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gunksny

Grill Masters
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About gunksny

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  1. Pretty simple concept but solves the big problem of heat loss and cooking the tops of pizza. The price point seems a bit high. http://www.kettlepizza.com/KettlePizza-How-It-works-s/1822.htm
  2. A good (but long) read on some work by Dr. Greg Blonder on why the temp plateau occurs. Alot more detail and pics here : http://www.genuineideas.com/ArticlesIndex/stallbbq.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/craig-goldwyn/physicist-cracks-bbq-mystery_b_987719.html Excerpt : Many pitmasters have long believed that the stall was caused by a protein in the meat called collagen combining with water and converting to flavorful and slippery textured gelatin. Called a "phase change" the conversion of collagen starts happening at about 160°F. Others have speculated that the stall was the fat rendering, the process of lipids turning liquid. Still others thought it was caused by protein denaturing, the process of the long chain molecules breaking apart (for more about these processes see my article on meat science). In fact, the barbecue stall is a simple consequence of evaporative cooling by the meat's own moisture, slowly released over hours from within it's pores and cells. As the temperature rises, the evaporation rate increases - until the cooling effect balances the heat input. Then it stalls, until the last drop of moisture is gone. This supply of moisture is limited, and many complex effects present in meat, such as collagen liquefaction and de-polymerization, which squeeze out moisture even faster than evaporation. The stall is rapid in dry environments, prolonged in humid. Once the meat's ability to supply moisture peaks, it gradually starts to over-heat. Leaving fats and other oils to supply moistness.
  3. In the NYT today : http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/dining/the-cult-of-the-big-green-egg-united-tastes.html July 12, 2011 Green Eggs and Hamburgers By JOHN T. EDGE ATLANTA IN 1974, Ed Fisher opened a store here called the Pachinko House to sell the upright pinball games of that name that he imported from Japan. He also shipped in ovoid earthenware grills called kamados. But they only collected dust in the back of that strip-mall storefront until he began cooking chicken wings with them and fanning the smoke toward the street to attract shoppers. “We were selling something called a kamado from a place named after a pachinko,” recalled Mr. Fisher, who first saw the charcoal-fueled cookers in the 1950s as a Navy lieutenant in Japan. “That didn’t sound American, and that wasn’t easy. But once I got people to try one, once they tasted the chicken we cooked on them, they were hooked.” Giving them a distinctive green, dimpled surface and a catchy name helped. So did that cool shape, which looked somehow countercultural when compared with conventional grills. Now, more than 2,000 retailers across the nation stock Big Green Eggs, the brand of ceramic kamados that Mr. Fisher eventually developed, with sales, he said, growing by more than 20 percent every year for the past two decades. More than a dozen competitors have entered the market, latching onto a customer base that proselytizes as well as cooks. Sometimes known as Eggheads, devotees are sold on manufacturers’ claims that kamado grills light faster than other grills, require less charcoal and hold and distribute heat more evenly, and that meats cooked on them are more moist and succulent. At first, the eggs caught on as compact backyard barbecue pits. But as the fervor grew, fans began using them for many things that could be made in an oven, as well on a grill, whether Bundt cakes or pepperoni pizzas. “I was a Weber and briquettes kind of guy,” said Michael Barry who has prepared everything from turkeys to apple brown betties on a ceramic cooker in his San Rafael, Calif., backyard. “But then I heard about Big Green Eggs, and then I cooked on one, and I never looked back.” The metropolitan Atlanta area, where egg-shaped cookers have gained wide popularity and where four kamado companies are based, remains the de facto hub for ceramic cookers. It is also the region with the most passionate fan base. A half-dozen or more restaurants in the area feature kamado cookers, including Kevin Rathbun Steak, which serves a pork shoulder entree slathered with Korean chili paste and smoked on a Big Green Egg. At Muss & Turner’s, a creative suburban deli, cooks work three Big Green Eggs. Outside, on two 24-inch-diameter cookers, they roast turkeys and chickens. On a third, positioned inside, next to the deep fryer, they grill hamburgers. “It draws them in,” Todd Mussman, one of the owners, said of the grill’s devotees. “It’s like these cookers are the common ground between backyard barbecue heroes and professional chefs.” In the universe of kamado users, some of whom gather regularly for a growing roster of ceramic-cooking exhibitions often called Eggfests, the backyard is still the place where new techniques are perfected and where communities of users are forged. Just east of Atlanta, in Decatur, Billy and Kristin Smith have established a monthly Big Green Egg supper club. No matter which of the eight couples hosts, the focal point is always the backyard, where a Big Green Egg stands, wreathed in smoke, looking like a Humpty Dumpty stunt double on the set of a pyrotechnic-dependent action film. For a recent Sunday evening gathering that began with shucked oysters set in muffin tins and roasted on a Big Green Egg, Mr. Smith cooked a garlic stuffed boneless pork shoulder that was done in 90 minutes. Ms. Smith baked a peach and blackberry cobbler that, after an hour on the hickory charcoal-fueled Egg, tasted lightly and pleasantly of wood smoke. “I can do anything I want on an Egg,” said Mr. Smith, a trial-and-error cook who has honed his techniques over a couple of years. “Anything you can imagine, I can cook. We’ve done prosciutto pizzas. When you crank the coals, you get this perfect, fire-crackled crust.” While the Smiths connect with fellow fans at cookouts, Doug Hanthorn, who tends three Big Green Eggs and one $3,600 Indonesian-made Komodo Kamado in Raleigh, N.C., has built an online community focused on the wonky pursuits and pleasures of the cookers. On NakedWhiz.com, he charts developments in the world of kamado cookery and rates hardwood lump charcoal, which aficionados prefer to briquettes because, they say, it leaves less ash and its smoke has a cleaner flavor. In conversation, Mr. Hanthorn touted the fuel efficiency of these cookers. “The smaller the fire you have to build,” he said, “the less oxygen you need to feed that fire, and the less air flow you have to introduce into the chamber, which could dry out your food.” But he is also keen on their adaptability. “I can cold-smoke salmon at 100 degrees,” said Mr. Hanthorn who has been using kamado cookers since 2001. “And I can sear steaks at 1,200 degrees. They’re as versatile as anything on the market.” Not all serious consumers believe the sales pitch. Kamado cookers are bulky. The most popular style from Primo Grills and Smokers weighs more than 200 pounds. And they are expensive. The most popular Big Green Egg sells for $800. “I can do everything on my Weber kettle that you can do on an Egg for a fraction of the price,” said Charlie Hammond, who tends four metal cookers in his backyard in Mission Hills, Kan. He also argues that the damper systems on bullet-shaped metal smokers transfer heat by convection as well as kamado grills. Pitches for kamado grills often rely on technological citations. When Dennis Linkletter introduced a new Komodo Kamado model, he posted online references to NASA-inspired innovations, including “elastomeric industrial insulation” that incorporates “nano ceramic spheres, created in a high temperature vacuum.” No matter, all the ceramic cookers, including the Comet Kamado sold by a California firm that promises “galactic technology,” are based on traditional kamados. Eric C. Rath, a co-editor of “Japanese Foodways Past and Present” (University of Illinois Press, 2010), said that similarly shaped earthenware cookers were first used to steam rice in Japan in the third or fourth century. Selling customers was tougher back when Mr. Fisher, of the Pachinko House, began importing kamado grills more than 30 years ago. His success inspired the other kamado companies around Atlanta, most of which still import cookers. Only Primo grills are made here, in the suburb of Norcross. Kamado Joe grills are made in Yixing, China; Grill Domes in Noida, an industrial district in northern India; and Big Green Eggs are manufactured in Monterrey, Mexico. “All those companies talk about our cookers,” Mr. Fisher said recently. “They say theirs is just as good as the Big Green Egg. They say it’s better than the Big Green Egg. No matter what they say, they talk about us. As more people make these cookers, they drive our sales higher.” Tarsem Kohli, who once made cookers for Mr. Fisher, used a similar promotional technique when he started Grill Dome in 1989, cooking mango powder-flavored chicken wing drumettes to lure passers-by. (The recipe works for drumsticks, too.) “Sooner or later, the big boys are going to get into it,” Bobby Brennan, the president of Kamado Joe, said recently. “If Weber doesn’t make one soon, somebody in their strategy department needs to get fired.” Weber thinks otherwise. “We have been carefully researching ceramic outdoor cookers,” said Michael Kempster, an executive vice president of Weber-Stephen Products, “and while they have a small and enthusiastic following, most outdoor grilling enthusiasts find them too expensive and too complicated to use.” As retailers have begun to stock the grills, they’ve also begun to sell accessories. At first, the money was in lump charcoal. Now, it is in pizza stones and instant-read thermometers and, in the case of Big Green Eggs, egg-shaped trinkets like citronella candles, tablecloth weights and corn-on-the-cob handles. Early kamado cookers were not as durable then as they are now. Exposed to weather and compromised by exposure to high temperatures, those earthenware versions cracked so easily that, in the late 1970s, Mr. Fisher employed two people to mend broken chimney lips and patch the cracked bodies of cookers. Over the past couple of decades, kamado manufacturers, including Big Green Egg, have introduced stronger construction materials, with better insulation that can sustain more than 900 degrees and hold heat for more than 12 hours. When George Samaras, who started Primo in 1997, leads visitors through the factory where employees make the oblong-shaped kamado he patented, he shows off his porcelain spray booth and 28-million-B.T.U. kiln. (He is also quick to tell them that a toilet manufacturer in Mississippi originally used his kiln.) Like many in this industry, Mr. Samaras is an able salesman. He talks up moisture retention, and how pork loins emerge from his cookers bursting with juice. But on a recent afternoon, as he grilled rib-eye steaks on a Primo installed in a cooking island behind his suburban Atlanta home, he also talked about his customers. “People love these grills,” he said, as he swabbed a steak with olive oil and garlic. “And I love the way they sell. It’s a pyramid scheme. You sell one grill to one guy. And he sells two to his friends.”
  4. Here is yet another interesting home grilling/baking option... the home tandoor : http://homdoor.com/ Saw an article about it in the NYT by BBQ guru Steve Raichlen here. May 10, 2011 A Tandoor Oven Brings India’s Heat to the Backyard By STEVEN RAICHLEN RON LEVY never intended to become a tandoor mogul. In fact, he had never heard of tandoors — Indian clay cooking vessels that are part oven and part barbecue pit — until 1986, when a New York gallery exhibited six-foot pots he had made, inspired by amphorae on Crete. A man with an Indian accent called, wondering whether Mr. Levy, a ceramic artist, could make a large pot with a tapered mouth, no bottom and no glaze: a tandoor. After it was installed at a Columbus Avenue restaurant called Indian Oven, word spread through the Indian community, and orders began to pile up. “It came to the point where I had to stop doing my ceramic artwork, and focus on tandoors full time,” Mr. Levy, 63, recalled. So he converted his studio on Mulberry Street in Little Italy into a tandoor factory. Over the past three decades, he has built more than 2,000 for restaurants across North America, including the Bombay Club in Washington and Bukhara Grill and Dawat in Manhattan, and as far away as Mexico, Belize and Fiji. “Coming from a fine arts background, it was very satisfying to make something so functional and so useful,” Mr. Levy said. “I think of it as ceramics that feeds the body, in addition to soothing the soul.” Now Mr. Levy has developed a tandoor for home use, the Homdoor. It starts at $1,200. One of them, a waist-high clay pot sheathed in stainless steel and looking vaguely like a “Star Wars” robot, sits just outside the ceramics studio on Islamorada in the Florida Keys, where he now lives. With palm trees and the azure ocean as a backdrop, sparks and flames from glowing charcoal shot from its mouth. Michael Ledwith, the chef of Hungry Heron Catering nearby, threaded spice-crusted rectangles of steak onto long metal skewers and patted yeasted dough into the flatbread naan. Mr. Ledwith seasoned the beef with an aromatic mixture of ground pepper, mustard and fennel seeds, and grains of paradise, dried black berries in the ginger family that taste like a cross between black pepper and allspice. The beef came out of the blast-furnace heat of the tandoor with an explosively flavorful crust and uncommonly succulent center. The traditional tandoor that Mr. Levy set out to copy 30 years ago was typically an unfired vessel, the clay walls strengthened with straw and animal hair. “It was very unsanitary,” Mr. Levy said, adding that ovens shipped to the United States “often arrived from India broken, or would crack with extended use.” The tandoor’s shape, a cylinder with sloped clay walls, has remained essentially unchanged for 5,000 years. Mr. Levy’s first innovation was to fashion the body from a blend of earthenware and stoneware, the former chosen for its modeling and expansion properties, the latter for its ability to withstand high heat without cracking. For porosity (an essential quality so that flatbreads can cling to the oven’s inner walls), he added finely ground fired clay, known as grog. For insulation and extra strength, he developed a clay and vermiculite mixture that could be baked onto the exterior of the pot. Finally, he devised a sturdy stainless steel housing, so the tandoor could be sold and installed as a movable, freestanding unit. “We’ve been using Ron’s tandoors for the last 20 years,” said Vicky Vij, an owner of Bukhara. “They outlast any Indian clay tandoor. They’re masterpieces.” As demand and production picked up, Mr. Levy bought an enormous Hobart mixer, which he was told came from an old Navy ship, to blend the clay. He built plaster molds to shape the ovens. After the pots are formed, each one is turned by hand on a giant wheel to smooth the interior. The tandoors are dried, then baked at 2,000 degrees in a gas-fired kiln for seven hours, transforming the soft clay into hard, heat-resistant ceramic. The entire manufacturing process takes about two weeks. The tandoor may have originated in Rajasthan, India, where archeologists have found tandoor remains dating from 2600 B.C. — about the same time as the pyramids. The first tandoors were used to bake flatbread, a tradition that survives in Indian roti, Afghan naan and Turkmen chorek. Visit a bakery on the teeming Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi — or any Indian restaurant, for that matter — and you will see fresh naan being made to order. Soft white balls of yeasted dough are rolled into flat cakes, which are draped over a round cloth pillow called a gadhi and pressed onto the hot inner walls of the tandoor, where they puff, blister and brown in minutes. The searing heat and smoke, and moisture-retaining properties of the tandoor, make it equally effective for roasting meat on vertical skewers, a delicacy mentioned by the Indian surgeon Sushruta as early as the eighth century B.C. Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal, held the tandoor in such high esteem he had a portable metal model constructed to take on his travels. In spite of its ancient origins and utter simplicity, the tandoor produces startlingly sophisticated results, including smoky flatbreads that puff like pillows, and roasted meats of uncommon succulence. According to Mr. Levy, tandoor cooking uses four distinct techniques. Direct heat rises from the charcoal, a process akin to grilling. The hot clay walls of the oven cook bread, similar to griddling or skillet-roasting. Radiant heat in the belly of the tandoor produces results similar to convection baking. And smoke, which occurs as the marinade and meat juices drip onto the hot coals, adds fragrance and flavor. The tandoor’s cooking properties have made it the preferred barbecue pit throughout Central and South Asia and the Caucasus region. Iranians call it tanoor; Uzbeks, tandyr; Azerbaijanis, tandir; Armenians, tonir; and Georgians, tone. But the center of tandoori cooking is Punjab, in what Indians refer to as the Northwest Frontier. As a young girl growing up in Delhi, the actress and Indian cooking authority Madhur Jaffrey had never heard of a tandoor. It was not until 1947, when Pakistan gained its independence from formerly British India, that a wave of Punjabi refugees brought the oven to Delhi. Ms. Jaffrey discovered tandoori chicken, young birds weighing at most two and a half pounds, robustly seasoned with salt, yogurt and lemon juice and dyed orange with food coloring. “It was totally exotic — meat cooked to order for just a few minutes,” she recalled. “We Indians were so used to cooking meat to death.” Mr. Levy developed his home tandoor — available at homdoor.com — to be small and portable enough to use in a backyard, yet big enough to cook for a large family. At the suggestion of an Indian chef in Miami, he widened the Homdoor’s mouth to accommodate up to six pieces of naan at a time. Because of its design — a vent at the bottom draws air, and the inward slope of the mouth traps the heat — a tandoor can reach 500 to 750 degrees with a single load of charcoal. For ease of use and temperature control, Mr. Levy found an optional 100,000 B.T.U. propane burner that can heat a bed of ceramic briquettes at the bottom. (For purists, the Homdoor also burns charcoal.) He also commissioned custom skewers with wooden handles from a metal worker in Oregon. He hired a seamstress in Los Angeles to stitch the gadhis. The final challenge was production. Mr. Levy made his commercial tandoors in small batches as orders arrived. His business plan for the Homdoor, on the other hand, calls for 500 units to be built the first year. Last year, he joined forces with a ceramics company in Uhrichsville, Ohio. “It turns out, they were using the same press molds and virtually the same ceramic blend for their fireplace components and chimney flue liners that I use in my tandoors,” Mr. Levy said. Following Mr. Levy’s specifications, the company has built 50 Homdoors, tweaking the shape, propane burner and casing. Another hurdle was bringing the weight of the unit down from 350 pounds to 140 or less, at which point it could be shipped by U.P.S. The first commercial unit rolled out in March. He was so pleased with the result that all of his tandoors are now made in Ohio. Even without a tandoor, you can approximate the explosive flavors of authentic tandoori cooking by using a grill or broiler. The naan and mushroom recipes here are adapted from Bukhara Grill in Manhattan; the steak dish is Mr. Ledwith’s. It’s a dish you won’t find in India, where cows are considered sacred.
  5. *UPDATE 2* Regulator Threading After 5 yrs, I managed to break the regulator. This time, it was the result of leaving the grill on a stand on my deck all winter under the icicles hanging from my roof. The end result was coming out to a grill completely encased in ice several times. I think the ice in the regulator caused it to fail. I ordered a new regulator ($40), but the nozzle had coarse (US) threads which didn't fit the fine (METRIC) threading entering the grill though the ignition box. Turns out, Solaire no longer makes the Metric threaded housing or regulator. Rather than spend another $70 on that part, I drilled out the hole with a 1/2" bit and secured the regulator nozzle to the box on the other side with a 1/2" nut. Worked great!
  6. Definitely worth having an IR burner. I started with a portable one to experiment and liked it so much, ended up using it as my primary grill. Now I have a hybrid with 3 conventional and 1 sear burner. The IR burner is up to temp in minutes and absolutely amazing for steaks and chops. The loud "POP" followed by a whooshing/jet engine sound and flames is caused by a crack in the ceramic element or seal. You'll have to replace the burner element unfortunately. I doubt the element was cracked by dripping juices - you would need alot more liquid to thermally shock the ceramic. In fact, another advantage of sear burners is the fact that most drippings vaporize on contact reducing flare-ups. I've also found the rear rotisserie sear element very useful in maintaining temps in the grill and making sure the top of pizza is cooked as well as the bottom on a pizza stone. I'm not happy I have one, but here is a pic of a cracked IR ceramic burner, with the new one underneath.
  7. Yep-the primary difference between these salts is the texture and size of the crystals. Table salt is the finest and dissolves the fastest. The larger size crystals found in Kosher and most sea salts lend a crunchier, brinier element to food - they also tend to pull more moisture due to the bigger crystals. I think washing the salt off would take away the delicious, slightly crispy, salty texture/flavor that I really enjoy on the surface of the steak.
  8. I think leaving the salt on too long 1) draws too much moisture out and 2) makes the steak too salty. But salt is an essential part of making a great steak. What I do now is sprinkle both sides generously with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper no more than 10 minutes before they go on the IR grill. Works out great! Here is an interesting experiment someone did with salt and ground beef: http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/12/the-burger-lab-salting-ground-beef.html (and it is a gal - Jaden H that runs the Steamy Kitchen blog that the OP referenced)
  9. I would definitely get the ProSear module. But, as much as I love the IR grills, I've used both types and I think the best thing to do is to go with the hybrid because as others have pointed out, IR burners aren't great for grilling all types of foods. One of the downsides of the older IR burners was that they basically had 2 temperatures, 0 and 1500 deg. The newer ones supposed to be more variable. Yes, your Lynx Brass burners get plenty hot, but 1) it takes a long time to get a brass burner to temp and most importantly, 2) its a very different type of heat transfer. A traditional gas burner uses primarily convection (transfer of energy via a liquid or gas) to transfer heat : the gas burner heats air which heats your food and cooks it. Because of this, a traditional burner has a tendency to dry food out as it cooks, because as the air passes your food, it takes some moisture with it. Foods also typically take longer to cook on a conventional burner so you lose even more moisture. An IR burner uses radiance (electromagnetic energy-similar to how the sun heats your skin) : the gas burner heats a ceramic element which in addition to heat, also creates electromagnetic light/energy which is transferred to the food directly and efficiently. Cooking times are shorter, temps are much higher and more moisture is retained. Some people like to sear on the IR then transfer to the conventional burners. I cook pork and beef completely on the IR, but I'll sear chicken and veggies on the IR first, than transfer them over the regular burners. I used to have a Lynx and I can say that while the burners are virtually bombproof, they take quite a while to get up to temp, while my infrared grill is ready to go in just minutes. An another benefit of the IR is that there is virtually no flare up as any juices that fall on the element are vaporized instantly.
  10. Some good tips from 'The Burger Lab' http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/03/the-burger-labs-top-ten-tips-for-better-burgers.html As well as a good analysis of salt : http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/12/the-burger-lab-salting-ground-beef.html
  11. I just broke out the MES after way too long a hiatus. Looked like there was a little mold on the side rack guides and old grease along the back floor under the pan. I used a scrub sponge and a bucket of water and bleach to wipe everything down and putty knife to scrape the bottom. Before I smoked 2 pork shoulders, I lined the floor, and interior and exterior drip pans with foil. Since I smoked the shoulders fat side down directly on the shelves, you can imagine the mess that was left on the shelves, and on top of the smoker/heater element. I did pulled all the foil out, did a quick wipedown and tried to chip/scrape/wipe the bigger chunks of gunk off and out. The shelves I'll soak and put in the DW. How do you guys clean your smokers if you know you may not use it for a few months (a crime I know ...) ?
  12. Thanks BG - I started out using cornmeal, but then found using flour made the dough easier to work with and seemed to make it slide easier and make less of a mess. Burning doesn't seem to be an issue but maybe I'll do some more experimentation.
  13. I've been meaning to try pizza on the grill for quite some time now, and finally got around to giving it a try. I admit I was a little intimidated at first because I knew managing temps might be challenging, but it turned out to be much easier than expected, and the results were much much better than in the oven. Here is what I did: - First, I preheated the kiln shelf on the grates directly over the middle burner of my 3 burner gas grill. I turned all burners to high and closed the lid. (10-20min) - I then prepped all the pizza ingredients - thinly sliced onions, fresh mozz, broccoli, sausage, spinach etc. Next, I prepped the dough by rolling it out on the counter with some flour. - At this point, I checked the pizza stone temp and it was just over 500 degrees which I was disappointed in, but at least I was relatively confident I wouldn't be in a 'burnt bottom, uncooked top' situation which you have to watch out for when making pizza in a grill as its not an insulated environment like an oven. I took a chance and decided to throw the pizza on without further preheating. - I also fired up the rotisserie burner which I think really helped to raise the pizza stone temp and cook the top. - I spread some flour on the pizza peel, spread out the dough, and added some sauce and toppings. I gave the peel a little shake front to back to make sure the pizza was moving smoothly and slid it onto the stone and shut the lid. I promptly turned down the middle burner to low, and the burners on either side to medium. - After roughly 4-5 minutes I took a peek and found an almost perfectly cooked pizza with a charred crust! Maybe even slightly overcooked. I decided for my next pizza I would go with low on all burners (maybe even off on the middle burner under the stone)and medium on the rotisserie burner. I took a quick temp reading and it was well over 600 degrees - apparently the rotisserie burner adds quite a bit of heat from the top. I was most surprised by the difference in flavor of the pizza (vs oven made). It was much closer in flavor to something made in a wood fired oven. In addition, the crust had great consistency and 'poof' - I attribute this to the higher temp of the pizza stone. And now what you've all really been waiting for ... the obligatory photos!
  14. Check it out here 101 Fast Recipes for Grilling By MARK BITTMAN THERE, in all of their Fourth of July glory, are 101 grilling ideas begging to be tried. A vast majority take less time to prepare and grill than it takes to watch your coals turn white. (If you use gas, they’re still almost as fast as heating up the grill.) Some of them feature ingredients like corn, eggplant and tomatoes, which will be better a month from now, at least in the Northeast. But there are also suggestions for foods in season right now that not everybody thinks of putting on the grill. Please note that salt and pepper are (usually) understood. Vegetables and Fruits 1. A winter dish, summer style: Brush thick slices of fennel bulbs with olive oil and grill over not-too-high heat. Cut oranges in half and grill, cut-side down. Put fennel on a bed of arugula or watercress, squeeze grilled oranges over top. Garnish with fennel fronds. 2. Best grilled artichokes: Cut artichokes in half, scoop out the choke, parboil until tender. Grill, cut-side down, until lightly browned; grill a couple of halved lemons, too. Combine the juice from the grilled lemons with melted butter and spoon over the artichokes. Finish with parsley. 3. Tahini tofu steaks. Thin tahini with lots of lemon juice and some minced garlic. Cut a brick of firm tofu into four slabs and brush with sesame oil. Grill over a moderate fire, turning a few times, until marked and crisp outside and custardy inside. On the last turn, baste with the tahini sauce. Serve on thick tomato slices with a drizzle of soy sauce and chopped basil, Thai if possible. 4. Spice-rubbed carrots: Roll peeled carrots in cumin, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Char, then move them away from direct heat and cover the grill until carrots are tender. 5. Grill bread; grind in a food processor to make coarse bread crumbs. (You can add garlic and/or parsley and/or Parmesan, or not.) Grill asparagus until tender. Top with bread crumbs and olive oil. 6. Brush slices of beet with olive oil and grill slowly until tender and lightly browned. Top each slice with a little goat cheese and some salad greens. 7. For perfectly ripe tomatoes only: Grill tomatoes, any size, until hot and lightly charred but not bursting. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve with fresh mozzarella (or, even better, burrata) and grilled bread. 8. Halve and grill radicchio (or Belgian endives); drizzle cut sides with honey or plain vinaigrette, pesto or parsley pesto. Or just brush with oil and finish with a little grilled prosciutto. 9. Grilled guacamole: Halve and pit avocados; lightly char them, then scoop out the flesh. Grill halved red onion, too. Chop, combine, add tomatoes, lime, garlic and spices if you like. 10. Grill corn. Serve with mayo with minced garlic, pimentón and parsley. 11. Grill more corn. Serve with curry-powder-laced yogurt and minced onion. 12. Grill corn again. Serve with coconut milk, cilantro and mint. 13. Root vegetable of your choice: Slice celeriac — or jicama, big potatoes, daikon or yams — and grill slowly, until very tender and browned. Drizzle with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with chopped rosemary or sage and olive oil. 14. Choose another root. Slice it, but this time char lightly and leave it crunchy. Chop and toss with chopped cilantro, a pinch of cayenne and juice of grilled lime. 15. Rub thick zucchini slices with a mixture of fresh or dried dill, yogurt, olive oil and lemon. (Or use pesto or parsley pesto.) Grill slowly. 16. More shopping than cooking: Grill an array of radishes on little skewers, four to six each. Serve with butter, salt and bread. 17. Halve Belgian endives. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill over moderate-to-low heat, turning once or twice, until soft and browned. Finish cut-side up and sprinkle with grated Parmesan; close the grill to melt cheese. 18. Lightly char whole or halved heads of baby bok choy; drizzle with soy sauce and top with chopped scallions. 19. Peel and thickly slice a not overly ripe mango. Brush very lightly with neutral oil and grill just until softened; sprinkle with cilantro and/or mint and lime juice (you might as well grill the lime first, too). 20. Grill pineapple (or anything, really, from pork to tofu to eggplant). Make a sauce of half-cup peanut butter, a tablespoon (or more) soy sauce, a dash (or more) sriracha chili sauce, a handful of basil or mint and enough warm water to thin. (I’m tempted to say, “Throw away the pineapple and eat the sauce,” but the combination is sensational.) 21. Waldorf salad revisited, sort of: Grill cut apples until browned but not mushy; grill chunks of Napa or savoy cabbage, also left crisp; grill halved red onion. Chop or shred all together with blue cheese, walnuts and a little yogurt. 22. Cut a slit in as many ripe figs as you like; stuff with herbed goat cheese (or cream cheese mixed with chopped nuts) and grill slowly. Appetizer or dessert? Your call. 23. Grill red, orange and/or yellow peppers; toss with olives, capers, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 24. Quick grilled pickle: Rapidly char thick slices of cucumber; toss with salt, vinegar and sugar; let sit for 15 minutes, then drain. 25. Charred salsa verde. Toss whole husked tomatillos, scallions and jalapeños in olive oil and grill until charred. Remove the blackened skin from the chilies and chop or blend everything with diced avocado, lime juice and cilantro. Eat with chips or top grilled chicken with it. Meat 26. Mideast lamb chops: Shoulder cuts are the best and the cheapest; just don’t burn them. Marinate them briefly in yogurt, lemon, cardamom and mint. Serve with lemon and parsley. 27. Midwest pork chops: Again, shoulder; again, don’t burn. Marinate briefly in spicy mustard, chopped garlic and apple cider. 28. Six-minute steak (or maybe four): Salt skirt steak and grill it, quickly. Top with queso fresco, thinly sliced red onion (you could grill it first, if you like) and the juice of grilled lime. 29. Six-minute steak, plus a little marinating time: Soak skirt steak in a mixture of soy, lime juice, garlic, ginger and sugar (or mirin) before grilling. (The time it takes to heat the grill is long enough.) 30. Smear chicken leg quarters (or thighs) with a paste of garlic, chopped rosemary (thyme, too, if you like), olive oil and the juice of grilled lemon. Grill away from heat, covered; crisp briefly over high heat. 31. Steak au poivre: Sirloin strip is ideal. Press lots of cracked black pepper into both sides, sprinkle with salt and grill over fairly high heat, about three to four minutes on each side. Slice quarter-inch thick before serving. 32. Crisp (and better) duck à l’orange: Score the skin of duck breasts and press rosemary leaves, salt and pepper into both sides. Grill skin-side down over low-ish heat until crackly, then turn and grill briefly. Serve with grilled orange halves. 33. Smear hanger, skirt, flatiron or other steak with mustard. Grill and serve with grilled shallots. 34. Brush chicken thighs — boned or not — with basil, parsley or cilantro pesto. Boneless and skinless thighs can be grilled over direct heat; thighs with skin should be started away from heat. 35. Fast lamb leg: Use steaks cut from the leg, and rub them with a mix of warm spices: cumin, coriander, cinnamon and turmeric. Grill quickly, serve hot. 36. Spread flank steak or butterflied lamb leg with garlic, parsley and lemon zest. Roll and tie, or fold. (Or grill without further fuss, adding more paste occasionally.) 37. Moist grilled chicken breast? Yes: Pound chicken breast thin, top with chopped tomato, basil and Parmesan; roll and skewer and grill over not-high heat until just done. 38. Call it grilled chicken Parm: Pound breast thin, top one side with sliced tomato, mozzarella and Parmesan; fold in half, seal with a toothpick or skewer and grill for a few minutes on each side. 39. Pork (or veal) saltimbocca: Pound pork or veal cutlets thin; top with ham (prosciutto preferably) and cheese (maybe Gruyère). Roll, cook on skewers and serve with pickles. 40. Slice pork shoulder thin. Fry lots of sesame seeds, minced garlic, fresh minced chili in sesame oil; off heat, stir in some soy sauce. Grill the pork fast over high heat, smearing with the sesame paste right after flipping. Serve with lettuce leaves and cilantro, basil and/or mint for wrapping. 41. Bacon-wrapped hot dog. You know you want one. Fish and Shellfish 42. Grill thick onion slices; purée in a blender with olive oil and lemon juice. Grill scallops for about four minutes; serve with the vinaigrette. 43. Salmon tartare with grilled stuff: Lightly grill radishes, scallions, lime halves and, if you like, plantain disks. Serve the plantains under, and the other things next to, chopped raw salmon (preferably wild) seasoned with salt and pepper. 44. Grill sardines or mackerel; serve with a squeeze of grilled lemon, grapefruit or both. 45. Stuff whole gutted trout with slices of lemon and chopped marjoram or oregano. Wrapping in bacon is optional. One per person is best. 46. Not so easy, but so impressive: Stuff squid bodies with chopped chorizo (optional), garlic-toasted bread crumbs, lemon zest and parsley. Close with toothpicks. Char quickly over a very hot fire. 47. Shrimp, Part 1: Rub with chili powder and salt, and grill quickly. Finish with cilantro and the juice of grilled lime halves. 48. Shrimp, Part 2: Rub with olive oil, salt and cumin. Finish with the juice of grilled lemon halves; garnish with chopped marjoram, if you have it, parsley if you don’t. 49. Shrimp, Part 3: Rub with curry powder. Drizzle with warm coconut milk and chopped mint, basil and/or cilantro. 50. Grilled tuna niçoise: Brush tuna with olive oil and grill; keep it rare. (You might grill some new potatoes while you’re at it.) Serve with more olive oil, lemon juice, cherry tomatoes, olives, grilled red onion and parsley. Green beans and hard-cooked eggs are optional. 51. Grilled clams on the half shell: Get them shucked (or cook in the microwave or on the grill until opened); top with bread crumbs, parsley, lemon, minced cooked bacon (optional). Grill until topping is hot. 52. You think you don’t like bluefish? Grill it, then drizzle with a mixture of chopped fennel fronds (or crushed fennel seeds), melted butter and the juice of grilled grapefruit or orange. 53. White fillets with spice: Mix salt, sugar, chili powder and paprika. Rub on sturdy white fish fillets (make sure the grill grates are clean and well oiled). 54. Buy shucked oysters. Top with juice of grilled lemon. Period. (You could grill shallots, mince and make a grilled mignonette, but this is better.) 55. Grill soft-shell crabs, brushing with melted butter and Tabasco. A little charring of the claw tips isn’t a bad thing. 56. Simmer octopus tentacles until tender (this may take a couple of hours); cool. Grill; cut into attractive little rounds and drizzle with lemon and olive oil. 57. Grill wild salmon (preferably king or sockeye) until not-well-done. Toss diced cucumbers with fresh dill, olive oil and lemon juice. Serve salmon hot, slaw cold. Kebabs 58. Shrimp and chorizo. Serve with lemon or a little vinaigrette. 59. Lamb and carrots. In last few minutes, brush with miso thinned with a tiny bit of mirin (or sherry, wine or water). 60. Lamb and onions. Brush with a mixture of cumin and olive oil as they sizzle. You can add bell peppers, too, but somehow the stark minimalism of this is pleasing. 61. Odd, but good: Strawberries and cherry tomatoes, finished with basil-laced balsamic vinegar. 62. The New Yawk special: Italian sausage, peppers and onions. 63. The California special: Figs, with chunks of good bacon. 64. Kebab or hero? Your choice: Cut brussels sprouts in half; grill slowly on skewers, with chunks of sausage. Both slowly crisp as they cook. 65. Bread salad on a stick: Cubes of bread, black olives and cherry tomatoes. Don’t grill too long, and drizzle with basil or thyme or parsley vinaigrette. 66. Peaches, plums, strawberries and watermelon. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and perhaps a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. 67. Cubes of mango and chunks of white fish; brush with a mixture of soy, fish sauce, sriracha chili sauce and chopped mint or cilantro. Serve with a mai tai. 68. Go Hawaiian or Italian: Wrap pineapple or melon in prosciutto. Grill briefly. Salads 69. Grilled coleslaw: Lightly char wedges of green and red cabbage and carrots. Let cool, then shred and toss with a little mayo, vinegar, salt and sugar. 70. Grill halved new potatoes or fingerlings (microwave or parboil first for a few minutes to get a head start), red onions and scallions. Chop as necessary and toss with chopped celery, parsley, mustard and cider (or other) vinegar. I make this annually. 71. Toss grilled Lacinato kale leaves with a little Caesar salad dressing (or olive oil, lemon and Parmesan) and grilled croutons. 72. Char iceberg wedges and cherry tomatoes (skewer these first). Top with blue cheese dressing. 73. Lightly grill ripe figs; brush with balsamic. Chop and toss with arugula and blue cheese. Sprinkle with olive oil. 74. Steak salad with almost no steak: Halve endives or radicchio; brush with oil and grill. Sprinkle with bits of blue cheese and bits of charred steak. 75. Ratatouille: Grill chunks of zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, eggplant, onion and tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes), all until lightly browned and perfectly tender. Toss with fresh marjoram or oregano, thyme, basil and olive oil. Burgers 76. Greek salad burger: Ground lamb with grated feta, chopped calamatas and a little oregano. Top with tomato, red onion and cucumber. 77. The pickled onions make it: Soak sliced red onions in diluted vinegar and salt while you prepare everything else. Combine ground lamb with grated carrots and cumin; grill, then top with onions. 78. Asian burger: Grind pork, combine with grated daikon and a little soy sauce. Brush with hoisin or miso and top with sliced-and-salted cucumbers. 79. Grind beef, combine with crumbled blue cheese and chopped toasted walnuts. Top, if it doesn’t sound too effete, with sliced grilled pear. 80. A chicken or turkey burger worth eating: Cook and chop bacon; mix with ground chicken (or turkey) and grill. 81. Another: Grind turkey, combine with chopped basil, shove a cube of mozzarella into the center, grill until well done (the cheese will melt). Top with tomato and more basil. 82. Grind salmon (actually, it’s better if you grind half and chop half) and combine with chopped scallions and soy sauce. Grill medium-rare, top with mayo spiked with ginger, soy and/or lime. 83. Philly cheesesteak burger: Grind beef and grill with mushrooms and onions; top with aged provolone. Sandwiches and Breads 84. Actual grilled cheese: Use good bread, good cheese, tomato slices and maybe a little mustard; brush with melted butter or olive oil and grill with a weight on top. 85. Glorified grilled cheese: Use grilled pineapple, grilled ham, cheese, pickles and mayo; grill with a weight on top. 86. Grill bell peppers until blackened and collapsed; cover, cool and peel. Grill eggplant planks, brushed with olive oil (or pesto if you have it), until very tender. Make a sandwich with balsamic vinegar, mozzarella and basil. This is also good with strip or skirt steak: grill meat until medium-rare, then slice and salt. 87. Grilled quesadilla (simple): Fill a flour tortilla with queso fresco, Monterey Jack or Cheddar; add chicken, shrimp and/or tomato. Fold and grill until cheese melts. 88. Grilled quesadilla (not as simple): Grill and strip corn from the cob; grill red-onion slices and chop them. Combine both with chili powder and bind with a tiny bit of mayo or yogurt. Put between two flour tortillas with cheese and grill. Serve with grilled lime wedges. 89. A different kind of Cuban sandwich: Grill pork steaks (best from the shoulder, about half-inch thick). Put on baguette spread with well-seasoned mashed black beans, queso fresco, chopped red onion (grilled or not), cilantro and lime juice. 90. Grill pork steaks as above; grill red onions. Slice the meat, chop the onions, toss with thinly sliced apples and roll in lavash bread or stuff in pita with yogurt-dill dressing. You can use the meat as an accent, or as the dominant ingredient. 91. Grill sweet Italian sausage and some figs. Combine on a toasted hot dog bun; mustard is optional. 92. Grill split kielbasa or chorizo (the Spanish type). Serve in buns, filled with chopped Manchego and mayo spiked with pimentón. Some chopped dried apricots would be good, too. Desserts 93. An idea whose time has come: Halve and grill peaches, nectarines or apricots. Brush with barbecue sauce or, if you want to be sophisticated, a mixture of bourbon, sugar and mint, or simple syrup laced with basil. 94. An idea whose time will come in September: Halve and grill pears or apples. When they’re done, drizzle with yogurt, honey and a pinch of cardamom. 95. Grilled fruit salad, and why not? Toss grilled watermelon (really good), peaches, plums, pineapple and kiwi with honey, a little salt, lemon juice and tarragon (not much), chervil, basil or mint (or a combo). 96. Cut grapefruit in half. Sprinkle with brown sugar; grill, cut-side down. You might top this with chopped pistachios or a little honey. 97. Grilled shortbread or poundcake (store-bought is totally fine) topped with grilled fruit sauce, strawberries in sugar, yogurt, ice cream, whatever. 98. Grilled angel food cake or poundcake (again, store-bought is fine) topped with Nutella, chocolate sauce, sorbet, etc. 99. Grilled s’mores: Put graham crackers (or other good quality flat cookie) on foil, top with marshmallows and chocolate and another cracker. Grill until the chocolate and marshmallow begin to melt. 100. Cut bananas into thick rounds (like scallops almost), char quickly and serve with caramel sauce, brown sugar, vanilla ice cream, Nutella ... whatever. 101. Actually, this is a drink: Skewer green olives, then char them a bit. These would be a good garnish for shrimp, chorizo or anything else. But instead, make yourself a fantastic dirty martini.
  15. *UPDATE* After 4 yrs, I've encountered the first problem with this grill and it was likely my own fault. I recently took the unit completely apart for a periodic cleaning. After reassembly, I noticed that every so often, I would hear a large popping noise, followed by a high pitched roaring/whistling noise and no flame coming through the ceramic burner. If you turn the unit off, wait a few seconds and restart, its fine until you hear the pop again. I called solaire directly and their tech said to look for a hairline crack in the ceramic element or break in the gasket seal underneath. Sure enough, I saw a bigger than hairline crack in the element. Probably due to dropping the burner on the ground carelessly while cleaning. Good thing is that you can buy pretty much any part you need for this grill from Solaire, bad news is that the burner is $134. I will definitely replace this since I've used it pretty much every few days the last 4 years with great results. Lesson learned though - be careful with the burner element!