17 Mar2014

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I have always wanted a nice charcoal grill at the beach. I grew up in two homes that both had brick barbecue grills outdoors, and both of those grills were poorly designed, which meant they were rarely, if ever used. The culprit? My parents had them built with a decorative brick (you know those thin bricks used on house facades in the 60’s and 70’s) which doesn’t really retain heat, and worse, they chip and break quite easily. But the aesthetics weren’t as much of a problem as the lack of airflow. The coals rested on the brick floor, and without an air source BELOW the coals, they had trouble getting enough air to keep the fire going. It’s the same reason street side bbq grills need a fan to constantly fan air/oxygen to the coals to keep them blazing hot.

If you dissect your Weber/kettle grill, you’ll notice that the coals are placed on a second grill, and air flows up and through the coals, making for really nice heat, while ashes fall to a plate below. Our Weber grills at the beach corrode quickly from the sea air and need to be replaced every couple of years, hence the desire for a more permanent solution…

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The perfect opportunity/setting presented itself when we got rid of an old generator and the humongous cement base was just sitting there. We added some cement to make a countertop, threw in a simple sink, and made two areas for grilling and turning a small lechon or boneless lechon or chickens on a spit. We used really good fire bricks to retain heat and pre-fab cast iron grills from our stainless steel supplier in Cebu and in less than 10 days we had this almost finished grill station.

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We can prep crab, fish, shrimp on the cement counter for immediate consumption or the deep freeze to later take to Manila. We can prepare all the ingredients for a barbecue right here next to the grilling station. I can’t wait to try it for the first time once it is all done.

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Considering that 2/3 of the cement was “re-purposed”, this didn’t cost that much to make, and after a few years, it will have paid for itself when compared with constantly replacing the kettle grills. The most pricey part of the equation were the firebricks at PHP54 each, and we used roughly 110 of them or so.

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With this much grill capacity, however, we can easily cook up enough food for 30-40 people at a single meal, and we rarely, if ever, have had that many people at the beach at any one time. Maybe a mini-eyeball for 8 people with paella and boneless lechon demo/lunch would be a good thing, no? :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. gigiedlcruz says:

    how do we get invites? ;)

    Mar 17, 2014 | 12:11 pm

     
  2. Gia Mayol says:

    Hi, Marketman. May I ask where you sourced your firebricks? I’ve been on the lookout for firebricks for quite some time.

    Mar 17, 2014 | 12:14 pm

     
  3. Belle Franco says:

    Can I be one of the lucky 8 invitees? ;)

    Mar 17, 2014 | 12:31 pm

     
  4. CCA19 says:

    Would love to go to the eyeball if invited :)

    Mar 17, 2014 | 1:31 pm

     
  5. edel says:

    ooohhh eyeball :)

    the brick grill looks nice. i wanted something similar for our garden but an uncle gave me a portable “smokey joe.”

    Mar 17, 2014 | 1:55 pm

     
  6. Angelo says:

    Oooooh, nice. I’d like to build something like this as well; could you take more photos of the grill as well as the vents for the coals?

    Man, I am sooooooooooo jealous right now.

    Mar 17, 2014 | 3:29 pm

     
  7. Dreaming! says:

    Nice looking! How do we get to see the new BBQ!

    Mar 17, 2014 | 3:33 pm

     
  8. Marketman says:

    Angelo, grills for coals hadn’t arrived yet when I took these photos… will do another post when we use the grill for the first time…

    Mar 17, 2014 | 3:39 pm

     
  9. manny says:

    Weber allows you to close the grill to keep meats moist, tasty, and smoked. You might want to consider doing the same.

    Am actually looking forward to your BBQ recipes and experiments . . .

    Mar 17, 2014 | 5:01 pm

     
  10. Betchay says:

    Nice. Really nice! Why didn’t you build a brick fire oven too? :)

    Mar 17, 2014 | 5:30 pm

     
  11. Marketman says:

    Betchay have been mulling a brick oven for years… figured this was a prelude. But honestly, it takes hours and lots of wood to bring a brick oven up to heat, and you have to make good use of it and cook LOTS of dishes to maximize your use of the heat… manny, we can just use the cover of the weber on top of the grill…

    Mar 17, 2014 | 5:51 pm

     
  12. greens_blossoms says:

    Nice BBQ station…will try to copy this…will wait for more pics from you…or better yet if I can see the BBQ grill up front :-)

    Mar 17, 2014 | 6:49 pm

     
  13. Thel from Florida says:

    That is so cooool–job well done! Grill, grill, grill na.

    Mar 17, 2014 | 8:33 pm

     
  14. onix says:

    hi MM… how much would those cast iron grille grates cost from your supplier..? thanks

    Mar 17, 2014 | 8:37 pm

     
  15. joey @ 80 breakfasts says:

    It is lovely! Living in a flat, outdoor grilling is something we hardly can indulge in. A mini-eyeball to test-drive it sounds like an excellent idea!!! :) Heehee :) :)

    Mar 18, 2014 | 12:03 am

     
  16. kristin says:

    MM.. grill season! :) how can I get the EB invites? will be home soon..

    Mar 18, 2014 | 12:10 am

     
  17. marilen says:

    70s lingo – NEAT!!

    Mar 18, 2014 | 7:22 am

     
  18. jay p says:

    ummm whats the depression in the middle?

    Mar 18, 2014 | 8:17 am

     
  19. amy says:

    Looks great! I can’t wait for you to try this and see how efficiently it works, then I’ll have the hubby build one for me too! I have an outdoor gas grill, but we all know that hot coals do magic to the food.

    Mar 18, 2014 | 8:18 am

     
  20. Knifenut says:

    Hi MM, care to share where you buy your Weber grills?

    Mar 18, 2014 | 10:45 am

     
  21. Marketman says:

    Knifenut, they have a fresh delivery of Weber grills at S&R at the moment, at roughly PHP12,000 a piece. They also sometimes carry them at True Value, for significantly more. Do NOT buy the cheaper “charbroil” or similarly branded grills, I find they are so thin they don’t last even long enough to justify the lower price… jayp, if you mean the differing counter heights, it’s just to keep liquid/water on the lower side of the grills. If you are referring to the center pit with no grill and metal pipes embedded at the end, that’s for roasting lechon/boneless lechon. Onix, I can’t remember exactly, I had someone in the office get them in Cebu, but a wild guess is PHP600-800 each (they are very thick cast iron).

    Mar 18, 2014 | 11:18 am

     
  22. Ellen says:

    Looking forward to the finished mini grill/lechonan station MM. I followed your Lechon Chronicles and really paid attention on the lechonan/grill station design. I wanted to have one of these someday :)

    Mar 18, 2014 | 12:45 pm

     
  23. Cris says:

    Hi! Is this out in the open or is it roofed over? Been wanting one at home but can’t quite figure out the placement and maintenance without a roof over it.

    Mar 18, 2014 | 2:09 pm

     
  24. Marketman says:

    Cris, no roof… will have to use a big golf umbrella if it rains while I am cooking a paella! :) But it will be covered with a tarp while not in use.

    Mar 18, 2014 | 3:10 pm

     
  25. Nacho says:

    I’m a big fan of Webber grills, have one that is over 10 years old and it still looks great, though it stays in Manila. How do we get invited to that BBQ? Risking being fish panned, can I bribe you with produce? Hehe.. Seriously though, looks like a great addition to a beach house. You could use some of your Molave bonanza as cladding on parts of your grill.

    Mar 18, 2014 | 4:37 pm

     
  26. Marketman says:

    Nacho, if we manage to arrange it and go forward with a barbecue, you and Gejo are first on the list… then we can make it a produce and barbecue lunch… I am liking the sound of this more and more. Then everyone can pitch in and prep and cook different items on the menu, part learning experience, part work for your meal arrangement… :)

    Mar 18, 2014 | 4:53 pm

     
  27. corrine says:

    Love your cast iron grill and the bricks. Where did you buy your bricks, MM?

    Mar 18, 2014 | 7:24 pm

     
  28. Lambchop says:

    An inspired idea, MM! Very contemporary looking too :) How does one get an invite for the mini-eyeball? Begging maybe? :D

    Mar 18, 2014 | 8:00 pm

     
  29. Marketman says:

    corrine and gia, firebricks from Copengco Enterprises, # 60 Quirino Highway, Balintawak Quezon City, 361-7138. That info given to me by F, another reader… Thanks.

    Mar 18, 2014 | 8:24 pm

     
  30. Gej says:

    Elegantly done as usual!

    Yey! I’m game too! It’s a great idea!

    Mar 19, 2014 | 6:42 am

     
  31. d says:

    Hi MM! I searched your archives for a discussion on the comments section of an old post on how to get the skin of a porchetta crispy-crunchy rather than hard-crispy. Unfortunately, i couldn’t find it. Any tips?
    Also for the folks wanting to build a similar grill, note the thick heavy concrete that clads the refractory bricks. Bricks will hold heat longer the more thermal mass there is behind them; perfect for a slow roast.

    Mar 19, 2014 | 8:55 am

     
  32. Marketman says:

    d, sometimes, the pork belly sold in groceries is from really large, old pigs… hence the skin can be quite tough. But it’s also true that some parts of the skin from a pig appear to be fine, while other sections come out quite tough and hard. I have seen this happen with chicharon cuts as well.

    Here are some tips. Give the skin a “wash” with some vinegar briefly, then dry it with a towel or paper towels.. Apparently the acid in the vinegar helps to break down some of the whatevers on the skin (sorry, don’t remember the actual science). Then either prick it with the pins/pork pricker, OR use a sharp razor blade and make 1/4 inch slices across the surface of the pork, so you end up with a belly that looks like this (second photo in that post)… Also, I find that the heat of the fire affects the quality of the skin. If it is too low at the start, it seems to make the skin a little tougher. I also find that if the belly skin doesn’t start to blister a bit like in this post within 20-30 minutes of putting it on the fire, then you may be in for tougher than desired skin. I also find that a rotisserie set-up seems better than just putting this in an oven as well. But in Italy, a lot of porchetta is done in hot ovens, not necessarily rotisseries. Having said all of this, my guys in Cebu look at me somewhat crazy when I discuss any of this, and just say that sometimes, it’s just the pig’s fault, period. :)

    Mar 19, 2014 | 9:44 am

     
  33. d says:

    Thanks MM. D is for dokleng. Its the fat fingers and bad eyes.

    Mar 19, 2014 | 12:52 pm

     
  34. Kasseopeia says:

    This is BEAUTIFUL! My dad would positively drool at the sight.

    Mar 19, 2014 | 1:43 pm

     
  35. Nacho says:

    Sounds great! so happy to be invited!

    Mar 19, 2014 | 4:08 pm

     
  36. Sister says:

    Maybe you should put a removable metal grate with short legs inside the pit so air can flow around the charcoal, like it does in a fireplace. It can be removed for cleaning the ashes inside the pit. Fireplace in this apt. is shallow and narrow as it was originally designed for coal.

    Mar 20, 2014 | 10:10 am

     
  37. Marketman says:

    Sister, yup, two level metal grate being worked on now…

    Mar 20, 2014 | 10:31 am

     
  38. Nadia says:

    Hi. Can you share with us your supplier in Cebu for the wrought iron grill? Will they entertain small individual orders?

    Mar 20, 2014 | 7:44 pm

     
  39. Marketman says:

    Nadia, I think they were from Cebu Metal Industries, you can google them and ask if they will sell them retail, I think they would. But let me check with my guys at the office to make sure that was the source of the cast iron grills.

    Mar 20, 2014 | 9:51 pm

     
  40. MP says:

    Ehem, will be montoring your blog closely (like maybe 5 times/day) in case you decide to go ahead with that eyeball-produce-bbq fiesta!

    Mar 20, 2014 | 11:30 pm

     
  41. Cyn says:

    It would be a dream come true to meet you, and to be able to cook and dine with you MM! I hope your plans for the mini-eyeball pushes through and that I get a shot at it *fingers crossed*.

    Mar 21, 2014 | 9:06 am

     
 

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