Erics Blog

Just an average guys thoughts

Review of the Ducane 4400

As promised, here is my review of my new grill.

I purchased this grill from Grillsdirect (Hayneedle) and after all was said and done, the price paid was $495.00 including shipping.

Arrival:
The grill arrived at 3:00 pm Friday. As others have noted, it came on a pallet. The bottom of one side of the box was damaged and I feared the worst. After going through the shipping issues, I would really have been upset if the grill arrived damaged. I ripped the box apart before the delivery person could leave to make sure there was no damage. Fortunately, there was none!

Assembly:
It took roughly one hour to assemble the grill. The instructions are nothing more than a bunch of pictures. A few pointers for those who purchase either the 3400 or the 4400.
There are 16 black bolts in one bag and 4 black bolts in another bag. All of the bolts in the 16 bolt bag are for the base/wheel installation. The 4 longer bolts are for the top of the grill.
Speaking of which, do not tighten any of the bolts for the frame until the doors are in. Also, when securing the top to the frame, place one bolt in and put the nut on just a couple of turns. Then put the other side bolt/nut in. After they are both in, then tighten them so the top is centered in the frame.
Another assembly tip, unscrew the bezel that holds the ignitor in place. Then, remove the ignitor and install the wires. Then, reinstall the ignitor. It is much easier to take it out and put it back than to try and attach those wires in a small space.

Firing up:
As I was putting the side trays on, I heard a loud bang from my garage. It appears as though the main spring for my garage door broke. I had to cut the broken piece off, re-thread the remainder of the old spring on to the new cone, and readjust the spring. This took about a half hour. Just enough time to burn in the new grill!
The grill fired right up (burners) and got to over 600 degrees in about 10 minutes. Heat doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Cooking the first meal:
The first meal was a few strip steaks. The grill cooked evenly and seared the outside and as you can see from the pictures, was cooked to perfection. My son seemed to enjoy it as it was the first thing he ate on his plate!


Second meal:
Rotisserie chicken. I put the chicken on the rotisserie, seasoned it, and let it spin for an hour and a half. The skin did not get a crispy as it did with the other grill, so, I decided to crisp it up a little by turning on the two bottom burners for 5 minutes. Do not repeat this mistake! There is no picture as the skin was burnt in a short period of time. Fortunately, the interior meat was still tender and juicy. I got lucky…again!
Third meal:
Hamburgers. I go to the meat market and get a bunch of ground chuck, add my seasonings and then place the meat in zip lock sandwich bags. One burger per bag, then freeze them. I usually have 10-15 burgers in the freezer at any given time. You never know who may show up!
I placed the frozen burgers on the grill and they cooked evenly on one side, flipped them over, cooked on the other side, flipped over again to get the “diamond pattern” on the burger, flipped over again.
Toasted the bun, and on they went. They were cooked perfectly, for me anyway, medium rare, just a pink line in the center of the burger, and were delicious.
Side burner:
Last night I made spaghetti with meatballs. As we got home a little late, and I took out too much meat for the normal number of meatballs, I had to cook two batches of meatballs. To boil the water for the pasta, I decided to use the side burner on the grill. It took about as long as it does on the stove to get the water to a boil, but, the grate on the burner is sturdy enough that when the 10 inch pot was put on it, it didn’t move around.

Cleaning:
After using the grill it was time for its first cleaning. Everything on the exterior cleaned up easily. The grates cleaned up fairly well. I may have to do a little more brushing.

Summary:
For grilling, this grill we do everything I want it to do. It is well designed (mostly, see below), easy to maintain, and after some modifications are made, will probably be the last grill for quite some time.

Issues:
The placement of the rotisserie burner ignitor.
Where the line comes out on the burner, it gets red hot when the burner is on and actually bends upward. I can see this failing in short order. As it is, the spark is very poor and I suspect that this is a wire issue as I switched the wire to several positions on the back of the ignitor. I’ll be calling Weber Monday regarding this issue.
The tube that feeds the rotisserie burner is exposed and all of the drippings land directly on it. This cannot be good in the long term. I plan on correcting this issue.

The side trays are an extra set of burners!
The side trays, as others have noted, get very hot. Too hot to touch! I have read about the heat sink modification, but, I am going to call Weber and see if they have a ready made solution for this.

Heat loss out the back.
Others have pointed this out and I plan on calling Weber to determine why they didn’t just extend the back metal piece up two inches to keep the heat in.

Planned modifications:
Depending on what Weber says, I will block off the rear panel to keep the heat in.
I will add some protection for the rotisserie burner tube.
I will add, again, depending on what Weber has to say, the heat sink modification for the side burners.
I like the way the lower portion of the grill, the drip area, is constructed and angled to the opening for the drip pan. I think that adding an inner liner of say one of those aluminum baking pans, to the bottom should keep that area from getting dirty.

As the paint has already splintered on the flavorizer bars, when I get a new set, I may convert this to a rack with lava rocks.

Favorite feature, a toss up between the drip pan and the “backstop” at the rear of the grill.

This grill is actually a little bit smaller than the Charmglow 4 burner. But, the cover still fits!

My one year review, which is overdue, will be coming out around the same time as the “Q” review.

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February 10, 2011 Posted by | Food, The Ducane 4400 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sausage on the Weber Q

As I had a hankering for some sausage, I took some out of the freezer after this mornings run. A couple, actually three, of the hot and a couple of mild. Heated up the Q and put the sausages on. I turned the burner down to low and let them cook for about 20 minutes, turning them every five minutes. I cooked them with the lid in the down position

As with everything else that has been prepared on this grill, these also came out perfect. 🙂

 

February 3, 2011 Posted by | The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Running Day 7

Those of you who have been following this log, may have noticed a week missing! After last weekends trip to Disney and the subsequent 500 mile walk around Disney, my left knee was swollen and very stiff.

I didn’t think it would be a good idea to run right away, so I took a day or two off….which magically turned into a week! I’ll be back at it tonight as the swelling and pain is now completely gone. Fear not, I haven’t given up! 🙂

Stay tuned…………………………………….

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Running | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ribs on the Weber Q

As breakfast was such a raging success, I decided to further test the capabilities of the Weber Q by cooking ribs on it. Ribs, can be cooked in numerous ways and using different methods as far as marinating, seasoning, as well as cooking styles. I decided to use the tried and true method that will work for about anyone.

The first thing I did is to cut the ribs into three sections, then, place them in a pot of water. You may add any spices you wish at this point. For this particular recipe, I added no spices, barbecue sauce, or anything else. Next, turn the heat on high and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down to medium or medium low. Contrary to popular belief, boiling ribs does not remove “all” of the flavor of the meat. Let the ribs simmer for a half an hour and then, shut the heat off. Let them soak for another half an hour.

Meanwhile, I had a few small pieces of wood soaking in water. There is much debate regarding soaking your wood. I prefer it. Next, I wrap the wood in foil and placed it on the left side of the burner element.

This was done to add some wood flavor to the meat as well as to add some coating to the grill itself. Over time, there will be a build up and that is when things cooked on the grill will begin to really become flavorful! I turned the burner on and waited for the “plume” of smoke to appear.

Now the grill is ready for the ribs. After soaking, the ribs are easier to cut, so, I cut them at the knuckles, which leaves you with the odd pieces and, the pieces you end up eating at restaurants. I placed the ribs on the grill and closed the lid. This should allow the smoke from the wood to penetrate the meat as well as the other flavors from the barbecue.

Should, was the operative word. It appears that in order to allow the end tables to fold into the Q, there is about a 3/4 inch gap on either side, which was allowing the smoke to escape. I had to add some aluminum foil to block the space on the left side so that the smoke would exit the right side. I may have to construct some sort of device to prevent heat loss in the future.

After an hour on low and checking the ribs frequently, it was time to add the sauce.

And finally, ready to eat! You will notice that the “odd” pieces are not present in the final presentation. They were used for taste testing!

The ribs were quite tasty. They didn’t get as much wood flavor as I had hoped, but that usually requires actual smoking and I didn’t want this to be an all day project!

All things considered, the ribs were very tender, had plenty of “natural” flavor as well as some enhanced flavors from the wood and sauce. Not quite perfect, but for the first time on a “portable” grill, not bad. I know I could never have done this on the MasterForge grill as everything would have been burnt in a 1/2 an hour.

This grill, like most Webers and Ducanes, does not have the flare ups and uneven cooking properties found in cheaper, lesser known grills. So far, the Q has performed better than expected!

One interesting thing, once the wood got hot enough to burn, it had to be moved to the center of the bowl. After it burned up, it fell directly into the catch tray! I couldn’t have planned that any better!

January 31, 2011 Posted by | The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rotisserie Ribs

I have always enjoyed a good rack of ribs. I have cooked them several ways and some of those other methods will be on the blog shortly. In the meantime, here are rotisserie ribs.

The first thing I do is add some dry rub. The McCormick Pork Rub is pretty good. There are other rubs out there, but most have the same ingredients. I liberally sprinkle the rub on all areas of the ribs. I then wrap them in Saran Wrap and put them in the refrigerator overnight.

I also take one chunk of hickory wood and soak it in water overnight. There is a raging debate as to how much water is absorbed, to soak or not to soak, etc. As a matter of personal preference, I prefer to soak the wood for this recipe and for smoking. In the picture below, you will see a bunch of wood chips. My grill has a “smoking tray”, which after using it once, I determined that it was not an effective method and now, use the soaked chunk of wood method.

Now that they are ready, I weave the spit rod in between every three ribs. I then add the clamps and place the whole assembly on the grill. Next, I add the chunk of soaked wood wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil on top of one burner, in this case, the far left burner.

I also have an old cookie sheet that I use for specific things. One is to cook chicken wings on and another is a drip pan for rotisserie cooking.I place the pan under the ribs and add as much water as the pan will hold.

I turn the one burner on high for 1/2 half hour to get the wood smoking. I also flip the switch on the rotisserie motor and now, everything is cooking. You have to know how your grill heats when using this method. I know that with one burner on, my grill will only get to 350 degrees, which is probably the limit for this method.

After a half an hour, I turn the burner down to low, which yields a temperature of 225 degrees. I now let the ribs cook for 2 or 3 hours checking the temperature every so often and the water level in the drip pan.

During the cooking process, it may be necessary to quench your thirst!

After three hours, the ribs are usually starting to break away from the bones. Now is when you add the sauce..or…some purists won’t! 🙂

After cooking for another hour, you are ready to eat. The ribs should pull off the bone with little resistance. If they do not, keep cooking! There is nothing worse than having to gnaw your way through tough ribs!

This particular meal had a few sides. Buschs Grillin beans that have been “enhanced” , cole slaw, and corn on the cob.
I soak the corn in its husk for a few hours and then wrap it in aluminum foil. After you turn the temperature down to 225 degrees is when you add the corn. I add it to the warming rack that is partially hidden in the pictures. If you do not have a warming rack, you can place the corn on the cookie sheet lengthwise so it is not in the water.The corn should “pop” when you eat it and will absorb some of the rib and wood flavor.

Here is everything all plated up!

If you cook your ribs using this method, I am sure you will be happy with the results.

Special thanks to the gang over at the BBQSource for this method!

http://www.bbqsource-forums.com/

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Food, Pork, The Ducane 4400 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tools of the Trade

This section will deal with the tools of the trade. Pots, pans, grills, if you need it to cook, it will be here…eventually!

When cooking or attempting to do almost anything, the proper tools make the task at hand much easier. I will list the equipment that I have used and had success with.

We’ll start off with  the basics, utensils. A basic set of forks, spoons, and knives can be found at almost any department story. Macys and Sears have a good selection and are reasonably priced. The set we currently use is for a 12 seat setting, as are our plates and bowls. We have an assortment of spatulas, both metal and plastic, whisks measuring devices, etc. This is all pretty much standard stuff and in most instances is a matter pf personal preference. I prefer heavier silverware.

Cooking devices. What you cook on is probably as important as what you are cooking. We use several different devices and they are listed below.

  1. The Ducane 4400 barbecue grill (See review here)
  2. The Weber Q 200 portable grill (review shortly)
  3. The George Foreman rotisserie oven
  4. The Masterbuilt 7 in one smoker

The Ducane does all of the “heavy lifting” when cooking outdoors. To date, it has never made a bad meal! . The Weber Q 200 is an excellent portable grill and can grill almost anything you need for two to four people.

The George Foreman oven has also never produced a bad meal. You can cook a whole chicken in it, chicken wings in the basket, which I also use on the grill, and a host of other foods.

The MasterBuiilt 7 in 1 could be one of the best gifts I have ever received. This unit can grill with gas or coals. Can smoke with gas, coals, and wood. With just the base it can be used to boil water, cook a gumbo, or deep frying. A versatile piece of equipment!

What to cook with.

After a rather lengthy search, we decided on the Emerill Lagasse 10 piece pot and pan set. It was $200.00 form the Home shopping Network. The pans are made by AllClad and are just as good as the more expensive version. They are seven years old and still look as good as they did the day we bought them!

Check back often as this page is updated frequently.

January 24, 2010 Posted by | Tools of the Trade | , , , , , , | Leave a comment