The Best Barbecue Grills

I’m always asked, “What makes a barbecue grill good?”, and my response usually consists of exclaiming how much of a loaded question that is. There are several factors that come together to determine whether anything is ‘good’, and that is especially true when the subject that is being judged is as sophisticated as a barbecue grill. The next inquiry I find myself faced with usually questions my stance, because to most people a barbecue grill isn’t anything complicate. You simply fire it up and cook some meals.

What Goes into a Good Barbecue Grill?

1) Grill Type

So, you’re all set to buy yourself a new grill, but your shopping experience has been anything but fruitful. The mistake most buyers start off with is looking into the specifications of each grill closely too soon, instead of stepping back and analyzing the entire picture.

Generally, there are three types of barbecue grills:

  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Charcoal

Each of these comes with its own requirements, own precautions, and most importantly, own flavor. Gas grills are the most common one these days, and for good reason. They tend to be easy to set up and use, require an adequate amount of space, and still leave meat tasting authentically barbecued. Charcoal, on the other hand, are a struggle to get started. The use of charcoal also means that you’ll be left with a bigger mess to clean up, but nobody can deny that charcoal-barbecued meat tastes the best. Electric grills are the least common, despite being the easiest to use and maintain. This can be attributed to the fact that the resulting product does not taste as ‘authentic’.

The Best Barbecue Grills

2) Size

One of the simpler factors. What sort of audience do you plan on serving barbecued goodness to, and how large is the meat you plan on using? A bigger grill means more maintenance and more labor when grilling, but it allows for a lot more meat to be prepared at once, and enables many to be fed. On the other hand, a smaller grill means more time barbecuing, but its size is a lot more manageable.

3) Miscellaneous Features

Grills consist of many components, some more necessary than others. Enthusiast grillers tend to keep a keen eye on what else their prospective barbecue grill might offer, such as side burners, lighting, extra cooking levels, and many other components.

4) Price

An obvious factor. How much are you willing to break for your grill? The last three factors will also determine the base price, but aside from that customers must consider the product’s longevity. A cheaper grill may be easier on the finances, but what has been sacrificed to achieve this price point? Would spending a bit more on a grill that is guaranteed to last longer be worth it in the end?

Barbecue grills can be sophisticated beasts, and being knowledgeable about what you plan on putting down money for is key in ensuring you’re left happy, satisfied, and most importantly, full!

My Favorite Ways of Grilling Chicken

It is one of the most classic dishes in existence, and for good reason too. Grilled chicken is a dish that is enjoyed by many around the world. It is suitable in countless different scenarios, whether that would include it as the side dish to a main course, or it being the appetizer, or most commonly, occupying the entirety of the dish.

One of the most common questions I get is, “What is the best way of preparing grilled chicken?” and to that I respond, “It mostly depends on your tastes!” Despite this, however, there are a few recipes that reign supreme in crafting the best grilled chicken.

1) Grilled Greek Chicken

Grilled Greek ChickenStarting us off is grilled Greek chicken, arguably one of the best forms of grilled chicken, and agreeably one of the easiest recipes to follow. It is simple: a quarter cup of broth, two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, one teaspoon of sugar and oregano, a hint of olive oil, some salt, and black pepper. I mix those ingredients in a bowl as my griller heats up in preparation. Then I gently apply some of this homemade dressing to the chicken itself, brushing an even coat onto its surface. That’s about all you have to do before you set it on the griller, cooking each side for five minutes.

The result is utterly fantastic. With each serving, I personally prepare some lettuce and feta cheese, as I feel it truly helps bring out the grilled Greek chicken.

2) Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken

Lemon Pepper Grilled ChickenA zesty dish that leaves a vibrant taste in your mouth, without a doubt! The not so inconspicuous secret of this lemon pepper grilled chicken recipe is the marinade, which consists of around a third cup of lemon pepper, a single tablespoon of dry mustard, and another tablespoon of rosemary (crushed is preferred). That’s it! Don’t let the simplicity fool you, as sometimes less is more. The chicken itself is prepared in no special way, simply apply the lemon pepper to its coat, grill for around five to ten minutes, and it’s done!

3) Californian Grilled Chicken

Californian Grilled ChickenThis is a particularly summer themed dish (if, again, the name didn’t immediately give that away). The great thing about this dish is that your options are not as limited in terms of how you cook the chicken meat itself, and in the event that you are not up for grilling, using a skillet is perfectly adequate as well. In any case, the uniqueness of this dish comes from the half teaspoon of onion powder, Monterey Jack cheese, and most importantly, 2 ripe tomatoes.

These three dishes are some of my favorite ways of preparing grilled chicken, and many would agree that they are some of the best in the world. The key to getting good grilled chicken, however, is more than a recipe. Making sure your ingredients are fresh, your utensils sharp and on point, and most importantly, your creativity is bolstering. Bon app├ętit!

Remodeling my Kitchen, How Fun!

kitchen remodel

Remodeling is always something that seems to take forever. It’s even tougher when you’re remodeling a room as important as the kitchen. For one thing, you’ll walk past this big room each and every day and you’ll think about how you can’t wait for it to be fixed. You’ll also think about how much you miss the kitchen each time you try to cook something. I know that the finished kitchen is going to be its own reward, but it’s still a frustrating wait sometimes, and I sympathize with anyone that doesn’t want to even bother.

 

Remodeling anything really isn’t one task. It’s about a dozen little tasks in one, even if it only sounds like one task when you’re first talking about it. You have to write up your plans for the room. You have to get all of the tools and materials for it as well. You’re also going to need permits. I just went with my husband to get a bunch of new tools for the kitchen after finding out that we didn’t have anywhere near enough to complete the project. We did manage to find a great new table saw, which is cool. We’ll still get to use all of these great tools after the kitchen is finally finished.

 

Shopping for tools is one of the better parts of the experience. Setting aside the time every single weekend to actually tear everything down and put everything back up again is the tricky part. You have to time everything just right, since you don’t want to be doing this in the dead of winter. You also don’t want the kitchen remodeling to cut into your summertime. It will be cutting into your weekends for a while, which is just how it’s going to be until you’re finished.

 

On the other hand, the fact that the kitchen is being remodeled has given me the opportunity to use the grill even more. I could eat grilled food pretty much every day, and that’s been the case around here for a while. I’ve been able to try lots of great new recipes for grilled chicken, steak, and pretty much everything else you can think of in the process. When barbecue season arrives, I know that I’ll be ready for it in every way. The grill is in great shape, and I know how to give almost everything a fresh spin by this point.

How heirlooms become Heirlooms

Some of the items in my home carry only memories of people or times gone by. Others are there not just because they carry wonderful memories, but also because they are incredibly useful.

When I was small, i spent a lot of time at my grandmothers’ house. In the US north east, winters presented special challenges with organizing outer wear and foot gear. The winter gear of my brothers and I (there were 4 of us) created a big pile at the front door, which Grandma had to push out of the way or sort through as we came and went. What a mess!

Her solution was a bench, built by Grandpa, that had hooks for hanging lots of stuff, an under cabinet for shoes and boots, and a seat to sit on. It took some training to get us to use it ‘every time'; for us, it was easier to just drop it all on the floor and continue into the kitchen (perhaps we would have learned earlier if there weren’t cookies always waiting for us when we got there!). However, we eventually recognized the value of the piece, for reasons not just related to shoes.

How heirlooms become Heirlooms

The piece sat in the alcove at the front door, out of the way of house traffic. While we could fit, the cabinet offered a great hiding spot for Hide-and-Seek (although sometimes my big brother just sat on the lid and wouldn’t let me out), and stowing secret treasures until it was time to go home. The bench was used as a time-out seat, but was also really convenient when we were older, and had a girl to sit with, in relative privacy. But its main purpose – storing winter gear – was its best aspect.

As we grew, so did our feet, and our shoes! By the time we were in our teens, we were wearing sizes 10 through 13, and had a couple optional pairs as well. They all fit into the cabinet (although we weren’t tidy about it) and the front entry could be as neat and tidy as Grandma wanted it.

After my grandparents passed, I got the bench. I put it at the front door, and have sat on it many times dressing my own kids in their little snow suits and boots. Their book bags will hang there, and they will sit there in ‘time out’, as I did, many, many times. And, when necessary, I will stow all the winter gear of my own family into the cabinet, open the front door and welcome guests into my tidy, organized entry hall.

How to Best Barbecue Chicken by Mabel Contreras

Ever want to wring the neck of the cook at a barbecue you went to because the chef really didn’t know what they were doing? Here in Del Mar, California, the warmer weather means outdoor cookouts are a way of life, but I didn’t know that not everyone here knows how to barbecue chicken correctly. I’ve had some badly grilled poultry before, but this was something another bird altogether. Dry, burnt and tough as tire rubber, this acquaintance of mine may have lost some friends that day. So, for one of my first blogs here at chickencookup.com, I decided to take this nightmarish personal experience of mine and help you avoid these mistakes so you don’t disappoint your friends at your next cook-out. If you follow these guidelines, there’s no reason why you can’t make the most succulent barbecue chicken you and your guests ever wolfed down.

cooked out chicken

1. Marinating is your Friend

Half of the work of a good grilled meat is done before you even light the coals. There a multitude of chicken marinade and rubs you can buy at the grocery store, but even just marinading your breasts, thighs and wings in lemon juice, salt/pepper and brown sugar or any type of simple meat tenderizer for an hour before you grill it is the easiest way you can prep your poultry. Or you can get creative. Soak it in beer and rib-rub overnight! Fill a plastic zip-lock bag with your favorite BBQ sauce and refrigerate it for six hours! Find a cheap red wine from the gas station and mix in some rosemary and seasonings and bring it to a quick boil and paint the skin of the pieces you’re cooking like Picasso. The main thing you need to remember is that you want to prep the skin and meat of the chicken with a sweet/salt or tangy mixture to soften the meat and reduce the amount of time you need to grill it. Citrus-based marinade actually pre-cook your poultry to a certain extent so you don’t have to do much work.

2. Don’t be afraid get things…..smoking!

You could simply put the chicken on a regular gas or charcoal grill – but if you want to maximize the flavor you get from barbecue, you got to smoke it up! Any type of regular barbecue grill will work (although nothing beats a giant pit grill) as long as you make sure you allow air to pass through it at a slowed pace so smoke has a chance to accumulate. Adding wood chips soaked in either flavored-tea or red wine really helps build a signature smoke flavor. You’ll want to create a pink smoke ring noticeable when you first bite into it. Build your fire to last at a decent temperature for a long time. It takes anywhere from half and hour to 45 minutes to properly cook raw chicken all the way through. Cook with the skin on and don’t be afraid to let the juices from the chicken to fall onto the coals or wood you’re burning with; the dripping fat only fuels the fire and enhances the smoke signature. Remember, in this situation, smoke is your greatest ally. You might even want to use a sliced lemon or a slightly shaken-up a bottle of beer and spray your chicken with it as it cooks (and maybe take a sip for yourself.) Either way, basting your chicken as it smokes is another important step of grilled/smoked poultry perfection.

3. Know When it’s Done

This is the part that separates the barbecue masters from the wannabes. If your cooking boneless pieces, mainly breasts or thighs, you will want a meat thermometer to keep from over-cooking your poultry. Let the internal temperature rise to 160-165 degrees. But if you use bone-in chicken, it’s easier just to cook the chicken for a half and hour, then look for the bones to protrude more prominently. You’ll know ready when the joints are sticking out of the meat and the skin is stretched out over the muscles to the point of breaking. Then pull it off immediately. Let it sit for five minutes (it’s still basting in the remaining juices, so it’s not done until it cools slightly.)
Then, enjoy. And for those have already read this and came back here to chickencookup.com after trying this for yourself……you’re welcome.