Curto's Appliances & Grills Blog - Reviewing Appliances, Outdoor Kitchens and Grills - Westchester County - NY - NJ - CT
Posted on April 4, 2018
Alfresco Grill Review - Yes the Burners Can Sear!
I've fielded numerous questions this year regarding the normal Alfresco burners and their ability to sear. I can understand the line of questions, as I have spent alot of time discussing the solid fuel insert as well as the Hellfire infrared sear burner.
I decided to put the normal burners on the Alfresco to the test by grilling up a thick prime porterhouse I bought from Vincent's of Arthur Ave. The seasoning was simple - kosher salt, olive oil, pepper and ripping hot grates on the Alfresco. I also hit the beef with a bit of cherry smoke from the herb infusion box on the Alfresco. Amazing!
Posted on February 27, 2018
Posted on December 19, 2017
Posted on December 15, 2017
Posted on August 2, 2017
Alfresco Grills Solid Fuel Insert Provides Serious Heat
Yesterday I hosted a customer from Indiana who wanted to test drive the Alfresco ALXE42SZ grill, which is Alfresco's flagship model that comes with the Hellfire sear burner.
The question for him was whether he should buy the ALXE42 with the sear zone, realizing that the Alfresco sear is insanely hot, running between 1100-1700F, or should be bypass it since it would take up 33% of his grilling space, and go with my advice, which is to use the solid fuel insert as your sear machine. Not only can you remove the solid fuel insert so in essence it becomes a flexible sear zone (the Hellfire sear burner cannot be removed) but you are also searing with smoke / wood / coal so you are getting that FLAVOR which any gas burner or infrared sear burner will never deliver.
For the test he brought a beautifully marbled 2.5" thick ribeye steak, seasoned it up with kosher salt and pepper, and then on to the infrared sear she went.
After about 3 minutes (and one 45 degree turn for cross hatch marks) he placed the other side of the steak on the already ripping solid fuel insert which had been ignited with lump charcoal ten minutes prior.
Results to follow.....
Posted on July 17, 2017
Alfresco Grill Review and Safety TipsWhenever I do an Alfresco grill review, I am typically focused on bringing out its best features and some of the cool thing you can do with them. Check other videos for topics like "smoketissing", the "hellfire burner" or using the solid fuel insert or steamer fryer insert.However, considering how much I use the grill, I am prone to make mistakes from time to time...and some of those mistakes should not be repeated due to safety concerns. So it's my responsibility to pass these tips along to you and make sure you use this high-powered product in the safest and most rewarding way possible.I was intending on cutting a quick video called "How I Nearly Blew Up My Alfresco Grill" but after I finished the one take, I saw that the Alfresco grill review was not short, not even close....12 minutes and change were recorded so I decided to cut the video into 2 parts.Part One will deal with how I nearly blew the Alfresco 42 grill up due to negligence with the rotisserie. The second part will deal with a mistake I made with the solid fuel insert.Enjoy the videos and ping me with any questions...and remember:we ship Alfresco grills nationwide with free delivery. Call us with any questions! 800-966-2878
Posted on May 4, 2017
Who says you can’t smoke steak?
While smoking is generally reserved for chicken , pork seafood and select cuts of beef like brisket or short ribs, I take a contrarian viewpoint: all steak deserves to be smoked!
While I appreciate the violent yet beautiful transformation that beef undergoes on a searing hot grill, why not prep said beef with a nice dose of smoke beforehand?
I started doing this after reading Steve Raichlen’s book “Project Smoke” where he stated that even though smoking is traditionally reserved for brisket, there are plenty of applications when used with beef tenderloin, tri tip, strip steaks etc. I started using it on tri tip steaks with the reverse sear method of grilling. Soon, I was smoking prime rib as well as NY strips.
Now, every piece of steak I lay my hands on gets a healthy smoke followed by a trip to a searing hot grill.
Tonight I brought home a skirt steak as well as “steak pinwheels” which are flank steaks rolled up and stuffed with provolone cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley. The skirt steak was given a quick marinade bath in soy sauce and scallions, the steak pinwheels were ready to throw right on the grill.
What I decided to do was “double-fist”, or, use a combination of two of my grills for this cook. First I would smoke the steaks at 250 for 10-15 mins on the Traeger Timberline 850. I used a combination of hickory and alder pellets and placed all the steak at the lower-most rack on the Traeger. Since I wanted to maximize the smoke for this relatively short cook, I used a feature on the Traeger called “Super Smoke” which allows extra smoke at lower temperatures (you must be under 250 to enable Super Smoke) . This will enhance flavor at early portions of cooks and some Traeger Timberline reviews have noted that it not only adds flavor but improves the bark on briskets and pulled pork.
While the Traeger was smoking away, I dusted off my Alfresco ALXE42SZ grill (which I had not used in months) and fired up all the burners including the infrared “Hellfire” sear burner.
I wanted to create a molten, white hot searing environment to drop those smoked steaks on for a reverse sear to finish them off. After nearly 10 minutes the Alfresco hood temp gauge was registering over 800 degrees which meant that the grate level was probably around 1100-1200F.
I took the skirt steak and pinwheels off the Traeger and laid them onto the Alfresco and was greeted with sizzling smoke and fire. The smell was intoxicating and the sizzle meant that the sear was developing fast. After 30 seconds I took the skirt steak off the main burner and placed it on the Hellfire sear and with nary a flareup it took that marinaded fatty piece of steak and laid on beautiful hatch marks. After about 2-3 minutes I removed all steak and brought inside the kitchen to rest for 5 minutes so the meat could relax and redistribute juices.
I’m happy to say that this was one of the best skirt steaks I’ve ever cooked. The wood smoke flavor was subtle (which is what I wanted because my wife can’t stand over-smoked food), the marinate provided a salty yet sweet dimension and the beef flavor coupled with the char from the sear was amazing. I also achieved a beautiful edge to edge pink med rare, something that is very difficult to attain on skirt steak which has a propensity to overcook due to its thinness.
So Double-Fisting is now my go-to method for cooking steak. You cannot beat that hint of smoke combined with the blazing sear/char. Anyone who sticks to the traditional mindset that “steak should not be smoked” needs to open their minds and their mouths and taste this. There’s no goiing back!Posted in Alfresco Grills, Traeger | Tagged alfresco alxe grill review, alfresco grill review, alfresco vs lynx, alfresco alxe42-sz, traeger timberline review, traeger timberline 850 review, traeger timberline prices, traeger timberline grill near me, traeger timberline 850 near me, can you sear traeger, alfresco grill sear, alfresco grill near me, alfresco alxe-42NG, traeger timberline dealer ct, traeger timberline dealer nj, traeger timberline dealer nyc
Posted on October 19, 2016
After playing around with my Alfresco ALXE-42SZ grill, I've realized that there is way to combine the merits of the incredible solid fuel insert (SFIPOD) along with the front-loading smoke infusion system (i.e 'the house of smoke).
In past cooks, when I've loaded the solid fuel insert with wood and lump hardwood charcoal, I've generated too much smoke, much to the chagrin of my wife (and neighbors!). Somehow, someway (and it may have been the Blue Moon IPA speaking to me) I decided to forego loading the SFI-POD with wood chunks, and only used lump coal in it. This would be my main heat source.
I then loaded the smoke infusion tray with soaked apple chips and ignited it's 5000 BTU burner. The results were blissful. Using the tray as my vehicle for smoke allowed me to control the rate and volume of smoke by adjusting the heat on the dedicated burner. This allowed wisps of apple smoke to rise from the bottom tray and bathe the rotating chicken in its smokey embrace. And yes, it tasted phenomenal.
The powers of improvisation (and beer) are astounding. More to come!
Posted on October 2, 2016
Editors note - please forgive me if this article is somewhat truncated. I lost the first version when it didn't save...ARGHHHH!
It's October 2, the air is crisp, football has started, baseball is entering the drama of the Postseason...and I'm smoke-tissing on my Alfresco ALXE42SZ grill.
Before we get started let me throw a definition your way:
smoke-tissing - cooking on a rotisserie using a combination of the grill's smoker and infrared burner.
You can see another video that I created last winter where I smoke-tissed on the Alfresco ALXE42 grill.
Now I've decided to approach it from a different angle.
Using Alfresco's incredible SFI-POD (solid fuel insert), I'm going to smoke-tiss-roast the bird. Translation:the chicken goes on the rotiss spit, the solid fuel box will be placed below it with lump hardwood charcoal and two pans of root vegetables who will bathe in the luxurious drippings of the turning bird.
I tried this around one month ago and it was a mess - I didn't place the drip pans underneath the chicken, the chicken dripped directly on the lit hardwood charcoal and that resulted in a massive flame shooting out of the back of the grill and a chicken that was burnt to a crisp (at least exterior was, the inside was still pretty moist as it wasn't over 170 F).
So I had a few key changes this time around - first, I would use a drip pan filled with root vegetables, drizzled with olive oil with a nice sprinkling of coarse Kosher salt and cracked pepper. The drip pan would negate the flare ups and the root vegetables would accent the dish both visually and turn into a flavor bomb after absorbing the drippings from the chicken on the rotisserie.
Secondly, I would lower the amount of lump charcoal that I used in the SFI-POD. If I have learned anything from using the box in the last 9 months, it's that it gets incredibly hot...as in 1000F + hot. Aside from running the risk of incinerating your food, it has the potential to act as a detonator when fat drips on it. So again, drip pan would be placed under the chicken, and less coal would be used to cook with. And this leads to one of the great features of the SFI-POD - it is so easy to load more coal in it during a cook. Try doing that with a kamado which will require you to move the food on the grate to get access to remove grate in order to load more coal. Awkward.
Third difference is that I decided to limit the amount of wood that I used in the SFI-POD and instead generated my smoke from the integrated smoker box/herb infusion system in the grill. I had been reluctant to use the smoker box in the past bc I didn't think it was generating enough smoke and it was too-far away from the chicken. However due to the heavy flareups I have experienced, I wanted to focus on controlling the heat to a manageable level in the SFI-POD. Wood (even soaked) would undoubtedly raise the temperature in the box, so the smoker tray was in play. This was a great move as the tray gave off controlled, even amounts of smoke and was incredibly easy to refill as needed.
I used a Bell & Evans 3.5 lb chicken stuffed with lemon, garlic rosemary and sage. The exterior was brushed with olive oil and Adobo seasoning.
I used Royal Oak hardwood lump charcoal (not my preferred choice but I was in a bind. Kamado Joe charcoal is much better as the pieces are larger and not as much dust) and Kamado Joe Apple wood chips.
As you can see from the pictures below, the results were astounding. The bird was cooked on the rotisserie for 1.5 hours using only the SFI-POD for heat. For the last 15 minutes of the cook I activated the infrared rotisserie burner to achieve that dark crisp skin that solely smoking will not deliver. The bird was crispy on the outside and incredibly moist inside, with a kick from the seasoning and a light smoky touch to it. And the root vegetables - wow. I used red potatoes, scallions, yams and carrots. The yams were otherworldly. The sugar from the yam combined with the crispiness of the skin, the moistness of the interior and the smokiness created a taste that sent me into a reverie. Brilliant!
Posted on May 22, 2016
Right before Mother's Day, my friendly neighborhood purveyor of fine meats, Mini's Prime Meats of Bronxville, informed me that he would be getting tomahawk steaks in as a special order item for the holiday. I immediately put my name on the list and began to formulate how I would cook this behemoth cut of beef. Would it be smoked and/or seared on the Kamado Joe? Would the Memphis Grill get the opportunity to work its magic on it? Or would the Alfresco 42" grill be called into play? I had never cooked a tomahawk before but had seen them in various grilling cookbooks, including my favorite, "Hot Coals" where the authors opted to cook one directly over coals "caveman style".
As you can see from the pictures that follow, the cut looked as if it came from a dinosaur. It measured nearly 3" thick at its tallest point and was well-marbled and partially sheathed with a beautiful layer of fat that would provide immense flavor. Due to it's marbelization I knew that I was going with a very simple approach when it came to prepping the steak for flavor. This meant no exotic rubs or "(God forbid) marinades. The formula would be as follows:
- thick coating of olive oil massaged into the beef
- light coating of butter massaged in as well
- generous coating of coarse kosher salt
- generous coating of black pepper
So, unlike my typical ribeye recipe, I would NOT be using any coffee rub. I wanted to taste as much as the beef as possible, along with the smoke from the grill setup.
Alfresco Grill Setup
Using an Alfresco ALXE-42SZ grill and my Alfresco Solid Fuel Insert (SFI-POD), my plan was to load the insert with about 10 pieces of Kamado Joe lump hardwood charcoal and one chunk of hickory wood in order to get a nice taste of smoke. There is ample room in the solid fuel insert to load it up far more than this amount but I did not want the steak to taste like a solidified mass of smoke. After turning the gas on high, my lump coal and wood was ignited within 5-7 mins (a hell of a lot faster than my Kamado Joe!). I let them burn a little and once the flame subsided and I saw a semblance of embers, it was time to sear the steak.
Due to the size of the tomahawk my grilling times were turned upside down. Usually I sear for 1 min per side, then 2-3 mins on the normal burner then I've reached medium rare.
For this dino-steak I seared on the solid fuel insert for 2 mins per side at a temp over 1000F ( my infrared gun could not register a temp as it stops at 999F). I then moved the monster down to the normal Alfresco grates which had been set at medium temp and cooked for about 7 mins on each side. When I did the poke test I was still way too rare so I threw the steak back up on the solid fuel insert for some intense heat. I would say I added another 90 seconds on each side (tops) then took the steak off for temping. I was getting instant read temps ranging from 125F-135F.
Result - beautiful medium rare with quite a nice bark!
The tomahawk was conquered and enjoyed by all who sampled it.