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.

Weber Built-In Gas Grills

Weber Summit S-660 built-in gas grill
Weber Summit S-660 built-in gas grill

Are you a hardcore Weber gas grill fan?

I ask because in my experience, only the hardest of hardcore fans knows that Weber makes built-in gas grills for outdoor kitchens and grilling islands.

Two models are offered in the Summit line: the S-460 4-burner and S-660 6-burner. Both grills come with infrared rotisserie, Sear Station burner, and a smoke box with dedicated burner as standard equipment. Both come in propane and natural gas versions.

And did you know there’s an optional built-in dual side burner?

So if you’re about to embark on an outdoor kitchen project this summer, consider including a Weber built-in gas grill in your plans. Your investment in Weber quality will pay dividends for years to come!

Cooking Meat On Edge

Cooking a tri-tip on edge

If you’ve grilled your fair share of tri-tip roasts, you’ve probably encountered a few that were very thick, especially on one side. The one shown in this photo is an example of that. I had seared both sides nicely, but that big, thick edge was just begging for a good sear, too.

I was aware of techniques like using wadded-up aluminum foil to prop-up meat on edge, but while grilling this roast I noticed a solution sitting right in front of me: the swing-up part of the grate on my Summit 450 that allows access to the smoker box.

Just pop open that grate, lean the tri-tip against it with the thick side facing down, and sear away to  your heart’s content.

If you have a grill with a swing-up grate, I hope you can take advantage of this simple but effective tip.

Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha

Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha

One of my resolutions for 2014 was to do more cast iron grilling. Another resolution was to buy more grilling toys. So I recently got the Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha for my Summit 450 grill.

Plancha out of the box

Plancha is a Spanish term for a metal plate or griddle or flat-top grill used for cooking. Here’s how the Weber plancha looks out of the box. Heavy cast iron construction with a glossy porcelain enamel coating for easy cleanup and no seasoning like raw CI. The plancha replaces one of the grates in your gas grill. The cooking surface is slightly angled forward so that liquid runs toward the drain at the front of the plancha and exits into your grill’s grease tray.

You can cook anything on a plancha that you would normally cook using CI. Think meat, fish, fruits and veggies, even breakfast foods. I’m thinking about several things I want to try and I’ll post the results here.

These planchas are not one-size-fits-all. You have to buy the right one for your specific grill. You’ll find a big selection of Weber planchas at Amazon.com.

Why not just use a cast iron skillet or a griddle on the grill? You could, but the benefits of larger size, high sides, no seasoning, and liquid drainage makes these planchas hard to beat!

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

Turn Off The Gas Supply

Propane_tank

You do turn off the gas supply when you’re finished grilling, don’t you? If not,  you should. Weber says so.

Why? It takes the pressure off the hose, valves, and connections inside your grill. If any of those parts were to fail, you’d have a potentially dangerous gas leak on your hands.

“But my grill is well maintained,”  you say. When was the last time you used a soapy water solution to check each valve and connection for leaks? When was the last time you examined every inch of the supply hose for cracks or wear?

“But I don’t turn off the gas supply to my kitchen stove after each use, and that’s inside my house,” you say. Your kitchen stove and other indoor gas appliances are designed to operate under continuous gas pressure. Your grill is not.

Remember, the manufacture is recommending that you turn off the gas supply after each use. Maybe you should follow their advice. Why take any chance at all when it’s so easy to reach down and turn a knob?

Is there a proper sequence for turning off the gas? Weber says to turn each burner control knob to the OFF position first, then turn the gas supply off at the source. The next time you cook, follow the safe lighting process by reversing those steps.

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