resealable plastic bag. Place in the coldest part of the refrigerator and cure for 5 to 7 days, flipping bag about every 12 hours.
Fire up smoker or grill to between 200-225°F, adding 1-2 fist-size chunks of smoking wood on top of the coals when at temperature. When wood is ignited and producing smoke, place pork belly in smoker, fat side up, and smoke until an instant read thermometer registers 150°F when inserted into thickest part of the meat. Remove pork belly from smoker and let cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until completely chilled.
Cut bacon into slices at desired width and cook using your favorite method. Store leftover bacon in Ziploc or vacuum sealed bags in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

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By: meatmaster@meatwave.com (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Cajun-spiced Bacon
Sourced From: meatwave.com/recipes/homemade-cajun-spiced-bacon
Published Date: 04/22/21

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