Sunday, March 27, 2016

Product Review: Kingsford Professional Coal and Roasted Garlic Rubbed Ribeye

Kingsford has rebranded their Competition Briquetes* as Kingsford Professional Briquets.  They sent me a bag free to try out so I grilled up this roasted garlic rubbed ribeye.  

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Roasted garlic rubbed ribeye with sea salt potatoes

It is the same all-natural briquettes, but they felt the Competition label was limiting when these briquettes are "perfect for any grilling occasion where you want a higher heat, less as or a long, consistent burn".  The new label more accurately describes the purpose for them. 

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I reached out to 6 time World Champion Pitmaster, Chris Lilly, of Big Bob Gibson's Barbecue about the Professional line and here are his thoughts:

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Before I cooked with the Professional coal, I set up an experiment to test the claims.  Although this isn't a lab or anything, I tried to be as careful as possible to be consistent to make true comparisons.  I used the same grill, set up, and did it on a mild day with as few temperature/wind variations as possible.  

I compared the Kingsford Professional against their Original (aka "blue bag") and Royal Oak's all natural briquette - Chef's Select.  

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I used a Char-Broil CB500X for the test and built a small pyramid of 14 briquettes on one side.  I lit each sample on 4 corners with a MAPpro gas torch and then closed the lid.

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For 2 hours, I recorded the temperature at the grate level on the opposite side every 5 minutes using a reference grade ThermaQ for precision accuracy.  I did this shot just for a picture - the lid stayed closed the entire 2 hours for each sample.

One issue was that the Chef Select weighed much more, almost twice that of a Kingsford briquete.  I tried using an equivalent weight as shown but it would never really get started.  So I ended up just using the same number of briquettes - 14 stacked in a pyramid.

Once the 2 hours was up, I weighed the ash that fell into a collection tray that I put below the charcoal grate.  The scale was zeroed out as to not weight the pan itself, only the ash.

Sorry about the poor rendering.  The red line is Kingsford Pro, the grey is Chef Select, and the blue is Kingsford Original.

Granted this is a small scale test and I don't have the desire to repeat this several more times.  But my informal test results pretty much proved their claims.

Faster Starting
True.  Chef's Select was a close second but Kingsford Professional got hotter, faster.

Higher Heat
True.  Kingsford Professional had both a significantly higher average heat output and maximum temperature during this trial.  

Less Ash
True.  The ash leftover from Kingsford Professional weighed in decidedly less than the other two.

Long, Consistent Burn
Undecided.  Visually you can see that the Professional burns "hotter for longer".  However at the same time, the other two are hotter than the Professional at the 2 hour mark so you could make the argument they burned "longer".  If you go by average deviation, Original has the least deviation in temp but that is a direct effect of the other two being faster starting.  So it's kind of hard to call this one.  

What about lump coal?  I didn't throw that in at first because it brings in so many more variables but I did a trial on that too just for grins and giggles.  I used a brand that I have liked using for a few months.

Since I couldn't count 14 briquettes of lump, I used the same amount by weight - 309 grams.

Stacked it as pyramid-ish as possible and lit just like the others.
Sorry about the poor rendering.  The red line is Kingsford Pro, the grey is Chef Select, and the blue is Kingsford Original. Green is the lump.

You can see the lump blew the others away in start up times and max temp but also had wild temperature variations.  This would be different in a controlled air flow environment like a kamado but in a normal grill with less regulated air flow, the lump rages and then burns itself out.  That makes sense because I when I first started and used a cheap offset smoker, I got more stable temps with briquettes and didn't understand why people raved about lump coal. Then I got into kamado grilling and saw the difference.  

As far as burning, I think the Kingsford Professional burns cleanly, even shortly after warm up. It doesn't have any off flavors and imparts a nice smokiness on foods.  

Kingsford Professional should be in stores near you sometime this Spring.  

Roasted Garlic Rubbed Ribeye
Whenever I roll out the kettle grill, I feel like I'm getting back to the basics of grilling. Here's a good basic steak recipe I did earlier this week.  

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I roasted a bunch of heads of garlic.  Just slice off the top.  Drizzle with good olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs, butter, whatever.  Roast them indirect on a grill for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

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You don't get garlic better than this!  Just squeeze all of the garlic out of the top into a container so you can keep them in the fridge.  Use this to make compound butters, mashed potatoes, pasta sauces, or anything in which you would use garlic.  Rub a clove or two all over your pizza dough.  They're like magic.

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I used the Kingsford Professional in my Char-Broil Kettleman grill.

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I did a little more than a half chimney of the Pro.  Speaking of fast start up times, using the fast lighting Kingsford Pro in this Char-Broil Half Time chimney, my coals were ready in 8 minutes!  This is one of those "why didn't they think of that before now?" kind of things.

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My back to basics recipe - 4 ingredients.  Choice bone in ribeye, kosher salt, black pepper, and roasted garlic. 
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Smash a clove and rub it all over the steak.  That's a clove per side.  Roasted garlic is very soft and will smear sort of like a paste.

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Rubbed and seasoned with salt and pepper, I put them down for five minutes per side over a hot grill.  

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I give it a quarter turn half way through each side to get cross hatch marks.  The steak wasn't medium rare yet so I shuffled it to an indirect spot on the grill and let it finish roasting up to an internal temperature of 127°f. 
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Alexis and I split this with some sea salt and herb potatoes.  
I hope you are having a great Spring and ready to bring out your grills (if you put them up).  I see some of our Colorado friends are getting hammered by snow still - I hope y'all are able to fire them up soon too!

[FTC Disclosure] I received the bag of Kingsford Professional for free but receive no other compensation from them.  I have a content agreement with Char-Broil and get my gear from them for free; however, received no compensation for this post.  I just happened to be using their stuff.  I paid full price for my ThermaQ.  

*Kingsford uses the alternate spelling of "briquetes" while I prefer to use the mainstream "briquettes".