The Grills and Partners of Planet Barbecue
Quick—what do you like best about Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue® TV show?
The ingenious grilling techniques? The hunger-inducing recipes? Your charming, globe-trotting host? 😉 Or maybe Steven’s bloopers at the end of the show? Everyone likes those. Except for Steven … ;-(
Admit it—for a lot of people out there, what really wows you are all those grills!
We get emails all the time asking:
Do you really use all those grills? (Yes.) What do you do with all that food? (We feed our crew—TV crews are very hungry.)
How do the grills stay so clean? (That’s thanks to tireless efforts of our fire wranglers, Steve Nestor, Jared Reiter, and Kieran Lynch.)
What happens to the grills after the show? (They go back to the manufacturers or get donated to charity.)
Just how many grills does Steven own? (It’s somewhere north of 60, but who’s counting?)
Well, we thought we’d take this opportunity to tell you a little more about the grills—and other products—we used on Planet Barbecue®.
The Grills and Partners of Planet Barbecue
First up, the Big Green Egg. Next year, marks its 50th anniversary, but you don’t need to wait until then to celebrate! This ovoid ceramic cooker sparked the kamado revolution and it remains one of America’s most iconic grills today. The Big Green Egg is a workhorse with a unique venting system that enables you to smoke low and slow, grill hot and fast, and cook everywhere in between. The thick ceramic walls hold in the heat—even in the coldest weather—and the felt seal between the cook chamber and lid guarantees moistness and flavor. New this year is a rotisserie attachment that we used to make Brazilian Chicken Rollatini.
The Fire Magic Echelon offers high performance, uncommon versatility and sleek design. The company— a division of RH Peterson—certainly has experience: It’s been building grills for more than 80 years. There aren’t many gas grills that also burn charcoal. The optional sear burner puts a steakhouse quality crust on rib-eyes. There’s a griddle for cooking quesadillas and tacos. A heavy-duty rotisserie large enough to handle a suckling pig. Other welcome features include separate heat zones (separated by metal baffles), lights in the cook chamber and on the burner knobs, and unique “diamond sear” cooking grids—with grates with flat top bars that lay on those well-defined grill marks you saw in Steven’s Tuna Anticuchos and Grilled Swordfish with Salsa Macha.
Cross a barbecue grill with a Swiss Army knife and you get the Father’s Cooker. Engineered and manufactured in Quebec, this versatile grill handles any fuel you throw at it—from propane to charcoal to wood. A stainless steel insert turns it into a steamer and stockpot. (Perhaps you watched Steven use it to prepare a Gulf Coast Shrimp Boil.) Of course, there’s a rotisserie. And a plancha insert enables you to cook a bacon, egg, and pancake breakfast. You can even remove the lid to turn it into a stand-up griddle.
Kalamazoo Gaucho: If grills were tanks, this is the cooker you’d want to ride into barbecue battle with. Imagine 540 pounds of stainless steel, brass, and bronze. It’s a marriage of elemental—even primal—cooking methods and high design. Inspired by Argentinean-style grilling as well as the techniques practiced in Santa Maria, California, the Gaucho burns wood for authentic flavor. The height of the grate over the fire can be adjusted by a massive flywheel. A chain-driven rotisserie enables you to spit-roast huge hunks of meat, like the Pearl District Spiessbraten we did in the San Antonio Grill episode. Best of all: there’s a gas ignition system, which makes lighting the wood fire a cinch!
New to Planet Barbecue this year is the Hancock Grill—a wood-burning pedestal grill crowned with a large square griddle. This unique configuration allows you to fry eggs, sear French toast, wood grill a sirloin, and roast marshmallows to make uptown s’mores for dessert. To make his Hot Gut Hero (a brisket sausage sandwich) in the Texas Trinity show, for example, Steven grilled the sausage over the wood burning section and toasted the buns on the griddle. The Santa Maria insert, with its raisable and lowerable grate, makes heat control a snap. Brainchild of Brandon and Kori Hancock, this unique grill is handcrafted in Florida. You can even fire it up for breakfast—try the Breakfast Tacos in our San Antonio show.
No matter what the task, good tools (and the right tools) are essential. Handcrafted in Japan, Shun Cutlery is known for its premium steel and high-quality manufacturing and edge retention. Shun knives use Demascus cladding (a grinding and etching process) to give each blade the layered look of wood grain and Tsuchime (a hammering process) to add strength and food release. The hand-polished handles give you knives that look as good as they chop. Shun manufactures all-purpose chef’s knives, paring knives, and santokus, as well as specialized blades for trimming brisket, slicing brisket, and dicing vegetables. Watch Steven make quick work of the latter when he prepares a Meatless Mixed Grill for our Argentine Fire show.
For years, Steven’s partnered with one of the largest producers of digital meat thermometers in the country, Maverick Industries. The Edison, New Jersey-based company has been making instant-read meat thermometers for more than 30 years. The latest innovations include the wireless Stake thermometer, the ET-2270 Shake Temp (which requires no batteries—you shake it to charge it), and a broad range of WiFi, Bluetooth, and Alexis Echo-enabled thermometers. Download the accompanying apps and you’ll be able to monitor your cook from your phone, freeing you up to enjoy the big game or your party guests.
Perhaps you watched our Argentine Fire episode, in which grill master and Tik-Tok phenom Al Frugoni joined Steven to prepare a whole mammoth rib roast over a smoky wood fire. The beef came from Argentine Beef—headquartered in the capital of South American barbecue: Argentina. Argentine meats are hormone-free and grass-fed, which results in a flavor unique in the world of grilling. Steven also used Argentine beef to make the Smoked, Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks with Horseradish Butter in the Texas Trinity episode and the Paleo-friendly Meat Crust Pizza in Argentine Fire.
Basque Hardwood Charcoal: High-quality, clean-burning hardwood lump charcoal is indispensable on the set of Planet Barbecue—especially when Steven showcases one of his favorite grilling methods—“caveman grilling,” cooking directly on the embers. Harvested from the hardwood forests of Quebec, Basque only uses wood that cannot be used by other wood-centric industries (such as furniture or siding) and champions sustainability. We used it cook Steven’s smoked, torched Crème Brulee in the Across the Pond show.
Steven credits Peter Workman, the late publishing genius who founded Workman Publishing, now part of the Hatchette Book Group, with launching Steven’s career as a world barbecue and grilling authority. The publisher of such iconic bestsellers as The Atlas Obscura and 1001 Things to See Before You Die, Peter’s dedication to creating definitive nonfiction books motivated Steven to write his landmark Barbecue! Bible. Esquire magazine called the book “The most extensive collection of [barbecue] techniques ever published.” The rest, as they say, is history.
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