Tips & Techniques

Cooker Maintenance – Spring Cleaning for Your Grill and Smoker

spring-clean-your-grill

Okay so the days are getting longer, the snow is melting away and Old Man Winter is finally loosening his grip on your patio. It is time to shake off the winter blues, hear the sizzle of meat hitting hot grates and put some sweet blue smoke in the air! At Big Guns HQ that also means its time to give everything a good cleaning, a tune up and some love to make sure it is ready for the upcoming year.

We all know that guy or have a friend that insists on never cleaning their cooker, swearing that it will ruin the “seasoning”. While it’s true that a well seasoned pit is a happy one it’s also true there is a huge difference between seasoned and funky. Seasoning shouldn’t drip down nasty globs of black gunk onto those beautiful candy apple red ribs or leave little crunchy bits of Christmas turkey on your prime Porterhouse when you flip it over.

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How to Spatchcock the Perfect Turkey

How to Spatchcock a Turkey

There are many ways to prepare and cook a turkey for the holidays from roasting whole to cutting into quarters and cooking separate. In the end, most methods work well enough. But “well enough” is not good enough for us. In our journey to find the best way to prepare a turkey we have tried it all. We always come back to the method that produces great results every time – spatchcock the turkey and smoke it.

Spatchcocking is a simple technique that includes cutting out the backbone of the turkey, removing the ribs, and laying the bird out flat so that the dark and white meat all cook in the same period of time. No more overcooked breast just to have dark meat that is finished to perfection. This method will allow you to finish all of the bird at the same time.

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Picking and Preparing the Perfect Holiday Turkey

picking-the-perfect-holiday-turkey

The holidays are here and for many of us that means hosting family and friends for a turkey dinner (or lunch). There can be a lot of pressure on the host to find and prepare the perfect turkey, so we have come up with a few tips to make sure you have the perfect bird.

Tip #1

Make sure you get a large enough bird to feed everyone. If you are hosting a bigger group, getting a bird in the 20 pound range seems like a good idea. In reality these birds are so large that they do not cook evenly and are much harder to work with. Instead, buy two smaller birds in the 14 pound range. If you are hosting a smaller gathering, a smaller bird will work just fine. You always want to make sure you have enough meat (plus who doesn’t like leftovers?) so plan on 2 pounds per guest. Using this ratio a 12 pound bird will easily feed a group of six.

Tip #2

Thawing your turkey is an important step and should never be rushed. Make sure you purchase your bird far enough in advance to allow it to thaw in the refrigerator. Most birds will take 48 – 72 hours to fully thaw. When thawing in the refrigerator place the frozen turkey in a pan to catch any water or drippings. If you must rush the thaw a bit you can place it in a bucket of cold water, but make sure and change the water often enough to keep the temperature under 40º at all times. Harmful bacteria starts to grow at  40º and you don’t want to take any risks.

Tip #3

Clean the bird thoroughly once it is fully thawed. Pull out the giblets and reserve them for gravy if you would like, and then rinse the bird under cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels all over (including the inside). This will achieve several things. First, most turkeys have been pre-brined in a saltwater solution so you want to rinse it off well before cooking. Second, it will give you a nice dry surface for your prep. Finally, it will make sure any contaminants from butchering and packaging are rinsed off before you cook it.

Tip #4

Clean your prep area before you begin and clean it often as you prepare your turkey as well. Most turkeys carry harmful bacteria but when your preparation area is safe and clean you run little risk of making yourself or someone else sick. Having a good bleach spray or wipes and paper towels is recommended as bleach is guaranteed to disinfect any area that raw turkey may have touched. Don’t forget to also wipe down the sink where you rinsed the bird to make sure any contamination from this step is taken care of.

If you follow these tips, you will be ready to safely prepare a delicious turkey. In our our next blog post on the perfect holiday turkey we will look at the pros and cons of brining vs. injecting, whether or not to stuff your turkey, what rubs are best for a smoked turkey and how to prepare and smoke  your bird on whatever grill you have.

KettlePizza Assembly and Cooking Tutorials

KettlePizza

Easily turn your Weber Kettle into a pizza grilling machine with the KettlePizza system!

Assembly of the KettlePizza is incredibly easy. A couple of bolts, some washers and wing nuts and you’re ready to go! Here is a quick video outlining the process.

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Our Favorite Steven Raichlen Accessories!

Our Favorite Steven Raichlen Accessories

Steven Raichlen Insulated Hot Food Gloves

Steven Raichlen Insulated Hot Food Gloves

Perfect for moving hot food around on a smoker, these insulated rubber gloves are our hottest Steven Raichlen item. They’re light and flexible but still protect your hands from heat so you can get in and out of your smoker without losing a lot of heat. Note: these gloves are not meant for handling hot coals or grates – they’re for moving food only!

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Big Green Egg: An Introduction and Five Ways to Make Your EGG More Versatile!

Big Green Egg

They may look a bit weird, and have a funny name; but for those of who have never had the chance to cook on a Big Green Egg, here is a short introduction of why we love them. The Big Green Egg is a modern ceramic version of ancient clay fired kamado grills. The kamado, which is Japanese for stove, has a vast history, and clay cooking pots unearthed in China by Archaeologists date back as much as 3,000 years. Americans were first introduced to kamado cookers in the years after WWII, and they started to show up in the states in the years following.

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The Weekend Warrior’s Secret to Perfect Barbecue!

Thermoworks Thermapen

In talking with our customers one of the most frequent complaints I hear is that the grilled foods they produce off of their grill is tough or dry. When I ask what internal temperature they are cooking to the answer is generally, “I don’t know.” My response, every single time, is that checking internal temperature will bring you excellent, dare I say perfect, results!

Thermometers aren’t just for telling you when food has reached a safe temperature. They will make sure that you cook your grilled creations to the desired doneness, which will wow your guests and family members alike.

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