How to Barbecue Better Using Cooking Grates
Cooking grates come in different types and materials, and each has its own advantages, depending on its use and the preference of the cook. Grill grates hold your food when you are barbecuing or grilling. So let us take a look at the choices available when it comes to outdoor cooking grates.
When it comes to popularity, cast iron grates seem to be the choice. The heavier wide cast iron grates can hold heat for a long time and cook evenly. As a result, you get well seared, quickly cooked food. The only problem with iron grill grates is maintenance. Apart from the regular cleaning, you must ensure that cast iron grills are well seasoned before you use them and this must be done periodically even when they are in regular use. They do come with manufacturers instructions on how to season them. While it is not a difficult task to season them, neglecting to do it can result in rust. If you do keep them well seasoned, cast iron can be as good as nonstick grates and appear to last longer than a lifetime.
A better option, if you want the advantage of longer heat but not the associated maintenance hassle with cast iron, you can opt for porcelain coated iron grates. These combine the quality of durability, as well as avoid the problem of rust as long as the porcelain coating is intact. Over time, the porcelain coating can crack, chip or wear off unless you are really careful when you handle it. At the time of cleaning, it is better to use brass bristles in place of metal scrapers with hard edges.
Stainless cooking grates for grills are less durable than iron; however, with good care, these can also last a long time. You also get steel grates coated with porcelain just like cast iron grates coated with porcelain. One problem, however, is that these grates are quite thin and too widely spaced to hold heat. While this does not really affect smoking or indirectly cooking huge portions of meat, beef, steaks and chops could pose an issue since you will not get those attractive grill marks. Serious chefs prefer wider grates.
If you compare stainless cooking grates for grills, porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grates and porcelain coated cast iron grates, porcelain coated cast iron grates let you cook at lower temperatures because there is longer retention of heat. Stainless steel grates come with the longest warranty followed by porcelain coated cast iron grates and the porcelain enameled ones.
Generally, it is better to buy stainless cooking grates for bbq grills so that they are not prone to rust. Often we find barbecue grills that are perfect with all the features we want at a price that is hard to refuse, yet does not have the kind of grate we want. In such cases, you can always check with the manufacturer. For example, you can opt for Weber porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grates that give you the advantage of long lasting grates that retain excellent heat and are supposed to be easy to maintain. But most weekend barbecuers feel that it is hard to keep it seasoned because they get so heated. This manufacturer also offers the option of choosing stainless cooking grates for the grills. These are easy to clean before cooking. By coating them with oil, you can keep food from sticking to it. Importantly, the grill marks are prominent. Another big advantage of stainless steel is its lightweight property making it easy to handle particularly while adding wood or briquettes to your smoker box. Stainless steel is also a good material for camping cooking grates.
About The Author: Jonathan Goodman is the owner of Market Merchants an online retailer specializing in home and garden products. My passion for bbq grilling and fireplaces is the core focus of Market Merchants. I am a member of the Hearth Patio Barbeque Association (HPBA), the National BBQ group (NBBQ), and the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS). We sell these products because we love them and are passionate about consumer living needs. So whether its furniture and decor, home improvement, kitchen and dining, or outdoor living Market Merchants brings a dedicated commitment to the customer and a passion for high quality products. Visit Market Merchants for a wide selection of cooking grates from our grill accessories department.
A kitchen would just not be a kitchen without a cutting board. In fact, the cutting board has become a main tool of our kitchens as it provides us a safe place for food preparation and cutting. In today’s kitchens you will find all kinds of cutting boards varying in size, shape and material. It’s up to you to decide which of them would be the best choice for your kitchen.
In the beginning most all cutting boards were made from hardwoods, like the butchers block would see in your local market. But in today’s kitchens cuttings boards are made of many different materials each one having their own advantages and disadvantages.
Wood has always been the overall best choice for your cutting boards. Wooden boards are made a couple of ways, end grain boards are thicker heavy duty boards made for heavy chopping and edge grain boards are thinner and lighter for everyday use. Wooden boards also come in many different patterns and wood spices, Maple, Black Walnut, Black Cherry, Sapele and the list goes on. The different patterns and wood spices are a personal and décor choice for you to choose, what looks best in your kitchen. But if you are the professional chef that uses your board every day under heavy use an end grain maple board will be your best choice. Also any end grain board will be easier on your knifes edges. Some disadvantages of wooden boards, they do require hand cleaning and sanitizing “no dishwashers” then treating with cutting board oil. If cared for properly they will last a very long time. The bottom line is wood is safe, simple and looks great.
Plastic cutting boards are generally the most affordable and you can find them in a large variety of different designs, sizes and colors. The plastic boards also come thick or thin, hard or flexible. The flexible ones are great for transferring food into pots and containers and they are also easy to store. The downside to the flexible ones is the fact that they will not last as long as the thicker boards. This is because sharp knives will eventually cut through the thin material. The hard thicker plastic boards are very durable. Plastic boards are thought of as being the safest board to use as they are easy to sanitize and clean. But just because they are plastic doesn’t mean you don’t have to sanitize, these boards can harbor bacteria in the cuts on the board therefore needing to be sanitized. Plastic boards do have the capabilities of being put into a dishwasher as long as they fit.
Glass boards are another popular type of board that can be found in many kitchens. These glass boards come in a variety of shapes and colors in order to suit your kitchens décor. They are also resistant to heat, very durable, easy to clean and they are very sanitary. However glass boards will dull the edges of your knifes very quickly and can even damage them. These boards also pose a danger as they can become very slippery during use creating a cutting hazard to you. They are also very heavy and more expensive than wooden cutting boards.
Bamboo is also a well known cutting board that is actually grass. They have become popular in kitchens today because of their inexpensive cost. The best feature of these boards is that they take it easy on the edges of your knife but they do scar, but you can sand them down in order to create a smooth surface. You will find that they can easily catch bacteria growth in the cuts, so you need to make sure you sanitize them each time you use them. One big disadvantage the vast majority of these boards come from China and there has been a lot of controversy over the resin holding these boards together is it safe or not?
It is recommended to have two or more cutting boards of any type to avoid cross-contamination. This means that you will have one for your meats and the others for your fruits, vegetables and breads. This will also make you more productive; since you want have to wash the cutting board thoroughly between items. If you’re having a hard time deciding on your cutting board choice just remember to select the largest size that will fit in your work area, but it should also fit into your sink for easy cleaning. Color, design and how will I use the board should also be part of your decision. You can never go wrong with a well made wood cutting board.
This episode has it all…..holy grilling pans……..to boil or not to boil Brats, that is the question and in order to find out the “spreadable” secret ingredient this week, you’ll have to butter the guys up a little! ;Its all in this weeks episode of GrateTV…….episode 11.
By Tim Sousa
Grilling and Barbecuing, two of the most popular cooking methods in the U.S., especially in warmer weather. There are some who know the difference between grilling and barbecuing, and some who don’t. Do you?
To put it simply, Grilling is fast cooking over high heat, while barbecuing involves a slower cooking method, over a lower heat.
Grilling is generally done over a gas flame, or hot coals. Tender cuts of meat are best for this cooking method. The quick cooking and the high heat seal in the juices, creating a juicy piece of meat, but leave the meat on too long, and it will dry out, as with any dry cooking method. Barbecue sauces can be used, but since the heat is so high, it should be added right at the end of the cooking time, especially for sweeter barbecue sauces, so that the sugar in the sauce doesn’t burn. Vegetables and fruits can also be grilled, as they don’t need a long cooking time. Peaches and pineapple are particularly good for grilling, the natural sugars in the fruit carmelize over the high heat. When you grill food, you need to pay attention to it, so it doesn’t get overcooked. You need to stay by the grill the whole time.
Barbecuing is typically done over charcoal or wood, although gas can be used. I’ve seen kalhua pig being cooked slowly on a gas grill, but usually, barbecuers will use either charcoal or wood. The meats usually used in barbecuing are tougher cuts of meat, such as the beef brisket, or pork ribs. These meats benefit from the long, slow cooking process, becoming so tender that they will just fall off the bone. Since the cooking process is slower, and the heat not as high as grilling, barbecue sauce can be brushed onto the meat throughought the cooking process, forming a delicious glaze on the outside of the meat. Apple juice is sometimes sprayed onto the meat to keep it moist and flavorful. Damp wood chips added to the fire add a delicious smoky flavor to the meat.
Some meats, like chicken, will benefit from either cooking method. It’s great either grilled quickly with a glaze or barbecue sauce applied towards the end of the cooking time, or slowly barbecued, absorbing the flavors of the smoke.
Tim Sousa is the webmaster of Classy Cooking, an online library of great recipes, cooking tips and more.
Just saw Coconut Charcoal offered at the Whole Foods Market andhad to find out more. Although we have not tried it on the test grills it sounds like coconut coal could be as clean burning as it gets. Let us know what you think!
Have You Tried Coconut Charcoal For Your Family Barbecuing?
By Jeco J
For centuries, people in Indonesia have recognized the use of coconut shells not only as a natural raw material to produce handicrafts, but also as an alternative and / or supplement to traditional lump charcoal, to improve and prolong the heat produced for cooking.
Coconut charcoal is an environment-friendly green alternative charcoal with many advantages that will make your barbecuing experience fun and help protect the environment. No single tree is cut to produce coconut charcoal. The characteristics of charcoal vary from one product to another. Charcoal variation results in different burning times, odor, and ash produced. Nevertheless, it is a common misconception that all charcoal is roughly the same. Coconut shell charcoal burns at 7,000 kilo calories. The unique manufacturing process of Coconut shell allows the charcoal embers to produce very little, to no smoke, and no more than 4% ash waste is produced when all the embers are burned completely.
Depending on air exposure and the type of barbecue grill you will be using, one kilogram of coconut charcoal (about 33 briquettes) roughly provides the same cooking “power” as produced by 2 or 2 ½ kilograms of traditional lump charcoal. Additionally, barbecuing with coconut charcoal, which has a very low content of volatile matter, ensures that soot formation, if any, will be minimal. This in turn reduces the cleaning time considerably.
With relatively stable heat created over approximately 2 – 2.5 hours duration, family barbecuing becomes environmentally friendly, more convenient, enjoyable, and more economical as less charcoals needed for replenishment during cooking. Have you try to use coconut shell charcoal for your barbecuing?
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Jack Waiboer from his 2009 Pitmasters class on Umami and whole hog cooking.