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FirstGrill 2018: The Event

Five different meats, 30+ guests, 30 minutes of grilling!!!

The annual FirstGrill gathering gives us a chance to test out new gear (sous vide immersion cookers, ice tea maker, new BBQ sauces, etc) and offerings from local butchers.

This year we had around 30 guests, but the time at the grills was under 30 minutes!

Not bad for cooking up all the steak tips, London broil, boneless pork ribs, and chicken breasts 🙂 Of course, the well-known “secret” is sous-viding everything ahead of time and flash-grilling it after the guests arrive.

The Prep

Our friends at Heinz, like in past years, supplied the BBQ sauces and this year we used two of crowd favorites— Kansas City and Classic Sweet & Thick.

To flavor the London Broil and steak tips, we used The Spice Lab’s Classic Steakhouse dry rub.

Three different souv vide immersion cookers (two shown) were used for the event: Anova, Sansaire, and Chefman. The Chefman was the new kid on the block, but it pulled its weight just like the other two.

We’ll have a complete FirstUse write-up on it later in the season.

We called on the Capresso Iced Tea Maker—yeah, there is such a thing—to make the blood orange iced tea. The thing actually makes hot brewed ice tea that is cold by the time it is finished. How? The brewed hot liquid is dripped onto just the right amount of ice in the pitcher. It is genius, really.

For the actual grilling, we had two grills available: a regular gas grill (black round) and infrared grill (stainless square). Both were used to “finish” the sous-vided meats before serving.

All of the meats (London Broil, steak tips, boneless pork ribs, chicken breasts) were sous-vided before grilling. This step saves us an amazing amount of actual at-grill time, and it’s the only way we grill now.

The Mustard Brats

The only items which were not pre-cooked were the mustard brats brought by one of the guests. Angelika has a local butcher in Somerville that she goes to all the time to get scraps for her dog. Apparently, this butcher also makes awesome food for humans.

Those who were hovering around the grills got a taste of the mustard brats … and they were delicious!!! Unfortunately (he-he) none of them made it to the main serving table, and barely got off the grill before consumption. We don’t know the secret to tasty mustard brats, but it may have to do with the abundance of mustard seeds 🙂

Sous-vided Chicken Breasts

BBQ chicken breast had never been a favorite item for grill because one) the take a long time, two) can be problematic if undercooked, and three) are really terrible if overcooked. However, we made PERFECT chicken breasts with little effort and almost no time on the grill, like this:

  • Chicken breasts flavored with dry-rub spices and fresh ginger
  • Sous-vided for 2 hours at 140Âş
  • Finished on an 800Âş infrared grill, about 2 minutes on each side
  • Served

We only had to spend a few minutes finishing them on the grill, and the actual sous-vide part of the cooking only required us to hear the timer beeping when the two hours were up. If we didn’t use the sous-vide method of cooking, it would be impossible to grill for 30 people with two grills in 30 minutes!

Pre-marinating the chicken is not necessary, since the sous-vide process provides that. This step alone cuts down prep time tremendously. We found that with sous-vide, dry-rub—not BBQ sauce—flavors the meats better, as it does not introduce extra liquid and the taste really penetrates into the meat. We add BBQ sauce when we grill the pieces at the end.

Finishing on a grill is a quick but necessary step as it adds both that grilled flavor and that grilled look (which is a lot more appetizing). Grilling is also the step for brushing on the BBQ sauces.

It is safe to say that skinless chicken breast is one of the hardest meat to get right regardless of cooking methods. With sous-vide, success is certain, and the technique saves both time and effort. Sous-vided chicken ready to serve after 4 minutes of total grilling—what more could we ask for?

We can’t think of any other way to grill a thick cut of chicken breast all the way through and and yet be juicy “edge to edge.”

We all were so excited about how the food came out that we completely forgot to take a group photo 🙂 Guess we’ll have to come up with another reason to do another grill party.

Work, work, work 🙂

Other gears used in this year’s FirstGrill :

Links to items mentioned:

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