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!

Monday = PROGRESS! Catering and Tailgating Schedules Filling Up!

By, Jim Knepper

So, with the addition of our Primo Grill/Smoker and BBQ Accessory retail Shop it’s been a busy ‘off season’ for us at GreatQ4U! and I am not complaining!  As I’ve typed on this Dimples Shrimplespage before, we have a LOT going on in addition to the retail shop!  We’ve got our Spring and Summer Catering schedules filling up fast and have been diligently working on new menu, buffet, display and service options.  We are cleaning and re-stocking and getting ready for the best year ever.  We have been working hard on getting the ‘BBQ Battlewagons’ (our two Antique Firetrucks) ready to roll for parties and BBQ Sauce sales at area Flea Markets in the Spring….you get the point!

On top of all that stuff, we have a jam packed schedule of BBQ Classes coming up in OBR Harrisburg 1013the ‘pre-season’ months that are really designed around the needs of our customers…home cooking!  We may add a few Competition oriented classes in the Spring and bring in some instructors who KNOW how to do Competition Que even better than us, but our true focus is on teaching folks how to get the most out of the smokers they have at home or buy from us!  Our Basic and Advanced BBQ Classes are full until April and those classes are beginning to fill up fast.  We have a Whole Hog class on April 5th that will be a BLAST and limited to 15 folks…again with an emphasis on the home BBQ enthusiast!  All of them can be found and registered for on our website: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html

I am reiterating my earlier post for folks that may have already received an Estimate from us for a 2014 Event or have talked with us about catering their upcoming events; BOOK SOON!  We do begin to fill our schedules pretty fast this time of the year and weDSC_0128 cannot guarantee our availability without a signed Contract and Deposit!  Inevitably every year during the months ahead, I have awkward conversations with folks who have Estimates in hand and haven’t yet booked only to find out that we are no longer available on their dates…I don’t like having those conversations, but we will never compromise quality for quantity!

Speaking of quality, we are continuing to source as many of our ingredients as possible from local sources and can work with customers to source ALL of the products for your GQ4U!events locally if you choose to do so, but with the crazy fluctuations in pricing and the production of some incredible product in other areas, we are also sourcing from the best suppliers in other areas as well.  Yet another reason to book soon is that the cost of Beef and Pork specifically are going to skyrocket this year as well as the lingering drought in California’s impact on produce prices…this WILL lead to price increases!  We will absorb as much as we can, but in order to stay in business and committed to quality…I just know that we’ll have to do it and maybe more than once!  When you do Book with us, we lock in your pricing and will honor our agreed upon pricing no matter the increases!

What about the ‘BBQ Battlewagons’?  Well, we will be rolling out to several Regional BBQ Competitions with them this season, probably from Mid-Summer into early Fall and I’ll let you know when we choose the dates and locations.  We are also going to be Station QFULLY set for Fall Tailgating parties and those spots will book up FAST!  You can reserve your ‘Battlewagon’ for games in Philly, Pittsburgh, Baltimore or DC and let us provide an unforgettable experience with AWESOME food and fun!  Again…I’d suggest booking early as we’ve only got two trucks to go around and those dates will fill up fast!

SO…get out there and make this a great week!  If you’d like more info about ANY of the products or services that GreatQ4U!’s got to offer, please don’t hesitate to call or E-Mail me: 717-254-1937 Ext. 1 or Jim@GreatQ4U.com

Mr. Grill Thermal Heat Resistant Gloves – PRODUCT REVIEW

By, Jim Knepper

Recently, we received a pair of Mr. Grill gloves to try out around the pits and write a Mr. Grill 1review of here on the Blog.  With the ‘Arctic Trough’ that hovers above us and most of the country, I must admit that my ability to use them on the Pits or even the grill has been limited, BUT…we have used them in and around the kitchen and I think are able to provide a fairly comprehensive review.  That said, I will post an update and photos when it this Arctic weather moves out and we can get some better photos!

Mr. Grill 2Mr. Grill gloves are made with Kevlar and are Nomex lined (same stuff that firefighters and race car drivers use to protect them from fire) come in a box of two priced at $29.99 and are available on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EF3YF0Y) or directly from the Mr. Grill Website (http://www.mrgrillproducts.com/).  While there are many similar products on the market, there are a few notable differences that we’ve observed so far:

  • The silicone ‘gripping’ on the gloves is in a webbed pattern that provides significant coverage on the front AND back of the glove which makes the possibility of hot stuff slipping out of your hands minimal.
  • The gloves are ‘One Size fits Most’ which is a normal thing for this type of product, but with my short, chubby fingers required a bit of ‘pulling down’ on the fingers to get a good fit.  Not really an inconvenience given that they will fit just about any adult in the family.
  • You get TWO gloves for what some companies will charge you for only ONE.
  • The company’s claims that the gloves can withstand heat up to 450°F and will endure an open flame are REALLY TRUE!  We used them on several trays of ‘cracklin’s’ that we did at 500°F and never felt the heat from the sheet pans!

So…First Impression of the Mr. Grill gloves is that you get a great deal on a pair of Mr. Grill 3gloves that will serve you both on the smoker/grill and around the kitchen at a price point of about $15 per glove!  They have some distinctive features such as the extensive use of silicone that make them superior to other gloves of this type that we have used for handling hot metals.  While they are NOT impervious to water or BBQ sauce and should not be used when wet…they are awfully handy around the kitchen and Pits!  SO…TWO (gloved) thumbs up for Mr. Grill’s Nomex lined Grill Gloves from us!

Mr. Grill 4

“BBQ” and “Grilling”….a Primer

Ok, so IF you’re a seasoned ‘BBQ’ Pro…this would be redundant information and you can feel free to browse around the rest of the Blog for an article that you might enjoy a bit more.  If NOT, than this is merely one guy’s primer on the significant differences between what is typically referred to as ‘Barbeque’ and the more common practice of ‘Grilling’.  I feel it’s a relevant topic given that this is the time of year when the Department and Home Improvement stores market the heck out of their ‘BBQ at Home’ products and accessories.

It actually is an important difference and to be honest, I enjoy both of the techniques.  As far as the meals we eat at our dinner table during the Spring, Summer and Fall months…to be even more honest, the majority of them are grilled as it can be done quicker and I ‘BBQ’ a LOT of meat for other folks during these months…so it’s a nice departure from the ‘usual’ for me!

BBQ (Barbecue) by definition is a method for ‘char grilling’ food over a flame.  In the much of the world it is synonymous with ‘Grilling’, however in the United States it has a long and storied history going back to our earliest days.  It was both a way to preserve meats and a method of cooking tougher, less expensive cuts of meat that were available to both settlers looking to use the whole animal following a kill and to the slaves in the South which is why that region is most often considered the home of ‘American BBQ’.

In the US, “BBQ” typically refers to the now common (thanks to Food TV) term & cooking method of ‘Low & Slow’…although there is a movement in the Competition BBQ Circuit and among many folks (lots of them in Texas) to cook “High & Hot” BBQ.  For the purpose of this post and because it’s the way that WE do it…we’ll stick to ‘Low & Slow’ for our definition of BBQ.  How low?  GREAT Question…most folks will tell you 225ºF which is what many of them cook at…we cook even LOWER than that…how much we will keep to ourselves, BUT I will say that water boils (and therefore converts to steam and leaves the meat) at 212ºF…so we cook BELOW that!

Fire from some source that originates as wood is the common denominator in traditional American-Style BBQ.  Whether it’s whole logs, Charcoal, a combination of Wood Chunks and Charcoal or Solid Wood (FOOD GRADE) pellets, the choice of your fuel is a subject worthy of its own Blog post.  We cook primarily with Wood Pellets for heat control and consistency of smoke, but all are effective methods given the right equipment, knowledge and experience.  So, if you’re thinking about getting into the world of ‘Low & Slow’ BBQ…find a good shop, do your homework online and educate yourself about what will work best for your situation.

Which cuts of meat are most often associated with BBQ?  Well, as I mentioned earlier the technique lends itself to the tougher ‘Primal Cuts’ of meats that in years past were either scrapped, cut up for stew or ground into sausage or burger.  Most commonly, these include; Pork Shoulder (Front shoulder which can be bought whole or separated into the Top: Boston Butt and Bottom: Picnic Roast), Beef Brisket (The lower part of a cow’s chest that runs just in front of the leg along the side and onto the bottom), Spare Ribs (Most Commonly Pork, but can also be Beef…especially in Texas)  and the Dark Meat cuts of Chicken (Usually the Thigh with the ‘Oyster’ still attached)…chicken’s tricky though as it can REALLY dry out easily on a smoker.

By using the ‘Low & Slow’ method to cook these cuts of meat, you are not only imparting a pleasant ‘Smoke’ flavor to the profile of the meat, you are combining it with whatever other flavors you bring to the table by the application of ‘Rubs’, Mop Sauces Ribsand BBQ Sauce if you so choose. We typically opt for the ‘less is more’ approach and keep it simple, but our Pulled Pork (for example) does get a liberal rub of our own spice blend before it hits the smoke and then about every 2 hours, it gets a ‘Mop’ from a primarily Vinegar based and thin ‘sauce’ which helps to build up a crust or ‘Bark’ on the outside of the meat.  When this ‘Bark’ is pulled into the final product, it adds incredible flavor and texture that makes it a bit more special.  Every meat is different and each requires lots of practice (tasty, tasty practice) to perfect, so it’s easy to learn, but hard to master!  You can use the same spices on all your BBQ meats, or you can do some homework and find combinations that work the best for various cuts and come up with a variety of spice blends that you like!

The KEY to cooking Low & Slow is that you cook the meat long enough to break down the connective tissues in these tougher muscles and allow them to soften up.  Additionally, you will melt the collagen that is contained in these cuts and allow it to blend into the meat adding an INCREDIBLE amount of flavor.  This is BEST achieved by cooking with a THERMOMETER and NOT a clock!  I can’t TELL you how much I cringe when I see ’12 Hour Pulled Pork’…it’s just not possible to cook by a clock and deliver a consistent product!  Every animal is different and all cuts take different lengths of time to be done ‘just right’…again, getting to know where your meat comes from and how long it takes to reach just the right temperature are all parts of the ‘BBQ Learning Curve’ and something you’ve got to master in order to consistently crank out GREAT BBQ!  Fortunately there are TONS of resources out there to give you a starting point!  I would suggest investing in a GOOD meat thermometer…we use Thermapens (~$90…but WORTH IT!!!) to make sure that our meats are done just right.  We also use ‘wrapping’ in foil for several cuts, including Ribs and Brisket, but that’s a whole ‘nuther Blog post too!

OK…now for ‘Grilling’…not too much about it though, as we ARE a ‘BBQ Caterer and Quisqueya Spice Thighs Smokin'!Competition Team’ – This is most commonly done in the US on Propane, Natural Gas or Charcoal grills.  As it is typically done in the US, ‘Grilling’ is cooking over a much higher heat and lends itself to a variety of applications.  This is how you should do your STEAKS!  The heat helps to carmelize the outside of the meat and create what is known as the Maillard Reaction which is a form of nonenzymatic browning that creates flavor, seals the ‘outside’ of the meat and keeps the moisture and flavor locked in.  Typically associated with Beef, this reaction occurs with any meat that you cook on a grill and is worth some research if you cook this way a lot.  In addition to the ‘usual’ proteins, the high heat method of grilling is a great way to do all kinds of seafood, from fish fillets to cedar planked Salmon or even Oysters and Clams…Grilling is the way to go!  Veggies lend themselves to grilling pretty well too!  Some of my favorites are Squash of all kinds, Eggplant, Onions and Asparagus!  They should be coated with a mix of spices and just a little bit of oil (we use olive oil) before hitting the heat and then cooked just enough to get a nice char and keep a firm texture.

OK…that’s a LOT of typing for a Monday morning and I hope that if you read along this far, it has been helpful!  As always if we can help in ANY way, just let us know!  We ARE running a whole series of ‘BBQ Classes’ this year which are on the website: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html or you can give us a call at 717-254-1937 or e-mail: Info@GreatQ4U.com and we’ll be happy to help!  SO…Spring is in the AIR…get out and ‘Do Some Que’! 🙂

MAK Grills…

…saw this info posted at www.PelletGrillOutlet.com, wondering if anyone’s got any ‘real world’ experience with thiss brand?  I’d love to hear more about them!’

Specifications:
Overall Length: 60″
Overall Height: 49″
Overall Width: 25 Inches (including handle)
Weight: 175 LBSCooking Surface: 19.5″ Deep x 22″ Wide x 14″ Tall, 429 sq. in. (expands to 858 sq. in. w/ upper Grill Grate)

Warmer box size: 19″ Deep x 15″ Wide x 5″ Tall, 285 sq. in.

Hopper capacity: 20 LBS

Power Requirements: 120VAC

Temperature Range: 180 to 500 degrees (depending on weather conditions and altitude)

Casters: 3″ hooded swivel locking ball bearing

 
MAK GRILLS Two Star General:  MSRP $2,000
PGO (TM) Price: $1,799 Free Shipping w/ Lift Gate Service

PGO (TM) MAK GRILL Two Star General Bundle:

PGO Special Bundle Price: $1,979.00
Call Anna Maria at (877)-235-1031 for details! 

Why Pellets???

Ah’ perhaps the most frequent question we’re asked by folks when we’re out Q-ing around!  It’s the kinda’ question that has enough to it to get some folks all stirred up.  That said, I can answer the question pretty easily with the caveat that there might be some BBQ folks out there who take ‘issue’ with my rationale.  A good place to look for verification of my assertions would be the winner’s stands of your bigger BBQ competitions.  See what folks are using and decide for yourself what’s good for your intentions!

Now that I’ve got THAT out of the way, the reasons that we use Pellets for cooking GreatQ are pretty simple;  First of all, the quality is consistent.  All our pellets are 100% hardwoods from a wide variety of trees, no filler or glue or anything like the stuff that’s in pellets for woodstoves!  Secondly, pellets allow us to create perfectly blended ‘custom’ smoke using a consistent amount of smoke from one wood mixed with another or several others for that matter!  Finally, the auger and fan driven system in the Treager Grills allows us to pretty precisely control the temperature of the smoker.

SO…Great quality, Consistent ‘Custom Blend’ Smokes and Precise Temperature control tossed together with the relative low maintenance and the hour or so of sleep you get overnight at the competitions make pellets the right choice for us!