Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cajun Pit Beef

Sam's Club had CAB whole beef eye of rounds for sale so I thought I'd make some lunch meat.  

Roast beef and caramelized onions

Beef eye of round is very lean so you only want to cook it to medium rare to keep it tender and a buttery injection can help matters.  The eye of round also doesn't bring a ton of flavor to the table, so you'll want to use some strong flavors.  This Cajun Pit Beef incorporates those two things to make lunch meat way better than anything you'll get at the deli.

Cajun Pit Beef

  • 4-6 lb beef eye of round
  • 1 recipe NMT Cajun Rub (see picture)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
Equipment:  Injecting syringe, food safe spray bottle, roasting rack/pan (optional)

  1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the stock, butter, and 1 teaspoon of the NMT Cajun Rub.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then remove from heat.  Strain through a sieve while hot then allow to cool.  Pour half into your spray bottle.  Reserve the other half for injecting.
  2. Pre-heat your grill to 275°F.
  3. Prep the beef - Trim off any excess fat.  Put the reserved half of the liquid in the injecting syringe and inject the beef in several places every few inches.  Wipe off any injection that seeps out and then season the beef on all sides with the NMT Cajun Rub.
  4. Cook the beef until it reaches an internal temperature of 125-127°F.  I'll give specific steps for various cookers below.  Whenever you see the surface of the meat beginning to dry, spritz it with some of the stock/butter solution in the spray bottle.  At 275°F the roast should take about 90 minutes to 2 hours, 15 minutes - depending on a lot of factors.  Use your thermometer.
  5. Allow the beef to rest for 15 minutes.  Then wrap it in foil and refrigerate it overnight or at least 8 hours.  
  6. Slice thinly with a sharp carving knife and store refrigerated.

cajun pit beef, injecting beef, grilled cajun beef, beef sandwiches
Using the bold flavors in the rub and injection add to the eye of round but don't cover anything up.

trimming beef,
If you get your beef from a butcher, it will probably already be trimmed.  But if you buy it from a wholesale club, it is likely going to require a good bit of trimming.

cajun rub for beef, homemade cajun rub, cajun bbq rub

seasoned beef roast, cajun beef roast,
Just season the roast until it is covered heavily on all sides.  It may seem like a lot but that flavor is going to be in small doses once sliced.

Pit Barrel Cooker, Kingsford blue bag,
This particular time, I cooked the roast on the new design of the Pit Barrel Cooker.  I have a follow up post covering the changes of this popular drum cooker.

Just hang the roast from one of the hooks.

Regardless of the cooker you are using, this is a good example of when to spritz with the stock and butter solution. It keeps the surface moist and builds additional layers of flavor.

ChefAlarm, roast beef,
Resting after the cook.  Note the 149 max temp in the upper left of the ChefAlarm - that occurred when the probe was out of the meat, this roast never got above 135°F even after resting.  150 would be dry, dry, dry.  You can see that it took right at 1 hour, 26 minutes took cook on the Pit Barrel Cooker.

For other cookers, a roasting rack and pan combo works the best.  Save the drippings and you can use that to make a Cajun gravy.  Just mix 2 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp butter in a medium skillet then stir in the pan drippings plus extra beef stock as needed to make your gravy.  Season with salt and pepper or salt and more Cajun rub.

Here's a Cajun Pit Beef that I did on the Big Green Egg a long while back.  I seared it at the beginning and then slow roasted it for a little over an hour.  I kept the au jus and made the Cajun gravy noted above.

Char-Broil, Kettleman indirect, kettle grill indirect,
If cooking this on a kettle grill like my Char-Broil Kettleman, I'd put the roast rack combination to one side as noted above and only put coals on the opposite side, then cook at 275-300°F for about 90 minutes.  45 minutes in to the cook, I'd flip the towel err "roast" and rotate the pan 180 degrees for even cooking.  

If cooking on a 3 burner gas grill, you would set the grill up like this with the roast/rack/pan on the right and the only burner on is the one of the left side.  Of course, the lid would be closed and the towel would be replaced by an eye of round.  Don't grill towels kids....(No, You're a towel)

Waiting until the meat has chilled makes it easier to slice thinly for sandwiches.  I wouldn't waste your money on electric slicers made for the home, even if they say "professional" in their name.  They are under powered, too slow, and their plastic bodies are too flimsy.  You're better off with a good slicing knife.  Sorry about the too short field of focus, it was dim light and I was trying speed up my shutter.

When I don't have au jus to make the gravy, I like to make a quick horseradish sauce with 1 cup sour cream, 1 heaping tablespoon of horseradish, a pinch or two of dill weed, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, and salt/pepper to taste.  

[Standard FTC Disclaimer]  I received no cash compensation for this post.  I received the Char-Broil grills as a member of their All-Star team and I got the Pit Barrel Cooker for review.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Five Tips for Grilling Rookies, Work Cookout, and Practice Competition Cook

One of the first recipes that I ever grilled up was a tasty flank steak marinated in a mixture of red wine, oil, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.  

To this day it is still one of our favorites, so when I saw that the topic for my April post at Char-Broil Live was "So You're Learning To Grill......", I immediately knew which recipe I was going to use.  I also gave 5 tips for those new to grilling.  

So humor me and hop on over to Char-Broil Live and check out a super simple Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

Work Cookout
Our Knoxville staff wanted to throw a cookout for Spring so we did a "Fire Day Friday" with burgers, dogs, and homemade ice cream.  I swear, this office will find any excuse to do an "everybody bring something" food get together.  That's not a bad thing.

I grilled the burgers and dogs, of course.  Even though we were cooking 3 dozen burgers, no nasty frozen burgers for us - those have a texture of warm wet cardboard.   Wait - I lie, we did use frozen burger patties for the vegetarian burgers.  But we hand made the beef burgers. I used ground chuck seasoned with 1 teaspoon Montreal seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon dried onion flake, and 1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic per pound.  Then I dusted them with a touch of salt as they finished.  We used 1/4 pound beef hot dogs from Gordon Food Services and they were VERY good.   Good times!

Competition Practice
Our competition team did some practice cooks this weekend for our next competition at Bloomin' BBQ and Bluegrass in Sevierville, TN on May 15-16. 

I swear the poorly aligned burnt ends in the brisket turn in box drives me insane every time I look at it.  Small details like that matter.

Brisket is on point (see what I did there?) and that program is set except for my burnt end presentation flub.  Chicken thighs (not pictured) are very close, John is just doing one small tweak.  Pork is pretty set, just a slight adjustment to the cooking process.   We didn't do ribs, we'll be working on them this coming weekend on our new competition equipment that we just got in - a pair of really nice Grill Dome Infinity Series.  We didn't have time to get them broken in before this weekend's cook but they are now ready for next weekend.  

Hope that you all had a great weekend and have a rocking week.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Product Review: Char-Broil Kettleman TRU-Infrared charcoal grill

I get that not everyone can or wants to drop a thousand bucks on a kamado grill or a high end gas grill like Saber.  But you still don't have to cook on a rusted out, beat up old grill.

There are grills that will deliver excellent performance for under 2 bills.  Char-Broil's new Kettleman™ TRU-Infrared™ charcoal grill does that and still leaves you enough cash leftover to buy your coal and some inaugural steaks too.

I wanted to have this grill after seeing it in action at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas last Spring.  So I was super stoked to see that it was part of the grilling package that I received for being a part of the Char-Broil All Star team. 

But before I get into why I love the Kettleman™ let's talk about the elephant in the room - the Kettleman is not some Weber clone.  A comparison is unavoidable but the Kettleman™ has significant design differences in venting, coal tray placement, and cooking grate.  I'm not knocking Weber at all, I have had one for years and years.  Just saying that the Kettleman™ isn't another clone.

Char-Broil® Kettleman™ (right) pictured with my Weber kettle grill.  They are basically the same diameter but I feel like I have more room in the Kettleman because of the lid design.

The vents are different.  The top vent for the Kettleman™ has larger holes and you'll see the bottom vent differences later in this post.

The Kettleman (right) is designed with the charcoal tray very close to the cooking surface compared to the Weber (left), which plays into the design efficiencies and the overall way the Kettleman uses infrared heat for improving a classic design.
The Weber lid has a hook that you use to hang your lid while working in the grill.  The Kettleman has a hinged lid.

So let's take a look at this grill.  What is so special about it?  It is engineered to give you better control of temperature, flare ups, charcoal consumption, ash removal, and stability.

Overhead view of the Kettleman.  The wide base makes it more stable.

The Kettleman™ comes with a thermometer so you know exactly how hot your grill is cooking.

At first, I wasn't too keen on the back hinge plate, thinking it would be a problem with air control but after a month of cooking on it, there has been no issues for me.  The ash pan on the bottom allows for easy ash removal.

Instead of one vent at the bottom, the Kettleman™ uses a series of holes all around the base that deflect downwards away from the coal bed.  This provides even airflow across the entire bed of coals instead of only one source of airflow at the bottom middle.  It also makes for better grilling under windy conditions than a grill that has a vent blowing up under the live coals. 
As noted, the coal tray is only about 2 inches below the cooking surface, crazy, right?  But this design actually helps you grill with less coal.  Also notice from this shot that you can't see the openings for the bottom vents, they are protected and buffered by the charcoal grate ring.  The one circle you see is where the leg mounts in, not a hole.

The shallow coal tray with the unique Char-Broil® TRU-Infrared™ grate harnesses more cooking power with less charcoal.  It maximizes the use of radiant heat while at the same time minimizes the possibility of flare ups burning your food.  I have found that this does make a difference while grilling.

My Experience with the Kettleman™
I have used the Kettleman™ for a month or more now and whether I'm cooking low and slow or hot and fast, I haven't run into any issues.  It just does it's job without a fuss.

Hot and fast
Hot and fast is what most people are used to doing on the grill for burgers, steaks, and such.  Just dump about 50 hot coals onto the coal grate, spread them around evenly, place the porcelain enameled infrared grate on to preheat to 450°f for about 10 minutes.  The fat from burgers dripped down below onto the hot coals but there was never a flare up.

This is right after I dumped a partial chimney of hot coals into the grill but notice how narrow the gaps between the charcoal grate bars are.  This keeps the coal from falling through until they have lost all of the heat that they have to give.
When I was grilling the burgers, the air temperature inside of the grill was 450°F...

 the TRU-Infrared™ grate was powering along at 775-815°F, giving plenty of searing power for your burgers, steaks, and chops.

I made Carolina style "all the way" burgers with chili, slaw, onions, and mustard.

It's a good idea to keep an area with no coals so you have an area where you can shuttle your food to finish cooking by roasting. That's a combination of direct and indirect cooking and it works perfectly on the Kettleman™. 
Ideally the void spot would be bigger than the small gap I had pictured here, I just had more coals than I needed for just a few pork chops. 

The smoke comes up from below but not any flames.
You can grill directly with your lid opened or closed, but you definitely need it closed when using indirect heat.

Low and Slow
This is where I was really impressed with this grill.  With about 80 coals, I was able to hold 275°F for 5 hours by using a fuse or snake burn while I smoked a rack of baby back ribs that I had in the freezer. 

Did a mustard slather, a good dusting of seasoned pepper, and a healthy coating of Underwood's It's My Rub.
Here is the fuse burn set up with wood chips on top of the coal.  I put about a dozen live coals onto the unlit coal and then it just burns slowly along the pattern.  This is how grillers can do a long slow cook when normally a bed of coals would usually burn out of coals in 45 minutes.

As the "fuse" burns around, wood chips continuously release fresh, steady smoke to flavor the ribs.

This was so good that I was disappointed that I only had one rack to cook at the time.

I used my cherry chipotle BBQ sauce, but just a drizzle across the top. 

The real kicker?  These were as good as ones I cook on my kamado grills.  Tender, nice smoke, great flavor. 

So I think this Char-Broil Kettleman™ is just the ticket for backyards everywhere.  It is an easy and enjoyable grill to use whether you're a seasoned pro or a relative newbie.  But best of all, it won't break the bank at just $139 exclusively at your local Lowe's Home Improvement. Grab a Kettleman and live it up this year. Seriously, with this performance and that price, there's no excuse to cook on a sad, worn out, rust bucket of a grill this Summer.  

Char-Broil Grill Chat
Check out Char-Broil's Twitter chat tonight (provided you're reading this Thursday 4/23).  I'm not sure what all they'll be talking about but I know it will involve the Kettleman and prizes.

[Standard FTC Disclaimer] This is not a sponsored post, but I am proudly a member of the Char-Broil All Stars and received the Kettleman™ as part of my grilling package.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Chimichurri Beef Ribs On The Grill

Alexis bought two packs of beef back ribs this week because she knows that I love beef ribs, both short ribs [click link for how I smoke short ribs] and back ribs. 

Beef back ribs are the ribs from the prime rib roast.  Back ribs are what you get when the butcher cuts off the rib bones to make a boneless beef rib roast.  The best ribs are the ones from the "first cut" or bones 9-12.  You want ribs that have meat with a vibrant red color and pick the rack(s) that have the most meat on them.  Problem is that beef is a high priced commodity so butchers are going to try to leave as little on the bone as possible.  Beef back ribs can often be a little scrawny and you have to work for your meat, kind of like crab legs.  If you are looking for a meatier, beefy rib - get whole beef short ribs instead. 

Normally I would just season these with my NMT Beef Rub or even just salt, pepper, and garlic and cook them on the Big Green Egg.  But I was in the mood for something different and thought that marinating beef ribs in a chimichurri would impart a bold flavor.

Chimichurri Beef Ribs on the Grill
serves: 3-4

  • 4-5 pounds beef back ribs, membrane removed
  • black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • Chimichurri Marinade
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil

  1. In a large bowl, add the parsley, garlic, onion, oregano, salt, red pepper flake, black pepper, and red wine vinegar (everything but the olive oil).  Slowly pour in the olive oil while you vigorously whisk the bowl.  Note:  If you like, substitute half of the parsley with cilantro.
  2. Reserve 1/2 cup of the marinade for use as a condiment after cooking.  Slather the ribs with the remaining chimichurri and refrigerate overnight or 8 hours. 
  3. Set up your grill for indirect heat (see below) and preheat it to a grate level temperature of 225°F.  
  4. Remove the ribs from the marinade and wipe off any excess marinade. Season liberally with black pepper.  I didn't measure but maybe a teaspoon per rack.
  5. Place the ribs on the cooker bone side down and slow roast until they reach an internal temperature of 200°F, about 3-4 hours depending on the thickness of your ribs.
  6. Once the ribs hit 200°F, season them lightly with salt and immediately spritz or baste the ribs with the beef stock.  Place back on the grill for 5 more minutes.

beef back ribs, smoking beef ribs, beef ribs on Big Green Egg, beef ribs on kamado grill
The butchers don't leave much on these racks but they still taste great.

Today I was using GFS lump and small chunks of cherry wood.

adjustable rig big green egg, indirect set up big green egg, how to smoke beef ribs on big green egg
My indirect set up for today was an Adjustable Rig which uses a spider rig, 13" pizza stone, and drip pan to create the indirect barrier. 

craycort cast iron grill grate, section cast iron grate, indirect Big Green Egg set up
Of course, a plate setter "legs up" and a drip pan works just as well.

kettle grill indirect set up, fuse burn, Char-Broil Kettleman grill
If you are using a kettle grill like the Char-Broil Kettleman pictured here, I recommend using a fuse burn like this so you don't have to refuel.

gas grill indirect set up, how to smoke on gas grill, Char-Broil grill
If you are cooking this on a gas grill like my Char-Broil Commercial, use this set up.  Turn on only one burner (here the left one) with a packet of wood chips on top of it.  The food will be on the other side.

indirect set up for gas grill, smoke on gas grill, smoking on gas grill
Same set up, different view.

marinated beef rib, beef rib grill recipe, how to grill beef back ribs
I just sprinkled the black pepper on until it had good coverage like this.   Like I said, I didn't measure, but I'd guess it was about 1 teaspoon on each rib.

Flame Boss 100 Big Green Egg controller
I used the Flame Boss 100 for this cook. I cooked on an Egg for 6 years using manual controls but I have dabbled with using controllers.  They are basically a device that asks "Is it hotter than X° in that cooker? If yes, then don't do anything.  If no, then blow air into the grill."  

This is the blower that the controller....errr...controls.  I got this to review when I ran into the manufacturer at the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association in Nashville.  I'm putting it through the paces.

I mentioned these ribs were scrawny.  They might not look like it raw, but as they cook, the bones will actually burst through.

beef ribs on big green egg, BGE beef ribs, Grill Dome beef ribs
Steak on a stick, it's hard to go wrong with that.  Notice how much fat rendered out onto the drip pan.

It looks like a lot of food but they are either an appetizer portion or you'll need to count on 2 to 3 ribs per person for an entree portion.  Compare that to a full beef short rib which 1 is plenty for me.

There is already a lot of flavor cooked onto the ribs so don't over do it with the fresh chimichurri as a condiment.  A little goes a long way.

I know that this marinade also works great with flank steak and NY Strip steaks.  It would probably be good on anything beef, after all, it is an Argentinian condiment and they are famous beef lovers.