Saturday, April 19, 2008

Get Stoked! When technolgy meets art in the backyard...

Anyone who has visited this site before knows my fondness for authentic BBQ! While my GrillDome does an amazing job of maintaining a steady temperature on its own, there can be many variables that can turn an overnight cook into a disaster.

  • The quality or moisture content of your wood or charcoal

  • Weather conditions(nothing like a strong wind to turn your low 'n slow into a blast furnace)

  • How well you assembled your wood or charcoal

  • The fickleness and whims of the BBQ Gods

BUT, there is hope and that hope can be found in technology. I'm sure the legendary Pit masters of yore are rolling in their hickory smoked caskets but for the average backyard enthusiast like myself (who might wear an occasional python boot) and can't afford to take a chance with 30 lbs of meat there is the Stoker from Rock's Bar-B-Que.

"The Stoker is a temperature control device for any wood or charcoal burning cooker."

That's right. This little gizmo either feeds the pit with a fan or shuts off the air completely to maintain a preset temperature. It also has connections for food probes so you can monitor the internal temperature of your food and set an alarm to let you know when it's done!

I put said 30 lbs of pork shoulders in the Dome last night around 7:00, set the pit temperature for 225 and let it go. When I got up this morning 12 hours later the pit temp was 227 degrees and the shoulders were just coming out of the "plateau" where all the magic happens. A couple hours later I had four roasts wrapped in foil and resting in a cooler.

It may seem pricey to some but what would you pay for peace of mind and a good night's sleep? No worrying about flameouts, no bad meat, no getting up every couple hours to "check on the fire."

All I did was get my family hooked on my Que and they chipped in and got me the Stoker. Thanks guys! It worked like a champ and did everything it was supposed to do!

For you Geeks out there, it also comes with an Ethernet connection so you can monitor and control it through a web browser! I know of at least two third party programs that allow graphing or even having the unit call your cell phone with a text message to let you know your food is done!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Introducing Loki

  • Lo·ki (lo'ke') n. Mythology. A Norse god who created discord, especially among his fellow gods.

  • Rhymes with "low key"

  • Male Golden Retriever

  • Born: December 7th, 2007(a date that will live in infamy)

  • Brought home, Saturday, April, 12th.

More later...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cast Iron

I've been wanting to do some cooking with cast iron and this week I finally got around to it. My father dug around in his basement and found an old 10" skillet. Other than some light rusting it looked to be in pretty good shape but it was very light in color, not the usual black you would expect to see on an older piece.

I applied a liberal dose of steel wool and elbow grease to remove the rust, then scrubbed it well with a mild detergent and hot water; towel dried it and put in on the stove to make sure it was completely dry. From information I gleaned on the web, I decided to apply some cooking oil (Canola) and put it in a 250 degree oven for two hours. It came out a bit darker but not much. My eggs were sticking. I tried it a couple more times and it just wasn't doing it for me so, after more web research I fired up my GrillDome got it up to 500-600 degrees, spread the coals out and just laid the pan on the coals and closed the lid. After an hour I closed the vents so the fire would go out and let it cool down for the rest of the afternoon.

The pan came out very clean and shiny. I scrubbed it again with mild soap and hot water, towel dried and finished on the stove.

This time I used a good coating of Crisco and put the pan upside down in a 350 oven with some foil on the rack below to catch any excess oil. After one hour I turned off the oven and left the pan in there with the door shut.

BIG difference! It came out nice and black and it works like a champ now. My inaugural cook was cornbread and it turned out great. Crisp, not only on the top but the sides and bottom as well and "just right" on the inside. Two rib eye steaks tonight weren't too hard to eat either.

I have my eye on a 6qt Dutch Oven (pictured at the top of the page) and maybe even a 3qt enameled Dutch Oven... if I can only find some space to store them!

BTW, those pictures show the same skillet in the same condition. The change in color is from outsdie lighting vs. inside lighting.