If you live in – or visit – Orange County, CA (specifically Los Alamitos), the Joint Forces Training Center there does something a little unusual. At an eatery named Fiddler’s Green, diners can grill their own meats! The restaurant is open to the public and the proceeds (the restaurant is a non-profit) go back to the base.
Their website says you can “Be the Chief by cooking your own Barbequed Meat on the built-in Gas Grills.” They are open for lunch M-F from 11am-2pm & dinner M-Sat from 3:30pm to 11pm. Their lunch menu features sandwiches, burgers, and salads but if you’re interested in the DIY-BBQ-at-a-restaurant, you’ll have to wait ’til dinner! Cooking utensils are provided.
A map of the base, with Fiddler's Green highlighted (Top Left Corner) - Click for a closer view
Interested? Head on out to 4745 Yorktown Ave. At the security gate, you’ll have to present your driver’s license and tell the guard you’re going to Fiddler’s Green, Building 19.
A reviewer on Yelp says the bratwurst is recommended. She also points out that since you’re playing grill master, you can’t really complain if your meat is underdone or overdone. Brilliant on the restaurant’s part, I have to say!
Personally, I love this idea! It’s like one step up from the restaurants where you pick your food and they grill it right in front of you. Gotta love it when somebody takes it to the next level!
Have heard of other cook-it-yourself restaurants? What do you think of the idea?
A couple days ago I showed you how to take a cheap steak and turn it into a high quality prime steak. Everyone has their opinions on what is their favorite steak or what is the best steak. Today I wan to start a poll to find out what really is the most common “favorite” steak around. Once enough data is gathered I will work on a post for a recipe cooking this steak to perfection.
I just experienced this last night when grilling out steaks. It was a windy evening and when I grill steaks I like to have the internal temperature of the grill somewhere around 450-500 degrees. With the wind whipping across my grill I could only get it to roughly 325 degrees and several times the wind blew out the flame completely on my gas grill. This caused all the cooking times to be pushed way back. Nothing more frustrating when planning other dishes and the time gets all thrown all out of sync. It was pretty much impossible to get any nice grill marks on the food as well.
Grill Tip: When grilling take the wind direction into consideration. On a windy day you will want your grill to be blocked from the wind as much as possible. Wind cutting across your grill will cause it to not get as hot as needed. If you have a wide open space and there is no way to position the grill from the wind, consider adding some landscaping that can block the wind from your grilling area.
I already have plans this year to put in a living fence that should block some of the wind on those windy days.
Is your grill protected from the wind when grilling?
It looks like a lot of the country is going to go into a warm up over the next few days and through the weekend. If you are pulling out your grill for the first time then you will want to give it a good cleaning. (See previous posts: Deep Cleaning Your Grill Grates and Cleaning the Inside of Your Gas Grill ) Besides giving your grill a cleaning before you cook on it the first time you will also want to check items on your grill to ensure your safety this grilling season.
Check your burners. Make sure your burners on your gas grill are free of debris and there are no cracks, holes or splits. If there are you will want to replace this burner before using your grill.
Check all hoses on your gas grill. The hoses that connect your gas to your grill will need inspected. Years of use can cause them to become cracked and cause gas to leak out. If you suspect that there is any signs of this then replace the tube immediately. This is a dangerous situation.
Make sure the venturi tubes are clean and clear. Venturi tubes is the section of your gas burners that get the gas to the burner. There are special brushes that are made to clean just this part. Why you need to make sure these are clean is because if there is something in there it can cause the gas to backup and cause an explosion on startup. Small critters like spiders often find their way into these tubes.
Test your propane tank for leaks. You will want to check your propane tank for leaks either if it is still the one from last season or a new one you exchanged out for this season. To test this get a mix of soapy water and either spray it on the tank or brush it on. Watch for any bubbles coming out. If there are then that tank has a leak and you will want to take it in and get it exchanged.
Run your grill and test for leaks. Once everything is cleaned and checked put your propane tank on your grill and fire it up. Use another soapy water solution to test for any gas leaks on the tubes that connect the tank to your grill. These will be holes that would not have been noticeable when you checked it for cracks.
If you are firing up your grill for the first time this week/weekend make sure you follow these tips to make sure you have a safe grill for cooking on. For more grill safety tips to follow read this: Grill Safety Tips.
How often do you check your grill for safety?
Here in the U.S. all meat has to pass through a mandatory federal inspection. This is completed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and paid for by tax dollars. They ensure all meat products are safe, wholesome and correctly labeled and packaged. After meat has passed through FSIS the producers and processors of the meat can request that their meat is graded for quality by a licensed federal grader. The agency that grades all our meat is, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. This service is not paid for with tax dollars and is paid for by the producer or processor of the meat.
Meat is graded on the tenderness, juiciness, and flavor of the meat. When grading meat they grade the entire carcass and then the grade is stamped on it. When it is cut into its respective “cuts” the packaging will show the grade that particular piece of meat came from. There are two ways meat is graded. One being quality grades and the other being yield grades. The one most people see and think of is quality grades and that is what will go over in this post. Quality grades are based on the age of the animal and the marbling of the meat. Marbling is the flecks of white fat you see distributed throughout the meat.
What are the quality grades of meat?
- Prime Grade is the best of the best and going to be the more expensive piece of meat. This meat come from young, well fed cattle.
- Choice Grade is still high quality meat, but will have a little less marbling than the prime grade.
- Select Grade is going to be leaner than the higher meet grades, but will lack some of the flavor and juiciness of those higher grades.
- Standard & Commercial Grades will usually not show a grade when looking at it in the store. This will be your typical “store brand” meat.
- Utility, Cutter, and Canner Grades are never seen in the stores as such. This type of meat is used to make ground beef and processed meat products.
In summary the best grade is going to come from young cattle that has a good amount of marbling.
Which steak below has the better grade?