Easy Summer Ribs

Easy Summer Ribs

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy”, goes the song. So should making great food to serve at summertime celebrations.  Here at Griller’s Gold, one of our summertime faves are pork baby back ribs. Now, many grillers and barbecuers are afraid of them – and there are a thousand techniques out there including the “3-2-1” method, preboiling them (NO NO NO!!!), fast cooking (it works, but not as good), etc.  So our topic today is how to make GREAT ribs with an easy to make method.

The great thing is that a pellet-fueled grill makes this super easy.  The grills are thermostatically controlled for even temps, and they self-feed fuel so there’s no fire maintenance. Speaking of fuel, Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood pellets give great flavor to ribs.  We’ve used pretty much every pellet we make in making ribs, and they all work great, but that said, for pork baby backs, we love either Hickory or Fruitwood Blend.  So let’s do this!

This recipe delivers ribs that are tender, not chewy, with a nice clean “tug” of the meat coming off the bone. They are not “fall off the bone” ribs – those usually only happen when you braise ribs in a sauce after smoking.

What to Buy

Pork Baby Back ribs – these are the rib sections from the back of the hog nearest the spine and have a lot of meat on them – much more meaty than St. Louis cut ribs.  We like to buy the minimally-processed ribs – often you’ll find them with a notation on the package of “contains up to 10% of a solution of …” which is that they are injected with a brining solution.  We find those to be too salty tasting for our taste.  Great sources for minimally processed ribs are at Costco and Sam’s of course – and they come in 3 packs.  Figure a half-slab of ribs per person, so a 3 pack should serve 12.

Ribs on a cookie sheet prepped for the grill

Prepping Your Ribs 

Generally speaking, ribs straight out of the package will have a membrane on the underside.  That needs to get removed as it gets chewy as it cooks.  Costco ribs frequently have had it removed. You can tell if it was already removed or not by how the underside of the ribs look – if they have a shiny/glossy coating – that’s the membrane. 

Now some people think this is a very difficult thing to do, but they just haven’t found the right technique yet. 

Here’s what to do:
1)  Get a butter knife – up, a non-sharp butter knife is ideal for this technique.

2)  Work from the side of the ribs away from the backbone. In the photo below one end of the ribs is sharply cut off at a near 90 degree angle while the other side sort of slants away. Start at the sharp cut off end.

3)  At the rib that’s closest to the middle of the slab, slip the butter knife under the membrane – it’s sort of a scraping action where you’re scraping the membrane up off the bone. Once the knife is inserted about half the length of the bone, lever it upwards, levering the membrane up – you can hear it tearing away.  With a clean (not greasy/slimy) hand, get your thumb under the membrane and start pulling upwards – it will start peeling away. Work to one end and pull the membrane completely off, and then work the other direction to finish. Most of the time it will come off in one piece and the first time you do that you’ll feel like you pulled Excaliber from the stone!

Ribs with a butter knife showing where to insert the butter knife to remove the membrane

Ribs with butter knife illustrating how to remove the membrane
Removing the membrane from a slab of ribs before grilling

4) From there, clean the ribs up a bit – if there are little bits of meat hanging off anywhere, just cut those off as they typically will burn and become dry and hard anyway. 

Seasoning Your Ribs

Ok, we’re going to share a secret with you here.  Our head blogger developed this rub recipe about 30 years ago and we’re here to say that even with all the commercial rubs out there, this works the best. And it’s simple to make.  For enough Rub for 3 slabs of ribs:

  • 2 T (tablespoons) EACH of kosher salt, sugar, ground pepper, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1 T chili powder
    2 t (teaspoons) dry mustard powder (we like the Colman’s brand)
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • ½ t ground ginger

Mix up well and put it into an empty shaker container. By the way, we use so much of this that we make it in quantities where the tablespoons above turn into cups!

Generously shake the rub over the meaty side of the ribs, you don’t want to sprinkle it, you want to cover it!  See the photo below to see how much you need to apply.  Flip the ribs over and and give a good shake on the bone side but you don’t need as much on that side.

Adding a rub to a set of ribs

That’s it, let’s cook!

Grill Prep for Your Baby Back Ribs

Load your pellet grill’s hopper with Griller’s Gold pellets and fire it up to deliver 225F temp (the reason we say “deliver” is that some grills run a little higher, some a little cooler.  It pays to know how your grill behaves).  We like to let ours preheat for a solid 20 minutes, even though it comes “to temp” in 10 – it helps to get all that metal heated up evenly.

And go put them on the grill – meaty side up, bone side down. Leave some room around them to let the air and smoke circulate.  On the pellet grill we use the most (which is pretty small, truthfully), 3 slabs fit perfectly – 2 on the main grate, 1 on the upper. Close the lid, set a timer for 3 ½ hours and GO AWAY.  Seriously, leave it alone.  If you’re lookin’ they are NOT cookin’.  You don’t need to baste, spritz, etc.  They will cook just fine without your fussing.

3 racks of ribs on the smoker

At 3 ½ hours, come back to do the “crack test”.  This is where you lift a slab up with a pair of tongs in the middle. If the ribs are done, you’ll see the bark crack and slab start to split in half.  When you see that split or crack, they are done on the grill – see the picture below.

An example of the rib "crack test"

Please note, not all slabs will get done at the same time – but that’s ok because you’re going to rest these!  If you have a slab that’s not quite cracking at the same time as the others, give it more time on the grill, usually an extra half hour will do the trick.

Resting Your Ribs

Here’s where this recipe becomes great for summer fun. We like to make these starting pretty early in the morning so that they are done late morning – say on at 7:30 and off around 11:00 AM.  They can go in the resting cooler for several hours until you’re ready to remove them, sauce them up and serve them!  Now this said, if you are having these for lunch, you can do without the rest, but your ribs will be more tender and tasty if you can build in some rest time. 

Two racks of ribs pulled off the grill and on a cookie sheet

Serving Your Baby Back Ribs

We like to cut the ribs at this point into serving  pieces – generally 2 ribs per piece.  Then make a double layer of heavy duty foil, pile the rib pieces in and close it up like a packet.  For 3 slabs it requires two packet.  Nestle the packets in the bottom of a picnic cooler. Then fold up an old bath towel and put it on top for some extra insulation, and close up the cooler.  Let rest at least an hour and up to 6 hours.  

When you’re about 20 minutes from dinner, relight your pellet grill to 400F. Or, if you have one, a gas grill is fine for this step – run it at medium heat.  Before you head to the grill, generously brush your favorite barbecue sauce over the meaty sides of the ribs.  Head out to the grill, put the rib pieces sauce side down and close the grill. Set a timer for 3 minutes (time is important here as you don’t want to burn the ribs). At 3 minutes, give them a flip to the bone side down and heat for another 3 minutes. Then take them off and serve!

Ribs cut into smaller pieces with barbeque sauce

We love our ribs with cole slaw, baked beans, au gratin potatoes, mac and cheese, corn bread, and more for sides.

That’s it! Ribs can be so easy to make and so easy to get spectacular results just by keeping things simple!

Until next time!  Keep on grilling!

Budget Cuts – Great Eats On the Cheap!             

Budget Cuts – Great Eats On the Cheap!             

Right now is the time of year when everyone’s taxes roll around – and whether you’re lucky enough to get a refund, or have to pay, it certainly makes you think twice about expenditures. And let’s face it, groceries have gotten more expensive this year. 

So in this edition of the Griller’s Gold Blog, let’s have a look at some ways to have a great meal cooked on your pellet grill fueled with those amazing Griller’s Gold Premium Wood Pellets

Let’s do this!

Budget Cut – Chuck Eye Roast (the Beefy Secret!)

A chuck eye roast is a roast cut from the center of the chuck. The chuck is the primal cut that encompasses the shoulder part of beef cattle, so it is a working muscle.

Chuck is typically what you use to make beef stew or pot roast.  It likes a long, slow cooking method for maximum tenderness.  BUT!  The chuck eye, by the way it’s cut, can actually be grilled like a steak to medium rare. 

Chuck eye roasts are kind of oval in cross section and square to cylindrical in shape and are between 2 and 4 inches thick. A direct cousin of the Chuck Eye is a Delmonico Steak – which is a steak cut from the chuck eye.

Chuck eye roast - budget cuts blog from Grillers Gold

The thing we like about a chuck eye is you can see a clear grain direction in the meat (in this photo it is running from the lower left to the upper right) therefore, when carving it, it is easy to spot the grain and make cross-grain slices, which enhances the tenderness of your finished meat.

We love doing a Chuck Eye roast on our pellet grill using the reverse sear method. 

Here’s how…

Reverse Sear Method for Chuck Eye Roast


Chuck Eye Roast (2-4 lbs) – plan on ½ lb precooked weight per person. When we spot them at the grocery store, we usually buy two – one for now, one for the freezer!


Go over the outside the roast and trim off any silver skin or obvious gristle.  Because it is a working muscle, there will be some connective tissue that cuts through the roast – don’t worry about that, we’ll deal with it when it’s done and carved.


We like to do at least a 2 hour kosher or sea salt “dry brine” on it prior to cooking. Give it a generous sprinkling of salt all over at least 2 hours prior to cooking (but if you have time, 6 hours or even overnight does wonders!), then immediately before cooking, we coat it with a generous hit of freshly ground black pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion and paprika.  If you want a pop of spice, a nice shake of chili powder also adds to the flavor.

Grill Prep: 

Make sure your grill is clean as you’re going to need to fire up to hot temperature later to sear.  Load up with your favorite Griller’s Gold Premium Wood Pellet – the stronger flavors are great with this – Cherry, Hickory, Smokeshack or Competition Blend work great, as does Charcoal, although that has a more subtle flavor.  Preheat to 250 for the “low and slow” part of the cook. 


Once the grill is stable at 250 (most pellet grills take about 15 minutes for this), put the meat on, insert a probe in the thickest part and close it up! 

Set a timer for 20 minutes for turning. Turn the meat every 20 minutes until the internal temp hits 125F for medium rare. If you like it more done, adjust accordingly.


Take the meat off the grill, wrap it in a double layer of heavy duty foil, then nestle it in some folded towels. We like to put it in a picnic cooler as well.  Let it rest for 1 hour.  About 15 minutes before the rest ends, fire your grill to it’s highest temperature (ours goes to 550F) and let preheat. 


Unwrap the meat and bring it to the grill.  Sear it on the grill for about 8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes, so each side will be against the grill for two 2-minute cycles, then bring it in. 


Slice it across the grain (you remember that, right?) in ¼” or so slices and enjoy.

We love this with the usual steakhouse sides of garlic mashed potatoes, a good veggie like sauteed spinach or roasted asparagus, and a bottle of big red wine – Merlot, Cabernet, or if you got a nice tax refund, how about a French Bordeaux?  Gotta live a little right?

Budget cut chuck sliced and served on a plate with a green salad and tomatoes

Budget Cut – Pork Loin Roast:

Thankfully due to the abundance of pork production in the US, pork prices have stayed pretty low, so our favorite thing to do is a whole pork loin roast on the grill.  These massive cylinders of meat are great for serving a crowd, and the nice thing is, it responds beautifully to the Reverse Sear method we just described. We’ll note the differences as we go here.

two budget cut pork loins on brown parchment paper

A whole pork tenderloin is usually a 5 to 6 pound piece of meat, about 18” to 24” long. It is about 4 or 5 inches in thickness and is oval shaped in cross section.  The price on these varies between as low as $0.99 a pound to about $4.00 a pound.

The cut is comprised of several muscles, so the texture and flavor varies end to end.  In fact, you can buy one of these and butcher up into a good amount of “freezer food” with roasts, pork chops, etc.  We love buying these for that reason. 

In the picture here, the lower right end is the “sirloin” end and the upper left end is the rib end.  The rib end meat is a bit fattier.  In the middle is the “center cut” which is where typical pork loin roasts are cut from, and the sirloin end is usually sliced into thin “breakfast” pork chops.  But put away that knife, because we’re cooking this bad boy whole today!

Reverse Sear Method for Whole Pork Loin Roast


You’re buying a whole pork loin roast – these are most easily found at Sam’s Club, Costco and other large big box retailers and they are in cryovac packaging.  Try to avoid buying ones that say “up to 12% solution of pork broth, salt and …” – those are pre-brined and while they cook up nice, they can be a bit salty and that limits your seasoning creativity a bit.


Take it out of the package.  That’s it. No need to trim these. They will occasionally have a fat cap on one side, and that’s fine – leave that for flavor.


Just like for the chuck eye roast, first dry brine it with a generous hit of kosher or sea salt for a couple of hours.  But DON’T do that if you bought one with the solution injected in it.  After the dry brine, we like to mix up a rub of equal parts sugar, fresh ground pepper, granulated garlic and onion, paprika, and then ½ part chili powder and ¼ part dry mustard powder.  For a large roast, use 2T for the whole parts in your mix, which means a ½ part becomes 1T and a ¼ part becomes 1/2T.  Rub it generously all over the meat.

Grilling, Resting and Searing:

Follow the instructions for the Chuck Eye roast – it’s the same with one exception – go low and slow until it hits 140F internal.  Pork is best between 145 and 150F when finished.

We love to cut this into thin slices if we’re doing sandwiches, or in thick pork chop like slices if we’re serving as a plated dinner.

seared budget cut pork loin - close up of the pork loin

Some additional great “Budget Cuts”

For chicken, we love chicken thighs and for some reason those are always inexpensive!  We also love turkey – whole turkeys are always a great value year round – usually priced between $3 and $4 a pound. 

That’s a wrap!

You see!  You CAN eat like a king without spending a fortune.  Wishing you a happy spring time!  Thanks again for reading the Griller’s Gold Blog!

smoked Summer Snacks starring Pellet Grill Jerky!

smoked Summer Snacks starring Pellet Grill Jerky!

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

Smokey summer snacks - jerky on the rack

(Stewart Campbell)

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
  • Marinade:
    • 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.  

uncooked jerky for smokey summer snacks on a grill

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.

finished jerky off the grill - summer snacks on the smoker

(Stewart Campbell)

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
  • 2T butter
  • 2T worcestershire sauce
  • ½ t hot sauce (again, we like Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1 ½ t of your favorite BBQ seasoning 

Preheat your pellet grill to 165F with Griller’s Gold pellets

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 - part of the summer snacks

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 snacks - mixed nuts and jerky

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 snacks - margarita cocktail

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
  • Ice

    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. 

For two:

  • 4 ounces premium Kentucky bourbon of your choice.  We love to use Woodford’s Reserve for our Juleps, but really any good bourbon works.
  • 1 ½ ounces simple syrup (You can buy this premade but why do that when it’s super simple to make. Recipe: https://tinyurl.com/4bmbp45e )
  • 6 mint leaves, torn, for muddling.  6 more mint leaves on stems for garnish (3 per stem)
  • Crushed ice (at least 2 cups)

In two rocks glasses (although the tradition is a copper cup), add 1 ounce of bourbon to each plus a splash of simple syrup and 3 torn mint leaves. Muddle the mint with the bourbon and simple syrup.

Add the remaining bourbon and simple syrup to each drink and stir, then fill with crushed ice. Add a short straw and garnish with 3 whole mint leaves on a stem. Sip slow and enjoy!

So that’s it for this time.

Have a great start to your summer and we will see you again soon in this space!



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. 

Here’s a quick rundown of things you can cook HOT AND FAST on your pellet grill fueled by Griller’s Gold Natural Hardwood pellets.

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!

Until next time!

St. Patrick’s Day Favorite BBQ Twist! Montreal Smoked Meat

St. Patrick’s Day Favorite BBQ Twist! Montreal Smoked Meat

Hey, welcome to March! 

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. 

Montreal Smoked Meat  - Griller's Gold St. Patty's Day grilling

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!

St. Patty's Day Grilling - Montreal Smoked Meat Brisket

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.
  • Prague Powder #1 – the curing salt


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! 

Montreal Smoked Meat - St. Patty's Day Grilled Feast

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!

Grill On!

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.

Montreal Smoked meat sandwich - St. Patty's Day grilling feast

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. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and March everyone!

In Pursuit Of The Perfect Burger!

In Pursuit Of The Perfect Burger!

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!

Dean Martin Recipe for burgers. From the Celebrity Cookbook
Grillers Gold Blog
From the Celebrity Cookbook

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.

Mix-ins: NO!!

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.

pressing down the burger patty to get ready for the grill. Griller's Gold Blog

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.

The Grill/Preheating

Fire up your pellet grill to as hot as it will go – 450F, 500F, give her all you’ve got.  Those Griller’s Gold natural hardwood pellets will deliver the heat! 

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!

The Grill:

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.

Perfectly grilled burgers coming off the grill with a metal spatula. Griller's Gold Blog

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. 

The Smashburger: 

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!
rounded burgers getting ready to be smashed. Griller's Gold Blog



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:

Medium rare burger with cheese on a bun. Grillers Gold Blog
Photo by Stewart Campbell

Now go make yourself some tasty burgers!

Until next time!

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