Thursday, January 29, 2015

Product Review: Ekogrips Silicone BBQ Gloves

When you barbecue there are many times when you have to handle hot cuts of meat during the process, such as;
  • refueling certain types of cookers,
  • taking ribs, brisket, or butts off to foil them, or
  • removing your cooked meats from the smoker.
These cuts are large, oddly shaped, covered in rendering fat, and too hot to handle bare handed.  They are typically too big to handle with typical grilling utensils.  Oven mitts aren't a good option because they will be soiled and they don't provide protection against hot liquids that can spill.

In the past, I used silicone gloves that are lined with cloth like these.  They cost about $14 online.

Removing hot spare ribs from the foil pack.

They were good at handling the meat safely but the cloth lining made sanitation and maintenance a bit difficult because if the insides got wet, they take forever to air dry.  If you put them away with them not fully dry, you end up with mildew and other contamination in the gloves. 

Then I saw these bright orange silicone gloves and thought that they might be the answer.  Ekogrips are available for $26.27 a pair via Amazon, which is where Alexis bought ours.  I have used them for one year now so thought I'd do a review.
I have used this pair for a full year now and they have held up well to the use and washing.
  • Make it very easy to handle the large cuts of meat on the grill.  
  • Heat resistant to 425°F so they are rated way more than any food you will be handling.
  • The outer surface texture makes it easy to handle the greasiest cuts of food without slipping.
  • They are super easy to clean, just wash your hands with soap and hot water while wearing them.  The insides are silicone too so even if they get wet, they will dry more quickly and don't give pathogens a place to hide and grow. They are also dishwasher safe if you want to go that route.
  • They are resistant to grease, heat, and hot liquids.
  • They hold up well to repeated use.  The ones pictured are the actual ones I have used for 1 year.

  • They aren't great for handling hot grill parts, which can easily exceed their 425°F limit.  I moved a standard BGE grate while wearing a pair of these at the Taste of Atlanta and got a 2nd degree burn on my right middle finger without even damaging the glove.  The heat just passed right on through.  Best bet is still a pair of leather welding gloves for handling hot grill parts.
  • They aren't the best when it comes to dexterity, the fingers can be awkwardly stiff.  You won't have fine manipulation ability while wearing them but they are good for handling the big cuts.
  • Greasy silicone is slippery.  They can be quite difficult to get them off once they get greasy, you don't want to wear a tight fitting pair when you are home alone.  Not too big of a deal, I just lightly bite the tip of the middle finger and pull the glove off with my teeth.  
Handling a hot beef brisket on the Big Green Egg.

Handling smoked pork butts this past weekend.

When they get greasy....

Just wash with soap and hot water like you are washing your hands or use a dish brush.

Ekogrip Silicone BBQ Gloves are the best option that I have found for handling hot turkeys, ribs, briskets, butts, and roasts.  They handle the heat and grease without batting an eye.  Gator Gloves and a few manufacturers make similar gloves for a bit less but I have not tested those.

These would also perform great in the kitchen for handling hot liquids and things like large roasts or turkeys.  But you would not want to use these as pot holders for temps above 425°F.  

[Standard FTC Disclaimer]  I receive no compensation for this post and paid full price for my Ekogrip Silicone BBQ Gloves.  I do have an Amazon Affiliate Seller account; however, links in this post are NOT linked to my account and I do not get a percentage of any sales.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Grilled Chicken and Glazed Bacon Sandwich (Sponsored Post)

It's that time of year again.

It turns dark before you get home from work. The Polar Vortex is dropping down spreading frigid temperatures across the country. Some people pack their grills away after Labor Day or at least after the first snow, but not me. 

Even at 4 in the afternoon, this grill is chilled below freezing before firing it up.

When the grills are literally below freezing, hardcore grillers like my friends and me ignore the elements, stoke our fires, and get our grill on. And it is those senseless nuts devoted grill fanatics – “Evergrillers” if you will – that Kraft Barbecue Sauce is celebrating as they celebrate their revamped line of barbecue sauces this month.

The new Kraft Barbecue Sauce breaks new ground with eight varieties.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous when I heard of the reformulation because I use Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce in the mop sauce that I use for my smoked chicken that everyone raves about. I learned this recipe during a pig pickin' that we were cooking for the neighborhood 15 years ago. Bill M sent me to the store but he made sure to specify Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce, nothing else. To this day, that is what I use for my smoked chicken mop. So I wanted to know what they were changing since they were also changing my long trusted recipe.

Kraft Barbecue Sauce has been listening to its customers and it shows in these new sauces. Kraft Barbecue Sauce is the first major line that I know of that has dropped high fructose corn syrup and uses real cane sugar. The new Kraft Barbecue Sauce line up is full of only quality ingredients that you would expect from a small batch sauce maker. The sauce comes in eight bold varieties including Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce, Kraft Sweet Honey Barbecue Sauce, Kraft Hickory Smoke Barbecue Sauce, Kraft Mesquite Smoke Barbecue Sauce, Kraft Sweet Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce, Kraft Spicy Honey Barbecue Sauce, Kraft Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce, and Kraft Thick & Spicy Barbecue Sauce. They also revamped their packaging from the classic curved sides so look for the new design.

To celebrate, Kraft Barbecue Sauce hooked up some Evergrillers with custom, one of a kind innovations to help brave inclement weather while grilling. These aren't products for sale, just some imagineering on the brand’s part to recognize people who light the grill year 'round. But at the end of this post, I'll tell you how you can win one of these innovations. I opened my mystery box to find 4 of the new Kraft Barbecue Sauce varieties and the Evergriller Hot Head Hat.

This insulated hat comes equipped with electric ear warmers, a powerful LED light, and even a 'flume' for your Kraft Barbecue Sauce.

This Evergriller Hot Head Hat kept me nice and toasty whether I was grilling burgers on a cold afternoon,

grilling a few racks of ribs for bowl games,

Smoking a few baby back ribs in the dark of night, the headlight cut through the smoke.

grilling some chicken wings for New Year's Eve,

or cooking these delicious chicken sandwiches.

Grilled Chicken and Glazed Bacon Sandwiches
servings: 6
prep time: 15 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons low sugar BBQ rub (see text for quick recipe)
  • ½ cup Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
  • 6 onion or Kaiser rolls
  • toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, red onion
For the Glazed Bacon
  • 6 thick slices smoked bacon, cut in half
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

  1. Preheat your grill to 375°F, clean and lube your grates. Preheat your oven according to bacon package directions.
  2. Place the bacon in a plastic bag, add the sugar and Creole seasoning, and toss to coat evenly. Cook the bacon in the oven according to the bacon package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, butterfly the chicken breasts (see notes below) and season with a low sugar BBQ rub. If you want to make a quick and easy one, just mix 1 tablespoon all purpose seasoning salt, a half tablespoon ground black pepper, and a half teaspoon each of garlic powder, dried parsley, and brown sugar.
  4. Cut the buns in half (if not already sliced), lightly brush with some olive oil and toast on the grill about 30 seconds a side.
  5. Grill the butterflied chicken breasts 4 minutes per side. Lightly glaze (about 1 tablespoon each) with the Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce and continue cooking until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, which should take about 1 minute per side.
  6. Cut the butterflied breasts in half and place each on a toasted bun with 2 half pieces of glazed bacon. If you like, you can slice each piece for the sandwich, whichever way you prefer. Top with a tablespoon of the leftover Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce and serve with desired toppings.]
Normally, I would recommend cooking the bacon on an indirect grill; however, in the winter you can 'cheat' and use your oven.
Minimize your time in the cold by setting up your mise en place inside and bringing out everything you will need on a tray.
Bringing out the goods.

To butterfly chicken breasts, place on a firm surface and gently press down. Carefully slice the breast sideways until you reach ½ inch from the other side. Open it up like a book and flatten evenly. Alternatively, you can pay more and buy chicken cutlets already sliced at the grocery store.
The butterflied breasts are thinner so you are cutting your cooking times down to shorten your time in the freezing cold.

Rotate your chicken ¼ turn about halfway through the time for each side to get cross hatch marks like this.

Saucing the bird. Forgive the blurry photo, when it's 20°F out, I work as fast as I can!
A tablespoon of Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce has zero grams of fat and only 60 calories, but still apply lightly – you want to enhance the food, not drown it.
Some folks like their chicken pieces whole so you can serve them like this...
But I find it easier to eat if the chicken is sliced up like this.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, the Evergriller Hot Heat Hat is a one-time custom rig that Kraft Barbecue Sauce put together for me. But, you can win an Evergriller Grill 'N' Flip Mitt and a year’s supply of Kraft Barbecue Sauce over at my grilling buddy, Scott Thomas' blog So hop over there, check out what he is doing with Kraft Barbecue Sauce, and enter to win.

This post is sponsored by Kraft Barbecue Sauce, and the recipe is my own. You can learn more about Kraft Barbecue Sauce offerings, find recipes, and more on and

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How I Smoke Beef Short Ribs on a Kamado Grill

I have a dirty secret.

When it comes to the classic BBQ dishes - chicken, pork ribs, pork (pulled or chopped), and brisket - pork ribs are my least favorite by far.  For the general public, pork ribs seem to be the Nirvana of BBQ but for me, they just don't have the wow factor.

When in comes to ribs, I like mine big and beefy!  Usually I make beef back ribs which are the ribs cut off of the prime rib to make ribeye steaks.  I choose those mainly because they are easier to find around here.  But when I want my favorite ribs of all, I use the chuck plate short rib - aka "dino bones" -  to get the most meat of any rib and the biggest beef flavor.  It's like brisket on a stick.  Speaking of brisket, you pretty much cook a full rack of short ribs similar to a small brisket.

Smoke dino bones on Big Green Egg, primo, Kamado Joe, Grill Dome, Vision grills
I like my beef ribs big enough to flip Fred Flinstone's car over at the drive in!

Here's how I smoke those dino bones on a ceramic kamado grill like the Big Green Egg, Grill Dome, Vision Grill, Primo, or Kamado Joe (or if you have deep pockets - the Komodo Kamado). 

Preparing the Kamado Grill

  • This will be a long cook so it is important to clean out the ashes from any previous cooks to ensure free air flow.  
  • Wood - I used to use chunks or chips but I have become a big fan of using small 13" x 1" split oak or hickory logs.  I set them up in a triangle as pictured below and then fill in with coal around and above the logs.  The triangle arrangement seems to burn consistently throughout the process and I get a steady smoke from it.
  • I use a MAPpro torch to light three places (away from where the tops of the logs are) 20 seconds each.  I have the bottom vent and DMFT top vent wide open until the kamado dome temperature reaches about 175°F.  Then I cut the bottom vent to about 1" and shut the DMFT slide but leave the petals fully open.  On a kamado with a plain disc top vent, I'd have it open about 1/4" at the widest point.  I then gradually shut the vent to about 1/4 to 1/2" to stabilize the temperature at 225°F.
  • I don't put in the plate setter/heat diffuser and other equipment until the temp is stable.  Then once I put everything in, it only takes a few minutes for the temps to re-stabilize.  My typical set up is the plate setter in "legs up", a 13" drip pan to catch the rendered fat, a 16" tuning plate to help tame the gaps around the plate setter, and the grill grate. I fill the drip pan half full with liquid to help keep a moist environment to facilitate converting nitrogen compounds in the smoke to compounds on the meat that will form a smoke ring.
  • Once the temperature is steady and the smoke has turned from thick white to very thin white, clear, or what BBQ aficionados refer to as "blue".
Big Green Egg, Grill Dome, Primo, Kamado Joe, Vision Grill
Triangle configuration for my smoke wood set up in the Ash Kicker basket.

MAPP gass coal light
The lighting method is pretty inconsequential on how the food turns out, I just like using a torch for speed.

At least you need a plate setter/heat diffuser and grate.  I like to include the 13" drip pan to avoid a mess and the 16" tuning plate to balance the heat in the gaps around the diffuser/plate setter. 

Prepping The Meat
  • Buying beef short ribs.  If you have a real butcher, this shouldn't be hard, just ask for a rack of untrimmed beef short ribs, which can be either NAMP #123 or 130.  If you are looking for them in a grocery store, you won't see them on the rack whole but if the meat department sells cross cut "Korean style" beef ribs or the 3" trimmed short ribs for braising, ask the meat associates if they have any whole short ribs that haven't been trimmed down yet.  Of course, this only works at stores that cut their own meat, some stores have it shipped in pre-cut. Look for ribs that have a nice red color and marbling.  You want one rib per person, these things are huge.
  • Beef short ribs can come with a little excess fat and some silverskin on the meat side.  I remove all of the silver skin by carefully working the tip of a boning knife under the silver skin and then slicing along it (just like you do on a pork tenderloin for example).  I trim the fat down to as thin as I can get it, about 1/8th inch or less.  I remove the membrane when cooking back ribs but for short ribs with so much meat on top of the bones, I just don't find removing the membrane necessary.  Instead I just score it with the tip of a knife.
  • Rack vs Single - The first place where I ever got a dino bone sliced theirs into single ribs before smoking.  This gives you more rub and bark on each rib so the flavor is more intense.  I prefer smoking a whole rack for a more balance beef flavor.  It's just a matter of preference.
  • Brine - none
  • Injection - It doesn't need it and I generally don't use one.  If I did it would something similar to the injection that I use for briskets.
  • Slather - This adds a layer of flavor and helps the rub stick to the meat.  Same as briskets, I take maybe a tablespoon of beef base, mix it with enough Worcestershire sauce to make a paste and rub it all over the rib meat.
  • Rub - For quality beef, all you really need is pepper, salt, and garlic. I don't want a lot of sweet from the typical BBQ rubs. I usually use my NMT Beef Rub, which is that and a few other ingredients.  For this particular cook I cooked one rack with my rub and the other with Meat Church Holy Cow rub that I got for free from fellow Egger and Meat Church creator, Matt P.  Just try a few beef rubs to see what you like but look specifically for beef rubs, not general BBQ rubs.
Removing the silver skin is necessary because it won't render away, it just stays there and gets tougher. Removing the excess fat just keeps the ribs from being too fatty and greasy.

From the end view, you can see from where the sliced Korean style beef ribs come.
Scored membrane to allow rendered fat to drip out more easily and for the rub to penetrate.  You can remove the membrane altogether if you like.  This is the only rib that I don't bother with removing the membrane.

Both of these rubs worked well.  Both are salt and pepper based, mine uses black and green pepper, Meat Church uses red and black.  I'll be doing a full review of Holy Cow later.

Prepping dino bone ribs
Rubbed and ready to go into the smoker.
Let's get this show on the road!  Using two remote probes (Thermoworks ChefAlarms) because the smaller rack should finish earlier.

  • Just like most BBQ meats, short ribs are full of connective tissue and need a long, slow cook to break those down.  You can do them either low and slow (200-250°F) or hot and fast (above 300°F), I just mean long and slow as in you are not going to cook these in 2 hours.
  • Regardless of low/slow vs. hot/fast, I like to start my short ribs at a dome temperature of about 225-230°F (200-210°F at the grate level) for the first two hours.  I do this because the longer that the meat is below and internal temperature of ~120°F, the enzymes calpains and cathepsins will be very active and break down the protein and collagen in just a few hours similar to how weeks of dry aging would do (On Food and Cooking - McGee location 3951).  I also find I get a better smoke ring.
  • After two hours, I raise up my cooking temps to 275-300°F for the duration.  
  • I do my best not to open the kamado dome until the internal meat temperatures hit 160°F. At that point I will check every few hours to see how the color of the bark is.  I want a dark mahogany brown, almost black, crust. Once I get that color I will wrap the ribs in a double sheet of foil to 1) halt the darkening of the crust and 2) speed up the remainder of the cook. When using my stick burner, that usually happens right at 160°F but kamados have a much cleaner burn and I don't have to wrap until around 180°F, sometimes not at all. 
  • Spritzing/Mopping - I use a spritz of 1 cup beef stock and 1 tablespoon of Braggs liquid aminos. I spritz the meat once at the start of the cook, making the meat surface moist which gets those nitrogen compounds in smoke to convert and bond with the myoglobin in the meat, creating that tell tale smoke ring.  Then I also spritz the few times that I open the grill - this will just build a subtle layer of umami flavor.
  • When the ribs hit an internal temperature of 198°F, it is time to start checking for tenderness.  I pick the rib up and feel for flexibility.  I touch the top of the ribs and stick them with a bamboo skewer to check for tenderness.  When the skewer slides in like you are sticking it into butter, it's done.  Typically this is around 205-ish for me, but it varies.

Short ribs first going on, they kind of look like small brisket flats here.

Lower vent and top DMFT vent settings for this cook.  These settings are highly variable by brand, weather, and all kinds of factors so you just can't say "position your vents to x and y to get 250°F".  The more you cook on your kamado, the more this becomes second nature.

Three hours in, these are both right at 160°F but they don't need to be foiled yet because the color is not dark enough for me yet.

Drag racing ChefAlarms.  Notice that the "blue" rack got off to a fast start but the "green" rack caught up at 160°F and then went on to finish 20 minutes faster.

I shoot for an internal temperature of 198-208°F.  After 198°F I occasionally test for tenderness by touch and by sticking with a bamboo skewer. I usually end up 205-ish but these felt ready at 201 and 202.

Graph of the cook.  Blue line is the cooking temp measured at the dome.  I raised it at 4 and again at 6:30 because I was trying to speed up the cook.  You can see how the internal temps of both ribs stalled around 4:30pm and then jumped as soon as I foiled them at 7:30pm.

Full cooking log from this rib cook.

  • Rest - I ate these as soon as they came out after a brief rest, but only because it was 9 o'clock.  Normally I like to place these foil wrapped ribs in one of our warm Cambro's to rest for 2-4 hours.  You could also put it in an empty cooler with a few towels to insulate the foil package.  That is what folks mean when they say FTC on the Big Green Egg forum ("foil-towel-cooler").
  • Sauce - I usually don't put BBQ sauce on these at all.  I will do a finishing sauce just to drizzle on them as an enhancement.  I reduce 1 cup of beef stock and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of rub to 2/3rds cup (about 10-15 minutes of simmering) and then thicken it with a little xantham gum if needed.  Baslamic vinegar reductions also work well.
  • Slicing - Your normal slicer knife will do fine, nothing complicated here.
  • Leftovers - Leftovers are best reheated by putting them in a container just big enough to hold the ribs, add some stock, and seal the top with foil.  Cook at 325°F until heated through and tender, about 35 minutes.  This way they taste almost as good as fresh.  Also you can pull and shred the meat with forks and use that meat for tacos, sloppy joes, chili, etc.

dino bones smoked on the big green egg kamado joe primo grill dome
The bones are straight so slice right down the middle.

ceramic grill smoked beef ribs
Nice smoke ring around the edges.

Tender, luscious, and my favorite rib by far.

Other Grills and Smokers

Offset Pits
When cooking beef ribs on my "Warthog" offset pit smoker, I get plenty of smoke flavor and smoke rings so I would just cook at a straight 275°F for about 2 hours per pound.  There isn't much moisture in the air compared to a kamado so I'd definitely use a water pan and spritz the meat every hour using a watered down version of the spritz I used above.

Kettle Grills
I'd use the typical indirect set up with liquid in the pan under the ribs to maintain a moist environment.  You would add your wood to the coal.  Same times and temps, just more frequent spritzing and you'll have to be adding fuel and smoke wood during the cook.

Gas Grills
Not ideal for smoking, because gas grills are designed to NOT be air tight - they are vented.  But the majority of people that grill use gas grills so I want to to include it here.  You would set your grill up like I did below for a rack of Memphis style baby back ribs.  Your foil pack of wood chips will go over the burner that is on, a liquid drip pan near the heated side, and your beef ribs will go on the opposite side.  You'll have to replace your wood chips hourly or so which will drop your temps so you may want to increase the cooking temps to 300°F or plan for a much longer cook.

My Char-Broil Gourmet TRU-Infrared 3 burner grill set up for smoking.  If you are going to use a gas grill for smoking, I'd recommend using one with Infrared technology like this one because in my experience, they don't dry out the meat like standard gas grills do.
[Standard FTC Disclaimer]  I received the Meat Church rub for free, I received the kettle grill for free as part of a promotion, and I received the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared as part of my compensation for being on their great All-Star Team.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Grilled Shrimp and Scallop Skewers with Champagne Sauce

While the holidays may be behind us, party season is still running strong with the college football championships tonight and the NFL playoffs going on.  You need a quick grilled appetizer that you can whip up quickly so you still have time to catch all of the action on the field.

These Grilled Shrimp and Scallop Skewers with Champagne Sauce are just the ticket and they are perfect if you have an un-popped bottle of champagne leftover from New Years.  It is also my submission for Char-Broil Live as a part of the Char-Broil All Stars grilling team.

It is hard to believe that it was just a year ago that my Char-Broil Gourmet grill arrived on the coldest day in my 15 years in Knoxville.  Coldest temps I'd ever felt in my life, but that didn't stop me from putting it together and trying it out.

I put a lot of miles on this grill this year, especially for a kamado grill guy like me. 

I am so glad that I joined this great group of grilling nuts.  They are immensely talented, creative, and yeah....have a bit of a sense of humor.

So I'm proud to announce that I'll be a part of the Char-Broil All Star team again for 2015.