It looks like summer is finally arriving after a cold spring here in the upper Midwest where the Griller’s Gold blog team resides. Time for lazy days spent on a boat, picnics under a big shady tree in a park, outdoor music festivals, long hikes and much more.
This is also time to have some great ideas for tasty things that are a) portable and b) safe to eat with minimal refrigeration. And of course prepared on your pellet grill using Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood pellets!
The star of that summer show is Pellet Grill Jerky. We really don’t know a single person who isn’t vegan that doesn’t love a good strip of jerky. The fun part is that this recipe is repeatable across a lot of other meats – not just beef.
To accompany the Jerky recipe we also have recipes for smoked cheese crackers, smoked caramel corn and smoky nuts – all great to munch on a summer day accompanied by a great cocktail. And speaking of great cocktails, we have a couple to share with you too!
Let’s get to it!
Pellet Grill smoked Beef Jerky
Making your own homemade beef jerky will ruin you forever from buying the commercial stuff. For starters, the amount of jerky you can make for about $20 total will be at least 3X what that $20 would buy in the commercial brands. And it is so easy!
Also the trick to having your jerky be more safe out of the refrigerator is to use some curing powder in the marinade. This powder, available online is what is used to cure bacon and other meats. This recipe is for beef flank steak but you can also substitute game meat (venison is off the chart!), turkey or pork.
2-3 lbs of beef flank steak
½ tsp Pink Curing Powder #2 (“Prague Powder”) (You can also use Morton’s InstaCure, follow the box instructions on how much to use)
1 cup Pineapple Juice (we used Jumex branded Pineapple Nectar)
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
½ cup dark brown sugar OR ¼ cup Agave Syrup
4 cloves of garlic, mashed or pressed (or 1 tsp granulated garlic)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated (OR ½ tsp powdered ginger)
2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
2 tsp hot sauce (we use Frank’s Original sauce)
Chill the beef well – or even put it in the freezer for about 45 minutes – you want it very cold and firm for good slicing. Cut the piece of flank steak in half AGAINST the grain, then turn it ¼ turn and make ⅛” thick slices WITH the grain. Cutting with the grain is key to having those nice chewy pieces of jerky.
Mix up your marinade. Put the meat into a 1 gallon zip closure freezer bag and then dump in the marinade. Press as much air out of the bag as possible, then put the bag into a shallow container and place in the fridge. (This is to contain any leakage, this marinade will make a sticky mess out of your fridge if it leaks. Ask us how we know!) Let the meat marinate at least overnight, or up to 24 hours.
On cook day, fire up your pellet grill to its lowest setting with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets. For this recipe we like Smokeshack Blend or Hickory. Our pellet grill will run at 165F and if yours has a “super smoke” or extra smoke setting, use that.
Give it at least 15 minutes to warm up to temp.
Then simply lay the meat strips over the grill, leaving a bit of air gap between them to allow the warm air and smoke to circulate. Close the grill up and set a timer for 5 hours and go do something else!
After 5 hours the meat will have smoked, dried and shrunk into amazing jerky strips. Try one warm off the grill – it should be chewy, not juicy. If it needs more time, (if it is juicy for example, or not firm) then let it go 1 more hour.
Remove the jerky to a cooling rack over a baking sheet and let cool at room temp. Store in a sealed bag or container in the fridge. It also keeps great longer term in the freezer in a well sealed container with the air pressed out. On an outdoor day, it’s safe that this is out of the fridge as it’s both cured and smoked.
Super easy! There are a lot of variations of recipes out there – just search for “Pellet Grill Jerky” recipes, or combine your own ingredients to make it yours!
Smoked Cheese Crackers
These are so decadently tasty they ought to be illegal. And ridiculously easy to make!
1 regular sized box cheese crackers like Cheez-Its
Melt the butter, then mix in the rest of the sauce ingredients. Put the crackers in a large mixing bowl, dump the sauce over them and gently toss to coat well all over.
Spread the crackers out on a cooling rack placed over a large cookie sheet and put that on the grate of your pellet grill. Let smoke for 1 hour, then boost the heat to 300F and bake about 30-40 minutes until the crackers start to darken a bit.
Remove from the grill and let cool to room temp. Store in a zip lock bag or sealed container, although they won’t last very long!
Smoked Caramel Corn
As much as the Griller’s Gold Blog Team is all about fresh ingredients and making from scratch, well, this one is so easy to do with a commercially made caramel corn, that it feels like cheating. The trick is you want just enough heat so that the coating softens and absorbs smoke, without burning. 200F seems to be that magic temp.
The ingredient is a big bag or container of caramel corn, and if you want to mix it up a bit, using the caramel corn/cheese corn mix, this is also outstanding in this recipe.
Preheat the pellet grill (using Griller’s Gold pellets of course) to 200F, spread the corn out over a large rimmed baking sheet and put it into the grill. Let bake/smoke for 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes. Remove and let cool, store in a zip top bag or sealed container.
Smoked Cajun Seasoned Nuts
This takes that container of mixed nuts and kicks them to the next level, and then just for fun, kicks them even further with a pop of sweet heat from Cajun seasoning and some honey.
3 cups mixed nuts of your choice, or a single kind of nut, whatever you prefer
3 T butter
2 T honey
1 ½ tsp Tony Cachere’s Cajun Seasoning
Preheat your pellet grill to 165F with Griller’s Gold pellets – for this recipe, try Applewood or Hickory.
Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking dish and smoke them for 1 hour at 165F. Remove from the grill and increase the grill heat to 350F.
Meanwhile melt the butter, and mix in the honey and Cajun seasoning. Dump the nuts into a bowl and toss well with the melted butter/honey/seasoning.
Line your rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the nuts out evenly over the pan. Bake in the pellet grill at 350F for 30 minutes, stirring the nuts after 15 minutes to bake the coating onto the nuts and caramelize the sugar in the honey.
Store in a sealed container (but have a handful hot from the smoker, they are amazing!).
smoked Cocktail Recipes
What’s the point of snacks without drinks? Here’s a couple of our summer faves, starting with our favorite Margarita recipe:
Never Fail “Toppest Shelf” Margarita
This is for a margarita that is more like a martini than the oversized monsters you see in Mexican restaurants. Note, there is no mix in this – it’s all individual and fresh ingredients because that makes the best drink!
Those mixes are loaded with things like high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. Bleah. Also critical to this using super premium tequila and top shelf orange liqueur. Nothing that comes in a plastic handle bottle, please!
For two fantastic Margaritas:
4 ounces very premium tequila, we like Resposado grade from Don Julio, Milagro, Casa Migas, Cabo Wabo, or Hornitos.
1 ½ ounces Cointreau, which is a very premium orange liqueur
Juice of 2 limes
1 ½ ounces of Agave Syrup
Salt or Tajin Seasoning for rimming glasses
Rim a pair of chilled glasses (either martini or rocks glass) with sea salt or Tajin seasoning (if desired)
Put all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker or large pint glass and stir well. Fill the shaker or glass with ice and either shake (better) or stir vigorously to cool and slightly dilute the drink.
Either strain into a martini glass (dividing, you’re making two here!) or divide the drink and ice from the shaker evenly into two rocks glasses.
Perfect Ice Cold Summer Mint Julep:
This cocktail is most often associated with the Kentucky Derby but we just love it all summer long as it is frosty cold and tastes so fresh.
4 ounces premium Kentucky bourbon of your choice. We love to use Woodford’s Reserve for our Juleps, but really any good bourbon works.
Spring is springing and summer’s not far behind. This season brings warm, enjoyable weather perfect for gathering with friends and enjoying lots of treats off your grill fueled with Griller’s Gold Natural Hardwood pellets!
So here’s the situation: Your friends have gathered for an impromptu get-together in your backyard (or deck, patio, garage, etc…) and you want to whip up some tasty barbecue for them, but you don’t have hours to do it.
Set up your grill for HOT AND FAST grilling and smoking:
While “HOT AND FAST” seems like the antithesis of classic low and slow grilling, the results you can get with it are amazing and delicious – but … also different than what you get with low and slow.
To set up your grill for HOT AND FAST, simply fire up your pellet grill (making sure your hopper is loaded with your favorite Griller’s Gold flavor) and turn up the heat. We like to go at 400 degrees for HOT AND FAST barbecue!
Now this all said, smoke production at hot temps is much lower on most grills than it is at low and slow temperatures. If you are looking for that good smoky flavor as well, there are a couple of easy solutions:
Smoke Tube: These are stainless steel perforated tubes that you fill with Griller’s Gold pellets and light one end with a propane torch. That starts the pellets smoldering and will fill your grill with great smoke flavor when you place it on the grill. Here’s one that works great: https://a.co/d/9xCEIwv
“Cigar”: This is kind of a “DIY smoke tube” that works on the same concept. Take two pieces of heavy-duty foil about the size of a sheet of standard paper, stack them up and roll them into a tube, crimping one end closed. Fill it full of your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets, leaving one end open, then using a sharp stick or skewer, poke holes all over it. Light the pellets through the open end and place it on the grill!
Placement: In either case, place it AWAY from your temperature sensor – you don’t want the extra heat to cause your grill to run cool.
hints for Running HOt:
Since you’re going to be running hot, it helps to have a clean grill. If it’s been a while since you cleaned your grill’s heat plate, give that a scrape or change the foil covering on it. You don’t want a grease fire.
Also, make sure you have your supply of Griller’s Gold pellets at the ready – rolling hot and fast for a few hours will use a surprising amount of pellets. You don’t want to run out.
Choosing What to Cook – Hot & Fast
So, what to cook? Here are four ideas on how to deliver that wonderful BBQ flavor in just a couple of hours for your impromptu crowd.
HOT AND FAST Baby Back Ribs:
Baby Backs are perfect for this as they cook quicker than St. Louis Cut ribs (or spare ribs) and respond just fine to the high heat.
We like to cut the slabs into 3 rib pieces right from the start – that helps them cook more quickly. Season with your favorite rib rub, put them on, and turn them every 30 minutes until they are at least 165 degrees in the thick meaty part. Then sauce them up and leave them on for 10 minutes more.
Note, due to the hot heat, these will be more “toothsome” and not “fall off the bone” like low and slows can be. But they WILL be very tasty. These ideally cook between 90 minutes to 2 hours with the thinner pieces getting done first.
HOT AND FAST Country Style Ribs:
So let’s make sure we point out the misnomer of country-style ribs. These are actually pork shoulder or Boston Butt pork roasts cut into 2” thick and wide strips. They aren’t “ribs” any more than boneless wings were ever flapped by a chicken! That doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty!
For technique and seasoning – the same as Baby Backs – season with your favorite rub, cook to between 165 and 180 degrees (which should take 90 minutes to 2 hours max) then sauce up, leave for 10 extra minutes, and serve hot off the grill!
HOT AND FAST Butterflied Pork Shoulder or Boston Butt:
So when you hear Boston Butt and pork shoulder, you think of classic, low and slow cooked, pulled pork, right?
To make this hot & fast, take that roast, remove the bone, and then butterfly it by slicing it down the long way into two big pieces about 2” thick.
Season these up as you would ribs with your favorite rub and throw them on the grill. In about 2 hours, you should be at around 165 degrees.
Take it off and slice it fairly thin across the grain and you’ll have absolutely delicious, juicy slices of delicious pork with a wonderful barbecue flavor. This is especially good when you’re running a smoke tube.
This is also fantastic for making Cuban sandwiches. Sliced pork combined with slice ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and pickles on a French baguette, smashed down on a panini press! Fantastic!
HOT AND FAST Beef Chuck Roast:
Beef Chuck Roasts are one of the most versatile things you can cook on your pellet grill. Go low and slow and they are the “budget priced brisket” – giving a brisket-like flavor for a fraction of the price. But cooked hot and fast, then sliced thin across the grain and kissed with smoke flavor, you’ll think you’re dining at a fine Texas steakhouse.
Texas Style Chuck Roasts
We like to do our HOT AND FAST chuck roasts Texas style. We season them up with “SPG”. This is a blend of good kosher salt, granulated garlic, and coarsely ground black pepper. You can mix this up yourself (2 parts salt, 1 part each garlic and pepper) or it’s easily found in barbecue stores pre-mixed. Normally, the GG Barbecue Crew is all about the homemade rubs. But because we find we use it all the time on things like burgers, steaks, fish, and even potato wedges on the grill, we have started buying premixed SPG.
After seasoning, put it on the grill, turning it every 10 minutes like a big, thick steak. We find that medium rare to medium (130-145 degrees) works best for the doneness of chuck. Too low and it’s tough, too high and it’s dry.
Once it’s hit desired doneness, let it rest under foil on the platter for at least 15 minutes and then carve. Then separate the various muscles, trim off and discard any gristle or silver skin. Then slice the meat into nice slices across the grain.
Served with sauce or not, this is a sublime way to get your beef on in a pretty short time!
One of the best parts of summer is doing impromptu things. Impromptu grilling and barbecue doesn’t mean you’re limited to burgers, dogs, brats, and chicken breasts. You can make great authentic barbecue in a very short time!
Such a great month – winter is starting to go away (at least in southern/central regions), we’ve got March Madness and … St. Patrick’s Day!
And what’s the one food that is associated with St. Paddy’s? Corned Beef!
Given that this is a barbecue blog and all about smokey meats, let’s talk about the magic that happens when you take tasty Corned Beef, and you apply barbecue techniques of rubs, low and slow heat and smoke to it.
They call that magic Montreal Smoked Meat!
So exactly what is Montreal Smoked Meat (MSM) and why do we love it so much? It is cured brisket (aka Corned Beef) that is then smoked with an amazing (and spicy) coating that forms the bark on the outside.
It is a specialty of restaurants in Montreal (hence the name), and in fact THE place to get it in Montreal is Schwartz’s deli. MSM is like a brisket takes a trip to a New York Deli, on the way through Texas. It is similar to pastrami, only smokier and because it’s brisket (pastrami is a different cut), tastier! It’s got peppery spice, cured meat flavor and barbecue smoke! Pure heaven!
What makes “MSM” unique from regular barbecue brisket is the curing process. This chemically preserves the meat and gives it a unique flavor, versus raw brisket. The difference between Montreal Smoked Meat and regular corned beef is that corned beef is wet cured in a brining liquid (“pickled”) with peppercorns. The peppercorns are the primary spice (hence “corned” beef) while MSM is dry cured with a curing rub full of spices.
Making MSM is not a quick process – it takes about a week in total, but the results are amazing and worth your time. The only special thing you’ll need is curing salt – also known as “Prague Powder #1” or “Pink Salt” or “Pink Cure.” It is 6.25% granulated sodium nitrite and 93.75% table salt. The reason it’s pink is because it’s dyed that color so you don’t mistake it for salt and put it on your food like a seasoning. And don’t freak out about nitrates and nitrites in your food. You’ll eat more nitrate in a serving of spinach than you will in a serving of MSM.
The Montreal Smoked Meat Process
The process for making this is very straightforward:
First you cure the meat for 5-6 days with a rub that contains the Prague Powder #1. Then you rinse off that rub, rub it again with a peppery rub and you smoke the meat.
Finally, an hour or two prior to serving, you steam the meat to finish the cooking. Then you slice it thin against the grain and enjoy!
Because you only partially smoke the meat, this is an easy brisket to make. The smoking takes between 5 and 7 hours, then you steam it to finish it. You can also smoke it one day and steam it the next, making it very flexible around dinner plans.
Now, if you’re in a bit of a hurry, and want to shave some time or you think the whole curing thing isn’t your jam, you can make MSM from … commercial corned beef!
It’s a huge shortcut, and while you won’t wind up with truly authentic Montreal Smoked Meat, only a deli man in Montreal would know the difference. If you want to make it that way, skip forward to Step 3 in this post.
Montreal Smoked Meat – The Recipe
A brisket. We have done these with just brisket points (ohh yeah!), brisket flats (just as good, but leaner), and whole packer briskets. Regardless of which you’re doing, you’ll want to trim it out well. We suggest checking out one of the gazillion videos on YouTube for advice on that. For the fat cap though, shave it down until it’s only ¼” to ⅛” thick. You want the rub and cure to flavor the meat. Our most recent effort was done using only a 3 ½ lb brisket point that we had separated from a large packer and used the flat for a braised brisket dish.
The first step is to dry brine it for a week in the curing rub.
You’ll need to be able to keep it in the fridge, flat, for a week, so if your fridge is anything like ours, well, eat your leftovers and clear some space! For a curing container, we like to use those big 2.5 gallon zip closure bags. The meat will give up liquid as it cures, so we like to put the meat in the bag, squeeze out the air, zip it up and put the whole thing in a foil roasting pan just in case the bag leaks.
A note about the curing rub – the amount of curing rub you put on the meat is based on the weight of the meat, and that’s because there’s a specific ratio of meat to the Prague Powder#1 that you’re supposed to follow – 1 teaspoon per 5 lbs of meat.
Therefore, the recipe below is for 5 lbs of meat. If your packer brisket is 10 lbs, then double this – if it’s 12 lbs, make roughly 2 ½ x this recipe, etc.
⅓ cup kosher salt
1T ground black pepper
1T ground coriander
1t Prague Powder #1
2t granulated table sugar
½ t ground bay leaf (or take 3 bay leaves and smash them up)
½ t ground cloves
After trimming your brisket, apply this rub all over the meat, covering every part of it, and be sure to use all the rub. Slide the rubbed brisket into the big ziplock, squeeze out the air as best you can and close it up. Put that in the big pan and slide it into the fridge. Let it cure for at least 4 days and up to 6 days (we always do 5) – flipping it over once a day.
Step 2 – Rinse and Soak:
The day before you’re going to smoke it, take it out of the bag, flop it into the sink and rinse it well to get the curing mixture off as best you can – we use a clean dish brush (make sure it has NO soap on it!) to help persuade the mixture off the meat. Some pepper bits will stay stuck in the meat and fat – that’s fine, but you’re clearing the way for the next rub.
After rinsing, fill a large roasting pan or other container with enough cold water to fully cover the meat and soak it for at least 2 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes or so while it soaks. This helps take the salt out of the surface of the meat, which is important so that the next rub can do it’s thing!
STEP 3 – Rub #2 and Smoke
Fill your pellet smoker with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets – for this we recommend either Smokeshack Blend or Fruitwood Blend, but really they will all work great. Fire it up and preheat it for at least 20 minutes at 275 degrees.
While the grill heats up, mix up the next rub (and again this is for every 5 lbs. The difference with this is you don’t have to use all of it, so we actually make this in a larger quantity as it is fantastic on steaks – ever hear of Montreal Steak Seasoning? This is a homemade version.)
1 T coarse ground black pepper
1 t ground coriander
1 t paprika
1 ½ t garlic powder
1 ½ t onion powder
½ t dry ground mustard
½ t celery seed
½ t crushed red pepper
Optional ½ t ground Worcestershire powder (We make this optional as this is kind of hard to find, although it is very available online. This is great for a lot of things and gives a really great umami-boost.)
Spread this generously over the meat and pat it to make it set into the surface of the meat. Again, be sure to do all the surface area of the meat – edges too!
Ok, meat ready, grill hot, let’s get this on!
If you have a probe thermometer, place the probe in the thickest part of the meat with the tip in the center. If you’re doing a full packer brisket, we recommend placing the meat on the grill with the thickest part away from the chimney of your pellet grill. Smoke the meat until it hits an internal temp of at least 160F in the center – you can go a bit higher, but there’s really no need to. And if it stalls at 155 or so, that’s fine too. Depending on how big your brisket is, and what cut (full packer, point only, flat only), this could take anywhere from 2 ½ hours to 6 hours.
Take the meat off the smoker, bring it inside, put a layer of foil over it and a folded towel over that and let it rest for an hour.
LAST STEP – Steaming and Serve!
This is the kicker step for this – and it really makes great meat. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F (or increase the heat on your pellet grill to that level if your oven is busy).
Prepare a roasting pan with a rack in the bottom that will allow for at least ½” or so of water without touching the meat. Lay the brisket on the rack, then seal the whole roaster up with foil, tightly, so the steam doesn’t escape. If you are using a probe thermometer, poke the probe through the foil and into the center of the thickest part of the meat. Try to keep the hole as small as possible. Slide it into the oven and let it steam for between an hour to 2 hours. You’re going for at least 185 internal temp although it can safely slide as high as 205. Once you’re at 185 though, you’re done.
Remove from the pan, put it on a board and slice it thin across the grain.
It makes amazing sandwiches on rye bread with spicy mustard, and also is just great plain – no sauce needed. And since we’re talking St. Patrick’s day – this kicks the whole “corned beef and cabbage” thing to a new level since this meat is a flavor bomb! You’re not going to be making the cabbage in with the corned beef, but serving this with a side of boiled potatoes and cabbage is very very tasty. Especially when you pair it with a classic St. Patrick’s day beer like Guinness, Smithwicks, or Harp Lager.
Montreal Smoked Meat sounds complicated, but really, it isn’t. But what you will have is a dish that will blow away your friends and family when you serve it.
In our minds, there’s nothing more American than a good ‘ol hamburger. And yet no other food item is subject to more variation than the good ‘ol hamburger.
From fast food “discs”, some of which are good, to a fantastic, big ‘ol greasy burger at your favorite pub (best served with an ice cold beer), and of course, home grilled burgers, we don’t think there’s any food item that is more subject to individual interpretation than the hamburger.
Celebrity chefs of course put their own stamp on them – every chef from Bobby Flay to Julia Child has made their burger recipes their own way. Gordon Ramsey even has his own chain of burger restaurants, called Burger, of course. Dean Martin even famously published his personal burger recipe back in the 1970s!
So this all said, OF COURSE the Griller’s Gold blog crew has a couple of great burger recipes up our sleeves. And they are of course fueled by the wonderful, all-hardwood Griller’s Gold premium pellets!
We do have to admit to taking some technique hints from the celeb chefs, especially Gordon Ramsey and also Nigella Lawson, but like everything, your personal style is always the sum of your influences.
So this all said, here’s what we do:
Choosing The Meat
It all starts with ground beef, and we good ol’ simple, ground chuck, 80/20% lean to fat ratio. That said, if you have the time and the equipment (and the equipment is a proper meat grinder), grinding your own fresh hamburger gives absolutely sublime results. But good ‘ol supermarket 80/20 ground chuck is the go to here.
A lot of folks mix a lot of stuff into their burgers. Not us. We don’t add sauces, seasonings, binders, etc. to the beef. Good quality 80/20 chuck doesn’t need it.
Forming and Pattying:
A great “rule of thumb” size for burgers is a 5.25 oz pre-cooked weight burger. It’s thick/massive enough to still cook nicely and allow you to leave it to your desired temperature. The technique here is to portion the meat out in pre-weighed balls, then wearing nitrile gloves (this helps keep the heat of your hands from melting the fat of the meat), flatten the balls down to half-inch thick patties. Finally after the patty has been placed on the platter to go to the grill, use your thumb to create an indentation in the center of the patty. This helps keep the burgers at an even thickness as they cook up.
How to Season Your Burger
For burgers, simplicity wins the day: A generous sprinkle (and we mean generous – at least a 1/4 tsp of kosher salt per side) and a good grind of freshly ground pepper is all you need. If you want to be fancy, maybe a shake of garlic powder. Just do the one side that’s up right now, you’ll season the other side at the grill.
We like to preheat the grill on this hottest setting for at least 15 minutes – you want all that metal to get good and hot. Your grill may say that its pre-heat cycle is complete, but letting it go longer ALWAYS helps. This is where it’s important to know your gear and how long it takes to heat up – but 450-500 degrees seems to be the magic number to hit.
Another great thing to use for this on your pellet grill is some sort of heat collecting/concentrating device – our two favorites are either a cast iron skillet or a set of GrillGrates. Grill Grates are “aftermarket” sets of extruded aluminum grates that magically collect and amplify grill heat. Put them on your 500 degree grill and their surfaces somehow wind up at 650F or better. I don’t know how it works, but it’s magic for searing.
Give them a try!
Grilling techniques for the perfect Burger
We have a couple of techniques here for you – give them both a try and see what works for you!
If we are just simply grilling on the grill grates (or GrillGrates), then we put the patties indentation side up on the grill and immediately close the lid and set a timer for 4 minutes.
At 4 minutes, open the lid, flip them over, season that side with just salt, and close the lid. This time the timer gets 3 minutes. At the end of the 3 minutes, open the lid, put on the cheese, close the lid and go for 30 more seconds.
Then off onto the platter and ready to serve. This yields a perfect, medium rare burger for me – pink and juicy in the center. Amazing.
If you like medium (dryer and grayer in the center), extend the side 1 and 2 intervals by a minute and the cheese interval by 30 seconds.
The Flattop or Cast Iron Skillet Method:
We like using a couple of flattop grilling things – a cast iron griddle and a stainless flattop. Both of these are great to do a burger on.
Same methods as above apply, including timings – just put the flat top item or cast iron skillet on the grill when you preheat, and again, use your highest heat setting.
Now if you’re at all like us, you probably love some smashburgers. These are burgers that have been pressed flat on a flattop grill so they get crispy edges. Here’s some quick bullet points on doing smashburgers:
Use a cast iron skillet or other flattop as a grill topper. Put it on your grill at the start of preheat and preheat to your hottest possible setting.
Form your burger into 3 ½ ounce balls – you’ll want to make double cheeseburgers with these! Roll the balls in coarse kosher salt. Nothing better than a salty smashburger!
Cooking: It’s the 1+1+1+1 method: Put the balls on your flattop and flatten slightly, close the lid and time for 1 minute. At the end of 1 minute, SMASH that burger with a big spatula backed up by a good weight (or invest in a cast iron burger or bacon press) – we like to use a big can of beans as our weight – one hand on the spatula the other pressing down on the can of beans. You want that burger flat, baby! It should expand to almost 6” and be about ¼” thick max at the center. Then give it 1 more minute and flip it.
Make sure you scrape it up well off the flattop – don’t leave any of that great flavor on the metal! After the flip, time another minute, then put on the cheese, and time one more minute.
Done – burger perfection in 4 minutes!
Well our fave is American cheese – but not pre-wrapped “singles”. We buy it in the deli section of the grocery store and we get it cut slightly thicker. Blue cheese is fantastic, as are cheddar, gouda, gruyere, swiss and more.
Our favorite buns are bakery-made brioche buns, although both the S. Rosen and Pepperidge Farm brands make amazing brioche buns.
Second place in the bun category would be a good sesame-seeded commercial bun. And of course dark rye bread is amazing too.
If doing buns we like to mix up some garlic butter – just add a couple of cloves of minced garlic to a half-stick of softened salted butter and mix well – then spread the buns with the butter. We like our buns or bread toasted, so I put them on the grill to toast during the pre-heat phase. They toast in like 30 seconds per side.
We are kind of purists for burgers, so we really don’t put much on them – maybe a little mustard and mayo on the bun, and then dip each bite in ketchup. Others on the GG team here love lettuce/tomato/raw onion burgers, and the team also loves sauteed/grilled onions on burgers as well.
In all of these instances, the fresher and cooler and crisper your add-ons, the better.
And that’s it! This is what burger heaven looks like for us:
Got a griller in your life and finding it hard to shop for him or her?
Well our grilling blog crew at Griller’s Gold happens to be a bunch of “gear heads” and always love shopping for the latest and greatest bits to use when we indulge our favorite hobby. That is of course, turning out favorite yums for our families and friends on our pellet grills fueled with Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood Pellets.
We hope that our idea list below sparks some good ideas for your griller:
No good chef or serious BBQ griller doesn’t have their favorite thermometers. Having the ability to accurately measure temperatures means that you can accurately deliver food off your grill that is to the right doneness level, at a safe eating temperature and is of the highest quality.
Here’s a few of our favorites in a couple of different categories:
Instant Reading Thermometer: The ThermaPen
Ask any serious chef which instant-reading thermometer they use, and they’ll all say the same thing: ThermaPen.
A ThermaPen is a product from ThermoWorks, a company that makes professional quality temperature measuring devices for a variety of applications. The “standard” ThermaPen has a folding probe, and the best part is its speed and accuracy – it measures the temperature at the absolute pinpoint of the probe, and it delivers the reading within a few seconds. It is truly a pro tool!
A ThermaPen isn’t cheap by any means (regular price around $100) but they are built like tanks and last forever. We have one that is 20+ years old and still works perfectly! On sale now at $69.95 at https://www.thermoworks.com/thermapen-one/
Remote-Monitoring Thermometers and Probes
Some pellet grills come with plug-in temperature probes and that’s great – but we’ve heard they can be pretty variable on accuracy, and accuracy is what it’s all about. Here are some great products proven and used by the Griller’s Gold Team for remote-monitoring of your food (meaning that you can get the information without standing at your grill).
Meater Thermometers: We have to admit to falling in love with this thing when it was just an idea on Kickstarter and after waiting a year for it to arrive, well, we weren’t disappointed.
That’s several years ago now and they have continued to evolve and innovate the product. The concept is simple – a metal probe pen that you insert in your meat and pair with your phone and you’re good to go!
Inkbird Remote Thermometer: Inkbird is a pretty cool company and they make a variety of temperature control and temperature measurement products. A remote thermometer like this has several probes that you can push into your food, hang in your grill to monitor temperature, etc.
Great for if you’re cooking things that don’t get done at the same pace like a chicken plus a beef roast. Rather than picking just one for you, we suggest you shop their website – they have everything from fairly inexpensive bluetooth probe setups ($51.99) up to multiple-probe wifi-enabled counter-top consoles. See what fits your budget and your griller’s needs at https://inkbird.shop/collections/bluetooth-bbq-thermometers
ThermoWorks Smoke remote thermometer: Another item we’ve had for years – ours is past 10 years old now and is still on its original set of batteries!
This thing is bullet proof and works great and is on an insane deal. This is only a two-channel thermometer, but it’s dedicated remote receiver seems to have a much longer range than standard Bluetooth.
And the reason we’re suggesting this one is it is at an insane deal right now – $64.35. We paid close to double that when we first bought ours. That said, Themoworks has a huge selection BBQ products so you may want to shop a bit on their site. Here’s the link to the SMOKE: https://www.thermoworks.com/smoke/
Tools and Accessories for the grill
These items are fun/useful tool items to add to your pellet grill to be able to make different food items, enhance your grill’s performance, and the best part, have more fun:
GrillGrates are accessory grates that lay right on top of your pellet grill’s cooking grates. They work by absorbing the heat of the grill and somehow concentrating it, delivering up to 200F more heat at the grate rails, which delivers great searing and grill marks – moreso than what you can get from your grill’s standard grates.
We don’t need to know why they work, but trust us, they work great. We have them and love them! They make kits sized to fit your grill, or you can buy their standard sizes.
Flat top grills are metal plates you can lay on your grill’s cooking grate to cook typical flat-top grill foods like burgers, breakfast items like pancakes, hash browns and eggs, and even Japanese “Hibachi” style food.
There are a lot of selections out on the marketplace and for this category, we don’t have a particular one we recommend.
We do know that the GrillGrate folks (above) also make one. Things to keep in mind on these are to make sure that if you buy one that’s the same size of your grill that it is made for it – we’ve heard that these can obstruct airflow if they aren’t designed for your grill.
Now this all said, one “flattop” solution we love the best is our simple cast iron griddle from Lodge Cast Iron – this isn’t anywhere near the size of our pellet grill but it’s big enough to make a couple of omelets, or a few fried eggs all at once. A flat top on top of your pellet grill can save you the cost of one of those big dedicated flat top grills. Here’s a link to that product on Lodge’s site:
Of all the grill-friendly cooking accessories to have, cast iron cookware is the most versatile.
We own several sizes of skillets, as well as the griddle mentioned above, and because a) they are all-metal; and b) are cast-iron with no special finish to discolor or get ruined by grill use, they are perfect for grill cooking.
What to cook in them? Side dishes such as potatoes or vegetables, fish, especially delicate fish that might fall apart on grill grids, and even desserts (ever tried wood-grilled peach cobbler?) are amazing when kissed with that delicious Griller’s Gold flavor from your pellet grill!
Our favorite brand is good ‘ol, USA made Lodge, made in South Pittsburg, TN near the border with Alabama and near Chattanooga. Great place to visit! Visit their website for lots of ideas for gifts for your favorite griller. https://www.lodgecastiron.com/
Grilling gift hand Tools:
Here’s a list of things in our grilling bits cabinet that we can’t live without:
What’s more fun in the fall than to pack up the car with your tailgate setup, put on your team colors, and head to the big stadium for game day? Not much!
Nothing goes with tailgating better than grilling, so here are some ideas to up your tailgating fare using your pellet-fueled grill at home to prepare stuff for the game!
So, here’s an assumption. We know that there are some pellet-fueled portable grills out there, and good for you if that’s your setup. You can shift all of these ideas to make at the game versus make at home. But we’re assuming you have a nice big pellet-fueled grill for home and a portable gas or charcoal grill to pack for the game. Each of these recipe ideas are designed to be made at home on your Griller’s Gold Hardwood pellet-fueled grill and then reheated on your small grill at the game.
The gang at Griller’s Gold are PRO tailgaters. We’ve been going to college and NFL games for years and we have our game down. Our first rule is “No hot dogs!” Nothing wrong with a little dog, burger, or brat tailgate, but we always go for the “oh, I want what they’re making” factor when we bring our tailgate game.
Here we go…
Make a Tailgate Plan
Our tailgate crew makes a plan for each game. It lays out the main items we’re making, perhaps some special drink items, and then we fill in around the edges. We typically will have 2 or 3 appetizer items, then a big main or two. But we plan this all well in advance and make most everything at home. That way, at the game, it’s just a fast reheat on a hot portable grill and we’re eating.
For reheating all of these, it’s best to set your grill up (if you can) for indirect heating. If you are using charcoal, push the charcoal to one side to make a hot zone and a cooler zone. On a portable gas grill, if you have two burners, shut one side off. If you’re on a small charcoal grill or a single burner gas, keep the heat moderate by building a smaller fire, or turning the burner down a bit. Then make sure to keep turning/stirring the food to avoid burning it.
You want to come out of the gate strong, with something bold, tasty, and well … filled with bacon and cheese! Fortunately, there’s this amazing thing called a “Bacon Explosion!”
It goes by a few other names out there, but the gist of it is simple – it’s bacon, cheese, and if you want spice, chopped pickled jalapenos, stuffed into a log of sausage that’s rolled in a bacon lattice. For a recipe on how to construct one of these, this is a good link: http://www.bbqaddicts.com/recipes/pork/bacon-explosion/.
Our recipe diverges from theirs in that we add a generous amount of shredded cheddar and don’t put the barbecue sauce in. But, the construction techniques are solid here. To cook a bacon explosion, fire your pellet grill up (we like to use Griller’s Gold Smoke Shack Blend for this one!) to a temperature of 350F degrees. Cook it until it is 165F with a thermometer in the middle. On game day, all you’re going to do is reheat it on your grill until it’s hot all the way through. Keep it moving and turning though as you don’t want to burn off all the bacon.
Another great game day recipe that is easy to make ahead is good ‘ol wings. Make these ahead by seasoning them with your favorite barbecue rub, then grilling them on your pellet grill at 425F until crisp and done.
What we do for game day is hold off saucing them until we’ve reheated them on our tailgate grill, then sauce them with our favorite commercial sauces. We have great homemade sauces too, but the commercial stuff is handy for game day.
Want to raise the ‘ol “chip and dip” game? How about SMOKED QUESO? This recipe has been all the rage around the grilling and pellet grill barbecue social media forums for the last several years and for good reason – it’s amazing!
Creamy cheese base with peppers, onions, chorizo sausage, and more mixed in. So good – and way easy. Use our recipe from the Smoky Snacks blog post from a few months ago. Again, make this ahead at home and on game day, put it on the grill to reheat, stirring every couple of minutes to make sure you’re not burning it on the bottom, then serve with a generous supply of tortilla chips.
Finally, how about some homemade, pellet grill-smoked, bacon-wrapped Jalapeno poppers? Jalapeno, stuffed with cheese, wrapped with bacon … OMG so amazing and so easy. Just like the other apps here, make ahead on your pellet grill at home to get that wood-grilled flavor, then reheat on game day – keep them moving so you’re not burning the bacon if you don’t have an indirect heat setup.
As we said, with our tailgating crew we go for the “I want what they’re having” effect! Nothing wrong with a burger or a bratwurst at a tailgate, but … we always feel that anything worth doing is worth overdoing!
Therefore, here are three great ideas that are both “hand food” and also fantastically tasty, and deliver those all-important envious glances from nearby tailgaters. Do what we do – make a ton and share with all the tailgaters who couldn’t get outside the hot dog box.
Rack of Pork
Yeah, we go there! A rack of pork is a big bone-in pork loin roast with the ribs on it. It’s used most frequently in a crown roast of pork, but we like cooking it straight (not curled up) and then slicing apart the individual rib chops so you wind up with a pork chop on a stick!
Have your butcher take the chine off it (that’s where the ribs connect to the spine), which makes a nicer presentation, and makes it easier to cut the individual chops. We like to season ours with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika, then we slow-grill it on our pellet grill (we like Griller’s Gold Fruitwood Blend, or Cherry for this recipe) at 250 degrees until 135 degrees internal. Yup, that’s a touch under done for pork, as you’ll then finish it on the grill at the game. The slow grill gives it lots of wonderful wood-grilled flavor, and if you want you can finish it with some barbecue sauce at the game. Then slice into individual chops and serve, using the bone as the stick!
Rack of Lamb
Since we’re on the subject of meat on bones, there’s nothing better than lamb racks, cooked medium, and sliced up like little three-bite lamb lollipops!
We buy ours at Costco or Sam’s Club, and season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a bit of oregano. Then we slow grill them at 250F on our pellet grill (Griller’s Gold Competition Blend is our favorite here) at home until just 125 degrees internal.
Then at the game, back on the grill, and we drizzle them with lemon juice. Keep an eye on them as lamb fat likes to ignite! Grill them until just nicely browned and about 130 degrees internal. Slice up and enjoy!
Beef Tenderloin Kebabs
Beef tenderloin, while pricy, is just so wonderful, and is easy to grill. We buy a whole beef tenderloin at either Costco or Sam’s Club.
We slice it into 1 ½” thick slices and quarter those slices to make 1-2 ounce chunks. Then thread about 3 of those on each skewer with a thick slice of sweet onion in between. Season them with just salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and slow grill them on the pellet grill (Competition Blend again here!) at 225F until just barely rare – about 115 degrees internal. That leaves room for you to then sear and heat them at the game.
At the game, these actually love a bit of direct heat to put a nice crust on them. Just be mindful that they are already nearly perfectly medium rare so you don’t want to overcook them. Nothing better than handing a hungry tailgater a stick of perfectly-cooked beef tenderloin!
The Drinks and Other Fill In items
With such great fare, you’ll want to consider having a few additional tasty items plus some great drinks. On the drinks front, obviously, consider what your audience likes, but we like to do a theme drink, such as a bourbon old fashioned, or martinis that fit the occasion, as well as having good craft beers and of course lots of water and soft drinks available.
For additional fill-in food, consider some salads like a good cole slaw, a tasty potato salad, or even a green salad. We also like to have lots of small crunchy snacks like the ones featured in the Smokey Snacks blog post from a few months back!