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Tag: charcoal grilling

Camp Chef and the Outdoor Cooking Revolution

There’s something about cooking outdoors that excites your senses. From the savory smell of grill to the sound of the sizzle to the sight of juicy goodness, you just can’t beat this culinary experience. With the ever-growing popularity of outdoor cooking, we’re seeing more products that are designed to make it even easier to prepare any meal outside of your home’s kitchen.

From tailgating to back yard barbecues to camping retreats, you have many ways to experience the fun and flavor of the outdoor cooking revolution. With so many options for outdoor cooking equipment, you can cook just about anything outside that you can make in your kitchen. And popular chefs like Guy Fieri keep cooking up new recipes that are ideal for al fresco preparation, so your menu’s creativity is unlimited!

Grill to perfection

Outdoor cooking is usually centered around the grill, and you have so many options here-charcoal, propane, or open fire. Everyone seems to have their personal preference.

Charcoal serves up a unique taste, but to get it, you have to carry the bag of charcoal with you, fire it up, and wait till the coals are ready. After you’re finished, you have to wait (again) for the ashes to cool and safely dispose of them. Still, many grilling purists insist that the inconvenience is far outweighed by the unmatched flavor that charcoal grilling delivers.

Propane is easy. Hook up the tank, light the burner, and you’re ready to start cooking in minutes. You still get the flavor of outdoor cooking, but without the hassle of charcoal. And tanks are available as small as a one-pound tank, making the propane grilling option and very portable solution.

Finally, there is the open fire. There’s nothing as close to traditional outdoor cooking as preparing your food over a campfire. Stake a rotisserie in the ground or a grilling rack over the fire and you can cook almost anywhere.

Your Outdoor Bakery

Even baking is now possible outside. Camp Chef, one of the leaders in outdoor cooking solutions, has developed a variety of outdoor ovens. Their propane-fueled portable outdoor oven is about the size of a toaster oven and accommodates up to a 9″ x 13″ pan. Imagine baking chocolate chip cookies or even macaroni and cheese on your next cookout. With handy tools like a cooking iron, you fill the round or square cast iron end with your favorite bread and sandwich filling, or even a piece of pie. The long aluminum handle lets you hold it over the fire and create a hot, tasty snack. That’s roughing it easy!

For more serious outdoor chefs, the Camp Chef Camp Oven looks and cooks like the oven in your kitchen, but it’s designed to handle the rigors of outdoor use with a powder-coated finish and extra insulation. With as little as a one-pound propane tank, you can fuel this sizable oven, which includes two racks and a thermometer. The covered grill top makes it convenient to sizzle up something special while you’ve got the rest of your meal baking in the oven.

Cast Iron Cookery

Inside or out, there’s nothing a durable, efficient, and versatile as cast iron. From griddles to pans, the cast iron is an ideal material because it heats evenly. If you’re baking pies, bread, pizza, cookies, muffins, and more, opt for cast iron and you’ll instantly notice the difference in everything you cook with them. Camp Chef has developed a complete line of cast iron skillets, griddles, pots, and pans-including pie, muffin, bread, and pizza pans.  Imagine preparing dutch oven peach cobbler or three-alarm Texas chili, grilled ratatouille, lemon garlic chicken, and even grilled ginger chicken without any need for your indoor kitchen appliances! All of this cookware can go from kitchen to campsite so you’ll get plenty of use.

Fire in the Hole

The childhood images of sitting around the campfire are all grown up with today’s fire pits. Using propane and lava rocks, you can get the same crackling fire without the hassle of gathering wood and kindling and then tending to the fire. Fire pits offer a gathering place where you can toast marshmallows, pop popcorn, or just enjoy the warm glow on a starry night. Fire pits come in a broad array of designs, from simple to sophisticated. Forged of steel or crafted of stone, a fire pit adds a decorative accent to your outdoor living space. You can top it off with a decorative cover or turn your fire pit into a piece of furniture by adding a table top when it’s not in use.

The outdoor cooking revolution has freed you from the kitchen. Get outside and enjoy it!

Grilling Tips – Firing Up the Charcoal Grill

Lighter Fluid – Used for Charcoal Grills

Made with liquid butane, lighter fluid ignites easily and speeds the combustion of charcoal. Some charcoal is impregnated with a form of lighter fluid so that you don’t have to squirt it on. We prefer not to use lighter fluid or impregnated charcoal because petroleum products can lend an off flavor to foods. But the truth is that if you use lighter fluid carefully, squirting it only onto your fuel source, the petroleum will burn off by the time the coals are ready. We resort to lighter fluid only for large mounds of coals in big grills. If you use it, be careful not to squirt any on the sides of your grill because petroleum fumes will burn off more slowly there and may give your food a distasteful aroma.

Long Stem Lighter

Another form of contained butane, long stem butane lighters make it easy to light wood fires and chimney starters full of coals. Keep at least one on hand for easy fire-starting.

Chimney Starter

Resembling a big, perforated coffee can, a chimney starter makes charcoal grilling incredibly easy without the need to resort to lighter fluid. The starter allows the coals to ignite quickly (15 to 20 minutes) due to the upward draft of oxygen.

Paraffin Lighter Cubes

Resembling white ice cubes or big white dice with no dots, these fire starters can be used instead of paper to light a wood fire, pyramid of coals, or chimney starter full of coals. They leave no aftertaste.

Sawdust Starter

Like paraffin cubes, compressed blocks of sawdust make convenient fire starters for wood and charcoal fires. They look somewhat like small blocks of particle board.

Electric Coal Starter

Plug this fire starter into an outlet (with an extension cord if necessary), and then plunge it into the center of a mound of coals. The electric heating coil will ignite the coals in about the same time it takes to use a chimney starter.

Heat Diffuser

These don’t ignite a fire, but they do spread out the heat and reduce hot and cold spots so that food cooks more evenly. Heat diffusers are used mostly in gas grills above the burner tubes, and they typically come in the form of lava stones, ceramic briquettes, or metal bars. Ceramic briquettes are available with small bits of wood infused into the ceramic to impart a wood smoke flavor to foods cooked on a gas grill.

Gas Grills – Important Information to know

All gas grills work a little differently, so follow the manufacturer’s
instructions for safe setup and use. If your grill catches fire, turn off the burner valves and the gas supply. If the fire is anywhere near the fuel source (propane or natural gas), evacuate the area and call the fire department. For other grill safety information, check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Gas Versus Charcoal Grilling

The debate over gas vs. charcoal is one that you don’t want to be caught in the middle of. There isn’t any middle ground according to a die hard fan of either method. The answer to the long smoldering question of which is better, gas or charcoal really just lies with the preference of taste or convenience. Two key elements to consider when comparing grill types is ease of operation and the flavor imparted into the food as a result of cooking on a grill. So when it comes to deciding on which grill type is best for you, you need to first consider if you prefer the light it and go convenience of a gas grill or the simplistic and natural feel of a charcoal grill which takes at least 30 minutes to get ready for cooking. Next you will have to decide if that authentic smoky taste imparted by charcoal grilling is noticeable or important to you or if you like the taste of food cooking on a gas grill just as well or better.

Gas grills have several advantages over charcoal when it comes to grilling. The convenience of a gas grill has to be among the best benefits. Gas grills take almost zero prep time before you can grill. You simply have to turn the gas on, light the gas grill burner, and wait a very short amount of time for the grill to get up to your desired temperature. Once it reaches temperature you can throw your foods onto the cooking grid, then its just a matter of time. Changing the temperatures in the grilling area on a gas grill is as simple as twisting a control knob to achieve your preferred temperature. As you can see, ease of operation is the best thing about a gas grill.

While there are some great benefits to a gas grill, there are also some drawbacks. One of these drawbacks is their expense. Gas grills tend to be a bit more expensive than charcoal grills. The main reason for this is due to the many parts that are necessary for a gas grill to operate correctly while all you need for a charcoal grill is the basic frame, a cooking grid, and the charcoal. Gas grills tend to take a little more up keep because these parts sometimes burn out or break. With most grills this is not a big problem since it is so easy to get replacement gas grill parts. This simple solution allows you to avoid buying an entirely new grill. Some of the more common replacement parts are heat plates, warming racks, and rock grates. All of these parts are available to keep your gas grill operating at peak performance.

Charcoal grills, like stated previously, have the advantage of producing better tasting grilled foods. This better taste comes at a price though; the price of more time and attention being required to grill your foods. Its no simple task to get your charcoal burning grill going. You have to plan for at least a 30 minutes of prep time for your charcoal grill before it is ready to cook on. Charcoal grills also offer less control when it comes to temperature, since it is not as simple as twisting a knob to lower or raise the level of heat in your charcoal grill.

So which grilling method is best? It all comes down to your preference. There is no simple all-encompassing answer. If you prefer a convenient, less involved way of grilling your foods, then you should go for gas. But if you prefer taste and cost over convenience then go with charcoal. Or for the indecisive individual, go with both. Then you could have a solution for all occasions.

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