Outside of a top notch thermometer, invest in a Weber charcoal chimney.
A lot of people who switch to gas grilling say that one of the reasons why is because charcoal takes too darn long to heat up, and they don’t feel like investing so much time in the evening to lighting and waiting on charcoal to be ready.
Well, the charcoal chimney takes a 35-40 minute wait into a 10-15 minute wait.
I like to use old newspapers or old charcoal bag fodder to start my fires, but a lot of people don’t, because it does produce a ton of ash. Have no fear, because there’s another alternative that doesn’t produce ash:
I don’t know about your part of the country, but here in southwest Virginia, at Walmart you can get a pack of the Weber lighter cubes for $3. They are down from the original price of $3.92. I keep these around, because they kick ass. They are probably the best way to start your charcoal. Simply place two on your charcoal grate, light them up, place your charcoal chimney full of coals on top and they’ll ignite.
Don’t bother with any other brand for a charcoal chimney. The Weber one is the best. I’ve read negative reviews about the other one not having sufficient airflow or they’ll fall apart. This Weber charcoal chimney is damn sturdy. As the saying goes, “buy the best and only cry once”.
I might sound like I’m thumping the Weber company name, but really, they are a top notch grilling company. The customer service is fantastic, and I personally stand by their products. Like I said in a previous post, I only endorse what I believe in. If I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t endorse it! And no, I’m not getting paid to shout the company name! Believe me, I’d love to, but that isn’t the case.
The reason the Weber charcoal chimney is so damn efficient is due to the holes in the side that allow a maximum amount of oxygen to come through and feed the fire. Be sure to wear gloves and maybe some eye protection when you use the chimney. I didn’t use any gloves during my Father’s Day cook, but the handle was pretty damn hot. I did wear sunglasses, however, because I didn’t want ashes flying up into my eyes. Also, title the chimney sideways when you pour out the hot coals; you don’t want to turn it straight over, in front of you, or else the fire could come back up and be in your face.
Ryan Lindquist has taken over 25 years of experience to develop his own signature products. His mission is to spread his product’s flavors to as many people as possible and to know that his products will put smiles on people’s faces. He believes that good food bring people together. I agree with that. To buy Ryan’s sauces, visit his website: Sauces n Such by Ryan.
Asides from the fact that I’m a.. a.. “foodie”.. (Damn, I hate that made-up word, but I do love food and experimenting with ingredients and trying new things) there’s another reason I wanted to give Ryan Lindquist’s products a chance. Recently I posted three sauces I’d purchased from Buffalo Wild Wings (mango habanero, spicy garlic and hot BBQ) and, although I love their wing sauces, I thought about how I’d rather spend money with small businesses, given that I enjoy the product (of course). I’ve done so in the past with Lucky Dog hot sauce (I still need to review their sauce) and Pex Peppers.
Ryan has four sauces available (bolded are the ones I have): Scorpion Juice, Sweet Venom Hot Sauce, Wild West BBQ Sauce and 757 steak sauce. I don’t particularly care for sauce with my steak, as I just like the flavor of the meat with a pat of butter, although I’d be open to trying his steak sauce one of these days. My package of sauces also came with a bit of his homemade “12 finger rub” that I ended up trying out on some steak.
I have yet to try the barbecue sauce. I’m waiting until I get a chance to smoke some baby back ribs that I have in my freezer. Those smoked baby backs will be a prime chance to try out that ‘Q sauce!
Upon bringing my package home and alerting Ryan on Facebook that I’d received them in good condition, it was about 2 or so in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. The chicken thighs that I’d grilled a day or two prior were still in the fridge; I had two remaining, along with three pork chops. I immediately throw the meats in the oven on 400 and waited impatiently.
The first sauce I tried is easily my favorite: Scorpion Juice. My mouth is watering just thinking about it right now.
I was afraid that the citrus evident in the sauce would be overwhelming. I was wrong. I dipped a piece of pork chop in the saucy mixture in my paper plate and it was love at first bite. Maybe I was biased, since I was hungry and my tastebuds were pining for stimulation, but I couldn’t believe how full of flavor this sauce, Scorpion Juice, is. The citrus is not overwhelming at all. To my tastebuds, it’s actually in the background of the sauce, and the spice — labelled medium — is evident but it doesn’t overtake the flavor of the sauce itself. There are far too many hot sauces out there with heat that overpowers the flavor of the actual sauce and it becomes too dark. Scorpion Juice does not fall prey to that happening.
Scorpion Juice is a full flavored sauce. When my chicken was sufficiently hot, it was just as good with the Scorpion Juice as the pork chops were. It’s a “full bodied” hot sauce, I’d describe it, because it’s more than just one flavor. It’s an amalgamation of experience in your mouth. I love it. It’s already one of my favorite sauces and I can’t wait to use it on a leftover grilled chicken breast today.
On the other side of the paper plate, I drizzled some of Ryan’s Sweet Venom Hot sauce.
Sweet Venom is damn good, too. Expectedly, it’s hotter than the Scorpion Juice, but it’s not too hot to the point you want to chug ranch dressing. It’s hot to the point of, at least for me (take into consideration that I love spicy food and used to eat habanero peppers like grapes until they began affecting my stomach), where it makes its presence known as your tastebuds as though it’s saying, “Hey, I’m here, but I still pack flavor!”
To my palate, Sweet Venom delivers a mildly dark (I don’t like sauces ‘too dark’), comfortably tangy taste. I need to try it again, but by itself, with my food, because I believe the Scorpion Juice is stronger in flavor than the Sweet Venom, and eating them next to one another may have masked its flavor. Regardless, it is fantastic as well albeit the Scorpion Juice is still my favorite sauce between the two. I can’t wait to smoke some bologna again and make a sandwich featuring the Sweet Venom hot sauce on it. That will be the bomb. And if you’ve never had smoke bologna before, shame on you, because it’s an absolute revelation.
Dinner was a late decision. It was supposed to storm in the evening, but as I checked the weather report, it had changed to the night, so I defrosted the thin ribeyes that my little lady had purchased a month or so ago as well as two chicken breasts and some potatoes, and soon enough the grill was fired up.
After the ribeyes defrosted (since they were thin, they didn’t take long), I applied a good bit of Ryan’s “12 Finger Rub” to them. I didn’t apply the rub to the chicken breasts; I used Weber’s “Kick’N Chicken” seasoning. I simple hit the potatoes with some salt and pepper.
I typically use Kingsford blue, but for this cook I used Royal Oak briquettes. They started much faster than Kingsford and burned hot, but it seems that they lost heat a lot faster despite filling my STOK drum grill basket just about to the top. I was hoping to get the temps to about 550-600 degrees to give the steaks a darker crust, but that’s OK. Next time I’m going to use lump when I grill steaks.
The 12 Finger Rub is pretty good. On steaks, it isn’t my favorite. I should have used it on the chicken as well, but I have enough left to use it on chicken, pork chops and other items next time. It had a nice profile to it, and as I chewed my steak it mixed in pretty well with the flavors of the meat. I could taste a variety of the “zings” it presented itself with.
I’ve also tried the Scorpion Juice with grilled burgers and hotdogs. Terrific on both!
I’m not a number rating kind of guy. Sometimes I am, but numbers, even on a 1-10 scale rating system, are completely arbitrary and only the user rating them can truly comprehend the meaning, method and motivation behind why they score something the way they do.
I will just say this: the sauces are damn good. No, they are great. The Scorpion Juice is easily my favorite, but that’s not to say the Sweet Venom isn’t up there as well! It’s just that the Scorpion Juice is out of this world fantastic. I still need to try the barbecue sauce, which I will, and I’ll update this post when I do, and I need to give the 12 Finger Rub another go on different meats. With that said, this has been a fantastic experience and I recommend those of you visiting and reading to check out his sauces and give them a whirl. I can tell his a grinder and stands on the hustle’n’grind daily with his sauces. He’s up late and back up early in the morning doing what he can to spread the word out about his sauces. He is not a charlatan pimping out weak products. These products are damn good, hand crafted and well worth checking out.
Full disclosure: I have no vested monetary interest in these products in regards to financial gain. Ryan contacted me a week or two ago about trying out his sauces and I finally decided to give them a shot. This post was written objectively and within the realm of my own, personal experiences that do not reflect the experiences of anybody else but my own. I’m simply a food, spice and hot sauce connoisseur that doesn’t mind supporting a small business if I believe in its products. I believe in Ryan’s, hence my free endorsement of Sauces n Such.
On Monday evening, a few hours before game 5 of the NBA Finals, I had chicken thighs and pork chops thawed out from the freezer and ready to add to a hot grill! I used my STOK drum grill.
For the chicken thighs, I seasoned ’em up with Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. I get mine for a $1 at a local Roses. I reckon any kind of Cajun seasoning will work. I love the flavor of Tony Chachere’s Creole on meats (works phenomenally well on smoked bologna). I cooked the thighs on indirect heat for roughly 25 minutes before I crisped them up really nicely.
For the pork chops, I used Weber’s roasted garlic & herb seasoning for the first time. My girlfriend’s family generously got me a horde of Weber seasonings for Christmas and I figured I’d give this one a go for the first time. What a success! Everybody loved them, thankfully, and they had a real nice crust on ’em, full of flavor with each bite!
When I first received my Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, I posted about it on a page on Facebook, excitedly writing about my enthusiasm for my first smoke on the ol’ “WSM”. A few comments were from people saying to season it to “get remove any of the manufacturing materials inside”.
Every day or so, I see people on the same Weber Smokey Mountain page asking about what food to use to season the smoker with, and there are guys and gals wasting a chimney or two of charcoal to season their new smoker. I even saw one guy asking what food to season his smoker with, and that he’s only going to throw the food away when it’s done. What a waste of food and a time smoking!
My first smoke on my Weber Smokey Mountain was two racks of baby back ribs (pork loin back ribs), a bacon-wrapped pork loin, a medium sized tube of bologna and a family pack of chicken thighs. That is how you season a Weber Smokey Mountain for the first time. Each and every bit of the food was consumed rather than thrown out and wasted.
Oh, and the manufacture residue? It’s going to be burned off and replaced with grease during your first cook, anyhow.
Bottom line: The idea that you have to run a quick smoke session with charcoal to “season” you or “burn off the manufacture residue” of your Weber Smokey Mountain cooker is complete hearsay and a myth. If you want to, then by all means do it, but at least eat the food you ‘season’ it with or accept that you are wasting charcoal if you are running a load without food.
There is no reason to season. Repeat after me: “with my new Weber Smokey Mountain, there is no reason to season”. You’ll develop a natural seasoning in your smoker over time… y’know, by smoking food that you will eat and not wasting charcoal.
I finally grilled some chicken wings on my STOK Drum grill!
I only used salt, pepper and baking powder (recommendation by Meathead) since any seasoning would have been lost in the taste of sauce.
They were phenomenal. Both my girlfriend and I like our wings overly well done to the point of being very crispy. Yes, they are better deep fried, absolutely, but I love that grilled flavor. Not showed in this picture is Buffalo Wild Wings’ hot BBQ sauce, but that sauce tasted the best with these wings!