My husband is the greatest husband in the world. He has all the normal good husband qualities. He’s thoughtful, a great father gives great advice, he’s a good provider, and incredibly handsome, but he’s got one superpower that really sets him apart from regular great husbands. He’s a great gift giver! It sounds silly, I know. He just has the knack for finding the right gift at the right time that makes whatever occasion it might be that much more special. This past Christmas was no exception. No, he didn’t buy me jewelry (although what he did buy might be worth its weight in gold) or clothes or spa treatment. Nope, way better! He bought me a Volcano Grill.
Here’s What It Is and How It Works
The Volcano Grill is a tri-fuel (propane, wood or charcoal) grill that is highly portable, and allows you to use all the same cooking methods you would on an indoor stove – baking, stir-fry, deep frying, broiling, roasting, grilling, boiling and more. The grill works by causing a superheated airflow to hit your cooking surface, rather than by using the direct heat from the charcoal or propane. You’re able to control the airflow by adjusting a set of upper and lower vents – more air going through gives you more heat but less burn time (assuming you’re using a source that will burn out), while less air gives you lower heat but extends the life of your coals. The heat chamber and air flow of the stove conduct heat more efficiently, allowing your fuel source to last longer.
The grill packs into a nice zippered carrying case.
To set it up, just unzip the bag, remove the grills, propane attachment, and any tools you might have stored inside.
Grab the handle and just lift it straight up. This will extend the stove and cause the three legs to pop out automatically.
To use the propane burner you just place it in the center of the grill and connect the hose to a 20-pound propane bottle. I used this setup to quickly bring a dutch oven full of stew to a boil.
For this post, though I wanted to try charcoal, so instead I put the lower charcoal rack in, added 9 bricks, and lit them.
Then I put the center grill on to give my dutch oven something to rest on. I didn’t know it, but this was a mistake; more on that later.
To make my bean soup you will need: 1 onion, 3T chili powder, 4t ground cumin, 6 cups of cooked black beans, 6c of vegetable broth, 1 1/2c salsa, and 3T lime juice, garnish with cilantro, corn chips, and avocado.
First, we’ll saute some onions.
Add the spices and mix them in.
Then the beans. Add the vegetable broth, salsa, and lime juice.
Then cover the dutch oven and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. To thicken the soup place half of the soup in a blender and puree. Place the pureed soup back into the soup mixture. Garnish with cilantro, corn chips and avocado.
Here’s where my one complaint about the grill comes in. The instruction manual that comes with the grill gives the basic directions but doesn’t really go into any detail about how much charcoal to use, or how to arrange the vents in order to bring something to a boil. It turns out that to generate heat high enough to boil, you need to use 30 bricks if you have the center grill in place – it basically cuts the heat and airflow by 50%. You can get away with only 20 bricks if you omit the center grill, but then your dutch oven needs to have legs (or be placed on a trivet) to keep it off of the coals. I even tried covering the dutch oven with the reflective lid to trap the heat in, but I simply didn’t have enough heat to boil the soup. Oh well, live and learn.
And how exactly did I learn this? I bought the Volcano Cookbook & Technical Manual! It goes into detail about setting up the oven, how to adjust the heat, different cooking methods, etc. There’s so much information in here that you need but is not included in the instruction manual, I’d say this book is a must-have. Honestly, I think they should just include it with the grill, even if it meant raising the price of each grill a few bucks.
Here’s a tip from the Technical Manual I never would have known. When storing the stove you should wipe the inside with a small amount of cooking oil, just like you would a dutch oven. Over time the fire pit will become seasoned, again just like a dutch oven.
If you add the lid to the grill, it traps and circulates the heat inside, acting like a convection oven. This allows you to bake or smoke. The cookbook did not come with any instructions for using the lid (at least not that I saw…), but I’m anxious to experiment with it.
I’m also looking forward to using the Volcano with our pressure canner. I tried it once but couldn’t get it hot enough to develop pressure. I figured out that part of that was (again) due to having the center grill in place, and the rest was trying to use it outside on a 30-degree day in high winds. From reading other people’s experiences, I should have no trouble on a nicer day.
So far I really like the stove (Since my husband bought it for me was there ever any question in my mind? Not really!) It will be great for camping, for cooking in the hot summer when I don’t want the stove running inside, and as a backup for any type of power loss.