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Grill Cover Experts & The Grill Expert: Interview with Gary House

Everyone at Empire loves to grill, especially in the cooler months. We’re always on the lookout for new grilling techniques, so we decided to ask an expert about the ins and outs of outdoor cooking. We talked to Gary House from Cooking Outdoors about plank cooking, the best kind of grill to buy, and making dessert on the grill.

Gary House from Cooking Outdoors

Tell us a little bit about the variety of ways to grill- for example, plank cooking, fire pit cooking, etc. Which unconventional method is your favorite?

When most people think of grilling, it’s the common burgers and dogs with maybe a steak thrown in from time to time. Grilling should be as epicuriously vast as cooking with all of your basic home appliances, just manipulated to work within the boundries of your grill.

Grilling principals must include sauteing, frying, brazing, baking, smoking and combination techniques of wet and dry cooking. I can’t imagine grilling without having several of these techniques in use. If you can cook a complete meal in the house then I assure you you can do the same outdoors on the grill.

My favorite grilling techniques include plank cooking, stone cooking (I use the Island Grillstone), cast iron and baking.

Grilled Pineapple, Cooking Outdoors Recipe

What grilling recipe is your absolute favorite?

Well, this is where you would probably expect something amazingly exotic but I have a love affair with a Western Bacon Cheeseburger. Just can’t stop grilling those! I do take it a few steps further than most by grilling my own onion rings and cooking the burger on a hamburger wood plank.

Grilled Ribs and Boneless Chicken Breast

What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve made on the grill?

My first “ah ha” grill moment was baking a mixed berry crisp on the grill. That truely changed the way I looked at grilling. Desserts, breads, breakfast are all amazing when grilled.

Dutch Oven Cooking

What are some of the best grilling recipes for Autumn?

If you look at the grill as more than grates over fire to grill with, then you should be looking at comfort food. Soups, stews, casseroles, roasts and holiday recipes. I use cast iron a lot when grilling. For Thanksgiving I’ll have a Turkey smoking and several Dutch oven going with all of the goodies. Potatoes, yams, green bean casserole, stuffing, apple pie, etc.

 What are some basics to remember when cooking on a grill?

Pre-heat, pre-heat and pre-heat, the number one mistake people make. High on the list also isgrilling with the heat too high and using the wrong fuels to grill with.

With propane you need to start the grill 20 minutes before you want to cook. Your not just heating the space up, your heating those grates as well. If you cook with charcoal, use lump charcoal or natural briquets to grill with. If you want smoke added then use chips for a short cook and wood chunks for a longer cook over an hour. Practice…

What make/model of grill do you use? What grills do you recommend for a first time griller?

Well, I have 13 grills and over 20 pieces of cast iron that I use plus dozens of patio accessories so it’s kind of difficult to say.

I have sold grills for years and the number one mistake people make is to buy bells and whistles. Yea, infared is cool and six burners sound better than three, led lights are impressive but what good is all of that when your just learning to cook outdoors? Be practical and choose your first grill with function in mind.

You have to decide on convience (gas) or flavor (charcoal), size (the bigger the grill, the more fuel you use). I used to tell my customers to grab one end of the grill and give it a shake, you can tell a well built grill from just that little bit of effort. Check the warranty, where it’s made will give you some clues to quality.

I read awhile back that 70% of grill buyers purchase grills with side burners yet only 2 % of them use it. Keep that in mind as well, those side burners can set you back $100 easy, that can be an expensive shelf.

One last thought on grills, they are making combo grills these days that offer both charcoal and gas grill boxes on the same unit. Great way to have variety without wasting patio space.

What are some recipes that are commonly cooked in/on the stove that could easily be prepared on the grill?

There is nothing that can’t be cooked outdoors on a grill. With the right tools and techniques you can do it all. Stir Fry, sauces, simmer, poach, fry, saute’, bake, roast and on and on…

What recipes taste the best on the grill?

Is this a trick question? Everything taste better cooked outdoors!

Visit Gary’s blog at Cooking-Outdoors.com. 

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