Outdoor Kitchen Trends

Just as the kitchen has always been the heart of the home, the outdoor kitchen is quickly becoming the heart of the backyard outdoor living space.  According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), more than 75 percent of all U.S. households currently include an outdoor grill or smoker. However, that’s only part of the story. More and more homeowners are converting patio grilling areas into fully functioning kitchens that become the central gathering place for family and guests. Check out some of the latest trends.

Bar-style seating

Bar-style seating has become very popular in outdoor kitchen design for the same reason it’s popular in indoor kitchen design…it creates a communal atmosphere where family members and guests can all interact during the prep and cooking process. It also provides additional dining space, and with the addition of a television, becomes the perfect spot for outdoor tailgating.

Kitchen: Weston Stone® Bar Foot Rail: Bullnose Coping.  Pavers: Bergerac® with Old York™ border.
Multiple cooking surfaces

Today’s outdoor chef isn’t happy with just a standard grill. Modern outdoor kitchen design quite often includes multiple cooking surfaces — including gas burners, gas or charcoal grills, ceramic smokers,  and wood-burning or gas ovens.

Kitchen: Tandem® Modular GridPavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.
Everything including the kitchen sink

A growing trend in outdoor kitchen design is to include all the “creature comforts” of an indoor kitchen. Nearly every indoor kitchen appliance now has an outdoor-rated version — including ice makers, refrigerators, dishwashers, keg coolers and more. With a fully-functioning outdoor kitchen, there’s no need to constantly run indoors for supplies…everything you need is at your fingertips. Add a stereo system, wi-fi access and a TV, and you can truly live in your outdoor living space.

Kitchen: Celtik® WallPavers: Mega-Bergerac®.
Stainless steel cabinets

Stainless steel doors and drawers are popular because they are resistant to rot, weather and insects. Stainless also adds a striking look to coordinate with grills and appliances. Over time, some stains will appear on the surface, but can easily be removed with a stainless steel cleaner, making them look as good as new.

Kitchen: Belair Wall®. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.
Seat Walls

Built-in seating has been trending for years in outdoor living rooms, especially around fire features. Now, the trend is making it’s way into the outdoor kitchen. A seat wall helps define the space, adds a striking aesthetic, and allows you to provide ample seating for large gatherings to supplement seating provided by barstools and dining tables.

(Left) Kitchen: Weston Stone®. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab with an inlaid Moduline Series® border. (right) Kitchen: Belair Wall®.
Pizza Ovens

Forget calling for delivery when you can enjoy a homemade pizza with an amazing flame-grilled flavor. Whether we’re talking about economical gas-powered tabletop ovens, or gorgeous built-in wood-fired brick ovens, outdoor ovens are definitely trending. The great thing about a brick oven is that it’s not just for pizza. Nearly anything you would bake in an indoor oven can be cooked in a brick oven. You may never cook indoors again.

Oven: Bristol™ Series from the Belgard Elements Collection.
Modular Kitchens

The Belgard® Elements Collection of modular outdoor kitchen units enables homeowners to have the look of a custom outdoor kitchen for a fraction of the cost and time. Belgard Elements are built in a factory setting and shipped in sections to be quickly installed on-site, meaning your kitchen will be installed in merely hours instead of weeks.

(left) Kitchen: Bordeaux™ Series from Belgard Elements Collection. Pavers: Laffit® Rustic Slab. (right) Kitchen: Bristol™ Series from the Belgard Elements Collection. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab with an inlaid Moduline Series® border.

Built-in Grill Design Ideas

Get cooking with some of our favorite grilling station design ideas, from simple grill islands to gourmet outdoor kitchens.

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The Angular Look

These outdoor kitchens use multiple angles and countertops galore to create expansive grilling stations with ample prep and serving space, as well as bar-style seating, which allows the guests to keep the outdoor chef company.

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Weston Stone® clads the Bristol Brick Oven and was used to create a coordinating base to the grill station and extended kitchen, as well as the staircase leading to the back of the home, which ties the entire look together.
Rough-hewn Country Manor® wall adds a rustic touch and was used to create an angular kitchen that follows the shape of the gazebo roofline.

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The Classic L-Shape

With a classic L-shaped grilling station, everything you need is within arm’s reach, which makes cooking and clean-up a breeze.

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This L-shaped kitchen unit is part of the Bristol Series of the Belgard Elements collection and is prefabricated in a factory setting and shipped in sections for a custom look that installs quickly.
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This custom L-shaped grilling station is constructed with the chiseled stone look of Belair Wall® and houses multiple storage cabinets and drawers to keep everything you need close at hand.

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Multiple Cooking Surfaces

Gourmet outdoor chefs can’t settle for just one cooking method.

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With the design flexibility of Tandem® Modular Grid, this outdoor chef has it all…wood-burning brick oven, charcoal-burning Big Green Egg®, butane grill, sink and refrigerator!

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Gorgeous Curves

Outdoor kitchens and grilling stations don’t have to follow the limited linear rules of an indoor cooking space. Get creative with curvy designs.

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Multi-level counter tops and diamond-shaped embellishments add visual interest to this Weston Stone® grilling station. A built-in umbrella stand helps protect the cook from sun and rain.
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Doric columns and curved Tandem® walls add an elegant look to this outdoor kitchen.

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Timelessness

You can’t go wrong with the classic look of brick.

A copper vent and roof add a modern twist to the traditional look of this brick grilling station and bar, which offers ample seating for guests to visit with the grill master.

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Creative Touches

For a unique design, sometimes you have to think outside of the box.

A built-in gas fire feature adds flare to this Weston Stone® grilling station and bar.
This sunken kitchen was created using rough-hewn Celtik Wall® to retain the pool and build out the kitchen structure, which includes a grill, beverage cooler and refrigerator.

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Grill Islands

Even when space is at a premium, you can still have an eye-catching grill.

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This grill island from the Bristol Series of the Belgard Elements collection includes a bar top for seating on the opposite side. Embellishments of Arbel® pavers add visual interest, and in this design, coordinate with the paver patio.
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The Bordeaux Series grill island from the Belgard Elements collection has a smaller footprint and offers a stacked stone look with either a midnight (shown) or limestone countertop.

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Multi-Media Mecca

Some folks want an outdoor kitchen that offers all of the convenience and “creature comforts” of the indoors.

Tandem® Modular Grid was used to build out this outdoor kitchen, which houses multiple cooking surfaces and outdoor appliances, as well as a built-in flatscreen TV and sound system.

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Wood & Stone

There’s just something earthy and fabulous about combining the looks of wood and stone together. An excellent way to do that is by adding an arbor to your outdoor kitchen space, which not only helps filter the sunlight, but adds pop to your outdoor living design.

Reclaimed wood creates an eye-catching arbor for this Weston Stone® grilling station.
Arbors flank both sides of this Tandem® Modular Grid cooking station, adding an interesting look and coordinating with other wooden structures in the outdoor space.

Top 10 Outdoor Living Design Trends

This outdoor living design incorporates several of the most popular trends this year: permeable pavers, fire pit,
This outdoor living design showcases several of the most popular trends this year: low-maintenance landscaping, Subterra® Stone permeable pavers, a fire pit, low-voltage lighting, and a built-in cooking area with ample seating and counter-top space. A permeable system can be designed to incorporate rainwater harvesting to be used for irrigation to create the ultimate eco-friendly patio.

In the annual national survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), landscape design professionals are polled regarding the outdoor living project types and individual design elements that have the highest demand. The results of this year’s survey are in, and for the third consecutive year, eco-friendly projects dominate the top 10 project list. And although it’s no surprise, internet connectivity made its way into the must-have list this year. In terms of individual design elements, the overwhelming majority of the design items have to do with making outdoor areas more livable. For the third consecutive year, fire pits and fireplaces top the list of most popular design elements.

RANKING PROJECT TYPES DESIGN ELEMENTS
1 Drought-tolerant plants Fire pits and fireplaces
2 Native plants Wireless/internet connectivity
3 Low-maintenance landscapes Lighting
4 Edible gardens Outdoor furniture
5 Permeable paving Seating/dining
6 Reduced lawn areas Built-in grills
7 Fire pits and fireplaces Planters, sculptures, garden accessories
8 Water-efficient irrigation Counter space
9 Wireless/internet connectivity Outdoor heaters
10 Rainwater/graywater harvesting Stereo systems
This outdoor kitchen design incorporates drought-tolerant plants,
This outdoor kitchen design incorporates the popular items of drought-tolerant plants, festive overhead lighting, ample prep and serving space, a large seating area, and a wood-burning fireplace. The kitchen, fireplace, and built-in wood boxes are all constructed with Celtik® Wall to create a coordinated look.
This outdoor kitchen is fully connected
This highly livable outdoor kitchen is fully appointed with all of the modern conveniences of the indoors, including the must-have elements of internet connectivity, dining space, multiple outdoor cooking surfaces, ample counter space, and both ambient and overhead lighting. Tandem® Modular Grid was used to construct the kitchen base and a partial wall to house and protect the television from sun and weather for ultimate game-day viewing.

Planning an Outdoor Thanksgiving

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Incorporating your outdoor living areas into your Thanksgiving Day plans can help multiply the space you have available for entertaining and provide additional activities to help keep your guests entertained. Depending upon the weather in your part of the country, your outdoor living spaces can be used in a number of creative ways.

outdoor-kitchen-prepOutdoor Cooking

Much of the country is expecting unseasonable mild temperatures this Thanksgiving, offering a rare opportunity for outdoor dining and cooking. By either smoking or frying your turkey outdoors, you free up the inside oven for cooking side dishes or keeping prepared dishes warm. You can also use the grill for a variety of side dishes or appetizers — like roasted veggies or grilled stuffed jalapeño peppers.

The “Enclosed” Porch

If the temperature prohibits outdoor dining and entertaining, you can create additional heated space by temporarily enclosing a screened-in or open porch with heavy gauge clear vinyl sheeting. The sheeting will eliminated wind and hold in heat. The enclosed space can be heated with space heaters, but be sure to keep them a safe distance from the sheeting or anything flammable.

S’mores Bar — Yes, Please!!

Let’s face it…how many kids really like pumpkin pie? Not many. And how many like s’mores? Just about all of them. No matter what the temperature, people of all ages will love heading outdoors to roast some marshmallows after the big meal. If you want to really have some fun, take your s’mores experience to the next level by setting up a s’mores bar with some new and interesting ingredients. Here are a few ideas to get your started.

  • regular and pumpkin-flavored marshmallows
  • graham crackers
  • Ritz crackers
  • Vanilla wafers
  • milk, dark, and white chocolate bars
  • strawberry slices
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Grated coconut
  • peanut butter
  • Nutella

roasting-marshmallows

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

How to Cook a Cajun-Style Deep-Fried Turkey

Before we get started, don’t be intimidated by the word “Cajun” in reference to food. Many people have the mistaken impression that Cajun cooking is all about seeing how high you can get on the Scoville heat scale. That is inherently untrue. Although some dishes, like sauce piquante and boiled crawfish, will definitely leave your mouth tingly, the overwhelming majority of Cajun and Creole cooking is more about intense flavor versus intense heat. When talking about a Cajun-style deep-fried turkey, the description is more about the cooking method than the seasoning. In fact, this blogger lives in south Louisiana and regularly fries turkeys for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and we like to try different flavor profiles. A family favorite is one we call the “Casian” Turkey (which is Cajun-fried, but marinated and rubbed with Asian flavors).

The Equipment

setup

You will need a 30-quart fryer, a propane burner, a meat thermometer, a turkey rack (which goes inside the bird), and a turkey lifter (which hooks to the rack to lift it). You can buy the full setup online from Academy, Walmart, or other big-box stores. Next you will need about 3 gallons of peanut oil, which is the best choice for frying turkey because it has a high flash point (less likely to catch fire), high smoke point (ensures good flavor), and can be used multiple times before disposal — in case you’re frying more than one. In Louisiana, neighbors often like to get together and take turns using the oil. Basically, men love to cook when there’s danger involved, and there’s an excuse to get together and drink a little beer. If you’re making an event out of it and frying multiple turkeys, you may need a little extra oil.

The Bird

Your turkey should be no more than 14 lbs. If you have a lot of people to feed, you can fry more than one and can even experiment with different flavor profiles for each. Make sure every turkey is completely thawed. This is very important. Frying a frozen turkey is VERY dangerous. The ice reacts with the hot oil in an explosive manner. Once thawed, a turkey is completely safe to fry. Just be sure to remove the neck and giblets from the inside of the turkey.

The Fill Line

Remember that the turkey will displace the oil when you place it into the fryer. Do not overfill the pot with oil. You want enough oil so that it will cover the bird once submerged, but not overflow the pot and catch on fire. Many turkey fryers come with a max fill line, but you can determine the exact amount you will need by placing your thawed turkey in the empty pot and filling it with water until the top of the turkey is barely covered. Remove the turkey, allowing the water to completely drain out of the turkey and back into the pot, then measure and mark the water line.

The Marinadecajun-injector-creole-butter-injector

The flavor profile is completely up to you, but you will need to generously inject your marinade into the meat of the entire bird. The recommendation is 2 oz. of marinade per pound of meat. You can create your own marinade, or for a variety of marinade flavors that each come with an injector, visit the Cajun Injector website. For our “Casian” turkey, we add a little dry sherry to a basic teriyaki marinade.

The Rub

Insert the turkey rack through the cavity of the turkey (neck side down), pat the skin of the turkey dry with paper towels, then generously rub the bird with your favorite seasonings. For our “Casian” turkey, we make a rub with salt, pepper, garlic powder, ginger, and a little bit of curry powder. Too much curry will take over, but you can be generous with the garlic and ginger.

The Fun Partslhcb_04_fry_174d

Set up your frying station OUTSIDE on a flat surface, a safe distance from structures and wooden decks. To avoid oil stains, do not place the fryer on top of concrete pavers. Heat the oil to 350° F. You can actually begin heating the oil while preparing the bird, but don’t leave the pot unattended. Hook the lifting tool to the turkey rack and slowly lower the bird into the oil. Cook the turkey about 3 to 4 minutes per pound, until the dark meat has an internal temperature of 175-180° F and the white meat has an internal temp of 165-170° F. It takes about 45-60 minutes to fry a 13-14 lb. turkey. When the turkey is done, slowly lift it from the pot and place it in a pan on paper towels to drain. Let the turkey stand for 15 minutes before carving it.

Turkey photos by Oxmoor House, courtesy of Time, Inc.

It’s Pizza Grilling Time!

Alison Miksch - Photogapher / Heather Chadduck Hillegas- Prop Stylist / Erin Merhar - Food Stylist
Grilled pineapple dessert pizza. (Photo: Alison Miksch – Photogapher / Heather Chadduck Hillegas- Prop Stylist / Erin Merhar – Food Stylist)

October is National Pizza Month…as if we need a reason to eat pizza! Whether you’re talking about flatbread with caramelized onions and shiitake mushrooms, grilled fruit dessert pizza, or just a good old-fashioned pepperoni and cheese, once you try making pizza on the grill, you’ll never want to cook pizza indoors again.

If you’re in a rush, you can actually place a store-bought frozen pizza on a hot grill for around the same length of time you would cook it in the oven. Be sure and rotate it occasionally so that it cooks evenly, and keep an eye on it so that the crust doesn’t burn. Whether you’re using gas or charcoal, it will create a nice crispy crust and will be much more flavorful than if cooked in a standard oven. Using charcoal or wood chips will help give it a gourmet smokey flavor.

If you have a few extra minutes, creating your own grilled pizzas is so much more fun! Everyone can be involved in the prep process and enjoy experimenting with combinations of their favorite ingredients. You can go low-tech by buying pre-baked pizza crusts, get a little more adventurous with store-bought pizza dough, or go full-on gourmet by making your own dough at home. If you’re using raw dough, be sure and spray the grill with cooking spray to keep it from sticking and cook the dough for 3 to 4 minutes prior to adding your toppings.

Smoked sausace, corn, and sweet onion grilled pizza. (Photo: Alison Miksch - Photogapher / Heather Chadduck Hillegas- Prop Stylist / Erin Merhar - Food Stylist)
Grilled smoked sausage, corn, and sweet onion pizza. (Photo: Alison Miksch – Photogapher / Heather Chadduck Hillegas- Prop Stylist / Erin Merhar – Food Stylist)

If you’re making an afternoon of it, you may want to considering pre-grilling some toppings to put on your pizzas. Grill-worthy toppings include chicken, ham, shrimp, pineapple, smoked sausage, corn, and garden vegetables. In addition to any pre-grilled toppings, other topping ideas can include artichoke hearts, spinach, banana peppers, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, kalamata olives, and fresh herbs. Of course, don’t forget the pepperoni, or the kids may revolt.

For a fun family activity, create a “pizza bar” prep station where each person can create his or her own fabulous pizza. For sauces, you can offer traditional pizza sauce, pesto, olive oil, BBQ sauce, and buffalo wing sauce. For cheeses, offer mozzarella, goat cheese, feta cheese, and crumbled blue cheese. If you want to finish off your pizza-palooza with a yummy dessert pizza, check out our recipe for grilled dessert pizza.

Happy grilling!

Grilled pizza photos courtesy Time, Inc.