Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Product Review: Fully Loaded Burger Stuffer

While “Jucy Lucy [sic]” style burgers have been around since the mid-50's, the trend of stuffed burgers has exploded in 2011. even declared 2011 as the year of the stuffed burger. 

Like with any food trend, there is a myriad of products trying to strike while the iron is hot and today I'm reviewing one of those – the Fully Loaded Burger Stuffer byHeadchefs.

I've used the Burger Stuffer a few times and here are my observations:

  • They are very well manufactured. The silicone and plastic parts fit together well.
  • The tapered cup design balances out the stuffing to the burger. The edges are thicker which ended up grilling perfectly with zero “cheese ruptures”.
  • Easy to clean.

“Not so up” side
  • I still ended up having to hand seal the edges to get a good closure. Despite the thicker edges noted above, they just didn't mix together in the tool.  Then again, no burger stuffer tool I have tried did not require some hand sealing at the end.
  • Price point – it's a bit pricy for a uni-tasker tool that you might use a handful of times per year

Another thing is the 7 step process required per burger. On one hand, it is entertaining to use in a “playdough fun factory” kind of way. On the other hand it is a bit convoluted compared to just doing it by hand. 

Click for animation

The burgers I made tonight were stuffed with pepper jack cheese and 1 Tablespoon of homemade salsa. I grilled them on my Big Green Egg at 450f using GrillGrates

I served them with a roasted red pepper mayo (1 Tbsp diced roasted red pepper and ¼ cup mayo). 

The flavors were simple and less extravagant than some of the over the top “burger stuffed with Himalayan yak cheese, shaved fennel and sodium free kosher salt” kind of things I've seen. But you know what? It worked.

[Standard Disclaimer] I received the Fully Loaded Burger Stuffer as a free review sample. I received my GrillGrates free at Kingsford University earlier this year but I would totally buy a set if someone stole mine – don't get any ideas, stay off my deck!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Grilled Potato Salad

There was NO tailgating this morning for Trevor's game since we had to leave the house before dawn to be at his last pre-season bowl game this morning.  We had to be there at 7am. 

He is #50 and nailed this tackle.

But tailgating season is upon us and one of the common side dishes found at a tailgate is the ubiquitous potato salad. If you want to make your potato salad stand out as something special, try grilling it. Take your favorite potato salad recipe and grill some of the main components. This is a trick taught at Kingsford University. Grilling your potatoes and veggies will boost their flavor. 

grilled potato salad, bbq plate

Before you can have a side dish, you have to have a main dish so I smoked three racks of spare ribs.
Rib set up for kamado grill, Big Green Egg rib set up, Craycort 13" used for ribs
Rubbed and on the Big Green Egg.  Used hickory & cherry wood.
Ribs with bones sticking out, big green egg ribs

Grilled Potato Salad

2 lb red bliss potatoes, halved
1 ear corn, shucked
1 ea jalapeno
2 ea green onion
1 stalk celery (trim leaves and reserve for the dressing, see below)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper, ground

3 oz Dukes mayonnaise
2 Tbsp coarse ground mustard
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp celery leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh cayenne pepper, seeded and finely chopped (sub ½ tsp red pepper flake)
½ tsp fresh sage, finely chopped

Toss potatoes in oil, salt and pepper. Place on skewers and microwave for 3 minutes. Flip and microwave another 3 minutes.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together.

Place the potato skewers, corn, and jalapeno on a 350f grill. Cook for 8 minutes, turning it all every 2 minutes. 

In the last 2 minutes add the green onion and celery.

grilled potato salad, vegetarian grill dish, BBQ side dish

Remove the potatoes from the skewers and cut in half (so they are now quartered). Cut the kernels off of the ear. Peel, seed, and dice the jalapeno. Chop the celery and green onion.

Toss all of this into a large bowl. Mix with the dressing. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Chill for at least one hour.

Ribs and potato salad
It's hard to make potato salad look awesome but ribs help!

Served with BBQ ribs and Bush Original Barbecue Beans.

[Standard Disclaimer] I am currently in a partnership with Bush Beans for some upcoming events but this post has nothing to do with that. Specific products named in this post are just because I like them. I wasn't compensated for this post.

Monday, August 22, 2011

On Our Grills August

It is time for the monthly On OurGrills – 4 Ingredient Challenge

It's a monthly challenge (not contest) in which a group of grilling/BBQ friends are presented with a list of 4 ingredients that they must use to create a meal from the grill. The challenge ingredients for August are:

Protein: Beef Short Ribs
Vegetable: Celery
Starch: Gluten Free Pasta
Fruit: Peaches

I cheated on this one. I had an ace up my sleeve and I consulted the Gluten Free Grillmeister himself, Dave of Food and Fire for advice. I decided to TRY to make the entire meal gluten free. 

Beef Short Ribs
Full of connective tissues, these are a prime candidate for low and slow and/or braising. I went with both and used this Chris Lilly recipe that you can find at I smoked the ribs as directed and used a mix of Kingsford and peach wood that I got from Larry last year (BigDude's Eclectic Ramblings). The second part of the cook braises them where I did slip up on gluten free since I could not get gluten free soy sauce.

Does celery even COUNT as a vegetable? I mean, it's fiber and water. Outside of “ants on a log” or as a side to hot wings, whoever wants celery? Actually I like the flavor of celery, it's the texture that I dislike. I hate biting into dishes and getting a huge, raw chunk of celery. I solved that problem tonight by using very thin slices on a bias. Just look at the difference.

Gluten Free Pasta
This was my biggest surprise. I expected some chewy, gross pasta substitute. We used Notta Pasta Rice Spaghetti and we LOVED it. I made a veggie pasta side dish on the grill while the beef rested.

On Our Grills Challenge Made Me Make This But I Really Liked It Pasta
Serves 2

2 Tbsp butter
1 stalk celery, sliced thin on a sharp bias
1 leaf sage, sliced
¼ cup roasted red pepper, diced
1 green onion, sliced
¼ tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt (gluten free, don't ya know!)
4 oz Notta Pasta Rice Spaghetti, cooked according to directions

Preheat a skillet over high heat and then add the butter. Saute celery and sage for 2 minutes.

Add the pepper, onion, and season salt. Saute another 1-2 minutes.

Add cooked pasta and toss to coat.

Once the meat had smoked, I grilled the peaches over the peach wood embers while Alexis made our basic home made ice cream. Grilling fruit concentrates the natural sugars. 

After peeling and dicing the peach halves, Alexis poured about 1 Tbsp of Agave nectar over them and tossed them. The warm peaches melted the ice cream before I could get a decent photograph but the taste was well worth it. 

Smoke Hollow
I used 3/4ths of my SmokeHollow grill/smoker combo cooker for this dish.
  • Offset Smoker – smoked the beef ribs until the point they were foiled
  • Charcoal Grill – grilled the peaches over the peach wood embers
  • Gas Grill – finished cooking the ribs once foiled, sauteed the veggies
I love our two Big Green Eggs but the Smoke Hollow combo cooker is great because I can be using 3 cooking surfaces at once doing different things. I want to get it out on our deck with the Eggs but need to get a 7 foot long grill cover first.

The On Our Grills Troupe
Check out the creative meals that the rest of the gang came up with:

The Daily Dish – August Challenge Post
Kristina has been writing "The Daily Dish" for for the past two years. The blog covers a wide variety of recipes, but firing up the grill truly lights up her passion for food! She was named "America's Next Pork Personality" by Guy Fieri for one of her grilled pork dishes, won the outdoor grilling division of the National Beef Cook-Off, and her winning grilled lamb-burger took her all the way to the land Down Under with Meat and Livestock Australia. The "4-Ingredient Challenge" is a fun and exciting way to get creative on the grill!

The BBQ Grail – August Challenge Post
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed on as one of the top BBQ blogs.

No Excuses BBQ – August Challenge Post
The No Excuses BBQ website was started in January of 2009 as a way to record the author's goal of cooking outdoors at least once a week throughout the year and showing the results to the world. Somewhere along the way things got out of control...

Oshawa Ogre's Views, News & BBQ's – August Challenge Post
Wilfred is somewhat of a newcomer to the BBQ scene having only done standard grilling for most of his 50 years, He found and became passionate about Low & Slow about 2 years ago. and that passion also morphed into a second hobby which is writing. Oshawa Ogre’s Views News & BBQ’s has been a project that has taken on a life of it’s own and blessed him with many many new friends in the BBQ community on Twitter, facebook and through the blog.

Grill Aventures – August Challenge Post
Grilladventures by broadcastmarc is started on march of 2010.I started the BBQ thing when I was 30,before that we eat a lot outside.have fun,but when the kids came in our life We start serious cooking.Most of it is realy healthy I think;-)The grill has a special place in my heart,We love to do things outside..Everything I make is an adventure,and sometimes we use the books.We try to grill as much as we can year round.

Jason's Barbecue Adventures – August Challenge Post
Jason’s BBQ Adventures was started in 2007 when Jason fell in love with real BBQ the first time and tried to smoked a pork shoulder and soon after started smoking ribs, brisket, and chicken. After a while he started to experiment with grilling and smoking just about anything and ultimately fell in love with the entire cooking process.

The Dutchess Cooks – August Challenge Post
After years of cooking, grilling, baking and reading other people’s blogs, I thought “why not start my own blog??” And I did, in 2010, but already after a short period of time, a blog wasn’t enough, and I started my own website. It’s not my goal to publish or come up with fancy and difficult recipes: just good and delicious food with an international twist! Straight from my plate to yours!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reverse Seared Ribeye with Oyster Mushrooms

An oyster mushroom tries to get into an exclusive night club but the bouncer says, “Sorry little fella, this is a trendy place. I only let the most fun and hip people in.”

“Oh come on, people love me!” pleads the oyster mushroom, “Just ask anyone and they'll tell you that I'm a fungi!”

Sorry about that. I couldn't help myself!

Brewer's Mushrooms was at the newly opened Turkey Creek Public Markets yesterday. They sell gourmet mushrooms and grow your own mushroom kits, pretty cool stuff. 

Chef Amber Sue did a cooking demo on the grill with oyster mushrooms. 

These were much better than store bought mushrooms, even quality ones. The freshness makes a difference. They have a meaty texture, the earthy taste associated with mushrooms and just a hint of umami. I bought a ¼ pound, got some ideas from Chef and headed home with a plan.

I set my Big Green Egg up for indirect heat (plate setter in, legs up) at 250f. I rubbed a thick ribeye with Steven Raichlen's Lone Star rub and put it on the grill. 

It took 50 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 125f. I pulled it off to rest.

Next I switched the grill back to direct heat and cranked the temp of the grill to 550f. I used a spider rig (the wire looking thing) to drop my Craycort cast iron grate as close to the coals as I could. Then it was just a quick sear for 1 minute per side and it's done.

While the steak rested, I made the sauteed mushrooms. Sure this is nothing new but the ultra fresh mushrooms shine in this dish.

Oyster Mushroom Steak Topping
adapted from Chef Amber Sue
Makes enough for 1 or 2 steaks

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup yellow onion, diced
4 ounces oyster mushrooms
1 tsp Draper'sAll-Purpose Rub (or other bbq rub)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp butter, unsalted

Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat on the grill. Add the oil and let it heat up until it is shimmering.

Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with the rub, and cook another 2-3 minutes.

Remove the cast iron skillet from heat and immediately add the garlic, butter, and thyme. The carryover heat of the skillet will saute the garlic and melt the butter.

Serve over steak.

The reverse sear gave me the wonderfully even medium rare from edge to edge.  

I've done sauteed mushrooms for steak plenty of times but these were the best I've ever had.  The freshness makes all the difference in the world.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Grilled Shrimp with Asian Sweet Chili Sauce

Just a quick post. Here's a sweet chili sauce for grilled shrimp that I threw together last night after Trevor's football practice (translated as dinner at 9:00PM on a school night).

Sweet Asian Chili Sauce
Source:  My fridge

1/2 cup Sweet Chili Sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp mirin (sub agave nectar or honey)
1 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
(add 1 tsp of Sriracha only if you want heat)

Mix in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.

I used it on shrimp kabobs that were seasoned with Dizzy Pig Tsunami Spin rub (Dizzy Pig rubs ROCK). 

Grilled them 2-3 minutes and flipped them. I glazed the top. Grilled them another 2-3 minutes and flipped, glazing the top. Remove and serve with reserved sauce. 

Home Based Tandoor

Have you ever cooked on a tandoor? 

NO! Not Jeffrey Tambor, the famed actor who has been in everything from M*A*S*H to Arrested Development to The Hangover.

A TANDOOR – which is the Middle Eastern cousin of the kamado, like the Big Green Egg.

Our good friend, Robyn Lindars of recently got to cook on a Homdoor – a tandoor style grill for the home. Check out her video. (I'm extremely jealous of her high end video production crew!)

[Standard Disclaimer] We pay full price for our Dizzy Pig Rubs.  I've never touched a Homdoor.  Jeffrey Tombor is funny but his naan bread sucks.  Robyn paid us $20,000 USD to post this.  Just kidding about Robyn.  And maybe Jeffrey.  His naan might not be bad.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatball Pot Pie

Remember those meatballs I made for a “special idea” on Friday? Here is that idea, Spaghetti and Meatball Pot Pie.  

Before you mistakenly think I am a cooking whiz, I am actually just an opportunist. I saw the “Pizza Pot Pie” from Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company on TV and told myself I am going to make that. Then Steph of Plain Chicken beatme to it and made her version last week.

I took the concept and figured if pizza was a good pot pie, then spaghetti and meat balls would be too. This isn't as much a recipe as it is a process.

I started by greasing the inside of ramekins (1 cup sized, 3 1/2” in diameter). Then I put in a mix of white and mild cheddar cheese. 

Next I add in two of the meatballs and sauce.

Top that with some vermicelli that had been tossed in the sauce too.

Another piece of cheese.

For the crust, we made one order of our standard pizza dough and then cut out 3 1/2” circles. You can make your own, buy a ball from your local pizzeria, or even use refrigerated dough.

I rolled those out a little bigger and then pressed them over the top of the ramekins.

Since I wanted the crust to be reminiscent of garlic bread, I made a glaze of butter, roasted garlic, parsley and thyme. I brushed them once at the beginning and then again during the baking.

I fired up Alexis' Big Green Egg to 450f and set it up in “convection oven” mode with the plate setter legs down.

I baked the pot pies on a pizza stone on the plate setter. You could do these in your oven or in a regular grill set up indirect, but in my opinion, this is where the ceramic cookers like Big Green Egg and Primo can't be beat.

About 15 minutes in, they started to brown.

We gave them the second baste of garlic butter and then let them go another 5 minutes.

They are done when the crust is crispy and golden. Carefully remove to a rack and let cool for a few minutes.

Invert the pot pie on a plate and remove the ramekin to serve. The trick is to give the bowl a sharp twist and then pull up.

The only question now is, do you eat it with your hands or with a knife and fork?

Garnished with red pepper flake and parsley.

These were seriously good.  It was like baked spaghetti in a garlic bread bowl. 

The only two things I would do differently the next time is double the cheese and invert it as soon as I can tolerate handling the ramekin. I let it sit too long and the cheese had started to harden.

I absolutely can't wait to try this again. We impressed ourselves with this one.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grilled Meatballs

Trevor's football season is well underway. Two hour practices 4 nights a week make for a very hungry 11 year old player to feed and not a lot of time to prep meals.

The secret weapon for cooking with a busy schedule is “grill once, eat twice” as we learned at Kingsford University this spring. Last night was an “off night” so I grilled a few batches of meatballs for dinners the next few nights.

Meatballs are ideal for the “grill once, eat twice” game plan because you can use them for meatball subs, spaghetti, or for my special idea for this Friday night.

This is a work in progress but it was good for a first try. I don't have an Italian gene in my body and don't have a family secret meatball recipe. My lack of any “authenticity” provides a lot of freedom so I tried these a couple of ways.

Grilled Meatballs
Yields: 2 dozen meatballs

2 one inch slices of French bread, crusts removed
¼ cup milk
1 egg

1 cup onion, very finely diced
¼ cup mixed peppers, finely diced and seeded (I used 1 red jalapeno & 1 green jalapeno)
2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp thyme (if using dried thyme, use 1 tsp instead)
1 teaspoon roasted garlic
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper, ground

2 lbs ground beef

1 can petite dice tomatoes
¼ cup onions, diced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp thyme
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped

Whisk the egg and milk together. Soak the bread in the mix for 5 minutes. Squeeze the liquid out of the bread and the gooey “bread paste” that you have left is called a panade. Panade is French for “sounds better than gooey bread paste”.

Put your panade in a large bowl and mix together with everything else except the beef. Now add in the ground beef and mix thoroughly.

Form into ping pong ball sized balls. I like to use a scale to portion out 1.5 ounce for each ball but you can just guesstimate if you don't have a scale. 

Direct Grilling Method
Preheat a charcoal grill to 350f. Once the grates are preheated, wipe them clean with an oiled rag. Place the cold meatballs on the grate, close the grill and don't touch them for 3-4 minutes. 

Then carefully roll the balls ¼ turn on to their side. Repeat every 2-3 minutes until the meatballs reach an internal temp of 160f.  This took right about 15 minutes total for me. 

Remove to a cooling rack for a few minutes.
Skip to **

Pan Fired Method
I then did basically the same thing as the direct grilled method but this time used a preheated cast iron pan on the grill. 

Oddly it took almost the same amount of time, I thought it would take longer with the pan. Remove the meatballs from the pan.

**Add the sauce ingredients to the pan and stir for 1 minute.

Return the meatballs to the pan, cover and simmer in the sauce for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the hot pan from the fire and rest for 10 minutes.

The direct grilled meatballs were a bit difficult because they want to fall apart if you turn them too soon. The trick was to put away the tongs and use a large spoon to roll them. But the grilled meatballs had a nice crispy outer texture.

The pan fired meatballs held together easier and had a better overall texture throughout. They just seemed to be more what I consider a meatball. The other advantage with the pan fired method is you keep some of the rendered fat and sucs for the sauce.

Last night we used some of the meatballs for open faced meat ball sandwiches.

I have something better in mind for these guys for Friday night....

So what are your favorite meatball tricks or techniques?