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.

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

Chicken breasts on the Q

Today, the Q got a workout. Breakfast, lunch, and now dinner. Tonight’s dinner is barbecue  chicken breasts. First the breasts, with a little bit of McKoricks steak seasoning on them. I know, steak seasoning? The chicken breasts don’t know the difference..I asked! 🙂

After heating up the grill, I turned the burner control down to low, which produced a temperature of about 325 degrees in the grill.

After flipping the breasts every 10 minutes, it was time to check the internal temperature. Luckily, my assistant had the required thermometer!

The internal temperature was 155 degrees so it was time to add the sauce. I prefer Bullseye as it is a sweet sauce and also gluten-free. Again, my assistant was very helpful!

All of the cooking was expertly supervised by the ever-present Samantha, seen here, dipping her toes in the pool.

Almost done:

And, plated up almost ready to eat:

The dinner was served with creamer potatoes with garlic, butter, and parsley.

Everything was quite good! The “Q” does it again!

Off to bed for a good nights sleep, then pancakes on the “Q” followed by the “Tour de Bar”!

February 6, 2011 Posted by | Chicken, The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturdays list

As there is no run scheduled today, it would seem to be a day to relax. Not so!

First, I will make breakfast on the Weber Q, again, as that was a big hit last week. Then, out for some supplies required for the “Tour de Bar”. Since the wife has to get her hair done, Marshall and I will visit the park for a little “Daddy and Me” picnic! Next, time to cut the lawn…which I have managed to put off for the entire week. It needs to be done soon because as it is now, the house is barely visible from the road! And, finally, dinner, barbecue bone in chicken breasts and cole slaw!

Sunday, will be the Tour de Bar. For those that do not know what this event is, several individuals, and the number has actually gone over 100 participants, several times, start out at a predetermined launch site , Bonefish Macs this year @ 11:00 if anyone wants to join the party, and then visit select drinking/eating establishments during the day. It is a great time, in most instances, and culminates with a party as the Super Bowl starts.

Below is this years itinerary:

Tour De Bar 2011

Wish me luck!

February 5, 2011 Posted by | Family and Friends | , , , , , , | Leave a 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

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

Breakfast on the Weber Q!

As there was a thread regarding cooking breakfast on a barbecue grill on the BBQSource website, I decided to try this on the Weber Q. This is in part, to add to my upcoming review of the “Q”, which will be posted elsewhere on the blog in the coming weeks.

The first thing I did was to remove the regular grill and place the griddle, which was the only thing worth keeping from the old Charmglow grill, in the grill cavity. As you can see, it fit like a glove! I sprayed some Pam on the griddle just to make sure it was clean and still wouldn’t stick.

Now, to add the bacon. I cut the bacon in half and then freeze it. I eat bacon usually twice a week, and no matter where I put it in the refrigerator, it still goes bad if I store the whole package.

A quick check of the temperature, and we are off! The setting of the burner was “high”.

I closed the lid to add a little bit of flavor to the grill lid…which may come in handy for the ribs I’ll be cooking later on today! 🙂

And now, time to add the eggs!

Everything came out perfect…if I do say so myself!!

Marshalls plate:

And by all accounts, he seemed to enjoy everything!

Breakfast was a complete success. This grill is quite versatile and, it was a different way to cook breakfast. And, has the advantage of not having to clean a couple of pans!

January 30, 2011 Posted by | The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Barbecue Ribs

This is a recipe that requires little skill and a much smaller time-frame to prepare.

The first thing you need is a rack of ribs. You may cut these every six ribs which should give you three fairly equal sized pieces.
Fill a large pot full of water and some barbecue sauce or, any other spices you like. Bring the water to a boil. Let the ribs boil for 5 minutes…no more!
Turn off the heat and let the ribs sit in the water for approximately one hour.
Before we go on, you have to differentiate between boiling something, as in hard-boiled eggs, and par-boiling something, which is designed to loosen up the fibers of the meat. What you are doing here is the latter.

Place your ribs on one side of your grill if you have “north-south” burner configuration. If you have an “east-west” configuration, place the ribs at the top or bottom of your grill. If you have a charcoal grill, make the fire on one side and cook the ribs on the other.

Try to keep the temperature around 300-325 degrees for one hour. Check the ribs. The meat should be starting to come off the bones. If so, add your favorite barbecue sauce and cook for 15 minutes, flip the ribs and cook for another 15 minutes. Flip again, add more sauce, cook for another 15 minutes, and repeat on the other side.

This method is for those who like their ribs “saucy”. The heat will caramelize the sauce and add some more flavor. You can also add wood chips or soaked wood to the fire to add another layer of flavor.

I use this method when it is just me or for the wife. she likes them this way as opposed to the dry rub method. In fact, most people prefer their ribs with sauce.

This is wood wrapped in foil on the burner side of the grill.

Here are the finished ribs.

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