Category Archives: Tips & Techniques

Skirt Steak: Part 2

In a previous post, I wrote about the two types of skirt steak—outside skirt steak and inside skirt steak—and showed an example of grilling inside skirt steak with a spicy Korean marinade on my Weber Summit 450 gas grill.

In that post, I casually mentioned that both cuts of skirt steak can be a very long piece of meat (especially the more desirable outside skirt steak) and that it can be advantageous to cut it into smaller pieces before marinating and grilling.

I wanted to show you an example of a really long piece of outside skirt steak, one that I bought recently at a quality butcher counter here in San Jose. Continue reading Skirt Steak: Part 2

Troubleshooting Low Heat or Weak Flame on Weber Gas Grills

Low temp condition in Weber gas grill

You fire-up your Weber gas grill and it’s not coming up to temp like it normally does and the flames don’t look right. Here are the things you should be looking at to troubleshoot and solve this problem.

Check The Fuel Level

If the heat and flame pattern in your grill seem low and you’ve got a propane grill, your first instinct is probably to check the fuel level of the tank. That’s a good start…maybe it’s time for a propane tank refill.

Clean Or Replace The Burners

Remove the cooking grates and Flavorizer bars and check the condition of the burners. They may be clogged with cooking debris or corrosion. The burner holes can usually be cleaned and cleared and returned to good working order. In the worst case scenario, the burners may need to be replaced. You should also check the spider screens to make sure nothing is blocking them.

Continue reading Troubleshooting Low Heat or Weak Flame on Weber Gas Grills

The Toast Test: Visualizing Your Grill’s Hot Spots

The Toast Test is a great way to visualize any hot spots on your gas grill’s cooking surface. I’ve known for some time that my 2002 Weber Summit 450 4-burner gas grill has some hot spots…I grill a bunch of burgers and some seem to cook faster than others. In fact, I may end up overcooking a few burgers in the process. You’d think I would know the quirks of my grill, having cooked on it for almost 15 years, but I keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

I saw the toast test performed on an episode of America’s Test Kitchen and I tried it on my Weber Summit.

Continue reading The Toast Test: Visualizing Your Grill’s Hot Spots

Dating Herbs, Spices, Rubs & Pantry Ingredients For Freshness

Here’s a quick tip: When you purchase any herb, spice, rub or pantry ingredient and you care about the freshness of that ingredient, simply write the month/year somewhere on the bottle or package as a reminder of when you purchased it.

Collection of spices and pantry ingredients

Now you can easily check any ingredient to see how old it is. I replace all my ground spices every two years; whole spices like peppercorns and nutmeg every four years. Baking ingredients like baking soda and baking powder I replace annually. Salt is the exception—it never goes bad and doesn’t need to be replaced.

Close-up of labeled spices and pantry ingredients

If you can’t write directly on the side or lid of a container, apply a sticker to the container and write the date on the sticker.

Cast Iron Cooking Grates: Which Side Is Up?

I spend a fair amount of time walking around hardware stores and home centers looking at Weber grills. When I open the lid of many display grills, I see something like this:

Cast iron grates: Which side is in the correct orientation

This Weber Genesis features cast iron cooking grates. The grate on the left has the narrow, pointed side facing up; the grate on the right has the wide, flat side facing up.

Which orientation is correct?

The grate on the right is in the correct orientation. The wide, flat side of the grate should face up for maximum contact with food and for the best grill marks.

Cast iron grill grates in correct orientation

It’s easy to install grates in the wrong orientation when assembling a new Weber grill or when replacing porcelain enameled steel grates with cast-iron grates. But you won’t make this mistake because now you know what’s up!

Lab Tests Prove It’s Better To Cut Meat Across The Grain

Interior view of Porterhouse steak

Here’s a great video from the folks at Cook’s Illustrated magazine that describes their lab testing of cooked flank steak and strip steak and the relative force needed to cut both meats with the grain and across the grain.

Tests using a texture analyzer showed that cooked flank steak took 4 times the force to cut with the grain than across the grain. For cooked strip steak, it took almost 2 times the force to cut with the grain than across the grain. Most interestingly, it turns out that the force needed to cut both cooked flank steak and cooked strip steak across the grain is almost the same!

The Bottom Line: How steaks are cooked, to what internal temperature, and how they’re sliced after cooking have a huge impact on tenderness; and cheap(er) cuts like flank steak, skirt steak, and hanger steak can be almost as tender as expensive steaks when cooked and sliced properly.

Hope you enjoy the video!

Using An Instant-Read Thermometer For The Perfect Baked Potato

Baked potato

In my opinion, nothing goes better with a grilled steak than a tender, fluffy baked potato. I’ve always baked them in a 400°F oven for 45-60 minutes and then poked with a knife to determine doneness…sometimes without much success. I cut into the potato and find the center a bit under cooked.

The folks at Cook’s Illustrated magazine tackled the question of The Perfect Baked Potato in their January/February 2016 issue. They determined that the optimal internal temperature for a uniformly fluffy baked potato is 205-212°F. Cook’s suggests baking potatoes at 450°F for 45-60 minutes until the largest potato registers 205°F in the center.

So now you’ve got yet another reason to own a good quality instant-read thermometer! Next time you bake a potato, probe it to ensure the perfect internal temp!