Charcoal. How much thought have you put into charcoal? Or better yet, the charcoal you use? If you are anything like us, none! In fact, this is how it usually is at our house: 1) I buy a bag of unnamed lump charcoal and bring it home; 2) Lenny is standing at the grill, with the charcoal, newspaper, a chimney and is cursing me; 3) I start to rant about how I want to use charcoal that is good for the environment, blah blah blah; 4) Lenny starts saying how he &^%* sure this charcoal is not any good, and he is now ready to switch to gas; 5) I take over and start the grill and vow next time to pick up a bag of Kingsford. Let me say this, I normally do not buy Kingsford as I was under the assumption, they use chemicals in their processing, and I want our grilling experience to be as pure as possible. Wait until you try this recipe for Mushroom Crusted Beef Tenderloin – it is so amazing!
Last week Current Lifestyles, and Clorox invited us to be part of a press trip at Kingsford University. We were very intrigued about Kingford University. As well it was thrilling to be included with an outstanding group of writers, publishers and food bloggers who all shared a common interest, the love of great barbecue and wine. We hope you will enjoy the following write up which includes videos, to give you that “feel like you are there” experience as well as lots of great grilling tips from World BBQ Champion, Chris Lilly.
The event kicked off with a meet and greet dinner at Pican, in Oakland, CA, where Chef Dean Dupuis wowed us with his southern cooking. It was the perfect way to begin our university training, mingling with our fellow students, who where some amazing writers, chefs, bloggers, and BBQ enthusiasts. One of the highlights for us that evening was Chef Dupuis’ amazing fried chicken with truffle honey; we have never thought to drizzle the sweet, earthy honey over chicken, what an outstanding combination.
The following morning was spent at Kingsford University learning everything there is to know about charcoal. We started with a history lesson on Kingsford. Did you know Henry Ford started making charcoal in the 1920’s? Mr. Ford learned the process of turning scraps that were left over from making the Model T, into charcoal briquettes. Kingsford was built when a relative of Fords, E.G Kingsford started the site for making Mr. Ford’s charcoal – the rest is history. After our history lesson, the staff at Kingsford University gave us an in-depth discussion of how charcoal is produced as well as a sneak peek at their new product that will launch in 2010. Kingsford charcoal is produced by using more than 1 million tons of wood scraps. That is right, no trees are cut down for the production, and the only chemicals used are natural. Using the waste wood a char is produced in a controlled environment and then mixed with coal and small amounts of borax, sodium nitrate, cornstarch and limestone. After an educational morning, we moved out to the patio to fire up some grills, where we were wowed by Chris Lilly.
That afternoon we headed up to Healdsburg for the next part of our Kingsford University education. Healdsburg in our opinion is what the wine country is really all about, and there is no better time to be there then in the fall. Warm days, crispy evenings and beautiful fall colors add to the intoxicating smell of wine being made all around you. After checking into the lovely Healdsburg Hotel, we headed to Seghesio Vineyard for dinner. Our hosts Peter and Cathy Seghesio made us feel like we were finally home. They completely opened up their lives by sharing their passion of wine with us. Seghesio has been in the Healdsburg area since the beginning. Edoardo Seghesio planted his first zinfandel vineyard in 1895 and since then four generations of the family have been making Zinfandels and Italian varietal wines.
After a wonderful meal that was served in the winery’s Redwood Room and was prepared by Chef Jon Helquis, formerly of Chez Panisse, we were formally introduced to BBQ Master, Chris Lilly. Chris is a legend among BBQ fans and has won numerous awards. Chris is Vice President of the acclaimed Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and is the head of their competition team. Chris took the stage and gave us an in-depth demonstration on how to make his famed 12 hour pulled pork, which he injects with water and apple cider. I had a blast being able to get in there and do some actual hands on injecting; great way to get rid of some frustration! And yes, these pork butts cooked for 12 hours; Chris was a champ and woke up at 3 am to man the grill!
The next day Chris continued to WOW us on the fine art of grilling. We learned about grilling, making BBQ rubs, and finally the moment we had all been waiting for the unveiling of the 12 hour pork butt. This our friend was well worth the wait, by far the best pulled pork we have ever had, and we are not just saying that. After a filling lunch, we spent the afternoon with the stellar team at Seghesio who gave us a brief course on wine blending, and everyone was able to blend their own bottle of wine.
With a free afternoon to ourselves, there was only one thing to do, and that was to take advantage of the fruits of the Healdsburg bounty and head out to do some wine tasting. We decided to head to Michel-Schlumberger, they are considered the Healdsburg’s Bordeaux house in a valley of zin. Not only are they making Bordeaux style wines, but they are also doing so organically. Now when one sees a bunch of hungry thirsty food bloggers coming through their door, one probably wants to run; instead we were greeted by staff with open arms. Not only were they eager to have us taste their wines, which were really luscious and sexy; but, they took us on a mini tour of the vineyard. November at the Michel-Schlumberger is the perfect time – the colors of the vines, the coolness of the earth under your feet and the warm sun on your back – the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
After a few hours of down time at the hotel, we returned to Seghesio for our fare well dinner. Chris continued to educate us on grilling with Kingsford, with a hands on demo on how to make perfect grilled pizzas. These were not your ordinary pepperoni pizzas. These pizzas were gourmet, such as Asian-influenced spicy shrimp pizzza; yum. Chris got everyone to don an apron, and to get there to create their own pizzas. The group really enjoyed being hands-on. The evening was not only fun but also very informative. Come along by checking out these informative videos.
We spent the rest of the evening eating, listening to music, talking to new friends and old, and cherishing the past three days that were not only educational but very fun.
We would like to give a special thanks to Chris Lilly, Kingsford Charcoal and Current Lifestyles. We had no idea that learning about charcoal would be so delicious. As well a big thank you to the Seghesio family for opening their home to us!
The big question asked of us after the event: Would we make the switch from Brand X lump charcoal over to Kingsford? We already have!!
Following you will find one of Chris Lilly’s recipes from his new cookbook, Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book. It is for a beef tenderloin, which would be the perfect for your next dinner party.
Recipe: Mushroom Crusted Beef Tenderloin
*printed with permission from Chris Lilly – from Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book
Cooking Method: Indirect Heat
Suggested Wood: hickory, oak, pecan
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 10 to 12
5 tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
3 ½ cups minced mushrooms such as baby bella or shitake
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 whole beef tenderloin (approximately 6 pounds)
1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt
Melt the butter and oil together in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the minced mushrooms, garlic, balsamic vinegar, oregano, and salt. Simmer for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to soften. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Remove any silver membrane from the tenderloin with a sharp knife. Fold the tail of the tenderloin back onto itself and tie it with cooking twine (this creates a roast with a uniform thickness to ensure even doneness). Season the tenderloin with kosher salt. Drain any excess liquid from the mushrooms. Pat the mushroom mixture evenly over all sides of the entire beef tenderloin, making a thin crust.
Build a fire (wood or combination of charcoal and wood) for indirect cooking by situating the coals on only one side of the grill, leaving the other side void. When the cooker reaches 225˚F, place the tenderloin on the void side of the grill and close the lid. Cook for 1 hour or until the internal temperature of the tenderloin reaches 120-125˚F for rare, 130-135˚F for medium rare, or 140-145˚F for medium. Let the tenderloin rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.