Chicken’n’Steak Stir Fry in a Carbon Steel Wok

The Killer Cook Chow Khan Pan-Asian seasoned chicken’n’steak stir fry in my carbon steel wok.

This could have been easily made on my Blackstone griddle, but I had an injury from an accident with electric hedge trimmers that required stitches from two deep lacerations and a fractured thumb that I’m still recovering from. After hearing a ton of hype about carbon steel pans, I found a 14″ carbon steel wok for a good price ($26 with a 20% off coupon) and decided to give it a trial run with some chicken’n’steak stir fry.

Recipe
— I had a 1-lb. sirloin steak and a 8oz. ribeye in the freezer that I defrosted and cut up into small, bite size pieces
— I found a couple a pack of chicken tenders at my local Food Lion grocery store that I also cut up into bite size pieces. About six tenders were used.
— Pre-cooked rice that I cooked the day prior
— One decided white onion
— Water chestnuts
— Sliced white button mushrooms
— Sliced red bell pepper
— Green beans
— Broccoli
— Diced green onions (I used about two)
— Refined coconut oil
— Soy sauce
— Oyster sauce
— Tablespoon of MSG
The Killer Cook Chow Khan Pan-Asian rub

Instructions
— Preheat the wok to medium high heat
— Dice up the steak and chicken. I added a light coating of kosher salt to both proteins in order to dry up some of the moisture on the outside of the meat.
— Add a heaping tablespoon of refined coconut oil to the wok and allow the oil to coat around the upper parts of the wok.
— Saute the vegetables, sprinkled with a generous dose of the Chow Khan Pan-Asian seasoning, until thoroughly cooked to your preference (I like ’em soft) and set aside in a plate or bowl.
— Add another heaping tablespoon of refined coconut oil before adding your meats; I cooked the steak first, removed and sat aside, before adding the chicken, cooking the poultry through. Once again, add a helping of the Chow Khan Pan-Asian seasoning.
— Re-add the steak, vegetables and then mix the rice into the wok with your other ingredients.
— Add some more Chow Khan Pan-Asian seasoning. Without taking exact measurements into account, I used it liberally because I love the flavor.
— Add soy sauce. You can wait until it is finished to add soy sauce, but I like adding it during the cooking process.
— Add the oyster sauce. You don’t need much. I made a little circle with it before mixing it into the stir fry.
— After thoroughly mixing and getting your rice brown from the sauce and seasoning, you are ready to plate up and eat!

The Chow Khan Pan-Asian rub from The Killer Cook is one of my favorite go-to seasonings. From stir fry to grilled/smoked chicken wings, it is fantastic. My family is always running back for second helpings every time I make some stir fry with it.

Carbon steel pans are gaining traction here in the United States because it is lighter than cast iron but it retains heat almost as well. One of the appeals to me, asides from being lighter than cast iron, is that it heats up faster and cools down faster when you remove it from the burner on the stovetop.

Give this one a go, if you’d like, and comment with your thoughts!

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Beware of the Race for Followers on Instagram in the BBQ Community

Back in 2018, I was on fire for most of the year as I consistently posted my food photos, largely consisting of smoked meat, on Instagram. Then, as I was finishing my bachelor’s degree, life got busy. November 2018, my mother had a stroke. It wasn’t long after that I took a half-year hiatus. 2019 has been — to be unabashedly transparent — an absolute struggle. My aunt (my mother’s sister, who is like a second mother to me) experienced two extreme health events this year (a heart attack in March and, more recently, diverticulosis that led to an infection that caused sepsis). I took a complete break from all social media to assist in mitigating the ramifications of those tragic health events and attempt to take care of myself in the process.

In returning and leaving again (as it pertains to Instagram), I took notice of why I ever loved posting in the first place: the love of delicious grub and the desire to share it and the want to build genuine connections/friendships with other people who have similar interests. It is a community. The barbecue community.

After the first six months away, I was disheartened to find that many of my former followers had unfollowed me. I was perturbed and felt taken back, because while I had not warned any followers of a break from the ‘gram, I had posted about my mother having a stroke, so I was a little disheartened from losing many, but I can’t blame them for unfollowing, because as far as what they knew, I could have been done with Instagram forever, and they may have just wanted to prune who they are following when it comes to active vs. inactive accounts. Nonetheless, I’m not bitter about it.

I wrote in a post back over the summer about how there is a lot of selfishness embedded in the Instagram barbecue community. Many people will do whatever it takes in order to grow their follower count and expand their page. I appreciate those who do so organically, because that is what I’m trying to do; it is a slow grind, but more worthwhile, because you are doing it through the work of creating content and building relationships along the way vs. the snakes who buy followers and take shortcuts.

I can’t help but feel jaded at times when I see bogus accounts or whenever I receive a follow from a ‘big’ account that I know will unfollow a few days or a week later.

If you ever decide to delve deep into the cooking community on Instagram, I plead for you to do it for the right reasons. Sure, I think many people’s goals (I would be a sheep to say this isn’t mine) is to make a name for themselves and eventually earn some profit along the way, but taking a shortcut won’t lead to as much, because more people than you know recognize phonies. Yes, “there is a sucker born every minute,” but you can tell a jackass (donkey) from a stallion.

The title of this post is written that way, because creating content and watching your follower count increase is a trap. It can become an addiction. Sometimes you might see a spike because one post nets you a high multitude of followers, but then a few posts later you might experience a plateau with little growth, and that should never dissuade you, because your content will be found over a period of time as you grow your page. Patience and persistence, my friends.

Back to the Stick Burner for BBQ: Humble Beginnings and a Labor of Love

As I’ve referenced a few times on this site, the first smoker I ever used — the one I learned how to barbecue with — was an vertical Brinkmann Trailmaster offset smoker. It was adopted by myself, as the folks who were kind enough to give it to me had moved on to a horizontal style offset pit while this one was sitting out, experiencing the effects of weathering and the lack of use. It was a tough one to use, because anyone who has ever cooked grub in an offset smoker understands that you must tend to the fire virtually at all times, making sure that your pit isn’t oversmoking with billowing white smoke, chasing the thin, blue smoke perfection of proper cooking that won’t result in your food tasting like bitter, creosote-laden meats.

Nowadays, so many people have switched over to electric smokers or pellet grills, which are as close to set it’n’forget it as one can be, and I can understand why: less hassle. With an electric smoker, you use a smoker tube filled with wood chips to achieve a light smoke flavor. With a pellet grill, you use.. well.. pellets. I’m embarrassed to say this, but I’ve never tasted any food that has been cooked on a pellet grill, despite my curiosity, but I’ve read countless posts on both Instagram and BBQ-dedicated forums where users express a lack of smoke in their grub as it pertains to food made on pellet grills. I can’t speak to that, though, due to my tastebud’s devastating void when it comes to tasting meat smoked on a pellet grill. However, pellet grills must be doing something right, given the popularity of brands like Traeger (which has a huge social following, as the brand appears to pump a ton of money into its marketing endeavors by anointing a myriad of Traeger users as ‘brand ambassadors’), REC TEC, Green Mountain Grills, Pit Boss, etc. I have spent a great deal of time debating on whether or not to save my money for a future pellet grill purchase, but if the rumors are true in regards to the food from them only featuring a light smoke flavor, I’m conflicted as I am a man who enjoys the taste of heavy smoke-infused meats when barbecue is on the brain.

You would think that with the popularity of pellet grills, stick burners would fall to the wayside, but stick burners will never exit the spotlight when it comes to barbecue, because it is tried and true barbecue. It is a labor of love tha hardcore barbecue fanatics delve into, not in an elitist way that denounces the efficacy of other smokers, but because it is a classic, proven method to — when done right — produce incredible barbecue. While there are detractors of pellet grills out there who call ’em ‘pellet poopers’ or ‘outdoor easy bake ovens with a weak hint of wood smoke,’ stick burner faithfuls are in the game due to their love of traditional barbecue, and I don’t fault anybody for that.

The only reason I stopped using my Brinkmann Trailmaster is because it rusted so badly that holes were formed. I’m not a welder, and I might as well be the least craftiest man on the planet, so that ended my run with it. I subsequently bought a 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain and eventually purchased my Barrel House Cookers, all the while occasionally barbecuing with my Weber kettle, but I never spent a day without missing my stick burner.

Yesterday, I added a new member of my grill/smoker family. A long-time family friend upgraded to an electric smoker long ago, and he had placed his old horizontal offset stick burner in his garage. It was wasting away, as it was being unused, and for him (as he stated) it was in the way, and he offered it to me. I could only utter an emphatic, “YES.”

After impatiently waiting, he delivered it. It had rust on it, and the grates were filthy, but I fired it up with some cheap Kingsford match light charcoal and some wood I had lying around, to see how it would run, with the intake and damper vents wide open, and it reached 700 degrees. I tossed the grates into the scorching hot fire that I built in my fire pit before scrubbing them down and ensuingly rubbing them with cooking oil. The additional reason I fired the pit up to 700 degrees, asides from seeing how it would run, was to sanitize the inside of the cooker. It leaked smoke from the lid, but that’s alright. I’ll roll with it that way for a while, but eventually I will invest in a gasket kit to line the lid to prevent smoke from leaking so heavily. After the fire cooled and I removed some ash, I used a can of Rustoleum to rid the smoker of the rust that had been built up.

It’s all ready for its first Grizzly BBQ smoke session, which I plan on throwing down some ribs soon enough. As for bigger cuts like pork butts and brisket, I’ll stick with my WSM and Barrel House Cookers for the time being, but I can’t wait to finally get back to tasting the amazing flavor that a stick burner provides, starting with the ribs, and then I’ll move onto other favorites like chicken wings and thighs, as well as bacon-wrapped cheese stuffed jalapenos (or, er, poppers).

Are you a stick burner fan, or do you find that tending to the fire is tedious and aggravating, preferring the set it’n’forget it route? Let me know in the comments!

Are Premium (Jealous Devil, FOGO, Primo, etc.) Charcoal Brands Worth Buying?

Before I delved deep into grilling or any kind of barbecue, I genuinely thought that Kingsford was the charcoal out there that everyone used. I never heard of barbecue competitions, if I’m being completely honest, and entering the world of barbecue flipped my entire paradigm upside down as I gained this new hobby that turned into a full-blown passion backed by the enjoyment of throwing down grub that will be enjoyed by those I’m feeding.

The first time I ever grilled on my own, it was on a cheap 17.5″ Backyard Grill charcoal grill that was purchased at Wal-Mart. I used Royal Oak, that was purchased by someone else — the same person who was teaching me how to grill. Up until that point, nobody had taught me how to properly grill; growing up, my mom would use an old charcoal grill and line the top with foil for easy clean-up and to avoid flare-ups. My aunt, who lived within a minute down the road, would often cook family meals and she used a gas grill, even though we all preferred the flavor that charcoal imparts onto meats.

When the person who was teaching me how to grill explained Royal Oak to me, they said, “This is a serviceable charcoal, but Kingsford is the best.”

I got into barbecuing a few months later when I received my first smoker, which was a used offset vertical Brinkmann Trailmaster stick burner. It was great — now, when I say ‘great’, I mean that it got the job done, and being a stick burner, one eating the grub from it would enjoy the best barbecue the world has to offer from the most classically done ‘Q. However, it was a pain in the ass to manage the temps, because you had to continuously babysit the fire by adding more wood periodically, and as stated, it was used… it was several years old by that point, had experienced rust from being outside in rainy and humid weather conditions, and it didn’t seal well so there was a lot of leaky smoke. It eventually rusted to the point of holes being accrued, rendering it unusable, but I miss the heck out of using it, since it was my first smoker and created the barbecue that I first knew of: flavors imparted from logs of wood via an awesome stick burner. I learned how delicious barbecue is a labor of love.

Enough of that story, however. I used Kingsford to start my fire, in a bed of briquettes, before layering it with some genuine southern cherrywood.

2017 was the year I got into the barbecue community on Instagram, and it was the same year I started using my 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, which is a ‘water’ smoker featuring a water pan that runs on charcoal briquettes (you can use lump, too, with no issue) and wood chunks.

During that time, I noticed a lot of people in the barbecue community on IG talking about all these ‘foreign’ charcoal brands. I say ‘foreign’ because they were all ‘foreign’ to me. Jealous Devil… FOGO… Primo… there are other brands I’m forgetting, so you will have to forgive me here. This are much smaller companies than, say, Kingsford or Royal Oak or even Stubb’s, and one can say they are ‘niche’ products because the averae griller or barbecuer is unlikely to know of such brands, unless they hang out on social media within the community and follow some of the ‘bigger’ names in the said community who often write about them.

I remember the first time I heard of one of these brands. I believe it was Jealous Devil all natural lump charcoal. One of the big names in the Instagram barbecue community posted about it, and she said she was using it for a barbecue competition, stating that she was using a Weber Smokey Mountain. I was intrigued and read the comments from other Instagrammers who wrote about how good Jealous Devil charcoal is. I remember checking out the price and my mouth dropped. I was used to finding incredible deals on Kingsford and Royal Oak around the major grilling holidays (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day…) for cheap prices (I’m talking 40 or so lbs. for around $10), and then I see Jealous Devil all natural lump charcoal’s price… $33.95 for a bag on Amazon.

It was daunting to see that price for charcoal at first. I mean, I would rather spend that type of money on a brisket, but curiosity grabbed hold of me, and I had to check to see what the fuss is about, so guess what? I ordered a bag. The shipping was super fast and I couldn’t wait to get it.

Before I continue, let me mention something about Kingsford and Royal Oak. As far as Kingsford goes, I can’t believe how many detractors it has on social media. There are so many people who claim they despise the smell of it, describing it as acrid, disgusting and ‘chemical.’ I disagree with all of them, and perhaps my olfactory senses are ‘ignorant’, but I’ve never found that to be the case with trusty ol’ Kingsford blue. As far as Royal Oak goes, it is more known for its lump charcoal than its briquettes, but the knock on it is that, for one, people knock it for having small pieces in the bag, and for two, I’ve read stories of people finding weird items in there, from rocks to nails to barbed wire to concrete chunks to whatever else; I’ve heard similar stories about Cowboy lump charcoal. I have never had these issues with either Royal Oak nor Cowboy, but they are alarming to hear about.

Anywho, I received my bag of Jealous Devil all natural lump charcoal and was pleased to see the consistency with the size of the lump coals. They were pretty much all uniform in size, unlike Royal Oak or Cowboy, with next to no ‘tiny’ pieces. I fired it up for a cook in my Barrel House Cooker 14D, vents wide open, and hung a whole chicken in there. It turned out delicious. The next day, I smoked a few racks of ribs in my Weber Smokey Mountain, using the Jealous Devil all natural lump charcoal, and again, delicious… with the ribs, it held temperature perfectly, but then again, I was using my WSM, which always holds temps better than virtually anything else.

But was it worth the price?

To me? A backyard barbecue guy with business aspirations that have not come to fruition yet?

No.

I’m glad my curiosity influenced me to give it a shot, but as I’ve stated above, after several hundreds of cooks and becoming a lite barbecue veteran, I have never had any issues with Kingsford, Royal Oak, Stubb’s or Cowboy, which are much cheaper brands. As far as Royal Oak and Cowboy lump are concerned, respectively, I’ve never found any weird items in there, and I don’t really mind the small pieces, because if you really want to combat the small pieces from falling throw the cracks of the charcoal grate, you can lay it on a small bed of briquettes.

I can’t consistently afford Jealous Devil, FOGO or Primo charcoal. I mean, I guess I could, but consider how often I’m grilling and barbecuing, it would be a big time money sink for me, personally, if that would be all I use, because instead of putting that same money towards delicious meats, I’d be sinking more of it into charcoal. However, I will say this: if you have disposable income that lends itself towards justifying that kind of spending towards such brands, that is wonderful, but the taste in the food when using such premium brands vs. Kingsford, Royal Oak, Stubb’s, Cowboy, etc. is negligible to me.

I think using such premium brands are worth it if you are entering barbecue competitions, however. Reliable, big chunks of lump that will burn clean & consistently and not impart any ‘chemical’ flavors is something you want on your side in a competitive cook, but for frequent grilling and barbecuing? If you can afford it, go for it, but don’t turn into one of those types of people that wants to “keep up with the Joneses” and use it because it is popular in the niche barbecue community on social media. Use it if you like it and can consistently afford it, because while I have tried FOGO and the others, Jealous Devil is awesome, but I can’t justify using it exclusively as far as my allotted budget is concerned.

Brands like Kingsford, Royal Oak, Stubb’s and Cowboy have never once failed me up to this point, so I’ll be vanilla and stick with them, although I may return to Jealous Devil this fall when I enter another barbecue competition that is coming up.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comment section. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Secret to Making the Best Hot Dogs You Will Have Ever Had in Your Life


I grew up eating hot dogs and hamburgers like crazy during the summer. My dad was quite the chef, but he was always working as the owner of his mining parts company and never grilled. My aunt, who lived down the road from us, was always doing the grilling for the family, whether it was done so on a little charcoal grill or on her gas grill.

These hot dogs, on the Blackstone Griddle, changed my entire worldview of hot dogs. Give them a try and you’ll see. Quoting a line from the movie ‘Limitless’, “I was blind, but now I see.”

Laugh all you want, but you are getting a recipe + instruction guide for these hot dogs, whether or not you already see them as a simple cook for an otherwise throwaway dinner.

Recipe
Nathan’s skinless beef franks (you can use the cheapest hot dogs out there, and they’ll still be serviceable, but use quality ‘dogs for a mindblowing flavorgasm for your tastebuds).
— Olive oil
— Granulated garlic
— Black pepper
— Buns
— Your favorite toppings

Instructions
I used my 17″ Tabletop Blackstone Griddle for this cook, setting the heat to medium/medium-low.
— Once the flat top griddle surface was hot with a thin coating of olive oil, I added the hot dogs
— Using a little squirt bottle full of olive oil, I coated the top of the hot dogs with olive oil and sprinkled the granulated garlic and black pepper on top of them
— Moments later, I rolled the hot dogs over and added another layer of granulated garlic and black pepper to them
— Keep turning your hot dogs every 35-40 seconds
— Finish them to the doneness of your liking. I like for my hot dogs to be browned up, but some people like them lightly cooked or even burned. Cook them how you like them.
— Remove and enjoy in a bun with your favorite toppings

Toasted buns are a must

Please give this a try. It’s simple: olive oil, granulated garlic and black pepper. Just a couple of changes transforms a hot dog from being an ordinary ‘dog to being the best damn hot dog you will have ever eaten in your entire life.

The first time I made hot dogs like this, I made my personal homemade chili recipe, which I will share in the near future. It blew my mind as to how good they were. I had never eaten such a delicious hot dog before in my entire life. Before, they were just hot dogs; now, they are “hot damn!” dogs.

If you give hot dogs a shot this way, let me know what you think. I guess you could do the same on a charcoal, gas or pellet grill, but remember: olive oil, granulated garlic and black pepper. Shout out to America’s Griddler, Todd Toven, for this exceptional idea. I doubt I will ever make hot dogs any other way for the rest of my life, but then again, I’m always down to try new things when it comes to going on a flavor journey.