Triple Take: ON THE HASTY-BAKE
ON THE HASTY-BAKE
Crisp fall air, tailgating and campouts just beg for grilled and smoked goodness and that’s where the Tulsa-made Hasty-Bake Charcoal Oven comes into play. Since 1948 Hasty-Bake has been heralded as a leader in manufacturing the “backyard barbecue.”
Grant Hastings was a pioneer in the industry, introducing the first portable unit, the first hooded unit and a new method of cooking using indirect heat. Hastings’ design controlled the intensity of heat by using vents, a heat deflector, a ventless hood and an adjustable firebox, revolutionizing the method in which food was cooked.
Rich Alexander bought the company roughly 20 years ago and from marketing to hands-on production to hauling equipment to trade shows, he has literally put his blood and sweat into rebuilding the company.
It’s difficult to find a locally made pan to cook in, much less an oven, no matter where you live. So, for this fall Triple Take it only seemed natural for our home cook, John Kellerstrass; our pro, Josh White of Bubba- Q-Boys; and the Edible Tulsa test kitchen to strut their barbecue stuff on a Hasty-Bake. We really enjoyed this opportunity to throw down local food on Tulsa’s original charcoal oven that has been recognized and awarded not only nationally, but globally.
The Home Cook: John Kellerstrass
Broken Arrow resident John Kellerstrass is one of the managing partners at D’Vontz, a company that designs, manufactures and distributes decorative plumbing fixtures worldwide. He and his lovely wife, Licia, the baker in the family, both love to cook and entertain. They have two four-legged kids, Martini (“Tini”) and Cabernet (“Cabbie.”) John has owned a Hasty-Bake for over 20 years and is now the proud owner of two.
John has been cooking “for as long as I can remember but really started in the Boy Scouts.” And John knows his way around a Hasty-Bake. He says he uses his “Hasty” all year long for mixed grills, grilled veggie salads, pizza parties, steaks and the like. He especially loves smoking meats.
For this article, John grilled chicken leg and thigh quarters but not before gently lifting the skin and smearing the flesh with butter followed by a heavy sprinkling of dried oregano, thyme, marjoram and parsley from the Kellerstrass garden as well as the chicken seasoning from the Spice Market. The outside of the chicken got the same butter, herb and spice seasoning treatment. He recommends cooking the chicken at 350° until “I see the skin get crispy and start to pull away from the knuckle. This almost always guarantees chicken that is done. I will also take the larger piece and try to break the joint between the leg and thigh with a twist. If it starts to fall apart, you are golden.”
Along with the delicious chicken, John also prepared a grilled peach salad using Porter peaches, a smoked local vegetable medley that included crookneck squash, Brussels sprouts and turnips, followed by grilled pound cake, fresh berries and cream. Oh, and a few libations that paired perfectly with his spread.
• Don’t use lighter fluid to start the coals. Use newspapers instead.
• Use real hardwood lump charcoal.
• Never use a fork for lifting and turning because piercing the skin will yield dry meat.
Instead, he recommends an extra-long pair of all metal self-opening/lockable restaurant kitchen tongs, an extra-long all-metal spatula, a silicone basting brush, a good cleaning brush and a pair of welding gloves.
He also made a coal pusher out of an old spatula. He says, “It helps me arrange coals, push the coals into a pile and move the diffuser back and forth.”
• Clean the grill several times during the cooking process and as soon as you pull off the meat. The grates will stay very clean, well seasoned and almost stick-free.
The Pro: Josh White of Bubba-Q-Boys
Josh White, a former college baseball player, is a national account manager for GDH Consulting. He is partial to Weber and Hasty- Bake charcoal grills and heads up the award-winning Bubba-Q-Boys competitive barbecue team. Josh lives in Bixby with his barbecue crew: wife Kristy, and their three children Addy (8), Aiden (6) and Avery (3).
• Don’t use lighter fluid
• Keep temperature around 220°. You don’t have to use much charcoal or wood to do this.
• Keep enough space between ashtray and briquette/wood holder so that the bottom can breathe and the air can rise vertically.
• Pull the top rack out a bit towards the opening door so that you can maximize space.
• Be careful with the airway openings, they are extremely temperamental.
• Steel gets extremely hot, make sure that children don’t get close.
• There is no water so make sure to keep basting your products and keep lower temperatures than normal.
• Be careful with deflector ray, it gets too hot to grab with gloves at times.
• Change wood out several times during the smoke to make sure that you are getting good smoke.
The Edible Tulsa test kitchen
Oklahoma may be beef country but for our take, we wanted to experience the versatility of the Hasty-Bake. You’ve seen how superbly it smokes ribs and grills meat but we wondered how it would handle the delicate flesh and flavor of fish. We were fortunate enough to have a local fisherman extend some wonderful crappie to us and we sourced the rest of our smoked seafood feast from Bodean Seafood market in Tulsa. It included catfish, sea scallops, trout and salmon and each of fish was simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper, with the exception of the trout. It got the royal treatment of lemon slices, fresh dill and Judy’s special seasoning blend that she’ll be sharing in our next issue. We wanted unadulterated smoke to be guest of honor at our party. And just how did the Hasty-Bake fare with the fish? Like a boss.
Edible Tulsa tips
• Don’t use lighter fluid.
• Season the fish simply and sparingly.
• Cook fish at 220° until it is slightly firm to the touch.
• Use the freshest fish possible.