Posts Tagged ‘charcoal’

I’ve never been a huge fan of deep-fried turkey. Many years ago, when I lived in the Alabama, my friends went through the trouble of buying and setting up all the special frying equipment, and the turkey did taste pretty good. But it wasn’t exceptional, and it didn’t justify the expense or the clean-up afterwards. For me, nothing beats the taste of a grill-roasted turkey.

I get great results by cooking my turkey in my Weber grill. The standard Weber allows you to cook up to a 15 lb. bird–big enough for my purposes–and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious. If you’re afraid to try this for the first time at Thanksgiving, wait a few months and buy a turkey on sale when you have the craving and try it out.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

Although I’ve stopped using charcoal briquettes a long time ago, and now strictly use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with standard Kingsford briquettes. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. Never use lighter fluid…always start the fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney. And never, ever use a product like Match Lite, unless you like your food to taste like gasoline.

 

Needed:

Weber grill, with the dome top
Kingsford charcoal briquettes
Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)

 

Ingredients:

Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs., thawed and brined (see my previous blog about brining a turkey)
Olive oil (to rub on turkey)
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
½ lb. (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper

 

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

If you want stuffing, cook it separately.

Light 8 to 10 lbs. of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.

Remove the giblets from the turkey. Place the bird in the aluminum pan.

In a small bowl, mix the granulated garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper. Add any other seasonings you like.

Coarsely chop the onions and celery. Place them in a another bowl. Mix them with the melted butter and 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture. Place a small handful of this “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!

 

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the bird on the bottom as well.

When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If you’re using a meat thermometer (recommended), insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the lid. It’s important to get air circulating!

 

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away when the turkey reaches the optimum temperature that I pre-set. Time for a drink!

No basting is necessary.

Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises.

Remove the turkey and let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving.

 

Beautifully grilled, cooked to 180 degrees in less than 2 hours!

I’ve never been a huge fan of deep-fried turkey. Many years ago, when I lived in the South, my friends went through the trouble of buying and setting up all the special frying equipment, and the turkey did taste pretty good. But it wasn’t exceptional, and it didn’t justify the expense or the clean-up afterwards. For me, nothing beats the delicious smokiness of a grill-roasted turkey.

I get great results by cooking my turkey in my Weber grill. The standard Weber allows you to cook up to a 15 lb. bird–big enough for my purposes–and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious. If you’re afraid to try this for the first time at Thanksgiving, wait a few months and buy a turkey when you have the craving and try it out.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

Although I’ve stopped using charcoal briquettes a long time ago, and now strictly use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with standard Kingsford briquettes. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. Never use lighter fluid…always start the fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney.

Needed:

Weber grill, with the dome top
Kingsford charcoal briquettes (do not use Match Lite or other pre-soaked briquettes)
Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)

Ingredients:

Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs., thawed and previously brined (see my blog about brining a turkey)
Olive oil (to rub on turkey)
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
½ lb. (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

If you want stuffing, make it separately and cook it separately.

Light 8 to 10 lbs. of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.

Remove the giblets from the turkey. Place the bird in the aluminum pan.

In a small bowl, mix the granulated garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper Add any other seasonings you like.

Coarsely chop the onions and celery. Place them in a another bowl. Mix them with the melted butter and 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture. Place a small handful of this “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the bird on the bottom as well.

When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If you’re using a meat thermometer (recommended), insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the lid. It’s important to get air circulating!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away when the turkey reaches the optimum temperature that I pre-set. Time for a drink!

No basting is necessary.

Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises.

Remove the turkey and let it rest at least 20 minutes before carving.

Beautifully grilled, cooked to 180 degrees in less than 2 hours!

For most people, grilling season is still a long way away. I’m a bit of a fanatic: I’ll use my Weber grill in the wintertime, often standing in a foot of snow while I’m carefully turning my steaks over the hardwood coals below. In the spring, I put the Weber away, and unveil my larger ceramic grill. I use it to grill or smoke anything from a great steak to a whole chicken or even a pizza.

Making a great steak isn’t difficult, but like all good things, takes a little care and finesse.

It starts with the beef. I only buy grass-fed beef. I think it tastes better, and I buy it from local farms that raise the cattle humanely. Some say that grass-fed beef tastes too gamey. I understand that, because I’ve had grass-fed beef from many different sources over the years. The taste of the beef depends on the breed of cattle as well as the environment they’re raised in. The general title “grass-fed” is convenient to use, but quality varies greatly. The only answer to that is to keep trying cuts of beef until you find the one you like. For me, here in Rhode Island, Pat’s Pastured in East Greenwich has the quality and taste I’m looking for. And occasionally, my local Whole Foods will offer great cuts of grass-fed beef as well.

Grass-fed matters to me because the cows eat what is natural for them to eat: grass. The meat naturally has better fats; it’s higher in Omega-3’s. Feeding corn and grains to cattle is cheaper and fattens them up faster, which is why most American farmers switched to that method many years ago and created the factory farms we now have. But feeding them corn and grains also makes them sick, so the farmers have to pump antibiotics and hormones in them to keep disease away. Make no mistake: whatever nasty crap they put into the cow, goes into you. To me, it’s worth paying the extra bucks to support the farmers that do it right. I have beef less often, but what I have is the best I can get for my family.

If none of that matters to you, and you simply want to grab a slab of beef from your supermarket, that’s your choice. But even then, there are varying degrees of quality. Cough up a few extra bucks for better beef and it will reward you later.

A perfect medium-rare porterhouse that was simply pan-seared. It was thin enough not to even go in the oven.

A perfect medium-rare porterhouse that was simply pan-seared. It was thin enough not to even go in the oven.

The cut of beef I select is as personal as the choice to go grass-fed or not. My absolute favorite cut is the porterhouse: NY strip on one side, tenderloin on the other, bone in the middle. (Not to be confused with a T-bone, which offers almost no tenderloin.) And it needs to be thick. The thicker the cut of beef, the more control I have over the final cooking temperature I want it to be. Unfortunately, because grass-fed beef costs more, farmers often sell skinny porterhouses to keep the price down. But the end product comes out over-cooked, because the meat is so thin. I would rather pay big bucks less often and get a real slab of meat than get a scrawny cut more often.

If you want to try grass-fed beef, but are put off by the high price of the more popular cuts (tenderloins, ribeyes, etc.), go for the less popular cuts: flank, hangar, etc. They cost a lot less and they’ve got great taste. You just need to be careful not to overcook them because they’re usually thin and contain very little fat.

 

Many articles have been written about it being okay to cook beef from frozen, but I don’t like to do that. I always take my slab of beef out of the freezer the day before I want to cook it, and thaw it in the fridge (out of its wrapper.) Then, about an hour before I plan on cooking it, I take it out of the fridge and place it on a plate to warm to room temperature. I like to rub the beef with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper and let it sit that way for an hour. And that’s all I season my beef with. No need to hide the flavor of amazing beef!

But although I grill year ’round, it’s not always convenient to fire it up when I crave a steak. Few methods can rival the simple steps of searing both sides of the beef in a hot cast iron skillet, and then finishing it in the oven. I use pork lard or bacon fat in the cast iron pan, heat it, sear one side, flip it over, sear the other side, and place it in a 375-degree oven. How long to cook it is a matter of practice. Eventually you learn the quirks of your oven and you get the perfect steak every time. Until then, a thermometer helps, though you don’t want to poke the hell out of your beef and let all the juices run out.

And it’s key to let the steak rest. I’ve gone to all this trouble…it would be dumb to mess it up now! This is when I take a few minutes to make myself a nice cocktail. By the time the cocktail’s made, and I’ve taken a few sips, the beef is ready to be devoured.

That's not scallions. That's garlic! And a side of fresh oregano.

That’s not scallions. That’s garlic! And a side of fresh oregano.

 

 

With the garden coming to life again this spring, I found a bunch of shoots popping out of the soil in my garlic patch. I pulled them out, and the garlic greens looked just like baby scallions, only with tiny garlic bulbs at the bottoms. I also found some fresh oregano growing in the herb garden. I washed them all, finely chopped them, and sautéed them in a pan with a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. I cooked them just until the garlic started to get brown and crispy, and I poured it all over my porterhouse. Fantastic!

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Just remember…

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For me, deep-fried turkey is just too much damn work: finding a safe spot in the yard to blast the propane-fueled fryer so that you don’t burn your house down, standing outside and freezing your ass off while it fries, and then disposing of gallons of used oil at the end of it all. And making sure the oil is at the right temperature so you don’t get a scorched turkey on the outside and raw turkey on the inside. Sure, they now have indoor turkey fryers, but I’m not crazy about that idea, either.

I get great results by cooking my turkey in my Weber grill. The standard Weber allows you to cook up to a 15 lb. bird–big enough for my purposes–and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

Although I’m a purist and always use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with Kingsford briquettes. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. And, unless you want your turkey to taste like gasoline,  never use lighter fluid…always start your fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney.

 

Weber grill, with the dome top
Kingsford charcoal briquettes (don’t use Match Lite or other pre-soaked briquettes)
Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)

 

Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs, thawed and brined (see my blog about brining a turkey)
Olive oil (to rub on turkey)
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
½ lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

If you want stuffing, make it separately and cook it separately. (A great recipe in my next blog.)

Light 8 to 10 lbs. of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.

Remove the giblets from the turkey. Place the bird in the aluminum pan.

In a small bowl, mix the granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and pepper Add any other seasonings you like.

Coarsely chop the onions and celery. Place them in a another bowl. Mix with the melted butter and 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture. Place a small handful of this “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the bird on the bottom as well.

When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If you’re using a meat thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the lid. Important to get air circulating!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! Time for a cocktail!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! Time for a cocktail!

No basting is necessary.

Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises.

Remove the turkey and let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

If you pull the turkey out too early and find that it still needs cooking, or if your coals die out too soon, simply place the bird in a 350-degree oven to finish. It will still have that wonderful smokey flavor from the grill.

Beautifully grilled, and perfectly cooked in less than 2 hours!

Beautifully grilled, and perfectly cooked in less than 2 hours!

For me, deep-fried turkey is just too much damn work: finding a safe spot in the yard to blast the propane-fueled fryer so that you don’t burn your house down, standing outside and freezing your ass off while it fries, and then disposing of gallons of used oil at the end of it all. And making sure the oil is at the right temperature so you don’t get a scorched turkey on the outside and raw turkey on the inside. Sure, they now have indoor turkey fryers, but I’m not crazy about that idea, either.

I get great results by cooking my turkey in my Weber grill. The standard Weber allows you to cook up to a 15 lb. bird–big enough for my purposes–and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious. If you’re afraid to try this for the first time at Thanksgiving when it really matters, wait a few months and buy a turkey when you have the craving and try it out.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

Although I’ve stopped using charcoal briquettes a long time ago, and now strictly use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with Kingsford. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. And never use lighter fluid…always start your fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney.

 

Needed:

Weber grill, with the dome top

Kingsford charcoal briquettes (do not use Match Lite or other pre-soaked briquettes)

Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)

 

Ingredients:

Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs, thawed and brined (see my blog about brining a turkey)

Olive oil (to rub on turkey)

2 yellow onions, chopped

4 stalks of celery, chopped

½ lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon pepper

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

If you want stuffing, make it separately and cook it separately. (A great recipe in my next blog.)

Light 8 to 10 lbs of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.

Remove the giblets from the turkey. Place the bird in the aluminum pan.

In a small bowl, mix granulated garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper Add any other seasonings you like.

Coarsely chop onions and celery. Place in a another bowl. Mix with the melted butter and 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture. Place a small handful of this “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the bird on the bottom as well.

When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If using a meat thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the lid. Important to get air circulating!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! Time for a cocktail!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away! Time for a cocktail!

No basting is necessary.

Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises.

Remove the turkey and let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

Beautifully grilled, and perfectly cooked in less than 2 hours!

Beautifully grilled, and perfectly cooked in less than 2 hours!

The concept of a deep-fried turkey sounds pretty cool. But for me, it’s just too much damn work: finding a safe spot in the yard to blast the propane-fueled fryer so that you don’t burn your house down, standing outside and freezing your ass off while it fries, and then disposing of gallons of used oil at the end of it all. And making sure the oil is at the right temperature so you don’t get a scorched turkey on the outside and raw turkey on the inside. Sure, they now have indoor turkey fryers, but I’m not crazy about that idea, either.

I get great results by cooking my turkey in my Weber grill. The standard Weber allows you to cook up to a 15 lb. bird–big enough for my purposes–and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious. If you’re afraid to try this for the first time at Thanksgiving when it really matters, wait a few months and buy a turkey when you have the craving and try it out.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

Although I’ve stopped using charcoal briquettes a long time ago, and now strictly use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with Kingsford. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. And never use lighter fluid…always start your fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney.

Needed:

Weber grill, with the dome top

Kingsford charcoal briquettes (do not use Match Lite or other pre-soaked briquettes)

Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)

Ingredients:

Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs, thawed and previously brined (see my blog about brining a turkey)

Olive oil (to rub on turkey)

2 yellow onions, chopped

4 stalks of celery, chopped

½ lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon pepper

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

If you want stuffing, make it separately and cook it separately. (A great recipe in my next blog.)

Light 8 to 10 lbs of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.

Remove the giblets from the turkey. Place the bird in the aluminum pan.

In a small bowl, mix granulated garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper Add any other seasonings you like.

Coarsely chop onions and celery. Place in a another bowl. Mix with the melted butter and 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture. Place a small handful of this “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the bird on the bottom as well.

When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If using a meat thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the lid. Important to get air circulating!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away when the turkey reaches the optimum temperature that I pre-set. Time for a drink!

No basting is necessary.

Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises.

Remove the turkey and let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

Beautifully grilled, cooked to 180 degrees in less than 2 hours!

Gas grills make no sense to me at all. I find little or no difference between them and the gas stove I have in my home. I can make a perfectly acceptable steak by grilling it on my stovetop cast iron griddle…or I can sear it in a pan and pop it in a hot oven. If the real reason for grilling is flavor, why wouldn’t you want something that makes a real difference?

A hardwood charcoal grill is the way to go. Besides the quality and source of your beef, wood and smoke are what makes the difference between a good steak and a great steak.

beef brisket

I know the #1 argument for going with gas over hardwood charcoal is time. “It takes too long to start a charcoal grill.” That’s a load of crap. I’ve convinced many friends over the years by showing them that it takes no more time to light a charcoal fire than it does a gas grill.

Here’s what you need: Get yourself the charcoal grill you like…the classic Weber is still an awesome choice.

Get a bag of hardwood charcoal. I’m not talking charcoal briquets, like Kingsford, that have a ton of additives in them. And definitely don’t ever use crap like Match Light. I’m talking pure hardwood charcoal, easily found in many stores.

Get a charcoal chimney. It’s a metal tube with a handle and a grate at the bottom. You crumble a couple of sheets of newspaper into the bottom, pour charcoal into the top, light it, and you have hot coals in 10 minutes without lighter fluid.

And DON’T EVER use lighter fluid! Why would you spend good money on a steak and then want to make it taste like gasoline?

The variety of wood chips available for smoking is another flavor factor when it comes to grilling with charcoal. My personal favorite is hickory, especially when I’m cooking pork or chicken. But apple, cherry, oak, mesquite: they all impart their own unique flavors. I have apple and cherry trees in my yard. So whenever they need a little pruning, I save those cut pieces of wood and use them to smoke with.

You don’t need to buy a separate smoker. Simply soak some wood chips in water for about a 1/2 hour before grilling (I’ve found that hot water speeds the process up), drain the water, and then sprinkle the moist chips on the hot coals in your grill. Throw your meat on the grill, close the lid (opening the vents, of course) and off you go.

So now in 10 minutes, you’ve got a grill ready to cook a steak with…about the same as gas.

“I don’t cook with charcoal because it’s so messy!” So what are you…a girl? You probably have one of those fake gas fireplaces in your house, too.

Because I’m using a small amount of hardwood charcoal for the average dinner, I don’t have to clean out my grill every time I use it. After a while, yes, some ashes pile up in the bottom of my grill and I have to dump them. Because they’re pure wood ashes, I dump mine into my strawberry or raspberry patch. They love the stuff.

You still have to clean a gas grill after a while, and it always runs out of propane halfway through cooking when you have guests over for dinner. So where’s the convenience in that?

Charcoal grills give you everything you could ask for: low maintenance…ease of use–no stupid propane tanks, valves and igniters…real wood flavor–not lava rocks, whatever the hell those things are…and the thrill of cooking meat over a real fire–bonding with the caveman in you, not some pussy with an umbrella drink and his shiny chrome gas grill with a thermometer that doesn’t work and burners that don’t cook evenly or get hot enough.

Time to be a man again! Ditch the gas grill. Get the hardwood charcoal. Find out what a really good steak is supposed to taste like this Memorial Day weekend.

I know a lot of people are tempted to buy the turkey deep fryer this time of year, especially now that there’s an electric home turkey fryer that seems to make the job a lot easier and safer. (I’m still not OK with frying turkeys indoors, no matter how safe they say it is.)

The concept of a deep-fried turkey sounds pretty cool. And if you do it right, it tastes pretty good. I’ve had my share of fried turkeys when I lived in Alabama many years ago. But for me, it’s just too much damn work: finding a safe spot in the yard to blast the propane-fueled fryer so that you don’t burn your house down, standing outside and freezing your ass off while it fries, and then disposing of gallons of used oil at the end of it all. And making sure the oil is at the right temperature so you don’t get a scorched turkey on the outside and raw turkey on the inside.

So here’s what I do: I cook the turkey in my good old Weber grill. The standard Weber grill allows you to cook up to a 15 lb. turkey–big enough for my purposes–and it comes out crispy, smokey and delicious. If you’re afraid to try this for the first time at Thanksgiving when it really matters, wait a few months and buy a turkey when you have the craving and try it out.

The charcoal chimney with hot coals awaits.

Although I’ve stopped using charcoal briquettes a long time ago, and now strictly use natural hardwood charcoal, this recipe works best with Kingsford. The idea is for the coals to cook slowly and evenly. And never use lighter fluid…always start your fire with a few pieces of crumbled newspaper under a charcoal chimney.

Needed:

Weber grill, with the dome top

Kingsford charcoal briquettes (do not use Match Lite or other pre-soaked briquettes)

Heavy duty aluminum pan (disposable)

 

Ingredients:

Whole turkey, up to 15 lbs, thawed and previously brined (see my blog about brining a turkey)

Olive oil (to rub on turkey)

2 yellow onions, chopped

4 stalks of celery, chopped

½ lb (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon pepper

Spreading the coals away from the center of the grill.

If you want stuffing, make it separately and cook it separately.

Light 8 to 10 lbs of charcoal in the grill…depending on the size of the turkey and how cold it is outside.

Remove the giblets from the turkey. Place the bird in the aluminum pan.

In a small bowl, mix granulated garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper Add any other seasonings you like.

Coarsely chop onions and celery. Place in a another bowl. Mix with the melted butter and 1/3 of the salt/pepper/garlic powder mixture. Place a small handful of this “stuffing” mixture in the neck cavity of the turkey. Place the rest in the body cavity (where the stuffing would usually go.) You can fasten the bird with turkey skewers if you like. This “stuffing” is strictly to flavor the turkey…you don’t eat it!

The rubbed, stuffed and seasoned bird.

Rub the outside of the entire turkey with the olive oil and sprinkle the rest of the garlic/onion/salt/pepper mixture on the outside of the bird. Make sure you get the whole bird…on the bottom as well.

When the coals in the grill have ashed over, spread them to the outside edges of the Weber equally. Put the cooking grill rack in place. Place the aluminum pan with the turkey in the center of the grill, keeping it away from the direct heat of the coals. If using a a meat thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the breast, being careful not to hit the bone. Place the lid on the grill. (You may need to bend your pan a bit.) Open the vents on the bottom of the Weber as well as the lid. Important to get air circulating!

My meat thermometer calls me from as far as 100 feet away when the turkey reaches the optimum temperature that I pre-set. Time for a drink!

No basting is necessary.

Now here’s the tough part: DO NOT OPEN THE GRILL TO CHECK ON THE TURKEY! (If you must look, shine a flashlight into the vent holes on the lid to take a peek at the pop-up timer, if there is one.) The whole point is to keep the heat inside the kettle. You’ll know your turkey is done when no more smoke or heat rises from the grill, and the turkey inside stops making sizzling noises.

Remove the turkey and let it rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

Beautifully grilled, cooked to 180 degrees in less than 2 hours!

Gas grills make no sense to me at all. I find little or no difference between them and the gas stove I have in my home. I can make a perfectly acceptable steak by grilling it on my stovetop cast iron griddle…or I can sear it in a pan and pop it in a hot oven. If the real reason for grilling is flavor, why wouldn’t you want something that makes a real difference?


A charcoal grill is the way to go. Besides the quality and source of your beef, wood and smoke are what makes the difference between a good steak and a great steak.

I know the #1 argument for going with gas over charcoal is time. “It takes too long to start a charcoal grill.” That’s a load of crap. I’ve convinced many friends over the years by showing them that it takes no more time to light a charcoal fire than it does a gas grill.

Here’s what you need: Get yourself the charcoal grill you like…the classic Weber is still an awesome choice.

Get a bag of hardwood charcoal. I’m not talking charcoal briquets, like Kingsford, that have a ton of additives in them. And definitely don’t ever use crap like Match Light. I’m talking pure hardwood charcoal, easily found in many stores.

Get a charcoal chimney. It’s a metal tube with a handle and a grate at the bottom. You crumble a couple of sheets of newspaper into the bottom, pour charcoal into the top, light it, and you have hot coals in 10 minutes without lighter fluid.

And DON’T EVER use lighter fluid! Why would you spend good money on a steak and then want to make it taste like gasoline?


The variety of wood chips available for smoking is another flavor factor when it comes to grilling with charcoal. My personal favorite is hickory, especially when I’m cooking pork or chicken. But apple, cherry, oak, mesquite: they all impart their own unique flavors. I have apple and cherry trees in my yard. So whenever they need a little pruning, I save those cut pieces of wood and use them to smoke with. And I love Jack Daniel’s smoking chips, made from the oak barrels that have had JD soaking in them. You can actually get high from sniffing the bag when you first open it!


You don’t need to buy a separate smoker. Simply soak some wood chips in water for about a 1/2 hour before grilling (I’ve found that hot water speeds the process up), drain the water, and then sprinkle the moist chips on the hot coals in your grill. Throw your meat on the grill, close the lid (opening the vents, of course) and off you go.

“I don’t cook with charcoal because it’s so messy!” So what are you…a girl? You probably have one of those fake plastic log gas fireplaces in your house, too.

Because I’m using a small amount of charcoal for the average dinner, I don’t have to clean out my charcoal grill every time I use it. After a while, yes, some ashes pile up in the bottom of my grill and I have to dump them. But because they’re pure wood ashes, I dump mine into my strawberry or raspberry patch. They love the stuff.

You still have to clean a gas grill after a while anyway, and it always runs out of propane halfway through cooking when you have guests over for dinner. So where’s the convenience in that?

Charcoal grills give you everything you could ask for: low maintenance…ease of use–no stupid propane tanks, valves and igniters…real wood flavor–not lava rocks, whatever the hell those things are…and the thrill of cooking meat over a real fire–bonding with the caveman in you, not some pussy with an umbrella drink and his shiny chrome gas grill with a thermometer that doesn’t work and burners that don’t cook evenly or get hot enough. And I cook throughout the winter with my charcoal grill.

Time to be a man again! Ditch the gas grill. Get the charcoal. And rediscover what a really good steak is supposed to taste like.