Cooking on a Wood Fire at Home.

By, Jim Knepper

While it may sound daunting or a bit difficult to do, cooking on a wood fire at your home is probably easier than you think!  In fact, there have never been more options than there are today for you to easily and with minimal effort, enjoy that same wood fired taste that’s so popular with restaurants in your own kitchen!  Well…you wouldn’t want to start a wood fire in your kitchen (unless you’re lucky enough to have it properly equipped)…so here are some pointers on how to get ‘er done!

Without question the easiest way to accomplish this is to purchase a Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker which are available from a variety of manufacturers in all kinds of shapes MM Q3and sizes!  Wood pellet grills use 100% (food grade) wood pellets with no glue or binders, just pressure to shape them.  They are REAL WOOD and accordingly come in many varieties; Oak, Hickory, Apple, Mesquite, Cherry, Alder..you get the point!  You can even find them with ‘flavors’ added such as Garlic or Onion, however I prefer to control the spices I use by application of rubs, mops and sauces.  As the actual logs would burn, so do the pellets…in other words, Oak burns hot and fast, ‘fruit woods’ not-so-much, etc.  Wood pellet Grills are quite versatile and the air blowing into the fire pot that heats the stove creates a natural convection and even heating.  You can use them to Grill, Smoke or Bake and the results will surprise you!  A whole new dimension of flavor to dishes that you are used to coming off a gas grill for sure!

Another common method of cooking with wood is by using charcoal.  Not Briquettes so Primo OVAL XL Grillmuch, but more commonly ‘Lump Charcoal’ which is actual wood and not highly processed.  There are MANY ways to cook with charcoal from the good old Weber Kettle to the modern Ceramic Grill/Smokers that are commonly found in Green and Black colors.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses.  I would start by suggesting that when using lump charcoal, DO NOT use lighter fluid or for that matter, ANY form of ‘accelerant’ unless that’s all you wish to taste on your food!  This is especially important when using ceramics into which any type of liquid accelerant will soak leaving you with a lifetime of ugly flavor.  There are quite a variety of charcoal lighting tools available today from the common ‘chimney starter’ and ‘Hot Rod’ to the more recent hot air lighting devices.  Cooking on charcoal requires some effort, but you are rewarded with a flavor that is unmistakably good!  Like the wood pellet cookers, the Ceramic Charcoal units are well insulated and retain moisture quite well, so they can Grill, Smoke and Bake quite well!

If you’re looking to drop some BIG BUCKS and go with whole logs and real wood coals, there are a growing number of Freestanding Wood Grill manufacturers out there willing Grillworks42to take your money!  It is the ultimate way to cook over an actual wood fire and typically has a suspended grill with a crank wheel to move the grill up and down so that you can control the heat and cooking process.  This is the real deal and doesn’t deviate very much from the techniques used to cook over a camp fire.  Although, the grills tend to be quite expensive and they do take some time to build up a solid base of ‘hot coals’ to cook on, so they may not be the most convenient!  They are indeed crowd pleasers though both in appearance and taste!

SO…conveniently, if you are looking to learn more about Wood Fired Cooking at home, we are conducting a FREE workshop at our shop in Mechanicsburg next Wednesday night (July 16th) from 7pm until 10pm.  We will review products with demo models for yo to see.  We will also prepare and get to taste some wood fired goodies!  You just bring yourself and a chair (and a beverage if you’d like) and we’ll do the rest…interacting with you and teaching you just how easy it is to cook over a wood fire.  You can join the event on our FaceBook page (https://www.facebook.com/jaktzr#!/events/1509400672609054/) or E-Mail: Jim@GreatQ4U.com to reserve your spot!  The workshop is no cost to you, but limited to 12 people with 4 alternates…so first come, first served!  We also have scheduled some BBQ Classes for August and September on our website: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html if you’d like to go a bit further with your BBQ techniques!

So, either way…think about a wood fired grill at home and don’t hesitate to reach out f we can help!  We’ve got a lot of Primo Ceramic and Myron Mixon Wood Pellet Grills in stock and are always willing to help!

Thinking About a Ceramic Grill…Now’s the BEST Time to Buy a Primo!

As you may or may not be aware, we have added a Retail Grill and Smoker shop to our lineup of Grilling and BBQ business activities!  Why would we venture into the ‘sharkBBQ tank’ that is retail sales?  Easy…we’ve got LOTS of Experience and Knowledge that can help us listen to your needs and identify the RIGHT product for YOU.  Then, after the sale, we’re still here to help you learn to burn!  We firmly believe that you can educate yourself about all things BBQ and Grilling online…there is TONS of information out there and Education does indeed teach one the RULES, BUT…EXPERIENCE teaches the EXCEPTIONS!  We think each is equally important in life and especially in BBQ!

We’ve got two brands of Grills/Smokers that we currently sell and we’re evaluating Primo OVAL XL Grillmore.  First up, we offer the full line of (Made in the USA) Primo Ceramics which boast their famous Oval design and Extended Cooking Rack system that can deliver nearly 700sq. in. of cooking surface in an amazingly small footprint.  In addition to the versatility of space, it offers you true multi-zone heating so you can cook veg AND do a reverse sear on your steaks ALL on the SAME Grill!  Ceramics provide AWESOME thermal insulation and wind blocking, not to mention nice, even heat which is great for cooking real deal BBQ ‘Low & Slow’ too!  With a 20 year Warranty you can expect a lifetime of service from your Primo Grill/Smoker.

Additionally, we have the revolutionary Myron Mixon Pitmaster Q3 Pellet Grill/Smoker!  It’s easy to use, well designed and built and could LITERALLY replace that cobweb MM Q3filled, rusting gas grill you’ve got outside your back door!  With the ease of use that pellets offer and incredibly innovative features such as a water pan option, firebox burn out and easy ash removal…it’s hard to beat thePitmaster Q3!  Priced lower than most Big Box Store Gas Grills it’s the perfect option to add a whole new dimension to your outdoor cooking and LOTS of wood fired flavor to every dish you cook!

Why is now the BEST time to buy?  Well, until July 7th, the Primo All American Sales Event is happening!  Buy any qualifying Primo Promo 714Primo Grill and Table and get up to $400+ in FREE Accessories to make your purchase complete!  You’ll have the complete outdoor cooking system that stands above all other Ceramics and save BIG BUCKS!  Additionally, we’ve got the Pitmaster Q3 at our lowest price EVER and will toss in a FREE Bag of Pellets to boot!  In fact, buy ANY Grill/Smoker from us and we’ll toss in a T-Shirt and Bottle of BBQ Sauce too!

SO…what are you waiting for, we’re conveniently located at 105 Texaco Road in Mechanicsburg, PA 17050 and can be found on FaceBook & Twitter!  Call Jim at 717-254-1937 x1 or e-mail: Jim@GreatQ4U.com for more information or stop by the shop!  We don’t sell hardware, outdoor furniture or home heating products…we ONLY sell BBQ and Grilling products and services and we provide service before, during and AFTER the sale!  For more info online, visit us at http://www.Grill-SmokeHQ.com

cropped-alabama-ribs.jpg

PRODUCT REVIEW: Mr. Grill Brush

By, Jim Knepper

Few things are more important when grilling than to have adequate fuel and clean,’seasoned’ grates and it’s been my experience that many folks who cook on their Mr. Grill Brushgrills a LOT clean their grates after every use and lay on a thin coat of oil before covering up the grill.  There are a TON of Grill Brushes on the market today and each has got it’s own style and functionality.  As the second product from Mr. Grill that I have reviewed, I can say that this brush meets the standard set by their awesome grilling gloves! (Which I use every night)

Right off the bat, I noticed that the brush was in sealed plastic bag with a pack of Well built and sturdy!desiccant gel in it to keep it from rusting…a nice start to the experience and an extra step to make sure you get it as it was when it left the factory! First impression was that it’s a versatile design that not only cleans the TOP of your grates, but the shape and size is perfect for cleaning between and under the grates as well.  A sturdy long wooden handle that is firmly secured to the brush and brass bristles that give you strength, but also protect your grates round out the package!

Now it’s easy to say that a brush is a brush, but anyone who’s ever spent any significant amount of time cooking over open flame knows this isn’t so!  Some brushes are clearly better than others and having the proper tool for the job is always a good start!  In order to put it to the test, I had a grand old time getting my grates dirty!  Beef, Chicken, Shrimp and for good measure, a handful of shredded cheese directly onto the grates!

First thing I noticed as I began to clean up the mess was the length of the handle.  It’s longer than most and provides more Mr. Grill Brush Handlethan adequate distance to clean the whole grill while it’s still hot…a good practice to get into if you’re not already doing it!  Next, I found that the brass bristles made quick work of the majority of the gunk on the grates!  Melted cheese is a tough competitor and the Mr. Grill Brush clearly won that round.  Additionally, the size and shape of the brush itself makes easy work of getting those stubborn bits off the sides and under the grates!  Finally, as a guy who uses GrillGrates on a regular basis, I found it to be a PERFECT tool for getting down into the valleys between the Grates!

Mr Grill Brush GratesI’ve been at it for over a week now with the Mr. Grill Brush and it has not worn a bit, the bristles have remained true and it’s as easy as cleaning grates can be with this product.  It’s available online through their website: http://www.mrgrillproducts.com or on Amazon.  So, in brief, I would give the Mr. Grill brush two thumbs up and a full rack of ribs…it could easily clean up after them!  So, get your grill on this Summer and clean up with Mr. Grill!

Boy’s Night Out Wednesdays at GQ4U! – Check It!

OK, we know that we haven’t posted in a LONG TIME and rather than list a whole lot of excuses…we think we should pick right up with what we’ve got going on to benefit our customers in and around Central PA!  Most notably, our large selection of in-stock Primo Ceramic Grill/Smokers and Myron Mixon Pitmaster Q3 Pellet Smokers!

What better way to show off the benefits of the products that we sell than to fire them up, have a few friends over and cook up some tasty treats while learning about all MM Q3things BBQ!  Every session, we’ll pick a topic (Rubs & Sauces, Airflow, Smoker Selection, Meat Selection and Prep…etc.) and cover it over a couple of hours in a laid back setting all while we’ve got goodies smokin’ on the products we sell!

It’s a GREAT way to get away for a night and learn some Primo OVAL XL Grilluseful tips surrounded by a group of like minded ‘BBQ Guys’ in an informal, yet informative environment!  OK…SOLD!  When do we start?  Good Question!  Looks like the FIRST ‘Boys Night Out’ BBQ Jam Session will be on Wednesday May 7th!  Still working on firming up a few details, but you heard it HERE first!  Participation will be FREE and limited to the first 12 RSVP’s!

Much more to come as BBQ ‘Season’ progresses and our adventures continue! O’h….and BEFORE y’all start typing THOSE e-mails….we WILL be doing ‘Girl’s Night Out’ as well…probably later this summer! :D

jak

GreatQ4U! – Central PA’s one Stop BBQ Shop!

As we begin our TENTH year of operations and look toward longer and hopefully much OBR Harrisburg 1013warmer days ahead, we are proud to say that after a decade of being a ‘one trick’ pony, we have evolved!  Indeed we still specialize in wood-smoked BBQ Catering and have begun the process of getting the ‘BBQ Battlewagon’ Fire Trucks set up and ready to roll for your Spring and Summer Parties and your Fall Tailgating festivities, but there is obviously more to us than just BBQ now!

As the world of BBQ hits mainstream TV and the number of folks that are getting into the BBQ Restaurant and Catering business evolves, we welcome the new additions to our passion and as I have typed here many times before, we encourage you to experience as many different places as you can!  We all have our own unique twists on how we prepare, season, smoke and serve our BBQ products.  We are proud to say that we’ve been doing BBQ Catering for a decade and that our BBQ has won many awards at Kansas City BBQ Society and other events!  I am proud as a Pitmaster and PBCChef to say that I’ve won national awards for my flavors and creativity, not to mention a commitment to sourcing locally from those who are the best at what they do.  BUT, I also know that we are only as good as our last service and we will never forget that!  Our menu continues to grow and our catering options extend beyond ‘traditional’ BBQ now to accommodate a wider range of tastes, but our core commitment to preparing every meal ‘to order’ and specifically for each event will never change!

Additionally, even as the number of BBQ ‘outlets’ in Central PA continues to grow, there Primo OVAL XL Grillremains a gaping hole for the home chef that is looking to learn how to cook BBQ on their own.  You can watch TV and resort to the internet to learn a LOT about how to ‘do Que’ but there’s no replacement for Experience and we have put ours to work by expanding into Retail sales of Primo Grills/Smokers, Myron Mixon Pellet Grills and Smokers and the affordable and versatile Pit Barrel Cooker along with a whole host of accessories!  We are even MM Q3offering an ongoing BBQ Class series that we will do int he Spring and Fall in the ‘off peak’ months of our Catering schedule to teach folks how to do everything from making your own signature spice blends and sauces to cooking whole hogs and even getting into the BBQ business!

As all of this expansion of services goes on, our focus will remain on service and quality and we want everyone to know that if you’re looking for a BBQ Smoker or Grill or the knowledge to know how to use them, we are indeed your ONE-STOP-BBQ-SHOP!  You can find out more about us online at: www.GreatQ4U.com or our Grills and Smokers at www.BuyAPrimo.com or feel free to call 717-254-1937 or stop by and see us during our off-season weekend hours which are always posted on our FaceBook Page!  We’re on Twitter too! – SO…when you think BBQ in Central PA, think about GreatQ4U! and we’ll do our best to help you out!

Get to Know Your Sources!

By, Jim Knepper

One of the keys to winning in BBQ Competitions and successfully growing your BBQ Business is Consistency!  Consistent service, consistently nice preparations and most importantly, consistently great product!  If you’re purchasing based solely on food costs from large ‘contract’ suppliers or in Wholesale Clubs, you may be finding the quality of your end product to be somewhat inconsistent and that has a LOT to do with the fact that they aggregate from a large number of suppliers that can be quite geographically diverse, not to mention their ‘husbandry’ techniques!

I recently read an article that outlined the growing difficulties for Chef’s who source product locally because of the many logistical and supply ‘issues’ in doing so, but in the end if you know who raises your proteins and produce and you’ve seen it ‘on the hoof’ or in the field, it’s going to help to make you a better producer and without question you’ll have a more consistent end product.  This is not a new concept to those of us that have been in the BBQ business for any length of time, because ‘back in the day’ the cuts that we use for smoking today, weren’t readily available in mega-marts or through contract suppliers!  (Talk about food costs increasing…I remember Pork Shoulder UNDER $1/lb!)

As the ‘Farm-to-Table’ movement continues and the emphasis on connecting the ‘big’ chefs with local suppliers capable of providing a consistent supply and quality of product grows, so do the opportunities for anyone interested in providing great BBQ meals!  No matter whether you’re cooking for your family and friends, or if you are operating a commercial cookery…more farmers farming locally is a good thing!  Even in the larger urban areas, there is a LOT of momentum for Urban farming and a growing farming community within a short drive.

SO…get to know a Butcher.  If you don’t have one VERY close by, make it a ‘destination’ and a habit to visit on a regular basis.  As you buy products from them over a period of time, you will develop a relationship and rapport that will lead to more consistent results and a better end product.  Same goes for produce!  There’s a resurgence in the Farmer’s Market today and even in the BIG cities, you’ll find folks who grow awesome and sometimes not oft seen produce and then bring it to a market to sell until it’s gone.  Where to find these ‘sources’?  A brief search of ‘the Google’ will provide a number of online resources!

Enjoy more consistent results and a much better end result by keeping it as local as you can and get to know where everything you cook comes from! – Enjoy your week! – jak

Have a Heart, Help a Hound!

By, Jim Knepper

To use an old Monty Python phrase; “…and now for something COMPLETELY different!”  Here’s a quick post that’s got nothing to do with BBQ, other than perhaps my Hooveravailability to participate in it!  Those who know me are already aware of the sacrifices that I make for them and those who don’t may be quite surprised or even jump to a few incorrect conclusions to find out that my wife and I provide a loving, stable home to 14 rescued hound dogs!  YES…I said fourteen of them, nine Coonhounds and five Bloodhounds.

It all began when I was doing Transplant medicine and adopted a retired Police Bloodhound only to find out that Bloodhound rescues across the country were filled to capacity and Bloodhounds were being put down daily due to a lack of resources.  I have been familiar with the breed since I was a child and have had a few Bloodhounds over the years, but Hoover quickly became a trusted and loyal friend…the best that I have ever had.  When we lost him to a neurologic ‘event’…I began to look for replacements and quickly had three, one of whom a local vet ‘accidentally’ killed when we had him neutered.  So we found another male and then two more girls for a pack of five.

Then, the Coonhound folks got a hold of me, we adopted one and wound up on e-Hound Sofamailing lists that are horrible: ‘These are the dogs that no one wants and unless they are taken by 4pm today, they will be put down’ or something to that effect with photos and stories.  It was horrible and within months we had nine; six of which were hours away from euthanasia because no one wanted them and three that were turned loose in the mountains to die.  They all have idiosyncrasies and most were filled with parasites and starving, but once nourished with love and food they got great Vet care and live without many ‘rules’ in our home.  In fact, they all know that at any time during the day they can come to my desk and I’ll drop whatever I am doing to give them some love!

I’ve been called all kinds of things because of these dogs and there are NO shortage of folks that I never did anything with before we adopted the ‘pack’ who tell me always Sheena, Conway & New Friendsabout how much I am missing out on, but to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way!  They don’t need to be scared, sick or worried about where their next meal is coming from and that will remain our commitment to them until the day they cross that rainbow bridge!

So, if you’re thinking about getting a dog, do some homework and consider a hound.  They are NOT retrievers or pointers or setters…they have some quirks and require a bit more attention and they are high energy dogs contrary to popular assumption…but they are loving and smart and make great companions.  There are far too many of these breeds being put down for no other reason than no one wants them!  If you need information about where you can get one, e-mail me and I’ll be happy to help: Jim@GreatQ4U.com - Have a GREAT week y’all! – jak

Luke & Beulah