How clean does my grill need to be?

Cleaning your grill

Got this message from BBQ friend Grant today…

Hey Chef Perry! I have a BBQ question and figured I should run it by you: should I thoroughly clean the inside of my grill, or is it okay (or even good) to leave some grease, soot, etc on the inside of the cook box?


Well, I’m sure this will raise the hackles of the germaphobic Purell junkies, but I tend to err on the side of the less conservative.

Think of the inside of your grill like a good cast iron skillet. Only an unwashed Philistine would thoroughly clean a cast-iron pan with soap and water, right? You worked hard for that curing, and you don’t want to lose it!

Rule of thumb:

  • Soot is good.
  • Grease is okay, but should be kept to a minimum, to avoid infernos (anything a dry paper towel won’t pick up is fine.)
  • Chunks are bad.

When you’re done grilling, crank the heat up as high as you can get it, lid down, until everything’s smokin’, then give the grill grates a good hard scrubbing with a stiff wire brush.

Hope that helps!

Chef Perry
Burnin’ Love BBQ

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Tips for Portable Grilling

Grilling on the Go: Tips for Portable Grilling

For me, no beach party, picnic or even a simple outdoor get-together is complete without the smell of something grilling. The aroma of smoke is what tells my brain that a good time is about to be had!


burgers at the beach

For grilling on the go, I would definitely recommend a portable gas grill (propane), for easy clean up. If you’re going to camping for days at a time, a charcoal grill may be an option, but you’ll still get a lot more “packing space” bang for your buck from propane.

What type of portable grill do you need? 3 questions to ask yourself:

1. How much space do I have?

If you’re cruising across the country in a full-size camper or pulling a trailer, you have some space to work with. If everything has to fit in the trunk of your Hyundai, look for a compact grill.

2. How many am I cooking for?

Cooking for one or two is a snap on pretty much anything that’s going to throw heat. However, if you’re the Brady Bunch, you’re really going to need to think about how much food you’re going to be able to crank out. Look for a large portable grill with higher BTUs and bigger grilling surface. Throw a couple of teenage boys in there and…well…via con dios!

3. What am I going to be cooking?

Burger, dogs, and steaks don’t require much space, but if you’re looking to do some real bbq, like pork shoulders, or briskets, you’re going to need a lot of surface space, multiple burners, and accurately controllable temperate settings.

Other grill questions to consider:


Will you be lugging this thing down half-mile long sandy trails to the beach, or just from the car to the picnic table? If it’s going to be a trek, consider a light, compact grill.


Speaking of picnic tables… are you planning on packing a heat-resistant table or cooking on the ground, if you find yourself without a picnic table? If you need a table-free option, consider a grill with legs. And if it does have legs, are they compatible with your height?

Custom Grilling

How “expandable” is this grill? Burgers might be fine right now, but next summer you might be on a whole chicken kick… can you upgrade/incorporate a rotisserie, smoker box, side burners, additional outer shelving, clip on lighting (strongly recommended) or removable secondary grill racks?

photo: good grilling = happy campers

Grill Quality

My number one piece of advice, above everything else…is to buy the best quality grill you can afford. Nothing can make or break a great day in the outdoors like the quality of (or lack of) dinner. Read online reviews, ask around, and if possible, borrow a similar model from a friend.

(Side note: Perry’s 11th commandment…no matter how fancy/expensive/high-tech your grill is…Thou shalt never put thy faith in an electric ignition. Pack a cheap plastic “trigger-style” butane lighter with your cooking gear at all times. In fact…pack two.)

Cooking on the go:

Here are a few tips I’ve gathered, mostly the hard way, over several decades of cooking on the go.

Photo: the author in his happy place

the author in his happy place

  • Be flexible. Don’t flip out and drive the next town to get that one green onion that the recipe calls for, but you forgot. Improvise, use an alternative ingredient, or skip it. As long as you have meat and fire…chances are good that it will still be delicious.
  • Bring small amounts of seasonings, condiments, and other food supplies to save packing space. Instead of bringing the huge bottle of ketchup, transfer just enough for the whole family in a smaller container.
  • Use block ice in your cooler. It lasts WAY longer than cube or ice.
  • Never leave food outside unattended, day or night, to prevent attracting bears, bugs, or other animals.
  • Don’t forget to bring a heavy duty aluminum foil and a couple of zip bags. They don’t take up much space and have a wide variety of uses.
  • Cover pots and pans during cooking so the meals will get done faster and to save fuel. This will also keep unwanted critters out of your food.
  • Have fun! Yes, we all love good food…but this ain’t Chopped…it’s your vacation. Enjoy your surroundings, take a hike, take a nap…if it’s going to create stress, well…sometimes a simple burger or hotdog is just what the doctor ordered!

For many of us, outdoor cooking, especially in a camp or on-the-go, is one of the best parts of being on vacation. The thrill of putting up a menu of different sumptuous meals, of putting together ingredients, of smelling the sweet aroma of meat, seasonings and vegetables, cooking and eating outside, surrounded by the smell of the forest, or the sea, and seeing that satisfied look on your family’s faces after feasting on the dinner you’ve prepared…

Well, that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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Burnin’ Love “BBQ” Grilled Chicken

Sweet Chili BBQ Chicken

Chef Chris grills these legs, thighs, or hindquarters to sweet, spicy, sticky perfection!

He maintains that the secret lies in baking the chicken first, so you can grill it over very high heat, just long enough to caramelize the sugars in the sauce, without drying out (or under-cooking) the meat beneath.

First rub chicken with our “Burnin’ Love Rub” (see recipe below) and let sit in the fridge 2-3 hours. Bake in a single layer on a foiled lined baking sheet  at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until the internal temp reached 165F.

Finish on a preheated very hot grill, over direct heat. Sear both sides of the chicken first, then dip* with the sauce, turn, cook for about 5 to 10 minutes total, brushing with sauce and turning several times, until chicken is done.

How to sauce BBQ chicken

For the best application of sauce, dip each piece of chicken into a bowl of sauce, instead of brushing. For thicker sauce, repeat 2-3 times while on the grill.

Allow the chicken to rest, and the sauce to set, about 10 minutes, uncovered.


Perk’s “Burnin’ Love” Rub

(Shh…it’s a secret!)

¼ C fine sea salt
¼ C light brown sugar
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder
2 Tbs smoked paprika
2 Tbs coarse black pepper
2 Tbs hickory salt (or seasoned salt)

This is enough for 5-8lbs of chicken.

Sweet Chili BBQ Sauce

2 cup Sweet Baby Rays Brown Sugar or Hot & Sweet BBQ sauce
1 cup Thai sweet chili sauce (I like “Mae Ploy” brand)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 stick sweet cream butter

Combine all, simmer and allow to cool.


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Davidoff Demi-Tasse Cigars (Review)

Davidoff Demi-Tasse Cigars Review Traeger


Like a lot of my fellow smoke n’ fire friends, I like to enjoy a good cigar while the meat’s cooking.

So, when the opportunity arose to smoke and review* these Davidoff Demi-Tasse cigars, I jumped at the chance!

These little 10-minute cigars are perfect for a quick grilling session, or for those last few minutes while those ribs are achieving the perfect glaze.

The Demi-Tasse are some great smokes; big Davidoff taste in a little package…a mild, yet aromatic and full-bodied smoke. They are long-filler, and taste just like a larger, mild Davidoff, but at a much more economical price.

From the Davidoff Website:

“The Davidoff Family of Geneva, Switzerland has been producing the world’s finest luxury cigars for the most discriminating of smokers for generations. Truly rare gems, Davidoff cigars are as close to perfect in character, aroma and quality as it gets. If you seek a highly refined and luxurious cigar for a special occasion or have the means to enjoy a moment of intense pleasure, relaxation and happiness on a daily basis, make Davidoff cigars your cigar of choice.”

Strength: Full
Shape: Cigarillo
Size: 4 x 25
Country: Netherlands
Wrapper Color: Natural
Wrapper Origin: Ecuadorian
Wrapper Leaf: Connecticut
Price – 97.50 for a box of 50 or $2.10 per cigar

I really liked them. A lot of complexity and flavor…a great cigar to enjoy at the grill!

BTW, Famous Smoke Shop offers Davidoff Smokes here.

What’s your favorite smoke when you’re working the smoker?

Chef Perry
Burnin’ Love BBQ

PS - If you’re enjoying this article, please subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week.

Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster kids!

*Disclaimer: while I receive products, including the cigars used in this review, free from vendors, I am under no obligation, real or implied, to provide anything but an honest, personal-opinion and review, positive or otherwise, in return. The opinions put forth in this post are strictly my own, and are in no way influenced by how I obtained this product.


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Orion LED Lantern Saved the Day (or at least dinner!)

So, in yesterday’s post I shared my new favorite Easter Ham recipe, and how to smoke it on the Traeger.

What I didn’t mention was that an equipment failure at a critical point in cooking, almost FUBAR’d the whole thing!

Just before it was time to start glazing this beauty, I had a dark moment…literally. The ballast failed on my overhead lights (above my Traeger), plunging my carport/BBQ Studio into utter darkness.

When I needed to see what I was doing most, this is what I was looking at…

Orion LED Camping Lantern Review

Just before full panic set in, I remembered that I has just received an Orion LED Camping Lantern to review. I was saving it for our family camp-out in July, but this seemed like an opportune time to bust it out.

Orion LED Camping Lantern Review

The Orion is compact and feels solid while still lightweight. It’s packaged with everything needed to get it up and going fast, including 3 AA batteries and 2 lithium ion batteries (for maximum operating time and flexibility.) The Orion also functions has a built in “Power Bank” that can be used to charge phones, tablets, or any other handheld device so that you are never left without power (cables also included.)

It took about a minute to unpack and load the batteries…and none of those annoying little screwed on battery covers either, the whole top and bottom unscrew easily, making loading the batteries super easy. Being a guy with big thumbs (and lots of them) I REALLY like this feature!

Anyway, back to the Easter Crisis of ’15…

Orion LED Camping Lantern Review

The Orion Lantern telescopes open (so the bulb is protected when not in use), and fires up automatically.

The metal handles made it easy to hang from a handy hook, and as you can see, this little powerhouse gave more than enough light to cook by and, unlike uni-directional bbq lamps, it lit my entire cooking area, including my prep table.

And, just like that I could see my masterpiece once more…and Easter dinner was saved! (Insert wild applause here.)

My rating: A solid 4 Stars

Orion LED Camping Lantern Review

By the way…if you want to get this recipe, click here.

Sooo, it looks like I’ll be ordering another Orion Lantern for camping season, because THIS one is staying in my BBQ box for the next time I need a great back-up light to cook by.

Chef Perry
Burnin’ Love BBQ

By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, please subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week.

Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster kids!

Here are some specs from the product website:

Orion LED Camping Lantern ReviewProduct Description

The Orion Ultimate Survival LED Lantern and Power Bank by Supernova is the most versatile survival tool available and features both a stunningly bright LED Lantern and a built in Power Bank.

It features:

✔ 180 Max Lumens Lantern for camping, emergencies, hiking, and more

✔ Built in Power Bank charges phones, tablets, or any other handheld device so that you are never left without power

✔ Easy On/Off Operation by simply opening and closing the lantern

✔ Compact and retractable design for easy storage and mobility

✔ Operates on either 3 AA batteries (included) or 2 lithium ion batteries (also included) for maximum operating time and flexibility

✔ Brushed gun metal finish makes the Orion as durable as it is beautiful

The Ultra Bright LED Lantern component has 4 different modes of operation:

- High

- Low

- Red

- Flashing Red

*Disclaimer: while I occasionally receive products, including the lantern used in this review, free from the vendor. I am under no obligation, real or implied, to provide a positive review, in return. The opinions put forth in this post are strictly my own, and are in no way influenced by how I obtained this product.

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Peach-Ginger Smoked Ham in the Traeger

Peach Ginger Ham in the Traeger

I love just about any combination of spicy and sweet, and this ham recipe is no exception.

My wife has informed me that this is the only ham recipe I am to use for Easter, from now on! :)

Chef Perry
Burnin’ Love BBQ


Smoked Easter Ham with Peach-Ginger Glaze

1 (10 pound) fully-cooked, sliced, bone-in ham
2 cups peach preserves
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs soy sauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. fresh ginger root. minced
1/2 cup apple juice

Unwrap the ham and place it, cut-side down, on a flat roasting rack.

When you’re ready to cook, turn Traeger to the “Smoke” setting, with the lid open, for 5 minutes or until the fire is established.

Preheat to 300F (lid closed).

Smoking a ham in Traeger

Place the ham (on the roasting rack) on the Traeger grill grate and smoke for 1 hour.

While the ham is smoking, mix together the mustard, brown sugar, cider vinegar, soy sauce, apple juice and peach preserves in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and then stir in the ginger.

Reduce heat, and simmer until the sauce has thickened, 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Place the ham, rack and all, on a foil lined baking sheet, and return to Traeger.

Glazed ham on Traeger recipe

Baste ham with the peach glaze. Continue basting every 30 minutes until the ham is richly glazed and the internal temperature has reached 140 degrees, 1-1/2 hours more.

30-45 minutes before the ham is done, turn the heat up to 400, to “set” the glaze.

Remove ham from smoker and bring it (on the rack & pan) inside. Carefully turn the ham on it’s side, allowing the sliced to fan, and  brush liberally with the remaining glaze.

Tent loosely in foil, and let the ham rest for 15 minutes before carving.

By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, please subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week.

Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster kids!

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Perfect Pork Ribs on a Traeger – as Easy as 3-2-1


Fired up ‘ol Traeg-dor this weekend, and smoked three racks of perfect baby back ribs using the Traeger 3-2-1 method.

Here’s my step-by-step “How to” video…

There you have it…perfect baby back pork ribs, as easy as 3-2-1


3-2-1 Ribs
3 racks baby back pork ribs (about 7 1/2 pounds total)
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup “Burnin’ Love BBQ Rub (see link below for recipe)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup honey
Chef Perry’s Dirty Little Secret Sauce (see link below for recipe)

“Burnin’ Love” Dry Rub & Dirty Little Secret Sauce

Thank you for watching my video. Please feel free to like and share it!

Enjoy your ribs!

-Chef Perry

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“La Caja China Cooking” 20% off Coupon

La Caja China Cooking CouponHey everyone, today is the five year anniversary of the day “La Caja China Cooking: The secret to perfect roasting” first hit the shelves!

To celebrate, I’m offering a 48-hour 20% off coupon on all orders from my author’s webpage.

Coupon code: MUFRQDBX

The definitive cookbook for roasting and grilling with La Caja China, it makes a great gift for yourself or anyone who cooks with the magic box!

Thanks for making it a great 5 years!

Chef Perry

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Why Should You Buy La Caja China BBQ?

A shout-out for my boys at La Caja China…

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Three Ways to Light Charcoal: Pros and Cons

Tips for using Charcoal

I was five or six years old, and we were having a family get together at Uncle Vern’s house. My Uncle Raymond, who was, almost assuredly, several mason-jars into the party already, decided that the charcoal in the battered old Weber Grill (which was sitting on a plywood-covered, screened porch – them’s my genes, folks!) wasn’t heatin’ up as quickly as he’d like.

Indignant, he walked over, peered blurrily at the coals for a moment, and then nonchalantly tossed the contents on his half-full cup, onto the open flame.

I was five…and I remember the fireball.

I also remember Uncle Vern and my father grabbing up the garden hose and dousing the smoldering mosquito netting that surrounded the porch. I’m pretty sure they were speaking in tongues… at least a tongue that I wasn’t familiar with at that tender age.

Needless to say, there are right ways to do things, and there are wrong ways to do things…

Let’s take a look at some “right way” options for lighting charcoal.

Firstly…let’s get one thing out of the way… “self-starting” or “quick-light” charcoal should never be allowed to defile your grill. Pre-soaking the coals enough to achieve an instant flare-up, guarantees that the chemical flavor goes all the way through the charcoal, and will not “burn off”, as self-applied charcoal starter will.

No pre-soaked charcoal…ever.

Oh, and all of these methods assume that we’re using a charcoal chimney starter, like this one:

Btw: these babies are just plain awesome for searing the perfect steak over super-high heat! See our recipe, here.

Method #1: Charcoal Lighter Fluid

Using bbq lighter fluidThis is my least favorite method, but it’s also the one that I, along with millions of other backyard barbecue buffs, grew up with. I’m not going to poo-poo this method with the same vehemence I give to the quick-light…stuff, mainly because I’ve grilled up some pretty dang good food over fuel-squirted coals.

Pros: It’s convenient, and quick, and pretty-much fool-proof…

Cons: Well, it’s still a nasty, stinky chemical that’s involved in food I’m feeding my family…as well as a half-gallon jug of explosive liquid that I’m using in an open-flame situation…and I’m clumsy.

If you’re going to use charcoal lighter fluid:

  1. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time, and ventilation (ie: no lid) to allow it to burn off, once lit. Those coals need to be solid white, before any meat goes over them.
  2. Likewise, don’t put your grill-grate(s) back over the coals until you’re sure the fuel has burned off. You don’t want to be laying raw meat on a fuel-blackened grill…yuck.
  3. Use plenty of fluid…you want it to light properly the first time, and don’t ever squirt more fluid on already lit coals…remember Uncle Raymond? Boom.
  4. Close the lid on your fuel bottle, and then go put it away, before lighting the coals. Two reasons. First, this gets that bottle of rocket-fuel away from you, or any other little hands that might be nearby. No matter how safe I think I am…that fuel isn’t going to ignite if it’s back up in the cabinet, in my garage. Secondly, this time-lapse allows the fluid to soak into the charcoal a bit (not a lot) and decreases the chance of it flaring, or igniting fumes, when lit.

Method #2: Newspaper as Fire-starter

This method is, in my not-so-humble opinion, better than using lighter-fluid, but I still can’t get over the idea that I’m coating my coals with burned ink fumes and residue.

Pros: It’s a pretty easy and safe way to go. Just stuff a piece or two of crumpled newspaper in the bottom side of your charcoal chimney, fill the top with charcoal, and then light the newspaper. In about 10 minutes, you should have hot, burning coals.

Cons: That first minute or so, while the paper is igniting…creates some pretty gnarly grey smoke, so light-up well away from your guests, or anything they’re likely to eat.

My other issue is that it’s 2012…who gets a freakin’ newspaper anymore? Not me, I get all my news digitally…and I don’t think my iPad would work nearly as well for this.

Method #3: The Electric Fire-starter (Like one of these…)

Lastly, and in my opinion, the best way, to light your fire, is to use one of these babies. Charcoal doesn’t require open flame to burn, it just needs enough heat.

Pros: Flameless, odorless, this is probably the safest, cleanest method available to start your coals. Very easy to use.

Cons: You gotta have electricity close by, and…well, it’s a gadget, so there’s always a chance that it just plain won’t work…when you’re already running late…on the night your new boss is coming over for bbq. You know what I’m talkin’ about.

Still, I’ve had mine for years, and it’s never failed me once.

Lastly, it’s probably not something you want to play with in the rain, or while standing in water…unless you want a Darwin Award.

To use, just pour about 1/3 of your charcoal into your chimney, set the (unplugged and unheated) electric fire starter inside, and fill in around it with the remaindered of your coals. Now, set the chimney in a safe place, and plug that baby in!

Be sure to keep any plastic parts away from direct contact with the coals, and keep a close eye, as you’ll need to pull that starter out as soon as the coals start going. Do not leave it in the chimney until the coals turn gray!

So there you go…three popular, reliable, and simple-to-use methods to get your grill on.

Whichever you chose should work great…and be a lot safer fire-starter than a mason jar full of whatever my uncles brewed up in that oil drum behind the barn…

Happy Grilling!

Chef Perry
Burnin’ Love BBQ


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