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Ask The Patch Pro: Grilling and Barbecuing

The grilling and barbecue experts at Famous Dave's are here to answer your questions.

is practically a household name in the Twin Cities and a byword for good ribs. But how many of you know that when founder Dave Anderson decided to branch out from his Hayward, Wisconsin restaurant, he chose Southwest Minneapolis' Linden Hills neighborhood? That restaurant, humbly housed in a former gas station, was Anderson's stepping stone to greatness.

In honor of the nation's 236th birthday this week, we've asked the fine folks at the Southwest Minneapolis Famous Dave's to be this week's Patch Pro. They'll be answering all your questions in the comment stream below about what they do best, grilling and barbecuing. They'll be on hand through Friday, July 13.

Ask away!

Danielle Cabot July 05, 2012 at 05:57 PM
How do I convince my in-laws that every time they cook a steak well-done, a fairy dies?
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I prefer charcoal with a little wood for flavor, but usually use gas as it is much easier. Or I smoke the meat and just finish the char on the grill.
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Usually your grill will have hot spots, these are OK if you are watching but can burn if you don't. I would turn up the heat to get the grill hot then turn it down for cooking. If using charcoal try and indirect approach and don't put the meat right above the coal. If it is not burned too bad I just scrape or cut the burned part off with home cooking but would throw it away if questionable at the restaurant.
Craig Recknagel July 05, 2012 at 06:47 PM
What's your favorite wood to use to smoke pork ribs? Do you change the wood for different pork products like roasts?
MJB July 05, 2012 at 06:48 PM
LMBO Danielle! I feel the same way! I also am not a steak sauce fan. If the steak is grilled right, has a good season and is a good cut, I feel like you shouldnt need A1. It takes away from the flavor of the meat. But thats just me. :)
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Yes, The smoking process is just low and slow, Make your pile of coal and wood off to the side so the meat is not directly over the coal, turn down the air intake on the grill so it is burning at more of a smolder, check periodically to make sure the coal stays lit, you may need to adjust air a few times to get it just right. Should not be hotter than 300 for best results.
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 06:51 PM
It sounds like they might need to switch to Chicken - the other white meat...
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I like Hickory but Apple and many other hardwoods are also very good.
Chris Steller (Editor) July 05, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Thanks, Jon! I do use charcoal—the wood kind. Part of the problem is I use newspaper to start it which can take a lot of effort. I went a little heavy yesterday and the grill was probably one big hot spot. I used to be able to find a corn-based starter fluid that I liked (no petroleum smell) but I haven't seen it in a few years. How do you recommend getting wood charcoal going?
MJB July 05, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Thanks! Good to know! One more question...would you mix the coals and wood chips together or put the chips off to the side in a tinfoil or something?
Mike Knox July 05, 2012 at 07:07 PM
When we grill burgers, they tend to shrink and become more of a flat meatball. What is the trick to a medium rare, flat, burger?
Kris Janisch July 05, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I have issues with cooking kebobs. Stuff never cooks at the same rate and some is good, some is burned, some is underdone. Any tricks? Is it just cutting stuff to the right size?
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Those starter cans work pretty well, you could almost use a big coffee can with bottom removed, I don't like that petroleum based stuff either...
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 07:42 PM
They do make forms you can use to make a perfectly round flat burger, Also for burgers, I would use a 80/20 or 85/15 lean to fat ratio for burgers.
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Yes, also, pre-cooking the marinated meat first will ensure that the veggies don't get overcooked. Don't try to get done too fast, maybe turn down the heat a little.
Kris Janisch July 05, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Ah, got it. Thanks Jon!
Wendy Erlien July 05, 2012 at 08:12 PM
What's the easiest meat to grill? I also tend to burn almost everything I put on the grill in my attempt to make sure it's cooked all the through.
James Sanna (Editor) July 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Mince it and make laarb or taco meat out of it. That's how.
Jon Stephen Swenson July 05, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Mix with coals, I usually soak the chips in water so they don't burn up right away.
Willow July 06, 2012 at 11:39 AM
How do I convince my husband that it's the man's job to grill and not the wife's? Seriously.
john July 06, 2012 at 12:45 PM
When cooking indirect, would you suggest using a water pan or not? I usually do, more so when I'm doing long smokes. Kingsford or Lump coal? I've always use kindsford. I find that I can get a constant 250-350 for 2 hours at least. Depending on the damper on my smoker.
David J Rotert July 06, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Do you have a good rub recipe or recommendation? Particularly for babyback ribs. I have run out and wonder if I should make my own (spicy, less salty) or go try some new ones from a store.
Tony Jansen July 06, 2012 at 05:26 PM
What's the best way to grill a salmon fillet?
Jon Stephen Swenson July 06, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Burgers and boneless chicken breasts, sometimes we pound the meat a little thinner so it cooks through faster.
Jon Stephen Swenson July 06, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Either under or overcook his Steak, he will want to show his expertise the next time...
Jon Stephen Swenson July 06, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I usually soak the wood so it adds moisture, water pan is good too.
Jon Stephen Swenson July 06, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Of course Famous Dave's Rib Rub is available in most local stores, have you tried to make your own? That is the best way to tone down the salt.
Jon Stephen Swenson July 06, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I use a grilling cage and cook skin side down 90% and flip it at the end to get a little char on the top for flavor. If you burn the skin a little it is OK. Another great way is on a Grill plank of hardwood, apple is good with salmon.
Charlie Torgerson July 07, 2012 at 03:17 AM
So Jon, if I'm going to smoke pig cheeks, what finishing glaze would you recommend? I am also messing with snouts and tails. Any advice? Thanks Charlie T.
Jon Stephen Swenson July 07, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I like a Peach Chipotle Glaze, and if you go to the State Fair this year you can even try it on a stick.

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