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Outdoor Storage for Your BBQ Space

So you love to grill and have a sweet barbecue set up just the way you like it. But you’re tired of draggin’ everything in and out of the garage or storage place you use when you’re not grilling. Or maybe you’ve got a nice deck setup where your lovely lovely grill can hang out but you don’t really have a place to store all the other stuff – the coals, the wood chips, the extra gas canisters, all the stuff that seems to go with grilling. You’d like to spring for a full-on outdoor kitchen (who wouldn’t) but times are tight. You need some outdoor storage for all your bbq stuff, but what’s a poor guy to do?

Simple. Man up and realize that solutions are far closer and simpler than you think.

If you’re wanting to go the route of a pseudo outdoor kitchen then feel free to start a-building onto your deck. If you’ve got the know-how and a few plans then have at it. If you have the ideas but not the skills then you’re going to need to pay somebody for their troubles or bribe them with food or some sort of compensation. Don’t overlook the re-purposing of used material and supplies. Your local dump or recycling center or wherever used furniture gets disposed of can be a treasure trove if you don’t mind used stuff for outdoor storage of your bbq supplies.

However, if you’re looking for something less permanent there are a whole lot of other storage options and they usually begin with plastic. Rubbermaid is often the undisputed king (or queen) of the plastic storage accessory but that doesn’t mean your local store won’t have some awesome choices as well. Other companies do a fine job in this field, but Rubbermaid pretty much dominates all.

You are probably going to be looking for either a storage box or more of a storage shed with doors. Boxes will be more flexible in size and where you can put them, but the downside is everything kind of goes in on top of each other. The storage shed style is nice in the fact that you’ve got doors that open up so you can easily get in and look at what you’ve got and what you need. The drawback is the size and price – these things are neither small nor cheap.

We’ve got a few choices from Amazon that we like the looks of, both shed style and box style. Go ahead and take a look and see if anything fits the bill for you. One thing to keep in mind though – plastic isn’t perfect. High heat, direct sun and really really cold temperatures, like Minnesota cold, can make it live a short miserable life.

Take a look and let us know what you think.

Love That Barbecue

How To Use Cedar Planks for Grilling The Perfect Fish

I admit I’ve always been leery of grilling salmon for two reasons – first is a potentially lethal fish allergy I have. Just touching the stuff gives me a rash. Breathing in the cooking fumes of it makes me cough. But second and more importantly is the fact that I never seem to get it right. No matter what I try it always ends up being an expensive mess. That’s why I really dig the idea of using cedar planks for grilling fish.

Why Cedar Planks
Cedar is known for being rather aromatic. The native inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest learned long ago that fish, the staple of their diet, cooked on cedar planks over the fire made the fish turn out moist and delicious with a wonderful smoky flavor to it. Although I am originally from this great region of the United States I had not heard of cedar plank grilling until recently.

Coastal Cuisine Cedar Grilling Planks, Set of 8
  • 3 EASY STEPS - SOAK plank in water for 30 minutes or more. SMOKE place seasoned food onto plank and place in preheated...
  • CREATE MEMORABLE MEALS - Plank grilling works great for salmon, ribs, beef, pork, poultry, vegetables, and so much more...
  • PERFECT GRILLING GIFT - Makes a great addition to any chef in the kitchen, restaurant, and other food service...

But Why Cedar Planks, Not Other Wood?
Well, truth be told, cedar planks are the most popular now. Originally the Pacific Northwest tribes also used alder in addition to cedar, but I gotta tell ya – cedar smells much better. Nowadays people have tried and extol the virtues of oak plank grilling, mesquite plank grilling, maple plank gri… you get the picture. While each variety of wood will infuse the meat with their own unique flavor, cedar planks are pretty much on top right now. That, however, doesn’t mean you can or should only use cedar or you shouldn’t experiment. By all means – go wild!

How Do I Do It?
Well, how you don’t do it is get the cheapest cedar you can find and slap your fish on top of it. That’s a sure way to ruin good fish and maybe send you to the hospital. You’re going to need to find some cedar planks that do not have any chemicals or varnish or anything whatsoever. Safest way – cut down your own cedar tree or buy some planks from a store that is selling them specifically for grilling.

After you’ve got your planks, it’s a good idea to burn them first. Just put them over heat for a few minutes per side and then be done. They’ll be ready to go next time you cook.

Now for the actual grilling, there are a few steps you’re going to want to take.

  • First, soak your fancy new cedar planks in water a few hours before grilling. Some people like to add a bit (or a lot) of wine, sake, apple juice, berry juice, something citrusy – you get the picture. Just something to enhance the smokiness and flavor. Totally up to you.
  • Place salmon or other type of fish fillet skin side down on the plank. Make sure the plank has a bit of room around it for heat and air to flow.
  • Keep a spray bottle with water close at hand so you can squirt out any flames that arise should your lovely new cedar plank start to burn.
  • Keep the lid down as much as possible to enhance the smokiness. Don’t worry – you’re not going to be turning this.
  • 12 – 15 minutes or so is a good time to cook a fish fillet if the heat is medium.
  • Use any seasonings on the fish that you want when cooking. Lemon, pepper, salt – whatever you like.
  • Eat them as soon as they are done.

Pretty easy, actually.

What About the Planks?
Good thing about the cedar planks you use for grilling salmon – they can be reused as long as they aren’t charred and burnt to a crisp. Wash them like you would any other dish with soap and water and set them aside to dry. As long as they aren’t warped or cracked or charred to badly, then keep on using them. Once you start asking yourself “Does this look like it’s too far gone” the answer is probably yes and you’ll need to get yourself some new ones. Break and crumble up your old ones and mix them in with the coals to get some nice extra smokiness if you’re using charcoal.

Is Planking Only For Salmon and Fish?
Truthfully, no. Many people have experimented with beef, pork, and chicken and reported great success. Pretty much any kind of meat you want to use can be planked.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

LTB

The History and Origin of Barbecue

Well, folks, today we’re going to take a little walk down memory lane. Not my memory or yours certainly, but the memory of (cue spooky deep voice) ALL MANKIND!

Today we’re going to take a look at the history and origin of barbecue. Why? Because here at Love That Barbecue we truly do love barbecue and all it encompasses. And since you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, we’re going to see where the term and idea of barbecue came from. And as long and involved as that may sound, it will actually be pretty short.

Why? Because we are neither historians, experts or grammar kings. We just love barbecue.

The history of the term itself is not clear, but of course the history of cooking meat over fire is as old as mankind. Since fire was first discovered and meat cooked over it, people have been in love with it. Well, we like to imagine the love when in all reality it was a necessity. But we can say they loved it because we are rewriting history.

The term barbecue itself first entered the English language around the late 1600s. Explorers and pirates, or buccaneers as some liked to call themselves, came across a peculiar style of cooking in the Caribbean and south Florida where the meat and often the whole animal was suspended on sticks above a fire for a long long time, often overnight. The word “barbecue” first appeared in the dictionary in 1756.

Of course as time went on people moved here and there, cultures blended together and regional varieties were created. We aren’t going to go into all the different varieties of barbecue here today – that will be likely set aside for a series of articles later. Suffice it to say the different types of barbecue are numerous.

However, as far as the history of the word, in the English language the word is a little over 300 years old. Here’s to hoping it will continue for another 300 years. Or more.

Portable Charcoal Grills

I have to admit, portable charcoal grills have a special place in my heart. Why? Hard to say. They’re cool, effective, cheap, easy to store and as long as you understand their limitations, they do everything their bigger brothers do in a more convenient package.

Perhaps the king of portable bbq grills is the Weber Smokey Joe. Why? Mostly because of the reasons I mentioned above: It’s cheap, effective, easy to store and works like a champ. You’ll need to understand that it is small. The smallest full-size charcoal kettle grill Weber sells is the Weber One Touch Silver 18.5 inch. The Smokey Joe has a 14.5 inch grill. Now don’t get me wrong – 4 inches is a big difference. Don’t buy one of the Smokey Joes thinking you can get a whole bunch of food on there. You’re only going to realistically be able to cook for up to 4 people. More than that and there are going to be decent wait times. But like this video shows, you can get a decent amount of food on the thing if you try.

The Smokey Joe comes in two flavors, the Silver and the Gold. The Silver is the one we all know and love. The Gold comes with a wire lid lock/carrying handle. It also has vent holes on the sides instead of the bottom which is the reason there is no tray at the bottom of the kettle. Up to you which one you prefer. Some people have voiced displeasure for the side vent placement; others seem to have no problem with it. Guess it all comes down to if you think you need the lid lock/handle contraption or not.

Weber also recently re-introduced their Jumbo Joe. This little devil is pretty much the same as the Smokey Joe Silver except for the 18.5 inch grill. Yup, you read that right – 18.5 inch grill, the same size grill as the smallest of the full-size charcoal grills. One thing to keep in mind – the Jumbo Joe doesn’t have a super big top end. The lid to the grill is a little short, so don’t buy it thinking you’ll be able to stuff a full size bird under there. It’s compact for a reason. But if you’re looking to grill for more than 4 people and think the Smokey Joe isn’t going to cut it, then go for the Jumbo Joe.

In fact, I’m going to stop this article right here. Why? Because in all reality you should be buying the Weber Jumbo Joe. Or the Smokey Joe if you’re cooking for less people. If you’re looking for a great portable bbq grill for more than 2 or 3 people, the Jumbo Joe is going to be pretty much head and shoulders above all else. Price? The Smokey Joe Silver runs around 30 bucks with the Jumbo Joe going for around 60. Is it worth double the price?

Take another look at that video. That’s 13 chicken legs stuffed onto the Smokey Joe. Now consider the Jumbo Joe has a 62% larger cooking area. That works out to about 21 chicken legs. Lots more sausages. An extra steak or hamburger or two. You get the picture.

And if you think I’m being unfair to all other portable charcoal barbecue grills, don’t worry, I’ll write another article about them later. But this one needed to be all about the Weber Joes.

 

Not a fan of the charcoal? Check out these posts to see if there’s something there that lights your fire (or your heating element):

Why an Electric Grill is Better Than Gas Or Charcoal (And Why It’s Not)

Portable Gas Grills – Best of Both Worlds

 

Thanks!

LTB

Best Way To Clean A Gas Barbecue Grill

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is going to be a pretty short article, but I didn’t want it lost in the middle of the other article on cleaning a charcoal barbecue grill.

If you’re looking to clean a gas grill, then you’ve got it easy over the charcoal crowd. Why? because you have the POWER! By that I mean once the cooking is all done, you can turn the gas up to high for a bit and burn off all the leftover stuff. After that, cleaning up is a breeze.

The steps go like this:

  1. Turn gas to high. If you have a “Clean” setting, use it.
  2. Let it run for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off.
  4. Let grill cool a bit.
  5. Brush off any leftover residue with wire brush.

Not complex. We’re of course not going into all the different kinds of grills on the market. Or the different ceramic grills, lava rocks, burner covers, etc. Neither are we delving into the various steps you’ll need to go through deep cleaning a Napoleon or Weber or Brinkmann or… you get the idea. For those kinds of goodies, check your owner’s manual. If you don’t have one, it’s a good bet the company has them available for download. Check out our resources page for links to some of the major manufacturers.

Deep clean your gas grill once a year. We like to do it at the end of our grilling season, usually sometime in December. Other people stop grilling in September or October so that’s when they clean theirs. It’s really up to you. But if you’re grilling a fair amount, or even just a few times, it’s a good idea to give it a thorough once over every year.

Remember this, though – if you’ve got a newish or expensive or newishly expensive grill, or if you’re using a grill that you do not own, be sure to check what the manufacturer says is okay and not okay. Murphy pretty much guarantees about the time you say “Yeah, I’m sure this will be okay” is just the exact time it isn’t. Try an idea you heard from somebody else and mess up not only your grill but your warranty as well? Yup, done it myself. Heard the horror stories from friends who’ve done it too.

So that’s it. Cleaning up a gas grill is pretty simple. As long as you don’t blow yourself up. Good luck!

LTB