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Learning, Practicing and Celebrating Outdoor Recreation

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Tools I Use When Grilling At Night

posted November 15, 2020

Smoke pouring out of pellet grill chimney illuminated by LED motion light

Yesterday evening I planned on a quick hour of fly fishing before putting three whole chickens on the Camp Chef in order to burn through the remainder of my hickory pellets (and start on the apple pellets I had in reserve). However, the water level in the river has receded and so I spent longer than anticipated scouting for a decent spot, and then fishing the spot I did settle on.

When I returned the sun was well down and so I smoked the chickens under the night sky. Such experiences do not have to be frightening or dangerous however, and I felt motivated to make a quick post about some of the tools that make grilling at night a fun and easy thing to do.

Apple-wood Pellet Smoke emitting from Camp Chef SW

1) LED Solar Motion-Lights

As a preliminary note, obviously the ideal situation would be to have an inherently well lit deck, patio or whatever structure you generally grill on. That said, if lighting conditions are less than ideal in the space where you grill, and you have a surface to mount something to, LED solar-powered motion lights may be extraordinarily beneficial. Not only are they motion-activated, freeing one's hands to carry food and utilities to and from your cooking area, but they shutdown in the absence of activity, alleviating any concerns about wasting power when the lights aren't in use.

I mounted four lights along the fence surrounding my patio, which has proven to be sufficient.

2) Flashlight Cap

I do not have a particular brand to recommend over any other, other than owing to the fact this is the only such item I have owned (this one looks promising). And in fact it was a gift given to me by someone who's remarks in bestowing it on me were something to the effect of, "I found this at Walmart and thought it was so stupid, you would probably wear it". And wear it I most certainly do.

I heard another story from a guy wearing one of these who was having a terrible time duck hunting. Finally he looked over at one of his buddies to see if they could pinpoint what he was doing wrong, and they were motioning intently to the brim of his cap: evidently he had been flashing ducks all morning.

In any case, for grilling at night, my hat has been awesome. Even in relatively poorly lit environments I can have a reasonably illuminated surface wherever I am focused at a given moment, while having two free hands to carry trays, utensils and whatever else needs moving around.

3) ThermoPro TP19 Digital Food Thermometer

This device was the subject of one of my recent posts, but it definitely deserves a place of prominence on a list identifying this particular quality: the ability to read temperatures clearly in low-light situations thanks to a back-lit LCD is instrumental to checking on food quickly and efficiently without letting too much heat escape. Even better, the display alternates orientation depending on how the device is being held, which facilitates 'rapid probing'. Even cooking for just myself I tend to grill in bulk, so the ability to efficiently test different meats is useful.

Apple-smoked Whole Chicken

Apple smoked whole chicken

I loosely followed this recipe from Camp Chef:

I placed the chickens on for about 1 hour and 15 minutes on high smoke, before turning the dial up to 375F and pulling the lever to engage direct flame mode. This allowed the chickens to develop that darkened, crispy skin which also absorbed the apple-wood flavor very effectively. This was my first time using apple pellets and I agree they go very well with poultry. I will strongly consider using them for my Thanksgiving turkey.