metal-heat-diffuser

Like a good sear on your steak? If so, you might believe you need a grill with a high-BTU burner. It’s a common myth that the higher a grill’s BTU rating, the more powerful it is. But, it’s really the design of the diffuser system together with the burner that determines how hot the grill can cook. A well-designed diffuser system can crank out more heat on a lower-BTU grill than a poorly designed system on a mega-BTU unit. That saves gas and money.

Heat diffusers are like middle children. They’re sandwiched between the burner and the cooking grid, and they’re often overlooked. But, they’re vital to your gas grill’s cooking performance and deserve some attention.

The Mojo in the Middle

Heat diffusers have been used for ages – probably since right after people discovered food tastes better cooked over an open fire. Ancient civilizations realized that by putting stones, rocks or balls made of clay into the fire, they could increase the heat, spread it over a larger area, and make it last longer. Their food cooked better, too.

A barbecue grill works the same way. The burner generates the flames, and the diffusers hold, radiate and distribute the heat for better, more even cooking. Diffusers can bring heat to all areas of the cooking surface, beyond where the burner flames reach.

So, How Do They Work?

Depending on the grill brand, diffusers might also be called heat deflectors, heat distributors, flame tamers, burner shields, heat plates, vaporizers, or even flavorizer bars. Whatever the name, diffusers perform 3 important functions to make barbecuing better.

  • They distribute heat evenly across the entire grilling grid, preventing hot and cold spots. With a good system, you won’t have to constantly rotate food around so it doesn’t burn.
  • They create a barrier to protect the burner from dripping grease, food juices, acidic marinades, and sugary sauces. These drippings could corrode or clog burners, and cause flare-ups.
  • Diffusers catch and vaporize food drippings to add smoky barbecue flavor to food.

Types of Diffusers

lava-heat-diffuserLava rocks are craggy, reddish brown, irregularly shaped pieces of volcanic rock dotted with tiny holes. They were popular on early gas grills, but are less common today. The rocks sit on a rock grate an inch or two above the burner and a few inches below the grilling grid.

They hold and reflect heat well, last long, and are inexpensive. Since they are porous and absorb grease, some believe they create more flavorful smoke. Downsides: they take longer to heat up, and because they’re not uniformly shaped, grease can drip through the gaps between the rocks and reach the burner, causing flare-ups, hot spots, corrosion and clogs.

 

 

ceramic-heat-diffuserCeramic diffusers are made of light-colored, heat-retaining ceramic material like the firebrick found inside many pizza ovens. They can be formed into pillow-shaped briquettes, rounded pucks, thin rods, or perforated flat tiles. Aligned edge-to-edge in a single layer, they can protect the burner better and distribute heat more evenly than lava rock. But, there may still be little gaps for grease to slip through and flare up when it hits the burner. Ceramic diffusers last a long time and are relatively inexpensive.

 

 

 

metal-heat-diffuserMetal diffusers are most common today. Stainless steel or porcelain-coated steel is formed into inverted-V tents, accordion-folded sheets, or flat plates. The metal heats up fast so the grill is ready for cooking very quickly. The angled diffusers channel grease away from the burner into a drip pan in the base of the grill. Though this virtually eliminates flare-ups, some argue it generates less smoke and flavor. These are also more expensive than other types of diffusers.

 

 

 

 

Clean-Up:

To clean ceramic briquettes, flip them over so the soiled side is toward the burner. Turn the burner to high for about 15 minutes and let the grease burn off. If they are especially dirty, use a stiff brush to remove caked-on residue before burning. The process can be repeated whenever grease builds up.

Lava rocks are cleaned the same way. It’s just a little trickier to get the grease out of the nooks and crannies. Also, because they’re porous, lava rock should be cleaned before a grill is put into storage or unused for a period of time, or they can get moldy.

Soak metal diffusers in a tub of soapy water. Use a grill brush to scrape excess residue off stainless steel diffusers. But, use a nylon scrub pad on porcelain-coated metals or they’ll scratch.

When to Replace?

Replace lava rock and ceramic briquettes when they are crumbling or the accumulated grease is hard to burn off. Replace the rock grates if they are rusted, or warped and don’t sit evenly.

On metal diffusers, areas of rust or burned-through metal, are signs they should be replaced.

 

 
Find Heat Diffusers for your Brand

February 18th, 2015

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

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roasted-peppers

 

Maximum taste, minimum effort. If there was a tagline for roasted peppers, that would be it. Roasted peppers are perfectly suited to a BBQing or grilling. They’re quick to prepare, and simple to cook, and did I mention smokey delicious? Many people who dislike peppers raw, love them roasted. Roasting replaces the sharp bite with a pepper’s natural sweetness and aromatics.

Roasted peppers keep well in the fridge and you can use them to pep up sandwiches, burritos, salads, or just for general snacking and munching. I tend to buy a large amount when I see them on sale, there is no extra work and they are nice to have in the fridge for a week or so.

I’ve tried lots of different methods and techniques. You can oven roast them, foil them, oil them, foil and oil them.
What I don’t do is pop the peppers on whole. It looks impressive, and works for peppers where you would eat the seeds, but for bell peppers it’s much easier to de-seed them before they’re cooked.

 

1 method of grilling peppers to rule them all

Ingredients:

Bell Peppers, red peppers, yellow pepper, green peppers.

Technique:

1. Quarter, and de-seed and remove stalks of the peppers.

2. Pop them skin side down on the grill over medium high heat. Don’t turn them, leave them until the skin is very charred and burnt looking, but the flesh is tender and soft. About 10 minutes.

3. Take them off the grill and pop them in a bowl. Cover the peppers for about 10 minutes to steam them. This allows the skin to come off a lot easier and saves quite a lot of time.

4. Peel them and eat them.

5. Any leftovers are good for a week. Covering them in olive oil will help them to keep a little longer, and garlic cloves are a nice touch too. Enjoy.

 

 

roasted-peppers-blast

February 17th, 2014

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

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Calzones by Candlelight

 

 

In the digital world that we live in, it’s always a little bit odd when you don’t have any electricity. Especially the unplanned, multi day kind on the back of a wind storm. That’s where I ended up, twiddling my thumbs (the physical kind), wondering what to do with myself. Barbecuing pizza is my go to recipe, but I’ve always been a bit reluctant to try calzones. This time, armed with with candles and the whole evening to spare, I cranked up my charcoal barbecue for some good clean fun.

 

 

The dough (makes 3 medium pizzas):

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 envelope instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water; at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
7.5 ounces of fine semolina flour (1 1/2 cups) + 14.5 ounces of bread flour (2 1/2 cups), OR 22 ounces bread flour (4 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Instructions for preparing the pizza dough are located here: BBQ Pizza – Revisted and Perfected

 

Fillings/toppings:

 

Pizza sauce (made or store bought)
Cheese
A variety of pizza toppings: pepperoni, peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, etc

 

You’ll also need:

 

A barbecue or grill with a lid
A pizza stone
Pizza peel – or a plate with some skill and/or luck

 

After the pizza dough has risen… Here are your 8 painless steps to a fantastic and simple barbecued calzone:

 

1. Preheat your grill or barbecue. Make sure your pizza stone is placed inside the barbecue before it warms up, otherwise you risk the stone cracking.

 

2. A calzone is a lot denser than a pizza, and you’ll need to be careful not to burn your calzone. You’ll want an even temperature of approx 475 to 500 degrees.

 

3. Prepare the calzone. Roll out your dough to a pizza like size and shape. On the pizza peel, spread out some cornmeal, then pop your soon to be calzone onto the pizza peel.

 

Put your ingredients (cheese, vegetables, meat, etc) on one side. Leave an inch around the outside, just as you would with a regular pizza. Close the lid, seal, and fold the seam over. This stops juices from the calzone running out. Don’t pierce the calzone, just leave it the way it is.

 

4. Warm your pizza sauce in a pot, infuse with olive oil, garlic, etc to give it more punch.

 

5. Slide the calzone onto the pizza stone and close the lid. Cook for about 6 minutes, and peak regularly, using a spatula to check the underside to make sure it’s not burning.

 

6. At about 6 minutes, or if you see any traces of burning, flip the calzone and cook for another 6 or so minutes.

 

7. Remove the calzone from the barbecue, and spread hot pizza sauce on top in excessive quantities.

 

8. Enjoy.

 

Calzone, sauce on top

October 15th, 2013

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

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fajitas-blog

Spring is in the air (well mostly!), and there’s never a better time for fajitas, especially smokey grilled ones. These are incredibly easy to prepare, and versatile enough to skip or fudge ingredients if you don’t have them readily available. I think fajitas require an excessive amount of bell peppers, they really make or break a good fajita, so I use 6 peppers and store any extras in the fridge for throwing on sandwiches or tossing with some pasta.

 

Ingredients for the beef

 

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs your choice of beef (but tastes just as good with lamb, venison, pork, or chicken)
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 limes

 

Ingredients for the vegetables

 

  • 5 or 6 bell peppers of mixed colors
  • 2 large onions, cut into half-moon slices

 

Recommended ingredients for serving

  • Fresh cilantro, finely chopped or torn
  • Jalopeno peppers, thinly slided
  • Sour cream
  • 3 or 4 additional limes, cut into pieces
  • 20 small flour tortillas (7 inch)

 

Step 1 – Prepare and marinate the fajita meat

Combine the chilli powder, ground coriander, cumin, garlic powder, salt and black pepper in a small bowl.

Rub the spice mix into the meat, and let sit for 20 minutes.

Squeeze the 3 limes over meat and spices, and let sit for at least 30 mins, preferably 1-2 hours.

Step 2 – Start your engines

Light up your barbecue or grill. You want a moderately high heat for this, firstly to char up the peppers, then the meat, and finally to soften the tortillas.

Step 3 – Roast the peppers and onions

Cut the bell peppers in half, core and deseed. Cook directly on the bbq grid. Make a pouch with aluminium foil for the onions and cook beside the bell peppers.

You want the pepper’s skin to go black and charred. Cook until the onions and peppers both feel soft. Remove from the grill, and pop the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam in the bowl for 15 minutes.

After the peppers have steamed, the charred skin should peel easily off. Remove all the skin, and slice the peppers into strips lengthwise, and set aside for serving.

Step 4 – Grill the beef

Now that the vegetables are finished, it’s time to grill up the beef.

If you have wood chips available, throw a small handful of unsoaked woodchips on your coals, or add to your smoke box.

Grill the steaks to taste. 1 to 2 minutes per side, for thin steaks at med-rare, for example.

Step 5 – Warm the tortillas

The best way to make tortillas soft and pliable (and a little smokey) is to warm them on your cooking grid. It’s very quick to do, and you can usually do a number of tortillas at once. You don’t want to burn the tortillas, but only to warm them. 15 seconds per side is normally enough, but keep a close eye on them so they don’t start getting crispy.

Step 6 – Serve and devour

Each guest can prepare their own fajita by adding spoon full of cilantro, jalapenos, sour cream, beef, onions, and bell peppers. A squeeze of lime juice is a nice finishing touch. Enjoy!

May 6th, 2013

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

IMG_2631

Meatloaf is one of those infamous recipes that can be fantastically moreish or bland as catfood. Smoking meatloaf and adding a dollop of spicy BBQ sauce puts this firmly in the can’t-stop-eating-better-put-on-my-stretchy-pants camp.

This recipe is fast to prepare and easy to cook.

This recipe was cooked with lump charcoal, on a Chargriller Kamodo Acorn. Weber kettles, Big Green Egg, etc, also work great for smoking. But not to worry, this will taste great even on gas grills that can indirect cook.

Ingredients

Meatloaf

  • 2.5 lbs of ground beef (1/2 pork, or 1/2 venison)
  • 2 cups of bread crumbs
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

BBQ Sauce

  • 3/4 cup of Grumpy’s (or any good) BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup

 

Step 1 (BBQ or grill prep)

Set your BBQ up for indirect grilling. You want a low-medium cooking temperature of about 300 degrees.

Optional: Add a handful of wood chips to some water, allow 30 minutes to soak so the wood chips don’t burn. You’ll want to add the wood chips at the same time as you add the meatloaf for maximum smokey goodness.

 

Step 2

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together. Divide the recipe in half. Mold each half meatloaf into logs, about 7 or 8 inches long, and 4 inches wide. Mix the sauce ingredients. Set aside half the BBQ sauce for serving. Spread half the sauce mixture onto the formed loafs.

IMG_2576 IMG_2583

Step 3

Put the meat onto the grill, and close the lid for about 60 minutes. The internal temperature of the meatloaf needs to hit 160 degrees, so take the meatloaf out when the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees, and rest the meat for a good 10 minutes.

IMG_2593 IMG_2602

Step 4

Serve with the remaining BBQ sauce and mayo if you’re that way inclined–and enjoy!

IMG_2632

February 13th, 2013

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

A quick and easy recipe that doesn’t sacrifice deliciousness. Great for a quick meal or cut into fingers and have as a finger food starter. BBQ sauce adds a fantastic depth to standard grill cheese sandwiches. I used Grumpy’s Private Reserve Black Label which had a perfect spicy smokiness, really delicious with the cheese, but other BBQ sauces are great too.

 

Ingredients

Sliced bread, for as many sandwiches are you want – I used a thick sliced sourdough bread which gave a nice chewy bite to the sandwich.

Cheese, sliced – There are a variety of cheeses you could be used, but you’ll get the best results from one that melts well. (Pre-sliced cheese may be easy, but it never has as good of flavor)

BBQ Sauce – I used Grumpy’s Private Reserve Black Label.

Butter, room temperature for spreading.

 

Directions

 1. Preheat Grill

Turn one burner to medium and another to low. You’ll cook the sandwiches on medium heat, but can move them to the cooler area if they start to burn.

 

2. Prepare Sandwiches

Butter one side of each bread slice. Lay half the slices butter side down and spread with a generous helping of bbq sauce. The quality depends on how sloppy and spicy you like your food. Layer on the sliced cheese, in another generous helping. Top with a slice of bread, buttered side up. Squish them down a little.

 

3. Cooking the Sandwiches

Use a tray or plate to bring the sandwiches to the grill, place them over the burner turned to medium. Press them slightly with a metal spatula while they’re cooking to ensure they adhere together. If the bread starts to burn before they’re done, move them over the burner that’s on low. The sandwiches are done with the cheese is nicely melted and the bread is golden.

 

June 20th, 2012

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

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This recipe is not a breaded lemon chicken recipe that you might expect from your local chinese restaurant. It is a fantastic zesty marinade. Low calorie too, if you’re into that type of thing. The calories come from only the chicken breast itself and the olive oil to marinade it in.

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, preferably light olive oil as it has the highest smoke point, avoid extra virgin which has the lowest smoke point.
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Mix all the ingredients except the chicken in a bowl. Set aside about 1/3 cup of the marinade that you will use to baste the chicken while it cooks. Add chicken to the bowl, and place in the fridge for 30 mins.

Start up your BBQ, and preheat on high until it is nice and roasty. Discard marinade, and place chicken breasts directly on the grill. Cook for 6 or 7 minutes on each side, until fully cooked. Baste occasionally with the marinade you reserved. The internal temperature should be about 165 degrees or the juices run clear. Chicken breast can easily dry out, so be careful not to leave it on too long. Enjoy!

October 31st, 2011

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

This recipe is spicy and delectable. Catfish is the perfect choice because of it’s firmness and general all round good taste. Make sure to get the freshest fish you can, to avoid that “fishy” smell that some people find offensive. This fish recipe comes from the guys at Slap Ya Mama Spices and Seasonings, and has been a fantastic way to use their seasonings. Enjoy!
INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 Catfish Fillets
  • 1 Stick of butter (8 Tbsp.)
  • ¼ Cup White Wine
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • “Slap Ya Mama” Cajun Seasoning to Taste
  • “Slap Ya Mama” Cajun Pepper Sauce to Taste

DIRECTIONS: Wash your fillets in cool water and set aside. Butter Mixture: Melt butter in a bowl and add the juice of one lemon and mix well. Dip your fillets in the butter mixture then generously “slap em’” with “Slap Ya Mama” Cajun seasoning on both sides.  Heat a black iron skillet or sauce pan until it’s very hot.  Place the fillets in the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes on each side while moving the fillets around to prevent sticking.  Remove fillets from skillet and remove the skillet from the burner.  While your skillet is still hot, pour the butter mixture and the white wine into the skillet and mix well.  Then pour the mixture over the fillets and serve. Source: Slap Ya Mama Recipes.

September 12th, 2011

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

Here are four ways to prepare your barbecued food. The tips are simple, but should be considered essential to properly grilling food. Once mastered, they will improve your ability to cook barbecued meat beyond mere mortals.

 

1. Salt your food properly

It is given top-spot in this list for a reason, and probably the most important tip for any form of cooking. Meat needs a lot of salt, probably a lot more than you normally use. Probably a whole lot more. Be generous and experiment. It makes an enormous difference to barbecued meat, and enhances seasonings and the charred flavor enjoyed by any grill lover.

 

2. Use freshly ground pepper

Like any spice, preground pepper loses it’s flavor, and particularly it’s aromatic properties, very quickly. I would recommend you try preground pepper and freshly cracked pepper side by side, the difference is huge. Be generous with pepper as well, you don’t need to be subtle when you barbecue.

3. Spice Rubs

Spice rubs add lots of flavor, you can really let out your creative beast. Same deal here, use whole spices and grind them as late as possible. Food should be spiced strongly and with much gusto to balance the grilled taste.

 

4. Glazes and Sauces

Glazes and sauces are great, and the sweetness does a lot for the charred meat. Just make sure not to make the Cardinal Sin of Glazes and Sauces – putting it on too early. Because of the sugar content it is very easy to burn the glaze and you end up with a sticky burnt mess. Glazes and sauces should only be put on the meat at the end of cooking, such as the last few minutes, or when the meat is taken off.

May 30th, 2011

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

BBQ Shrimp

1. Prepare Shrimp

Rinse the shrimp in some fresh water, and you’re done.

Leave shrimp intact, don’t peel them. The shell protects the meat from overcooking. Leaving the shrimp in their shells not only looks better, but retains the moisture in the meat. Shrimp are the ultimate finger food, which is why you need to rip them apart with your fingers as you eat them. It sounds barbaric, but well, you are eating cooked meat – why not enjoy it?

2. Brine

Brining shrimp takes about 20 minutes.

Pour 1 quart of cold water into a gallon size zip-lock bag. Add two tablespoons of salt. Stir.

Add about 2 lbs of shrimp into the bag, and leave to sit for 20 minutes.

Sometime soon might be a good time to turn your BBQ on to heat up. The barbecue should be on high.

After 20 minutes, drain and rinse the shrimp thoroughly. I recommend you devein your shrimp as it can often give the shrimp a disturbingly gritty texture. To devein while keeping the shell relatively intact, cut the along the back with scissors after brining, and pull out the vein.

3. Coat with a Marinade

Just a couple of tablespoons of olive oil are enough to cover the shrimp.

My current favorite marinade for shrimp:

  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Just combine in a bowl and mix with the shrimp

4. Cook

Cook the shrimp on high for about 4 to 6 minutes. Turning the shrimp once during the cooking process. This is going to depend a lot on how hot your grill is, and how big the shrimp are. The easiest way to tell if they are ready is when they are barely charred, and bright pink. Enjoy! It’s about time I went to the store to pick up some more shrimp.

February 7th, 2011

Posted In: BBQ Maintenance

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