Category Archives: Tips & Techniques

Testing Knives For Sharpness

Victorinox Cutlery 12-Inch Curved Cimeter KnifeIt seems counterintutive, but a sharp knife is actually safer in the kitchen and around the grill than a dull knife. When a knife is dull, we saw, hack or force it through whatever it is we’re trying to cut, and it’s in those moments that we lose control of the knife and cut ourselves. A sharp knife is easily controlled because it slices through meat or veg or bread smoothly and easily, and is therefore safer.

The folks at America’s Test Kitchen suggest that you test your knives for sharpness as follows: Grasp the top edge of a piece of printer paper firmly with one hand and draw the knife blade across the edge of the paper from heel to tip. The knife should slice easily through the paper with minimal effort.

Here’s a 3-second video clip showing how to do the knife sharpness test:

There are many ways to sharpen knives. One of the best electric sharpeners is the Chef’s Choice 130 Professional Knife-Sharpening Station ($150). I’ve used this sharpener for many years and it does a fine job.

Chef's Choice 130 Professional Knife-Sharpening Station

Less expensive options include the Chef’s Choice 464 Pronto Manual 2-Stage Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener ($39) and the AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener ($9).

Chef-Recommended Meat Doneness Temperatures

Here’s some good information from ThermoWorks, the makers of the highly accurate Thermapen instant-read thermometer, on chef-recommended meat doneness temperatures.

Note that all temperatures listed are peak temperatures, meaning that meat should be removed from the grill a couple of degrees below these temps and allowed to rise during a short resting period.

Beef, Veal & Lamb: Roasts, Steaks & Chops

  • Rare: 120-130°F
  • Medium Rare: 130-135°F
  • Medium: 135-145°F
  • Medium Well: 145-155°F
  • Well Done: 155°F and higher

Pork: Roasts, Steaks & Chops

  • Medium: 137°F
  • USDA-Done: 145°F
  • Well Done: 150°F and higher

And in case you’re wondering, here are the food safe minimum doneness temps for meats that pose a greater health risk if not cooked thoroughly.

Ground Meat: Beef, Veal & Lamb

  • 160°F

Chicken, Turkey & Duck (Whole or Pieces)

  • 165°F

The Secret To Moist Grilled Chicken

Moist grilled chicken halves

Brining. Salting. Marinating. Injecting. Buttering. Beer butting. (Is that even a word?) These are but a few of the methods that people use in an attempt to make moist, tasty chicken.

But I am now going to reveal to you the #1 Secret to grilling moist, delicious chicken every time you cook:

DO NOT OVERCOOK IT!

That’s right. Don’t overcook it. Get yourself a good instant-read thermometer and measure the internal temp during grilling. I don’t care how you season the bird or brine it or inject it…if you cook the breast meat to 160-165°F and the thigh meat to 170-175°F and then remove the chicken from the grill, I guarantee* you will have moist, delicious meat.

Yes, brining chicken provides a margin of error, allowing you to cook to higher internal temps than those listed above and still achieve moist meat, and it can flavor the meat, too. But you can get moist meat and perhaps more real chicken flavor if you don’t brine and keep the internal temp within the ranges above.

So season your chicken well, use your thermometer, don’t overcook it and tell us how it turns out on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board. And remember, we like to see your photos!

* Guarantee not valid in the Americas, EMEA, Asia-Pacific, polar regions, or territorial & international waters.

More New Grilling Books for 2015

There’s yet another crop of new grilling books out for 2015. And here you thought everything had been written about our favorite outdoor cooking method…

Take a look at these new offerings. If you like any of these, let us know on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

 

Grilling With House of Q

Grilling With House of Q

Amazon.com says, “If you love the taste of barbecue but worry about cooking the perfect steak or if you’re a whiz with burgers but want to grill other foods or if you harbor aspirations of presenting your own smoked brisket to a panel of trained judges, then this book is for you. BBQ Brian has spent more than a decade smoking and grilling foods, competing against other pit masters and learning from some of the best in the business. And not only does he regularly win awards for his barbecue and House of Q BBQ sauces, but he’s now one of the most sought-after teachers around. Why? Because he tells a great story, makes learning fun and easy and freely shares his recipes and his love of good food. Grilling with House of Q is part handsome cookbook, part instruction manual and part story collection. The result is that rare volume that entertains and becomes your go-to for delicious, no-fail smoked ribs, shrimp tacos, pulled pork and pit beans—or burritos, mac ’n’ cheese and baklava—all prepared on your grill and all eagerly anticipated by friends, backyard neighbors and barbecue judges.”

 

Build Your Own Burger

Build Your Own Burger

Amazon says, “Want to take your burger making skills to a whole new and exciting level? Let Build Your Own Burger show you how. This fun and practical guide to creating delicious and original burgers has literally thousands of combinations. In this inventive and fun format, ingredients are split into four categories – the buns, the sauces, the patties, and the toppings – each image presented in its own panel. Mix and match the panels to create your ideal burger. A comprehensive section covers the basics, including equipment, ingredients, and troubleshooting tips to get you started. The tasty-looking photography and the clever format will inspire cooks to create unique and mouth-watering flavor combinations such as: A fiery Chili Bun with a Beef Jalapeno Patty, topped with Sweet Chili Mayo and a Cooling Cucumber Salad or an Olive Ciabatta bun with a Field Mushroom Patty, topped with Vine-Ripened Tomato Salsa and Grilled Halloumi. With easy-to-follow recipes and photographs of all the elements, even a beginner can create luscious burgers in no time at all. Filled with burger ideas for any occasion and every palate, this really is the only burger book you’ll ever need.”

 

Southern Cooking For Company

Southern Cooking For Company

Not a grilling book per se, but with some imagination many of the main dish recipes can be adapted to the grill. This book is probably worth owning just for the side dish and dessert recipes alone!

Amazon says, “Nicki Pendleton Wood has gathered recipes from more than 100 Southerners that they prepare when company is coming. These are the show-off recipes hosts pull out when guests are on the way, whether for an intimate evening with another couple, a party for 100 people celebrating a milestone birthday, or anything in between. In addition to the recipes, contributors share their secrets for making guests feel at home.”

 

The Eat Like A Man Guide To Feeding A Crowd

The Eat Like A Man Guide To Feeding A Crowd

Amazon says, “This welcome follow-up to Esquire’s wildly popular Eat Like a Man cookbook is the ultimate resource for guys who want to host big crowds and need the scaled-up recipes, logistical advice, and mojo to pull it off whether they’re cooking breakfast for a houseful of weekend guests, producing an epic spread for the playoffs, or planning the backyard BBQ that trumps all. With tantalizing photos and about 100 recipes for lazy breakfasts, afternoon noshing, dinner spreads, and late-night binges—including loads of favorites from chefs who know how to satisfy a crowd, such as Linton Hopkins, Edward Lee, and Michael Symon—this is the only cookbook a man will ever need when the party is at his place.”

 

The Beer Bible

The Beer Bible

Amazon says, “It’s finally here—the comprehensive, authoritative book that does for beer what The Wine Bible does for wine. Written by an expert from the West Coast, where America’s craft beer movement got its start, The Beer Bible is the ultimate reader- and drinker-friendly guide to all the world’s beers.

“No other book of this depth and scope approaches the subject of beer in the same way that beer lovers do—by style, just as a perfect pub menu is organized—and gets right to the pleasure of discovery, knowledge, and connoisseurship. Divided into four major families—ales, lagers, wheat beers, and tart and wild ales—there’s everything a beer drinker wants to know about the hundreds of different authentic types of brews, from bitters, bocks, and IPAs to weisses, milk stouts, lambics, and more. Each style is a chapter unto itself, delving into origins, ingredients, description and characteristics, substyles, and tasting notes, and ending with a recommended list of the beers to know in each category. Hip infographics throughout make the explanation of beer’s flavors, brewing methods, ingredients, labeling, serving, and more as immediate as it is lively.

“The book is written for passionate beginners, who will love its “if you like X, try Y” feature; for intermediate beer lovers eager to go deeper; and for true geeks, who will find new information on every page. History, romance, the art of tasting, backstories and anecdotes, appropriate glassware, bitterness units, mouthfeel, and more—it’s all here. Plus a primer on pairing beer and food using the three Cs— complement, contrast, or cut. It’s the book that every beer lover will read with pleasure, and use with even more.”

 

School of Booze

School Of Booze

Amazon says, “Humans were seeking out alcohol millions of years before the word “keg” was coined. School of Booze contains everything you have ever wanted to know about alcoholic beverages, from how to make absinthe to the cultural history of zythos (beer). It covers the discovery and invention of fermented alcohol, ancient history, toasting, alcohol and health, alcohol’s role in religion, origin of slang expressions, virtually every known form of alcoholic beverage and their histories, temperance and prohibition movements and law, and much more. Packed with fascinating miscellany and curious facts to entertain your friends at the pub, this book is an essential compendium of knowledge about what essayist Dr. Samuel Johnson called life’s “second greatest pleasure.” It is the perfect gift for yourself, or for anyone who enjoys raising a glass to good health. Bottoms up!”

Tips For Making The Perfect Burger

According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, people in the United States consumed 25.6 billion pounds of beef in 2013. And I would guess that a lot of this beef was consumed in the form of hamburgers!

Pressed burger patties

It’s hard to beat a good burger cooked at home on the grill, just the way you like it. Here are some tips for making the perfect burger this summer.

  • Use ground chuck that’s 80% lean, 20% fat. If you can find a butcher that grinds fresh chuck, even better. Don’t use ground round, which can have a livery taste.
  • Use a kitchen scale to weigh 1/3 lb or 1/2 lb portions of ground beef, then form them into a consistent size and thickness so all the burgers cook the same way on the grill.
  • Press a dimple into the top of each burger with your thumb. This prevents thick burgers from puffing up like a ball during grilling.
  • Sprinkle patties generously with salt and pepper just before they go onto the grill.
  • Cook burgers on a clean, hot grill, perhaps 8-10 minutes total for medium doneness. If concerned about the safety of commercial ground beef, consider cooking to an internal temp of 160°F measured with an instant-read thermometer. See Burger Temperature Guide for more details.
  • Let thick burgers rest, tented under foil, for 3-5 minutes before serving so juices can redistribute and reabsorb into the meat.
  • Serve burgers on a good quality potato bun or sesame seed bun.

Burger close-up

Learn More: 5 Steps to Burger Brilliance by Jamie Purviance

How To Remove Odors From Cast Iron Skillets & Cookware

Does your cast iron skillet smell funky? If so, try this tip from America’s Test Kitchen. Place it in a 400°F grill or oven for about 10 minutes. This burns off the oxidized fatty acids left behind from cooking that cause the odor.

Cast iron skillets

Let the pan cool until still warm but safe to handle. Apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the pan, removing any excess with paper towels. Your skillet is ready to go!

This method works for all cast iron skillets, pots, Dutch ovens, griddles and bakeware.

New Grilling Books For 2015

There’s a new crop of grilling books out for 2015. You may already be aware of some of these, some maybe not. All of these look interesting to me, take a look for yourself and if you’ve read any of them, let us know on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ

Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling and Smoking

The Ultimate Book of BBQ builds on the expertise of Southern Living magazine to create the definitive barbecue and outdoor grilling guide. The book features more than 200 of the highest-rated Southern Living recipes for barbecued meats and sides, plus pit-proven tips, techniques, and secrets for year-round smoking, grilling and barbecuing.

The Official John Wayne Way to Grill

The Official John Wayne Way to Grill: Great Stories & Manly Meals Shared By Duke’s Family

John Wayne Enterprises is proud to present The John Wayne Way to Grill, a new cookbook containing more than 200-pages of Duke’s favorite meals, from Tex-Mex classics to the best of Western barbecue and everything in between. More than just a collection of recipes, this deluxe publication will be chock-full of never-before-seen photos of the actor, along with personal anecdotes and heartwarming stories shared by his son Ethan.

Wicked Good Burgers

Wicked Good Burgers: Fearless Recipes and Uncompromising Techniques for the Ultimate Patty

Wicked Good Burgers ain’t your daddy’s patty on a bun. The upstart Yankee team that revolutionized barbecue with their upset win at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational turns their talents to burgers. Wicked Good Burgers fearlessly incorporates new techniques, inspirations, and ingredients to take the burger to the next level – whether it’s the Meatloaf Burger on Pretzel Bread with Cabernet Mustard or the Island Creek Burger with Oysters and homemade cocktail sauce.

Flavorize: Great Marinades, Injections, Brines, Rubs, and Glazes

Flavorize: Great Marinades, Injections, Brines, Rubs, and Glazes

In his latest lip-smackin’ cookbook, Dr. BBQ shows how to dress up meat, vegetables, and fruits with 120 brand-new recipes for tantalizing marinades, mouthwatering injections, savory brines, flavorful rubs, delectable glazes, and full recipes for what to make with them.

Feeding The Fire

Feeding the Fire: Recipes and Strategies for Better Barbecue and Grilling

Joe Carroll makes stellar barbecue and grilled meats in Brooklyn, New York, at his acclaimed restaurants Fette Sau and St. Anselm. In Feeding the Fire, Carroll gives us his top 20 lessons and more than 75 recipes to make incredible fire-cooked foods at home, proving that you don’t need to have fancy equipment or long-held regional traditions to make succulent barbecue and grilled meats.

Safe Cooking Temperatures For Pork Chops & Roasts

img_1988-1024
Pork tenderloin steaks

It wasn’t that long ago that for the sake of food safety, the USDA wanted us to cook pork chops and roasts to 160°F . The result: Lots of tough, dry pork all across this great land of ours.

The good news is that a few years ago, the USDA aligned its recommendations for safe pork with what many chefs and food experts had been saying all along: That whole muscle cuts like pork chops, pork loin roasts, and pork tenderloin are safe when cooked to 145°F—a full 15°F lower than the old recommendation.

Bruce Aidells, author of The Great Meat Cookbook, suggests cooking lean cuts of pork to 135-140°F, then removing the meat from the grill and allowing residual heat to bring the final internal temp to 145°F during a short rest before serving.

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And there’s no need to worry about trichinosis. That’s something our grandparents used to worry about when it came to pork, but it just doesn’t happen in our domestic pork supply today. Most cases that occur in the U.S.—about 20 per year—are associated with eating raw or undercooked wild game meats. On the grill, cooking pork to an internal temp of 138°F and holding at that temp for a few minutes kills trichinosis. So if you’re finishing pork at 140-145°F you’re good to go.

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As always, a good quality instant-read thermometer is the key to achieving food-safe temps when grilling any meat.

Burger Temperature Guide

Burger close-up
Is it done yet?

Here’s a handy temperature guide for the doneness of grilled burgers.

Burger Doneness Internal Temp
Medium Rare 125-130*F
Medium 135-140*F
Medium Well 145-160*F
Well Done > 160*F

If you must grill burgers well done, make a panade by mashing together 1/2 cup cubed white sandwich bread and 2 Tablespoons milk. Mix the panade with 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef and combine thoroughly before forming patties. The panade will keep the burgers moist even when cooked to well done.

Measure internal temperature in the center of the burger using a good quality instant-read thermometer like the ThermoWorks Thermapen.

Should Burgers Be Salted Before Or After Grilling?

Grilling sliders on the Weber Summit

When grilling a burger, should you salt it before or after grilling?

The good folks at Cook’s Illustrated magazine say you should sprinkle burgers with salt at the last minute, just before grilling.

Why? Because mixing salt into the meat before shaping the patties results in a firm texture similar to sausage, and salting on the outside 30 minutes before grilling results in burgers that are tender on the inside but dry on the outside.

Burgers that are salted on the outside at the last minute before grilling have the best texture inside and out. So dust your burgers with salt (and pepper) and toss them on the grill immediately for best results!