Preheating The Grill

Grilling on a Weber Q 220 after proper preheating
Grilling on a Weber Q 220 after proper preheating

It’s important to preheat your gas grill thoroughly before cooking. Proper preheating has the following benefits:

  • Preheating burns off any residue left from the last time you grilled.
  • Foods tend to stick less to grates that have been preheated.
  • Foods tend to cook more quickly and evenly in a grill that’s been preheated.

Check the owner’s manual for your grill for the recommended preheating instructions and length of time. Although your grill may vary, many experts recommend 10-15 minutes of preheating before grilling.

Reusing A Weber Frame As A Grill Cart

TVWBB member Rich Dahl made a wonderful grill cart from an old Weber gas grill frame.

“I was looking around for some type of movable service cart for my cooking area and just didn’t find what I wanted, or the price was way out of line,” says Rich. “I was on Craigslist one day and ran across a Weber Silver B gasser for $20.00, pretty beat up, but being in dry Arizona, no rust at all. I bought it, and with a repaint and some surplus clear pine and some trim, I built my own.

“Total cost $34.00 including the Weber.”

Read the reactions to Rich’s project on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

TVWGG Hot Dog Taste-Off: Big Brand Premium Division

Welcome to the TVWGG Hot Dog Taste-Off!

We’re continuing our taste-off of the best hot dogs for summer grilling. If this is your first visit to the taste off, make sure to read the first installment for details on how we’re selecting and judging the hot dogs.

Last week, Oscar Mayer beat Ballpark and Farmer John in the Big Brand Basic Division taste-off. This week, we up the ante by tasting upscale tube steaks from the most recognizable names in hot dogs.

The Big Brand Premium Division

This division includes what some would consider higher quality hot dogs from the biggest names in the business.

  • Ball Park Angus (Hillshire): $3.98
  • Hebrew National (ConAgra): $2.98
  • Nathan’s Famous Skinless (licensed to John Morrell/Smithfield): $2.98
  • Ball Park Deli Style (Hillshire): $3.99

We had hoped for an entire division dedicated to kosher hot dogs, but Hebrew National was the only big brand available in supermarkets in San Jose, California where the taste-off was held. That’s why HN has been placed in the Premium Division alongside these worthy competitors.

(Note that in these photos, the hot dogs are always shown in the order listed above.)

The Big Brand Premium Division - Front view
The Big Brand Premium Division – Front view
The Big Brand Premium Division - Rear view
The Big Brand Premium Division – Rear view
The Big Brand Premium Division - Without packaging
The Big Brand Premium Division – Without packaging

Judges Make Exception For Hebrew National

The Hebrew National hot dogs shown here are 50% larger than the competition, weighing-in at 3 ounces each. The taste-off rules require a standard length hot dog weighing about 2 ounces each. Hebrew National makes a 1.72 ounce hot dog, but it’s not readily available in San Jose, California where the taste-off was held. In order to include HN in the competition, the judges made an exception to the rule to allow this larger hot dog.

Grilling the hot dogs
Grilling the hot dogs

The hot dogs were grilled together and served to the judges.

Once the hot dogs were grilled but not overly cooked, they were brought indoors and immediately judged on appearance, then sampled and judged on taste and tenderness/texture.

Hot dogs ready for judging
Hot dogs ready for judging

The Results

Ball Park Deli Style sliced up Nathan’s Famous by 2.9 points, gored Ball Park Angus by 4 points, and made Hebrew National say “Oy Vey!” by 5.2 points.

Here are the weighted scores:

  • Ball Park Angus: 61.68
  • Hebrew National: 60.5828
  • Nathan’s Famous Skinless: 62.88
  • Ball Park Deli Style: 65.7372
Judges’ Comment Cards
  • Ball Park Angus: Good color; salty; mushy
  • Hebrew National: Looked bland, tasted bland; good texture
  • Nathan’s Famous Skinless: Not the best color; good balance of salt and spices; good texture
  • Ball Park Deli Style: Nice color/sheen; excellent spicy flavor; good texture

So Ball Park Deli Style is the winner of the Big Brand Premium Division! Stay tuned for our next division contest: The Almost Organic Division.

All Taste-Offs

Restoring The Weber Emblem

Weber emblem before and after restoration
Weber emblem before and after restoration

The emblem on many Weber gas grills may shows signs of aging long before other parts of the grill. Here are the steps to restore the emblem to a like-new state.

  1. Remove the emblem from the lid. It may be fastened with nuts or friction clips.
  2. Use a stiff wire brush to remove any flaking paint. Clean the surface with a solvent such as lacquer thinner.
  3. Spray the surface with high-temp gloss or semi-gloss black paint. Allow paint to dry thoroughly
  4. Sand the emblem to remove paint from the raised surface, leaving black paint in the negative space. Place a piece of 100 grit sandpaper on a flat work surface and place the emblem face-down on the sandpaper. Move the emblem in a circular motion to remove paint. Check the emblem frequently. Don’t sand more than necessary to remove paint.
  5. Repeat with 150 grit, 220 grit, 320 grit, and 400 grit sandpaper until a smooth finish has been achieved.
  6. Reinstall the emblem and enjoy your handiwork!
Emblem fastened with friction clip on 1991 Genesis
Emblem fastened with friction clip on 1991 Genesis
Emblem after partial sanding
Emblem after partial sanding

In some instances, the black background may be in good shape, as in the example shown below. This emblem just needs a good cleaning followed by sanding.

No painting required to restore this emblem
No painting required to restore this emblem

Thanks to members Steve Counts for the before/after photos, Bob U (Queens) for the partially sanded emblem photo, and Chad Bman and LMichaels for sharing the restoration steps on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

Recycling A Propane Tank

Recycling a propane tank at a hazardous materials center
Recycling a propane tank at a hazardous materials center

As a conclusion to my posts Turn Off The Gas Supply and Expired Propane Tanks, I wanted to say a few words about how to properly recycle a propane tank.

You cannot just toss that tank in the trash. It’s bad on two counts. One is that it’s considered hazardous material. Another is that it contains a lot of good steel that can be recycled into your next propane tank or gas grill!

Here’s the right way to lose that old tank:

  1. Contact your local garbage hauler. They can tell you where to drop-off your old tank.
  2. Contact your city or county hazardous materials department. Where I live, the county sponsors free drop-off locations where they accept old propane tanks along with other hazardous household materials.
  3. Go to the place where you have your tank refilled and ask if they will accept old tanks for recycling.
  4. Contact the tank manufacturer. They may be able to tell you about a recycling location near you.
  5. Contact a scrap metal recycler to see if they will accept old tanks for recycling.
  6. You can drop-off tanks for recycling at any Blue Rhino exchange location. Just write RECYCLE on the tank. They will collect and refurbish the tank, is possible, otherwise they will recycle it.

Plancha Bacon Cheeseburgers

On June 8, I posted about buying a Weber plancha for my Summit gas grill. The first thing I cooked using my new toy was bacon cheeseburgers. Yum!

I preheated the plancha for 10 minutes over medium-high heat, then fried-up some thick-sliced bacon over medium heat.

Bacon on the Weber plancha
Bacon on the Weber plancha
Bacon close-up
Bacon close-up

Once the bacon was done, I used some long tongs and a wad of paper towels to sweep the bacon fat to the drain. Next I grilled the burgers to medium doneness. A friend recommended that I try Prather Ranch ground beef from the Campbell Farmer’s Market. Very nice meat, but about twice the price of regular ground beef. Not an everyday thing but definitely a nice treat.

I formed the patties by hand and seasoned both sides generously with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper.

Burgers getting planchafied
Burgers getting planchafied

Got some good crustification on both sides.

Burger close-up
Burger close-up

Topped that burger with two slices of Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese and some crispy bacon.

Burger smothered with melted cheddar cheese and bacon
Burger smothered with melted cheddar cheese and bacon

Toasted me a bun on the grill and this meaty masterpiece was ready for condiments and my burger hole!

Burger ready for assembly
Burger ready for assembly

You can see that the plancha did a great job on the bacon and gave me a good crust on the burger. That cast iron construction is the key…it really holds the heat.

Next time I may try a Weber grill press to see if I can get even more crusty goodness on a plancha burger.

The Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha is available at Amazon.com.

Genesis 2 Restoration By Steve Counts

This Weber Genesis 2 redhead is owned by TVWBB member Steve Counts from Richardson, Texas. Steve bought it new in 1992. At some point he added the optional side burner and later the casters. The plastic lid handle shown here is not original and was part of Steve’s restoration project.

1992 Weber Genesis 2 before restoration
1992 Weber Genesis 2 before restoration
Side view of Weber Genesis 2
Side view of Weber Genesis 2

Steve did some deep cleaning, repainted the firebox, replaced some rusted bolts in the frame, and installed that new lid handle. “One of these days I would like to get a wooden handle for looks, but the plastic one from Weber is functional,” says Steve. The Flavorizer bars had been replaced in recent years, so they stayed.

One of the biggest efforts was replacing the wooden slats. “The wood is cedar that I got at Lowes,” says Steve. “I stained it with Defender fence stain. Should hold up well to the weather.”

As finishing touches, Steve replaced the burner control knobs and cooking grates, restored the Weber emblem, and created a new gas gauge label using a Brother P-Touch label printer.

Finished restoration
Finished restoration

Steve comments, “I haven’t repainted the frame, just cleaned and polished it with Soft Scrub to remove oxidation.

“It amazes me how well it’s held up and how little was needed to restore it.”

Congratulations, Steve. She’s a beauty!

You can read more about Steve’s restoration on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

Happy Father’s Day

Sunday is Father’s Day, and I want to extend my greetings to all the dads out there!

I hope you get to spend time with your dad on his special day. Maybe take over the grill and treat him to his favorite meal. If you can’t see your dad in person, give your dad a phone call and tell him how much you love him. If you’re into the high-tech stuff, use Facetime. Just make sure to tell him.

And if your dad is no longer with us, think a happy thought about him and honor his memory on Sunday.

Here’s my dad with his Weber gas grill. This grill was my first gas grill, and I gave it to him when I bought my Weber Summit. Sometimes I wish I still had that redhead. But I know it’s in good hands.

Love you, dad!

My dad, Gary
My dad, Gary

TVWGG Hot Dog Taste-Off: Big Brand Basic Division

Welcome to the TVWGG Hot Dog Taste-Off!

Hey there hot dog fans! Summer is approaching and that means it’s hot dog grilling season!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be putting a bunch of hot dogs to the test and tell you which one is the best! Inspired by Slap Yo’ Daddy’s application of KCBS judging to fast food burgers, we’ve decided to do the same for that beloved summertime favorite, the hot dog.

We’ll organize the dogs into divisions and grill them together for the same amount of time on the same gas grill. Each dog will be judged using the 2014 KCBS scoring system for appearance, taste, and tenderness/texture. Hot dogs will be sampled plain, without buns or condiments. Judging will be conducted by me and my wife, Julie.

To simplify and standardize the taste-off, we’re limiting the competition to all-beef hot dogs of standard length (not bun length) weighing about 2 ounces each. All hot dogs are purchased at supermarkets in San Jose, CA.

First up: The Big Brand Basic Division

This division consists of basic beef franks from the heavy hitters of corporate hot dogdom:

  • Oscar Mayer (Kraft): $2.98
  • Ball Park (Hillshire): $2.98
  • Farmer John (Clougherty/Hormel): $3.64

(Note that in these photos, the hot dogs are always shown in the order listed above.)

The Big Brand Basic Division - Front view
The Big Brand Basic Division – Front view
The Big Brand Basic Division - Rear view
The Big Brand Basic Division – Rear view
The Basic Big Brand Division - Without packaging
The Big Brand Basic Division – Without packaging

The hot dogs were grilled together and served to the judges. There were some obvious differences in the way each brand grilled up. It should also be said that the front edge of the grill may run a bit hotter than the back.

Grilling the hot dogs
Grilling the hot dogs

Once the hot dogs were grilled but not overly cooked, they were brought indoors and immediately judged on appearance, then sampled and judged on taste and tenderness/texture.

Hot dogs ready for judging
Hot dogs ready for judging

The Results

Oscar Mayer plowed-under Farmer John by a margin of 2.3 points and sent Ball Park to the showers with a commanding  8.6 point victory.

Here are the weighted scores:

  • Oscar Mayer: 66.8572
  • Ball Park: 58.2856
  • Farmer John: 64.5828
Judges’ Comment Cards
  • Oscar Mayer: Nice sheen and color; balanced salty/smoky flavor; snappy exterior, good interior texture
  • Ball Park: Tastes like bologna; too soft; spongy texture
  • Farmer John: Good browning; nice smoky flavor

So Oscar Mayer is the winner of the Big Brand Basic Division! Stay tuned for our next division contest: The Big Brand Premium Division.

All Taste-Offs

Expired Propane Tanks

I recently posted an item called Turn Off The Gas Supply in which I discussed the importance of doing just that each time you finish grilling. In that post, I showed this photo of a typical 20 lb. propane tank that I got from Wikimedia Commons:

20lb propane tank

Notice anything special about this tank? Let’s take a closer look.

Close-up of expired propane tank

See that number “01-99” stamped into the valve guard? That’s the manufacturing date of this tank—January 1999.

Propane tanks can be refilled for up to 12 years after their manufacturing date. For this tank, that was until the end of January 2011. After that date, reputable propane dealers will not refill the tank unless it has been recertified. You can get tanks recertified for a fee at larger commercial propane dealers. Recertified tanks get an additional stamp or mark on the valve guard and can be used for an additional 5 years, at which time they need to be recertified again.

What causes a tank to fail recertification? Extensive rust is one thing. And if valve requirements have changed by law,  you may need to have the valve replaced in order to recertify.

Why do I know anything about this subject? Because last year I took a tank to the A-1 Rental Center near my home for a refill and was told that they would refill it one last time, but next time they would not because it had expired. Surprise!

Of course, this issue is not relevant if you do the tank exchange thing at the supermarket, gas station, or big box store. Tank exchange is very convenient, but at least where I live, if you do the math, it’s cheaper to own a tank and refill it over 12 years than it is to do tank exchange, so that’s the route I have chosen.

But when my tank expired, I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to find a place to recertify it and pay the fee, so I just bought a new tank.

Now…how to get rid of an old propane tank? That’s coming up in a future post.

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