Monday, November 3, 2014

DRAFT POST 11.4.2014


It is November which means a few things are coming...
  • Some disappointed football fans will switch their focus to "next year",
  • People will be commenting on Facebook lament about how stores used to wait until after Thanksgiving to put up their Christmas displays, and
  • Your local news team will do a feature with the fire department about the dangers of frying a turkey and will start by showing a Youtube video of someone burning their house down.
Yes, deep fried turkeys became popular in the 90's and have been providing viral videos of "Hold my beer and watch this" pretty much ever since.  Personally, I like to just spatchcock (remove the backbone and flatten it out) a turkey and cook it on the grill like I did with this Apple and Sage Turkey

But I get that some folks want it easier.  Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I am going to give away a Char-Broil Big Easy™ Oil-less Turkey Fryer.   That's right....oil-less.  No burning down the house required.

The Big Easy's claim to fame is that it is faster, cheaper, and safer than deep frying a turkey.  The cook time isn't faster, but the start to finish time is because you don't have to wait for the oil to heat and cool down. It is cheaper because you don't have to use a large amount of cooking oil.  That makes it safer too, you aren't lowering a turkey into a boiling vat of oil over open flames.

The Big Easy™ is easy to use, as its name implies.  Not a lot of dials or settings to mess with.  No temperature gauges.  No fussing with positioning the turkey.  No trussing the bird required.  No large roasting pan to contend with.  It is as simple as putting your bird into the basket, lowering the bird into the preheated cooking chamber, and waiting until your bird is done.

The design is very simple yet highly effective.  The cooking chamber is a stainless steel drum with a wire basket that holds your turkey (or roast, or chicken, or ribs, or....) in perfect position.

Notice the hole at the bottom - you'll see what this is for later.

A gas burner coils around the bottom of the unit to heat it evenly.

The controls are basic, just an igniter to start the Big Easy™ and a single heat control knob.  Not rocket surgery here.

The venting system evenly controls the flow of air to evenly heat the cooking chamber and converts the energy to Char-Broil's patented TRU-Infrared heat for crispy skin and juicy meat.

You cook with the unit open unless it is windy or cold, then the only difference is you place the screen top on it while cooking. 

When I cook turkey on the grill, I have to take steps to keep the drippings from burning so I can use them for gravy.  The great design of the Big Easy™ has a collection bin that is below the heating element so you don't have to worry about burning your drippings.

Dripping catcher (dish not included) is a drawer that slides into the bottom of the cooker.  This rests directly below the hole in the center of the cooking chamber bottom.

I know what you're thinking - cool rig but it's a bit of a "uni-tasker" good for only one thing.  You should check out what my fellow Char-Broil All-Star team member, Christo, did with his - ribs, turkey, and leg of lamb!

Here is what I did for turkey in the Big Easy™. Since the unit is simple, I went simple.  You can use the same rub and injection with a grilled or oven roasted turkey but your cooking times will take a little longer.  Granted, this really isn't "frying" but you get the same crispy skin effect.

Fire Roasted Turkey
  • 10-12 pound turkey, thawed
For the butter injection
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock or white wine
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
 For the dry rub
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel or 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed dry sage
  1. Make the butter injection.  Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium low heat.  Bring to a simmer, turn off heat and allow to cool before injecting.
  2. Preheat the Char-Broil Big Easy™ on the highest setting.
  3. Use a meat syringe to inject the butter mixture into the turkey breasts, thighs, legs, and wings.  Some butter will leak back out of the turkey, that is okay.  Massage it all over the bird to coat it.  This will allow the rub to stick and provide crispy skin.
  4. Mix together the dry rub ingredients and season the bird all over.
  5. Place the turkey in the cooking basket and lower it into the cooking chamber.  Lower the control to about 80% of maximum.   Let the turkey cook until the breast reaches an internal temperature of 160°F - about 10 minutes per pound.
  6. Remove the cooking basket and allow the turkey to rest for 10 minutes.  
  7. Remove the drip tray from the unit and make gravy if desired.  Not listed in the ingredients, but melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan on medium heat and whisk in 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour to make a blonde roux.  Whisk in the drippings and additional chicken stock to get the consistency that you want. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Remove the turkey from the cooking basket using heat resistant gloves, slice and serve.

The butter injection adds moisture and flavor to the turkey without the long waiting times of a brine or marinade.

turkey prep
Don't forget to season inside the cavity.

Ready to drop in.

The hot air coming out of the vent holes was about 350°F but the cooking chamber is a little lower.

Cooked in just 2 hours 10 minutes and still perfectly juicy.
Giveaway:  Char-Broil Big Easy Oil-Less Turkey Fryer
This giveaway is sponsored by me, myself, and I, as a thanks to all of you for reading my blog and putting up with my nonsense.  I am buying the drawing winner a Char-Broil Big Easy™ gas powered model (propane tank not included, sorry) just in time to cook a perfect juicy turkey for the big day.

How To Enter and Rules
  1. DRAFT POST ONLY - NOT VALID To enter, just leave a comment below.  You can have a second entry for a tweet about this giveaway including my twitter handle @nibblemethis so I can find it.  NOTE:  If you are using the anonymous comment option, please make sure to leave a way to reach you (email,  forum user name, twitter etc) in case you win. 
  2. Giveaway entry period begins as soon as this is posted and ends November 11, 2014 at 11:59pm. Drawing will be held November 12, 2014 at noon (All times are Eastern Time zone).  Winner will be announced in an update to this post. 
  3. Comments will be numbered by order received and will generate a random number for the winner.
  4. Limited to residents of the continental United States unless you wish to pay the extra shipping charges.
  5. Since I am sponsoring this prize, I am the final judge regarding any discrepancies, interpretations, grievances, etc about this drawing.
  6. Winner must respond to claim the prize within one week of the winning announcement and/or email contact. I do attempt to contact the winner directly if contact information is provided.  If a winner does not claim the prize during the specified time, a reserve winner will be drawn from the original entries.
Please note that I use comment moderation to weed out spam.  Your comment will not appear immediately.  If you don't think your comment goes through, just shoot me an email and I can double check for you.

[Standard Disclaimer]  I am on the Char-Broil All-Star team but I am sponsoring this post.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Porkopolis Eggfest 2014 Cincinnati OH

A few weeks ago I got up before the crack of dawn, drove North across Kentucky, and attended the Porkopolis Eggfest in Cincinnati. 

What's an Eggfest?  It is a regional get together of Big Green Egg aficionados.  There are demo cooks who cook on dealer supplied Big Green Eggs to provide food samples to the crowd.  These aren't (necessarily) professional cooks - most of these cooks are just people who love their Egg and the Egg community.  They create some amazing bites.  The "tasters" are the general public that buy a low cost ticket that gives them access to all of the entertainment and food that the festival offers.  

In addition to the food, there are often instructional cooking demonstrations, entertainment, vendors selling kamado related gear, and pre- and post-parties.  Best of all is that all of the Big Green Eggs that are used in the event are available for sale at cut rate prices after only being used that once.  It's a great place to get your first Egg or to pick up another one.

These fests can ranged from small local Eggfests with a handful of folks to the huge official Eggtoberfest thrown each year by the Mothership (Egger's term for "corporate"), so I didn't know what to expect for the Cincinnati Eggfest.  When I arrived at Germania Park, I was immediately impressed by the large amount of people.  

In addition to the main gazebo, they had apparently stolen some circus' big top tent to accommodate the crowds.  Organizer, Eddie Meiners, told me that they had 86 demo cook teams and expected 600-700 paid admissions!  That is the biggest Eggfest I have been to besides the Eggtoberfest which draws thousands. 

Chef JJ brought his team and bad ass cooking trailer to do in depth cooking demos.  It's the first time I have gotten to see him work - he knows his stuff.

My friend, BBQ brethren, and fellow Char-Broil All Star - Curt McAdams was on hand to do demos for a browned butter fingerling potatoes, grilled peach bourbon iced tea, and a blackberry thyme crisp dessert.  You can find the recipes he used at his blog - Live Fire.  Next year, he and I are going to do a demonstration together, that will be fun!

There were lots of well equipped vendors present.  This is often my favorite part because I get to check out new products hands on.  

Super nice stainless steel grate with hinged access to the fire box. [VENDOR LINK?]
 Wardway Grill and Pool shop was the Egg dealer on hand, supplying all of the demo eggs and selling all of their accessories.  I bought a new large table cover from them to replace the 6 year old one that I have.  If you're in that area, check them out for your grill and pool needs.

My favorite vendor was Innovations by Chance.   I had communicated online with Mike Chance but it was good to meet him in person.  He has some exciting ideas for pimping out your kamado grill. 

I think this is called the Fishbone, it is a stainless charcoal grate designed to prevent clogged air holes that happen with the stock cast iron coal grates for many kamado grills.

Mike showing his cast iron plate setter for the Large Big Green Egg.

The Raiser serves as a grid raiser, a double pizza cooker, and a spider rig.  Talk about multi-functional!
The live entertainment was very cool.  How many Eggfest have YOU seen that have alphorn players?


{Band Name}

But unquestionably, the absolute best part of any Eggfest is the great food and wonderful people.  Yeah, I know that is two things but they are both the best so cut me some slack.

There were a lot of family teams, great to see the kids involved.

Eggs.  Eggs for sale EVERYWHERE!

Tasters go from booth to booth sampling the foods as they are ready.  It's a lot of work just to keep up!

Even the cooks are having fun.

The Cluck and Squeal guys were there.  I've heard great things about their rubs.

To give you an idea of how big the event was, one of my Egg friends, Mike Tipton was there and he made the Kentucky Derby Pie that I never got to try.  I was there to sign my book.  Neither of us knew the other was there until two days later! 

The cook teams usually do 2-3 menu items and they come out at different times so you have to know when and where to be throughout the day to make sure you don't miss I did on the Kentucky Derby Pie :)

It was great getting to meet some long term Egg forum members, like Egret...
...and Kim Youngblood...

... and Rick is one of the primary inspirations for me trying to learn to be a better photographer.  His stuff set the bar for me.
Sorry kid, I don't care if "you left your ID at home", I'm not serving you beer!

Eeenie Meenie and Florida Grillin Girl serving up spaghetti squash.

A very busy, Eddie Meiners, the event organizer.

You can see, it's not just ribs and BBQ type food.

Ahhhh!  An alligator is biting my head!

Pork wings!

Tons of people everywhere.

Pizzas were a common theme but they were all unique.

The pictures don't tell half of the story.  To REALLY experience an Eggfest, you just need to go.  Even if you don't have any plans to buy an Egg, you will still have a great time!  There are still Eggfests going on - check for one near you on the Egghead Forum.