Ask a ________ is Grilla Grills new series of blog posts where we will ask pitmaster’s, chef’s, brewers, distillers and other grill/food enthusiasts about some of our favorite topics. We’ll cover everything from favorite foods, old school recipe’s, gift ideas, personal stories and everything in between.
This time, we’re talking with Pitmaster Mike Southerland. He’s a former restaurant owner and is currently head pitmaster at Charcoal Cowboys out of Nashville, Tennessee. Dive into this blog post to see what gifts he like’s to give to the other kitchen and pit lovers in his life.
A quality knife roll will give the griller in your life a way to transport his knives to cooks, competitions and even holiday dinners. Mike says there are few things worse than trying to go out to cook or vend and then spend precious prep time looking for your knives.
“This is a good way to keep them together and protected. It is better in my opinion than a knife block, it keeps others from grabbing one to use to pry something open!”Mike Southerland
Not only will the knife roll keep your knives mobile, but it also does a great job of keeping them out of the hands of people you might not want to use them. If you were to leave your knives on the counter in a knife block, they’re on display for anyone to grab. As many of us know, quality knives can cost upwards of $100 and seeing someone misuse them to open a can or slice open plastic packaging can drive you crazy. Mike said in the past he has used knife rolls from Aislinn Leather, and it’s possible to find one under the $100 mark.
Just like in our first gift guide we created with Pitmaster Dylan Lipe, Mike said the kitchen thermometer is one of the most forgotten, but also most useful gadgets people need for their kitchen. Everyone thinks they know exactly how long to cook pork or steak to get the exact amount of doneness they desire, but even the pro’s need help from time to time. Help your friend or family member bump up their kitchen prowess with a nice kitchen thermometer.
While it’s possible to find thermometers hitting upward of $100, it’s not always necessary to spend the big bucks on a thermometer. Often thermometers around $25 can give you nearly the same quality as the expensive ones, minus a few bells and whistles like WiFi.
“I can’t state how important this single item is. A good thermometer will make your life so much easier!”Mike Southerland
According to Mike, Thermoworks makes quality thermometers that make great gifts. He said he keeps his Thermapen with him at all times while cooking. It gives an instant-read and will last many years if it’s taken care of. Mike said if cost is an issue the Thermopop is a great gift as well.
The next gift Mike spoke of is something that the experienced pellet smoker will fall in love with, Grill Grates. Grill Grates focus the heat from a large surface to a small surface, providing a significantly higher temp that is more ideal for searing. In the simplest terms possible, grill grates give your meat and vegetables those awesome looking grill lines that will make your food look magazine-cover worthy.
” The old saying is you eat with your eyes first and I believe that is true.”Mike Sourtherland
The Grilla Grills store has custom made grill grates that will fit any of our grills perfectly so you can start putting lines on everything you cook. Mike said every grill he owns has a set of grill grates on them so that no matter what his food will have that signature look people have come to expect when eating BBQ.
Mike’s next gift idea is something that will make food prep far easier, a quality boning knife. A boning knife is a type of kitchen knife with a sharp point and a narrow blade used for removing the bones of poultry, beef, pork and fish. Mike said one of these is an invaluable resource for anyone that cooks regularly.
” A good boning knife is a must. If you are trimming brisket, pork or ribs for competition or a family dinner a good knife will make the job much easier. “Mike Southerland
According to Mike, a good boning knife is flexible but excessively sharp. He said while it’s generally a good idea spend good money on knives that will last a while, boning knives are relatively cheap compared to many others. He said with roughly $50 you can find a boning knife that will work wonders for years to come. A good place to start for under $50, according to Mike, is the Victorinox Fibrex Pro.
The final gift we have on this list is probably one of the most obvious. How much time and effort have we spent trying to figure out what to cook, how to cook, or how to improve on an age-old recipe? Too much if you ask us! Give your loved one a well-reviewed cook book and see their skills improve with every meal.
” (With cook books) There is always a new spice combination or idea that can spark a great new idea in every cook.”Mike Southerland
Mike says there are countless good books out there that cover everything from BBQ to baking and everything in between. There’s many ways to choose your book, but some of the best are to start by looking for a specific type of food or style, then diving into the reviews written by people who have tried the book for themselves. One particular book Mike said inspires him often is Chris Grove’s The Offset Smoker Cookbook.