In 2021, consumers went on a stay-at-home COVID-19 buying spree, and grilling companies and retailers reaped the benefit. Alan Miller, manager of the Springfield Ace Hardware Wabash Store and corporate grill buyer is expecting the interest in home entertaining to increase. Ace is ready with expanded inventory of grills, accessories and spices. Look for new technology and new built-in grilling options for your outdoor kitchen and attachments to make your grill more versatile.
For 2022, Weber is introducing its “Crafted Outdoor Kitchen Collection, a line of interchangeable grillware that enables a variety of different cooking methods.” Outdoor cooks can use traditional grill grates or switch to a flat-top surface to open a world of new foods at the grill, like eggs, pancakes, smashed burgers and more. Exchange the grates for a baking stone for pizzas, crispy flatbreads and cookies or use rotisserie skewers for kabobs and roasted chicken.
I was not aware until I met with Alan, that Weber manufactures a pellet grill. Connected and multi-capable, their intelligent wood pellet-fired barbecue enables low-temperature and slow cooking, high-heat searing, smoking and grilling. Weber has also created the SmokeFire, “a connected cooking system that actually senses the food’s cooking progress and delivers to the user, via an app, predictive stage-by-stage notifications and services” along with instructions on prepping the food, wrapping, probing and flip timings. The app also gives advice on temperature regulation, provides a readiness countdown and an alert when it’s time to pull the food off the grill.
The Traeger Timberline series is their top-of-the-line models that new this year. They have a smart combustion system designed to avoid flare-ups. A new “FreeFlow” firepot design is also incorporated into the grill to help achieve maximum smoke output. On the grill itself, there is a new full-color touchscreen display.
The new grease and ash keg system channels the grease and ash into one area for cleaning and disposal. Another nice feature of the Timberline series is the support for two Meater wireless meat thermometers (Traeger purchased the Meater company) that allow you to place the thermometers anywhere you need without dealing with cables. Also, there is a new induction cooktop that lets you simmer your sauces, sear your steaks or sauté vegetables while your meat is smoked on the grill. The Traeger smartphone app has also been updated with an improved interface to make it easier to find recipes and send them straight to your grill. The grill’s control screen lets you control temps, manage alerts and activate Super Smoke mode with ease. You can even add an app on your Apple Watch to check on the grill status and make some changes as your meat is cooking.
Of course, pizza isn’t just meant for takeout anymore. Ace has a great selection of pizza ovens. The popular Ooni line offers units that can use propane, pellets or charcoal. The Ooni Fyra is specially designed with consistent high-heat abilities, reaches 950 degrees Fahrenheit in just 15 minutes, making stone-baked pizzas in as little as 60 seconds for under $400.
Alan introduced me to the Pizza Hack for pellet grills designed by BBQ Hack. You must first have their Griddle Hack. Designed to fit over 60 pellet grills, the Griddle Hack is perfect for cooking breakfast, stir fry or even searing a delicious steak. The Pizza Hack will convert your pellet grill into a wood fired pizza oven. It can hit temperatures of 550 degrees plus and will cook your pizza in two to four minutes. The Pizza Hack includes a blackened, seasoned steel lid, 16 by 16-inch pizza stone and a stainless-steel pizza peel.
Want to learn more about grilling? LLCC Community Education-Culinary will offer grilling demonstrations at three Central Illinois Ace stores. Meet LLCC Chef Specialist Josh Dineen Saturday, May 21 at the Springfield Ace Wabash store. LLCC Culinary Arts Instructor Kim Carter we will be at the Jacksonville Ace store on June 25, and Culinary Coordinator Jolene Lamb will be grilling at the Taylorville Ace store on July 9. The demonstrations are at 10 a.m. and complimentary. Just stop by!
My thanks to Alan from Ace, Tracy Baldwin from Weber and to Chef Josh for the following recipe.
Grilled side of salmon with red Thai curry sauce
8 to 10 servings
- 1 side of Salmon, approximately 3 pounds
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1/2 can Thai red curry paste (less if you are sensitive to spicy foods. If you love really spice, use the whole can, but be warned it will make the dish very spicy.)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce, preferably Red Boat brand
- as needed salt and pepper
- 2 inches lemongrass
- 2 each lime leaves
- 1 each juiced fresh lime
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped
- Light the grill. Chef Josh is a charcoal guy but use what you are most comfortable with.
- Empty one can of coconut milk and curry paste into a pan, medium/high heat.
- Stir occasionally. Eventually the sauce will break causing the oil to separate. This is supposed to happen.
- At this point, add the ginger and garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds.
- Add second can of coconut milk, cumin, coriander seed, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, lemongrass and lime leaves
- Bring to a simmer. Taste for seasoning. Adjust salt and pepper if desired.
- Hold warm.
- Place salmon onto grill, skin side first.
- Brush a little sauce onto salmon.
- When salmon is halfway cooked, how long this will take will depend on the temperature of the grill, carefully flip the salmon with a large spatula.
- Continue to brush a little sauce onto salmon.
- Once salmon is cooked to desired doneness, flip back to skin side, and remove from the grill.
- Place on a serving platter.
- Pour all the sauce over the salmon, if you don’t care to eat around lemongrass and lime leaves, remove them now.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon fish sauce and lime juice over salmon.
- Sprinkle chopped cilantro over salmon.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value-Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through LLCC Community Education.
Cooking or food questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.