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!
Brisket. The holy grail of Barbecue. Loved by every BBQ fan to eat, feared by barbecuers everywhere.
Eat barbecue long enough and you’ll discover some absolutely sublime brisket from famous barbecue places. Rodney Scott’s in Charleston, SC, Franklin’s in Austin, TX, Smoque in Chicago IL, and Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City, MO to name a few.
But here’s the thing – you CAN make this yourself and you CAN have sublime results. When you get good at it, it will be YOUR barbecue that your friends talk about, not about the barbecue joint down the road.
Making great brisket takes discipline, requires the investment of both time and quality ingredients, and, well, practice. Fortunately, even “that’s not the best you ever made” brisket made at home will still be 10x better than 95% of the “barbecue brisket” they sell in most restaurants.
So let’s cut the preamble here, and get going on the craft:
Buying your Brisket:
Brisket is considered to be a “primal” cut of meat. It is the upper chest muscles of a cow and as a “well used” muscle, it is thick-grained and tough until cooked long, low and slow.
When making brisket, the simple reality is, this meat is pretty expensive. And that’s one of the fear factors – spending $70-$150 on a big chunk of meat and then not having it come out sublime is pretty scary. That said, please don’t be tempted to cheap out. Buy the best you can afford.
It is easy to spend huge amounts of money on quality brisket. A great example of super-high-end brisket is from Snake River Farms and their American Wagyu brisket. Want to treat yourself and your crew sometime, here’s the LINK.
That said, we’ve had our best luck buying whole briskets (more on this below) at Costco in the USDA Prime grade. They will be more expensive than a USDA Choice grade brisket, but the extra cost is well delivered in your results.
The brisket on a cow is actually a pair of muscles stacked. One muscle is called the flat, or “first cut”, and the other is called the “point” or “second cut” or “deckle”. The flat is very lean, the point is very fatty.
Therefore, when buying briskets, they come in three ways:
Whole or “Packer” brisket – THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT. This is the brisket as it comes off the cow. A good-sized whole brisket will run between 12 and 20 lbs and while that sounds huge, trust us, you’ll get the best results with this. AND you’ll feed a crowd or have lots of enjoyable leftovers.
Flat or First Cut: While you CAN smoke these and make pretty good brisket because the overall thickness of this cut is only an inch and a half, your chances of making a dry brisket are pretty high.
Point, Deckle, or Second Cut: These actually do smoke up very nicely because of the fat content but they tend to be pretty small – only 2-4 lbs.
The construction of a brisket is that the flat is the “bottom” muscle (assuming that the fat cap on top is “up”) and the point is on top of it with a ridge of hard white tallow fat between them. What is funny is that the “flat” is actually point-shaped, and the “point” is actually more rectangular. Go figure.
Anyway, the summary of all of the above:
Buy a whole-packer brisket, and if prime is in the budget, go for it!
Okay? That’s what you want. Got it? The photo below is what you’re looking for (although we admit, that’s a ridiculously large brisket. We usually shoot for 15-16 pound briskets.)
(photo by Stewart Campbell)
So, assuming you’ve taken our advice and procured a proper whole-packer brisket, you’re going to need to do some butchery to get it ready to cook well. Read on.
Whole Brisket Butchery:
Trimming and preparing a brisket for good cooking is pretty straightforward. That said, it is a skill best taught visually. Fortunately, there are a ton of resources online that show you how to do it. We’ve watched a bunch and have selected this video as one that’s easy to follow and well, we agree with the techniques. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONifvZMlrQk
Now that you’ve watched the video, here’s just a quick checklist of what we do when we trim our brisket:
Trim the thin edges of the flat back to where the meat is at least an inch thick. Save the trimmings to make burgers!
Cut out the large white wedge of fat between the flat and point on that one side.
Trim back the fat cap, leaving about ¼”. Score it in 1” squares to allow it to render better and help your rub penetrate.
Flip it over and trim off any/all silverskin – that stuff is tough!
Clean it up by taking off any extra bits left over from the meat packer process.
After you’re done trimming, spend a moment understanding the grain of the meat, and a great hint we learned recently (yes after 100+ briskets made, we’re still learning!) – locate the corner of the flat that the grain runs down to and cut that corner off perpendicular to the grain, (saving the piece for hamburgers). Then you have a visual cue to follow when your brisket is ready to carve at the end of smoking. It is very hard to see the grain after the smoking is done. In the photo below of an untrimmed 16 lb packer brisket, you’d clip off the corner on the upper left of this photo.
(photo by Stewart Campbell)
Slather and Season your brisket:
We’ve become a recent convert to the “slather” which is a moist coating that helps the rub stick and helps build great bark. For a slather, we like to use standard-issue yellow mustard mixed with some Worcestershire sauce. Usually, about a half cup of mustard and 2-3 tablespoons of Worcestershire will cover the brisket. As the name says, just slather it on all sides of your trimmed brisket.
There are tons of great rubs out there, but the one that we see the most for brisket is known as SPG. That stands for salt, pepper, and granulated garlic powder. You can either mix this up in a ratio of 3 parts salt to 1 part pepper and 1 part granulated garlic, OR you can just freehand season your meat with all three. When we do SPG, we just freehand it.
Our other favorite brisket rub is a simple recipe of equal parts kosher salt, sugar, restaurant-grind black pepper, paprika, granulated garlic, and granulated onion, plus ¼ part dry mustard and ⅛ part ground cumin. Mix that up and liberally cover your brisket. The sugar helps build the bark and the rest of it just gives great flavor.
Here’s that same brisket slathered and rubbed and ready to smoke!
(photo by Stewart Campbell)
Cooking your brisket:
The method we recommend is low and slow utilizing the Texas Crutch. This gives you the most flavorful meat in a reasonable period of time – 6 to 8 hours versus 8 to 12 hours.
The idea is that when the meat goes into the “barbecue stall” (the point at which the temperature stops rising for a significant amount of time due to an interesting bit of physics where the rate of cooling occurring from water evaporating from the meat equals the input heat coming from the grill) you wrap the meat in either butcher paper or aluminum foil to slow down the evaporation and let the heat build. We’ll give more detailed instructions below.
Preheat your pellet grill to 180 degrees heat with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellet. For brisket, we like SmokeShack Blend the best. If your pellet grill has a “max smoke” or “smoke” setting, use that. Let the grill preheat for 20 minutes then place brisket on the grill.
We have found better results by putting the thicker end away from the chimney on our pellet grill. If you have one, insert the probe for a remote thermometer, or if your grill has such a thing, that works too. Put it into the thickest part of the meat but make sure it’s not in a fat seam.
At this point, the biggest question we hear from folks is “fat cap up or fat cap down?” Some folks think that if you go fat cap up, it will melt and “baste” the meat. That’s actually a myth – the fat molecules are way too big to be “absorbed” by the meat. We go “fat to the heat” – so on most pellet grills, the heat is underneath the meat. The fat will help insulate the meat and as a bigger benefit, the side on top without the fat cap will develop an outstanding bark.
Ok, meat is on, let’s go.
Cook for 1 hour at this lower setting, then, without opening the grill, boost the temperature of the grill to deliver 250 degrees F in the grill. Some grills require compensation up or down which is why we wrote this in this way – know your grill!.
Spritz or Mop:
Many barbecuers like to use a mop sauce or spritz (a spray of some kind of liquid) every hour or so while the meat is smoking. Again, this is a personal choice – we’ve tested both ways and have found that it doesn’t seem to do anything other than extending the cooking time. As always, feel free to experiment.
You’ll be cooking at this temp until it hits the “stall” – this is when the temperature doesn’t rise much over at least an hour’s time. The temperature this typically happens at is between about 160 to 170 degrees.
Let the brisket cook “in stall” for at least 1 hour (this helps verify the stall and this cooking time is also needed). The stall will come at about the 4th or 5th hour of cooking. After you’ve hit an hour of stall time, it’s time to wrap the meat.
On a side table, lay out your paper or foil. Use two strips at least 3 feet long and overlap them so your wrapping is at least 2 feet wide. If using butcher paper, spritz the paper with a bit of water just to help it easily fold. Fold the sides up over the meat and then roll it forward to wrap it up. Reinsert your temp probe. Put the package of meat back and boost the temp to 275 degrees. You can also move it to the oven – at this point, you’re just baking, not smoking.
Here’s our packer brisket at the stall when we’re about to wrap it.
(photo by Stewart Campbell)
When your brisket is done:
Your brisket is done when the temperature hits 203 degrees internal on your probe. At that point, take it off the heat.
If using butcher paper, put one layer of foil around it (just to contain leakage). Then without disturbing the package, lay it in a large picnic cooler lined with a heavy folded towel on the bottom. Finish it off by laying another heavy folded towel over the top and close it up.
Let rest 1 hour (at least – with a good cooler you can rest up to 7 hours and still be at good serving temp). Then remove from the package, and slice and serve – be sure to not discard that marvelous juice that will be in the package!
Slicing your brisket:
On a brisket, always slice perpendicular to the grain and ideally on a slant from top to bottom. This yields the most tender slices because the fibers are the shortest.
After the first few smaller slices (remember lopping off the corner so you knew where to start?), we like to make one big cut length-wise down the brisket, then go across the grain on each half – that makes for smaller, more sandwich-friendly slices.
Some advocate separating the point and flat for serving – we say, don’t. There’s something about those slices of brisket with both parts of the meat and an unctuous layer of fat between that’s completely sublime. If you do separate them at this point, be sure to carve across the grain when you slice it.
The perfect slice! This is the same brisket as the above pictures.
(photo by Stewart Campbell)
Sauce and Serving your brisket:
As you see fit.
That said, there are amazing sauces from famous restaurants available online and in-store. Perhaps try buying bottles from the famous places listed at the beginning of this article. Or roll Texas-style with no sauce.
Most true barbecue restaurants serve brisket with plain white bread, like good old Wonder Bread. There is something about it – it soaks up the juice so nicely. For sides, try smoked baked beans, cole slaw, and of course, fresh french fries are always a win.
And that’s it – follow these instructions and you’ll make amazing brisket too!