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How do you experiment?

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Post Fri May 08, 2009 9:53 am
Info@Workman Site Admin
Site Admin

Posts: 590

With the weekend coming up (and hopefully some nice grilling weather!) I was wondering, how do you experiment?

Are you inspired by what's on sale at the grocery store? A new type of wood? A vacation, or a trip to a restaurant? What's the most unexpected source of inspiration you've found?

Also, any advice for grillers trying to go outside their comfort zone?
Last edited by Info@Workman on Fri May 08, 2009 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

Post Fri May 08, 2009 9:59 am
tpizel medium-well

Posts: 249
Location: Rochester, MN
All of the above!

But my main sources of trying something new lately come from three sources:

1.) I got 4 new BBQ books for the holidays. Open one up, and find something that looks good.

2.) See something on this website that looks/sounds good, that I've never done before.

3.) My neighbor down the block - he's one of those guys who, when his wife is away (or even when she IS home) will bluntly say something along the order of, "You grillin tonight? 'Cause I was thinking...maybe I could help you make sure there's no left overs." he also says "Hey, I was thinkin..maybe we should try this...." So we do....
Weber Kettle
Kingsford Charcoal Grill
Big Baby Homemade Smoker (under construction!)

Post Fri May 08, 2009 12:10 pm
Kenny 13 well done
well done

Posts: 4051
Location: Belle Chasse, LA
This forum is great for getting new ideas to experiment with. I'll read something here and think "that sounds great", but after awhile I'll usually also start thinking "I bet it would also be good if I..."

Books help too. I usually try to go by a recipe the first time, then after knowing how it was supposed to taste I'll start getting creative and putting my own touch on it. Of course, lots of times there is no reason to change things at all.

BTW, this is a great topic and I'm really interested in seeing what others have to say.
Large Big Green Egg

What's On The Grill?

Post Sat May 09, 2009 8:52 am
QJuju well done
well done

Posts: 1976
Location: La Grange, Kentucky

I decide what sounds good. If I want one of my tried and true recipes I do that. If I want something different I decide between Beef, Pork, Chicken, of seafood. Then I usually look around the forum or thumb through one of Stevens books and try to find the inspiration for what I want to cook. The forum is a great place to start. I haven't made everything I wanted to try yet. :lol:

Post Sat May 09, 2009 3:55 pm
ScreamingChicken BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 8648
Location: Stoughton, WI
While reading this thread I'm watching an America's Test Kitchen segment about salting meat. I just happened to pick up a couple of sirloin tip steaks at the store this morning so I'm going to give ATK's 18-hour salting technique a try and grill them tomorrow night.


Post Thu May 14, 2009 3:46 am
kmvet72 well done
well done

Posts: 409
Location: Palm Beach Gardens FL
Travel, I travel a lot for both work, and fun. I always try to make friends with a local, and if at all possible get invited home for dinner. You can learn more about a place from a simple home cooked meal, than you can from the five star restaurant in town. I have been lucky enough to eat in homes all over the world, from shacks in South, and Central America, to mansions in Europe, and lot's of places in between. When ever I get the chance to eat in some ones home while traveling I savor every bite, and use it as inspiration in my own kitchen when I get home.


Tastes Like Chicken :)

Post Thu May 14, 2009 12:07 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

I usually start by looking at what I have in the freezer and then checking out my cookbook library or this website for any ideas that might work with whatever spices and other ingredients I might have on hand. The pics here also help a lot. :D

Other times I'll be looking at a post here and I'll think "maybe if I did this.... or this...." and eventually I'll come up with an idea myself. A lot of Steven's newsletters give me that kind of inspiration, too.

One thing I'll often do is cook a number of different recipes at once. I've got a CharGriller Outlaw so this means I've got quite a bit of cooking space. Often I'll fill that space with a couple chicken recipes, 4 or 5 different kinds of ribs, and maybe a pork shoulder or chuck roast. That way if I've got a new supply of some kind of smoking wood I get to try several recipes at once. Cooking several different rib recipes on a rib rack also gives me a better idea of what works well, and what doesn't.

My advice for folks wanting to go outside their comfort zone? Don't be afraid to try something new. Grilling may be a bit of a challenge, but indirect cooking and smokings are both very forgiving cooking techniques. And don't be discouraged if something doesn't work out the first time, but don't get too wrapped up in the details of your grill or smoker, either. In the end, the rig you're cooking on doesn't matter nearly as much as the food you're creating. :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Thu May 14, 2009 2:32 pm
Adayoff2Q medium

Posts: 155
Location: Fishers, Indiana
First off, a great post!

One of my ways to experiments is sort of inspired by the Food Network's show Chopped - I will either choose a few ingredients that I have at home or have my wife will set out 4 or 5 various ingredients that normally wouldn't work together - the results are usually great.

Also, I rarely go out to dinner anymore, so I just try to recreate restaurant-inspired dishes that I have ordered and enjoyed in the past. This usually requires a little bit of research, but it is well worth it.

I am not sure if many of you keep a food journal, but this is something that I starting doing a few years ago. It is more than just recipes, in that I also try and include the occasion, who was invited, and maybe any incidents/monets that were associated with the meal. At first I was a little standoffish about the idea, but if many of you have not tried this, it is well worth it.[/u]
I Grill Therefore I Am - Socrates

22.5 in. Weber X 2
Weber Smokey Joe
Kenmore Elite Gasser

Post Fri May 15, 2009 4:26 pm
Info@Workman Site Admin
Site Admin

Posts: 590

In the end, the rig you're cooking on doesn't matter nearly as much as the food you're creating.

Good point, and something that's important for newbies to remember (and that I try to keep in mind) when drooling over photos of the amazing gear folks on here have!

So much great advice on here! kmvet72, your travel strategy definitely requires going out of your comfort zone, but with a big (delicious) payoff! You certainly don't have to be Anthony Bourdain or Alton Brown (or Steven Raichlen :D ) to get into the kitchens of locals!

Post Fri May 22, 2009 4:42 am
kmvet72 well done
well done

Posts: 409
Location: Palm Beach Gardens FL
Info@Workman wrote:
kmvet72, your travel strategy definitely requires going out of your comfort zone, but with a big (delicious) payoff! You certainly don't have to be Anthony Bourdain or Alton Brown (or Steven Raichlen :D ) to get into the kitchens of locals!

Thanks. glad you enjoyed my idea. :D I have a few tips to make it a bit closer to the "comfort zone". This is probably more useful in South America, Central America, and Mexico, but it's also a good start before you go any where.

1. Respect the people and place you plan to visit. Spend a few hours learning about the history, culture, and government. You don't need to be a expert, but and afternoon on the internet will make your trip more rewarding.

2. Learn a few key phrases in the local language. At the least be able to say: (in order of importance) "I am sorry", (hope you don't need it) "I need help", "thank you","please", "Do you speak English?", "I do not understand", "Do you know some one who speaks some English", and "Excuse me". If you can, learn a few more.

3.Talk to the high school age kids. Many countries require a year or two of English, and the teenagers often enjoy getting to practice with a native speaker. In a lot of places the kids know that being your interpreter is a valuable service, so money, literally, talks. Don't be a cheapskate! On more than one trip my teenage interpreter/guide was the best money I spent. Ask to meet his/her family, Mom or Grandma probably know how to cook what you are looking to learn about. *DON"T DO THIS IF YOU ARE TRAVELING BY YOURSELF. I almost got arrested in Turkey, and spent about 7 hours of my day off explaining to the police that I just wanted a guide/interpreter. The kid told them as much, but I had to wait till the state department sent the Turkish police a statement that I have no criminal record (not a sex offender), my wife even got a call. The most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me :oops:

4. There are stupid questions, don't ask them. I was on a tour in Jamaica that went to the Walkers Wood Jerk factory. On the way back the bus was in traffic, and we passed a group of children in school uniforms. little kids from about 5-10 years old. The guide explained that each school had a uniform to help keep track of the kids, and a woman on the tour asked "do you have collages in Jamaica". :shock: Do not be that woman! It may be a culture you don;t know well, but don't ask a question that might be insulting.

5. Always keep in mind that you are the the face of the U.S.A. be polite, be nice, be humble, and do your best to make a good impression. You will make mistakes, that is why I rank "I'm sorry" as the most important phrase to learn.

:roll: On my soap box, U.S.citizens need to travel out of the country more often, and more widely. When you make a friend in another country it makes the world less black & white. You have another perspective of things, and IMHO makes you a better person. Off soap box.

BBQ is the oldest way of cooking, Food over fire. every culture has some form of it. So travel, learn, and enjoy.

Best to all


P.S. sorry that got a little long winded, hope at least some one finds it useful.


Tastes Like Chicken :)

Post Sat May 23, 2009 9:23 am
riggins44 medium

Posts: 139
Location: Yorktown, VA
Inspiration can come from most anywhere. Reading different books, this forum, food network, or wild hair. Even is see recipe on TV or in a book, will try to put a twist on it to make my own.

My wife and kids sometimes don't like for me to experiment with one of my tried and true recipes. For me it's trying to create interesting variations.

This weekend want to try and roast whole vidalia onions. Saw this done in an oven, so thought why not on the grill.

This thread reminded me of something an aunt once told me when asked her about cooking new things. She said, "I've eaten a lot of mistakes". :lol:

Post Wed May 27, 2009 9:10 pm
Happy Cooker well done
well done

Posts: 322
Location: Owatonna,Mn
I get ideas from everywhere. Some I make up on the spot.Some from newspapers. I subscribe to America's Test Kitchens magazines. Some times I get them from the books I read. I would like to get a copy of Food to die for: Secrets from Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen. And Scarpetta's Winter table.

I even have Mary Cratchett's cook book from Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. Of course, for fun I have a road kill cook book. JT

Post Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:33 pm
ronnyvous1 medium-rare

Posts: 53
Location: WNY
Food Channel, and books. Don't restrict yourself to "grillin' " or "smokin'" texts only. Hit the bargain bins, one of the better books I grabbed about using a slow cooker was in the clearance rack at Tractor Supply. Another great place is to find cookbooks from the local church ladies, or at yard sales and flea markets. The Warden has a cabinet full of cookbooks acquired 50 cents at a time, and there are wondrous things lurking within!

Just about any recipe, if it catches your eye, can be done over charcoal or wood. We have been active reenactors, and over the last 25 years have done huge amounts of cooking over open wood fires, using period appropriate gear from the 1640-1840 era. Going from Dutch Oven Pizza to CG Pizza isn't much of a stretch.

Post Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:24 pm
csbrass medium

Posts: 128
Location: Mooringsport, La
I'm experimenting with sauces, rubs & marinades. I have Steves HTG and have made some of the rubs & mop sauces from there. I have also checked some of the links this site offers. I will also go to a book store(the cooking section) and glance at the recipes in the grilling books. I'm looking for that basic all purpose rub, sauce or marinade that will provide great flavoring to what ever I use it on. Something that will be a staple that will provide a consistant flavor. Nothing too sweet or vingery or over whelming with a particular spice flavor but I don't want it bland either. Sounds like I have a long process ahead of me.

Post Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:03 am
DropaStone medium-well

Posts: 230
Location: South Bend, IN
I've been experimenting with a rub I've been working on for about 4 years now. The thing is it all started out with a rub recipe I that I made from one of Steven's books. When it started running low I just started putting anything I hand on hand that sounded good into it, kinda like a hunters stew only it's a rub. The rub is actually pretty good the only problem is when I get it just right I can't remember what Is actually in it so I will never be able to duplicate it. So I'll just keep doing what I've been doing. It's worked out so far. :twisted:
Smokem if you got'em
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