Farm Stand Vegetables

Farm Stand Vegetables

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is to head to the local farm stands and load up on all the wonderful fresh produce that’s farm fresh and just loaded with flavor as compared to the same items found in the supermarket. 

Of course, you’re thinking “Hey – wait a minute? Isn’t this blog about grilling?”  Well, yes friends it is, and we’re going to show you what you can do with the combination of your grill, farm stand produce and of course … Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood Pellets.

Prep Your Grill

Whether a rural farm stand or an urban weekend farmer’s market, right now you can find great produce packed with nutrients, flavor, texture and color to make your tables and plates bright and fresh. For all of these recipes, we’re recommending a medium heat in your grill – for an electronically –controlled pellet grill, 350 is the right number. 

If cooking on charcoal, set your grill up for indirect cooking – coals only on one side of the grill.  For a gas grill – set two burners on medium and shut off one to give you a cooler zone to work with. On gas and charcoal grills, use a smoke tube filled with Griller’s Gold pellets to give everything that good wood-cooked flavor. 

Now let’s have some fun!

What Vegetables Should You Buy?  

So many vegetables are fantastic when kissed with the grill. In every case, you’re looking for bright colors, clean shapes, and lack of insect damage. Don’t hesitate to ask the people manning the stand for advice on picking the best of what they have to offer. 

We buy onions, sweet corn, peppers of all colors and types, romaine lettuce, green beans, squash, beets, portabella mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, escarole, arugula, carrots and of course, tomatoes. Any and all of these do great with as little cooking as a quick marking of grill marks from a hot grill, all the way to cooked down to soft (and generally sweet).

Farm Stand Recipes

Here’s some great farm stand recipes to try.  All of these assume that you’re going to wash your produce in advance!

Grilling Asparagus 

Nothing is easier to grill than asparagus – the only rule to follow is to set it on the grill perpendicular to the way the grid runs. Bet you can figure out the “why” on that one! 

Our favorite way to grill asparagus is to simply snap off the tough ends, then just drizzle with a bit of olive oil, roll it around to spread it evenly, then hit it with a touch of salt and pepper. 

Put it on the grill (perpendicular!) and cook for about 8-10 minutes, rolling every 2 or 3 minutes to even out the brown. We like ours a bit crisper, so we go only 5-7 minutes depending on the size of the stalks. 

For a nice variation on this theme, just drizzle with your favorite balsamic vinegar while it cooks – the vinegar will caramelize from the grill heat. A super easy method that’s also tasty is to toss it with a store-bought Italian salad dressing prior to grilling.

Grilled Caesar Salad 

Yup, we said this! Lettuce, especially romaine, when gently/quickly grilled will get a sweet nutty flavor. The method is quite simple. 

Buy compact heads of romaine, or if in the store, romaine hearts work great for this. Peel off any floppy/non-crisp leaves on the outside – we usually take off a full layer. (Save for salad or use as garnish if they look ok!) Cutting from the root end, split the heads in half, and then cut the heads in half again leaving a quarter of a romaine head. Holding them by the root end, give them a quick rinse in cold running water and then let them drain root end up in the sink. After they drain a bit, give them a vigorous shake to get out as much water as possible.

The grilling is simple – walk them out to your hot grill and put them on!  For all grills, give your grate a quick spray with cooking spray or wipe with a cooking oil soaked paper towel or kitchen towel to keep things from sticking.

On gas and charcoal, you’re cooking with direct heat. Working quickly, put the romaine right on the grate, cut side down at an angle to the grate pattern – gives nice markings. Turn after 1 minute – so if you’re doing say 8 of them, by the time you get the last one on, the first one will need to turn. Turn to the next cut side and repeat with the others, again, 1 minute only, and that’s it. 

Serve with a drizzle of your favorite Caesar dressing.

Here’s our quick favorite Caesar recipe:  ½ cup of Mayo, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp worcestershire, ½ tsp red pepper hot sauce (optional) and 1 tsp anchovy paste (optional). Whisk together, then add ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, ¼ tsp salt and some grinds of fresh pepper. Fantastic! Also delicious with blue cheese dressing, crumbled blue cheese and bacon bits! 

Grilled Onions – A Summer Staple

Grilled onions are a summer staple for us – a big slab on a burger, served as a side to a steak or chop, or even chopped after a gentle grilling and put in a salad, you can’t beat the sweetness that comes out from grilling. These also pick up the flavor beautifully from Griller’s Gold pellets in a wood pellet grill. 

Prep: peel the outer skin off the onion and slice into ¼” to ½” thick slices.  Brush with olive or cooking oil on both sides and place directly on the grill over direct heat.  For just a light marking for having on a salad, cook about 2 minutes per side, then off.  Let cool a touch and then cut the rings into quarters and toss with the salad.

For a burger or as a steak side, let cook a bit longer – 3-4 minutes a side – then move onto the indirect heat (on a gas or charcoal grill) and let cook about 4 more minutes.  A light sprinkling of salt or seasoned salt will really “pop” the sweetness on these.

Tomatoes on the Grill

Grilled roasted tomatoes are madly good and could not be easier.  Using Griller’s Gold hardwood pellets in a pellet grill will give them a great woodsy flavor. Just about any variety works, but we like doing this with Roma tomatoes. 

This is super easy for prep – give the tomatoes a quick wash, then cut in half lengthwise.  Drizzle the cut sides with a bit of olive oil and put the tomatoes cut side down on the direct side of a medium heat grill. Leave them cut side down for about 3 minutes to mark and caramelize them then flip them skin side down and roast another 8-10 minutes until soft and hot all the way through. Sprinkle with some coarse kosher salt and a grind of pepper, and for an extra touch top with some snipped basil leaves and thyme.  Serve hot off the grill as a side with a steak, chop or fish, OR (and even better), cool and chop and use to make salsa. So good!

Colorful Grilled Peppers – So Good!

Red, green, yellow and orange bell peppers are fantastic when grilled – you can serve them hot as a side dish or let cool and serve as a side, a topping or in a salad. 

Again, simple prep – cut the flesh into strips (we like them about an inch wide), put on the grill, turn every 2 minutes until done – over direct heat. We also love cooking the mini multi-colored peppers whole in the same way.

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Poppers 

Nothing better than fresh farmed jalapenos – fire, flavor, heat! To make delicious poppers, use medium sized jalapenos (about 3” long).

Prep: Put on gloves! Cut the top off, then cut down one side and around the bottom to be able to open up the pepper. Scrape out all the seeds and white ribs – that’s where the majority of the heat is (and if you want to leave a few at “screaming hot”, leave some in!). 

Mix up equal amounts of cream cheese and shredded mild cheddar, then put a dollop in each pepper and close it around the cheese. Wrap each pepper with a strip of bacon, and secure with a toothpick. As you do this, cover the open end with the end of the bacon – this keeps the cheese in. Cook over direct heat turning frequently until the bacon is cooked and the pepper is tender.

Kaboom!

Mixed Grilled Veggies 

A super easy way to enjoy the grilled veggie flavor is to cut up a bunch of different veggies and put them in a big bowl, toss with some oil and a bit of balsamic, then dump into either a big roasting pan (foil disposable is fine unless you have one you’re ok with putting on the grill) a specially-designed grilling basket, or a big cast iron skillet.

For this we like a mix of bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini and onions – good additions are asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower.

Preheat the pan on the grill for a few minutes before adding the veggies.  Cook them over direct heat, tossing them about every 4 or 5 minutes until they are your desired doneness.  Broccoli and Cauliflower are also great this way on their own – cut up a mix of one, the other or both, toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil then roast.  Finish with a gentle sprinkle of your favorite seasoned salt – a smoked salt is especially tasty with this.

And finally … Sweet Corn

There is nothing better than an ear of freshly picked sweet corn roasted on the grill. For the best results, get corn that was picked the same day or worst case, within a day. Holding and refrigeration are the enemies of sweet corn – the sugars rapidly turn to starches. It’s that milky sweetness and snap of the kernels that you want and that comes from freshness. Be sure to ask the purveyor when it was picked.

Our favorite way to grill it is to simply pull the husks back just enough to allow pulling out of most of the silk then push the husks back into place.  Heat your grill to medium direct heat.  Put the corn directly on the grill (using direct heat) and turn the ears ⅓ turn every 3-4 minutes. They are perfect in 9-12 minutes when you’re on medium direct heat.  Shuck and enjoy with your favorite toppings – just butter; butter, salt and pepper; butter and Old Bay seasoning; or our fave, Elote style with mayonnaise, Elote seasoning (Try the one at Trader Joe’s!) and a squeeze of lime juice. Fantastic!

These ears of corn are ready to eat, having been freshly roasted on the grill.

Farm Stands are a bounty of amazing goodness in the summer and are natural companions to your grill.  Head out, get some of the earth’s bounty, fire up that grill and enjoy!

If you don’t have a farm stand nearby, remember, you can always barbecue with what you’ve got.

Until next time!

Burnt Ends

Burnt Ends

Is there anything that says honest barbecue more than “Burnt Ends”?  Super smokey, toothsome, unctuous little nuggets of barbecue heaven. So popular and hard to come by that most “Q” joints sell out of them within minutes of opening each day. 

What are “burnt ends”? 

Traditionally, they are the over-done edges and corners of briskets and Boston butts that are trimmed off, then put in a pan with sauce and other yummies and smoked longer to concentrate the flavors. That said, they’ve become a thing in their own right and folks make them on their own. 

This post will show you how to create burnt ends with pork belly and give you some notes on how to make them with beef.  Buckle up, we’re going for a ride into Burnt End land!

Making Burnt Ends at Home

Making burnt ends at home is really quite easy – like anything that’s proper BBQ, it requires some low and slow time, some heat, some spice, some sauce and well, some love too! 

The technique is amazingly simple. Take a cut of meat that loves low and slow – think pork belly, pork shoulder, brisket, chuck – (this is not a place for lean cuts like filet, sirloin, tenderloin, etc.), cut it into bite sized nuggets, toss it with a generous amount of a tasty rub, smoke them for a while, then put them into a pan with some sauce and other ingredients, and smoke some more.  It’s a great thing to do if you’re doing a long cook and you have a bit of space on your smoker or grill – these cook beautifully on the second grate of most grills and smokers that have them.

Now, every good recipe for anything BBQ starts with Griller’s Gold natural hardwood pellets. This recipe is designed for grilling on a wood pellet grill but we have put in some hints for making them on gas grills and charcoal grills.  If you’re doing them on a classic drum/bullet/barrel smoker, you don’t need anything special other than the recipe below.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends

This is the “master” recipe in terms of technique and ingredients. This also works for pork shoulder, and of course beef, which we note after the pork belly recipe.

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs pork belly, skin removed – this is about 1/4 of a typical pork belly

Barbecue Rub

1 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce

½ cup honey

½ cup beer or cola

½ stick butter

About pork belly: Costco, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods and other locations often sell large pieces of pork belly – if you’re not familiar with pork belly, here’s one word that will help you: “bacon.” 

What is Pork Belly exactly?

Pork belly is where traditional American bacon comes from – it is the outer layer of the belly of a pig.  A whole pork belly can be quite a large thing so what they normally sell there is a piece that’s about 12 inches wide and 16” long that weighs up to 5 or 6 lb., which is typically a half pork belly.

This recipe is for half of that, but of course, can be easily doubled.  You can also often find pork belly cut in large strips about an inch wide and those are fine to buy too. In fact that’s what we used in the photos for this post.

Most places sell belly without the skin – and if all your source has is skin-on belly, ask the butcher to remove the skin for you. If using the whole piece of belly, start by cutting the belly into 1 ½” wide strips across the short dimension.  You can tell you’re doing it right if each slice looks like a thick piece of bacon. If you bought the strips, this step is done for you.  Then cut each strip into 1 ½” pieces – you should wind up with pieces that are about 1 ½” on two sides and 1” or so thick.  These are a bit larger than typical bite-sized, but they cook down a lot.

Put the Pork Belly on the Grill!

Next, get your smoker rolling smoke – if using a pellet grill, fire up using Griller’s Gold pellets – for pork we like hickory, cherry, Fruitwood Blend, or Competition Blend.  All will give great results!

Preheat to 180 degrees and if your pellet grill has an “extra smoke” or “Super Smoke” feature, select that.  If using a gas grill, preheat to the lowest possible temperature, and for bullet/barrel/etc.smokers, plus kettle grills, set up for low and slow – 225 or lower.

While the smoker heats up, toss the pork belly nuggets in a generous amount of rub. For this recipe, we like the following rub: 

2 tablespoons of each: sugar, kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper, paprika, granulated garlic and granulated onion

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons dry mustard powder

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

You can also use your favorite rub for pork, or something like Meathead’s Memphis Dust plus salt.  Mix well and then toss your pork belly cubes with enough rub to evenly coat them well.

Scatter the nuggets across the grill’s cooking grate, making sure they aren’t touching each other and close the grill hood. A handy way to manage this is to put them on a cooling rack then just set the rack on the smoker.  Again, this is great to do if you have room while doing another cook.  Just know that if you put them on an upper grate, they will drip delicious pork fat onto whatever is smoking below. Which begs the question: “How is that a bad thing?”

Expert Hint for Wood Pellet Grill Users

Time for an expert hint for wood pellet grill users: Pellet grills tend not to be as smoky as barrel or bullet smokers. While burnt ends love a very smoky flavor and with the fattier meat, they can take it without getting “ashy” tasting.

To kick things up a bit, consider using a smoke tube to supplement the smoke a bit – we’ve written about these before. Check out that blog here

Load your smoke tube with the same Griller’s Gold natural hardwood pellets you’re using to fuel your grill (or, experiment – maybe try just hickory or cherry if you’re using one of the blends) and light it using a propane or butane torch, then set it on the grill grate on the opposite end of your smoker from the smokestack.  It will kick out more smoke which will dance over your little smoky treats and kiss them with more flavor.

After the first hour, kick the heat up to 225. After 4 hours total in the smoker, take the nuggets off and put them in a foil pan. Whisk up a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, a half cup of beer ( non-alcoholic option: cola works great too) and a half cup of honey. Two tablespoons of apple jelly is a nice bonus.  Pour this sauce over the nuggets and toss them all to coat. Dot with about half stick of butter cut into small pieces. Put the pan (uncovered) back into the smoker for another 2 hours. Stir after 1 hour. After 2 hours those nuggets should be amazing – the sauce will have cooked down to a syrupy goodness and the nuggets will be nice and caramelized. They are ready to serve at this point – use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan (there will be a lot of liquid fat in the pan) to serve. A pre-heated cast iron skillet makes a great presentation of these and will keep them warm as well.  Be sure to include toothpicks to pick them up and lots of napkins.

(Note, if doing this as a side item while you’re doing another cook, don’t sweat the temperatures – roll with the temps you’re using for whatever you’re doing, just know that this does need to be in the low and slow range which is typically 180 degrees up to 275 degrees.)

Variation for Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder: 

All of the above applies, but 1) cut to 1 ¼” cubes as it will shrink less; and 2) stretch first smoke period to 5 hours as they will need a touch longer.

Beef Burnt Ends

As promised, the technique is largely the same here as above, but here’s some variation points:

  • Cut of beef:  Short rib meat is the ultimate here, but brisket and chuck work great too. Don’t buy crosscut short ribs but instead buy large, meaty short ribs. Cut the meat off the bones as close to the bone as you can.
  • Prep:  Cut into bite sized cubes – because beef will not shrink as much as pork belly, cut a bit smaller – 1 ¼” or so.
  • Rub:  The same rub above works great, or because beef loves it so much, just equal parts salt, pepper and granulated garlic tastes/works great too.
  • Sauce:  Again same as above but a great variation is to use a steak sauce like A1 or Heinz 57 instead of BBQ sauce.  Mix with honey and beer.
  • Time:  Same as above, but taste after 4 hours – if they are tough, consider giving them 1 more hour to smoke.
  • Griller’s Gold Pellets:  The Smokehouse Blend is great for this beef recipe, but if you are doing them as a “side item” to a larger smoke, just roll with whatever you’re running, it will be fine.
  • Extra smoke:  Beef loves extra smoke so don’t be afraid to fire up that smoke tube if you’re running a wood pellet grill.

Last item for both – these are great made ahead.  We often make them a day or more ahead.  Just keep in the foil pan you made them in and then reheat them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes when ready to serve.

Give these a try – there’s no voodoo in this recipe and nothing to be afraid of – you have to try really hard to mess up burnt ends! And trust us – when you come to your friends with a hot pan of these little nuggets of joy, you’ll be everyone’s hero!  Smoke on! (Here are a few more smoker tips, in case you want to read more)

Until next time!

Fall grilled brunch flavors

Fall grilled brunch flavors

Whether it’s a hearty and savory one-dish morning meal, or a sweet sandwich that will bring back childhood memories, or a great bread to enjoy at home or take to a friend’s, there’s a lot of flavor in brunch dishes from the grill. (Bonus: Enjoy any of these brunch dishes with pumpkin spice latte – unless that’s not your thing, at which point just forget we mentioned it…)

Breakfast pizza with sausage gravy

This sausage-and-gravy-and-pizza recipe delivers all the classic flavors of a Southern breakfast — on a pizza crust! Make the sausage gravy indoors, and then turn your outdoor grill into a pizza oven. Spoon on the warm gravy and serve.

Grilled peanut butter banana sandwich

This is an insane sweet-spicy indulgence with minimal prep and cooking time. Assemble (preferably on cinnamon bread) and throw onto the grill in an uncovered skillet. Our favorite step is the recipe’s final one: “Pretend you are eleven. To make it totally official, eat with some potato chips.”

That pretty much says it.

Baking banana walnut bread on the grill

Sliced banana bread with walnuts

Follow your favorite family recipe – because with a wood pellet grill, you can control temperature for baking. And refer to The Wood Pellet Smoker & Grill Cookbook by Peter Jautaikis if you want a complete, delicious recipe. (You can order some Griller’s Gold pellets while you’re shopping.) Pumpkin bread is a great alternative.

Pizza, sandwiches, sweet baked goods – they’re all delicious grilled brunches with fall flavor. Have a great weekend.

Flavor fireworks: Best pairings of wood & food

Flavor fireworks: Best pairings of wood & food

Griller’s Gold wood pellets are made of 100% natural wood – and nothing else. But the variety or type of wood differs between our five blends. Those mixes were created by BBQ pros to make the perfect match with different foods.

Competition Blend with Pork Shoulder, Ribs, Beef

The Griller’s Gold flagship blend combines wood varieties to put flavor first. It’s the right choice for beef, from burgers to a ‘Poor Man’s Brisket’ from our friends at the National BBQ Association.

Smokeshack Blend with Brisket, Pork Shoulder, Ribs

Our Smokeshack pellets are made with classic BBQ meats in mind. Learn about why these affordable and flavorful cuts are perfect for smoking in this article about meat slow-cooking fundamentals.

Fruitwood Blend with Seafood, Chicken, Pork

Bone-in chicken makes a great grilled main dish; here’s a recent blog post featuring a simple and delicious recipe for homemade BBQ sauce that works brilliantly on chicken. Cook over Fruitwood pellets and you’re putting one winning meal on the table.

Cherry with Seafood, Poultry, Pork

The slight sweetness of cherry smoke makes it the right choice for lighter proteins like seafood. Here’s more about smoking fish on the grill with a link to a favorite salmon recipe.

Hickory with Beef, Pork Shoulder, Ribs

Tom McIntosh cooks at home and in competition. Tom prefers Griller’s Gold Hickory for his ribs in the backyard and on the circuit.

When you know your pairings, you’re ready to grill like a champion!

When you can’t just run out to the store 2: Great side dishes and grilled meals with pantry ingredients

When you can’t just run out to the store 2: Great side dishes and grilled meals with pantry ingredients

There’s never been a better time to eat together at home. Here at Griller’s Gold, we want to share ways to make great dishes — mains and sides — with a few ingredients you have in your pantry. Stay-at-home dinner never tasted so good.

First, look in the pantry

What have you got there? If you’re like so many of us, you’ll see:

  • Canned or dry beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Spices like cumin and hot pepper.

It all adds up to something fantastic:

Recipe: Chili on the grill!

That’s a genius main dish*. And you can basically never have too much of it. For the dedicated griller in you, the great Steve Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible, says it all: “The secret to the world’s BEST chili lies in your backyard. Start with barbecued brisket and pork, not raw meat. Add plenty of beer and a little chocolate. And above all, cook it in a smoker.”  Here’s Steve’s Smokehouse Chili recipe in all its glory.

*Yes, Steve and pretty much everyone else who loves chili will acknowledge that maybe your part of the country thinks either tomatoes or beans just don’t belong. Nonetheless, this is your opportunity to make chili with what you’ve got. And you can swap out any smoke-worthy meat for the cuts Steve recommends. Once you’ve smoked the meat, it’s time to fire up the chili pot. This chili can make down time fun.

When it’s time to serve, you can choose to go traditional with the sides and do a cornbread and salad. You mix things up a little by cooking some pasta and making a chili mac. Work with what you already have in your kitchen to keep it easy.

Recipe: Quick BBQ sauce

If you’ve got bone-in chicken pieces plus some tomato sauce and brown sugar from the pantry, that’s pretty much all it takes for this 5-ingredient BBQ chicken recipe. Just mix the sauce and grill. And in the spirit of inspiring your creativity and problem solving, you could dig in the freezer and see if there’s another protein on which you could splash your home-brewed BBQ sauce.

Recipe: Spanish rice is nice

Look in the pantry again, and you’re almost sure to find white rice and chicken stock in addition to those canned tomatoes. Combine with onion and garlic, and you’ll have the makings of a savory Spanish rice recipe that’s the perfect side dish for grilled meats.

So whether you do a project of grilled chili empowered by your pantry, or keep it simple with a homemade BBQ sauce or simple Spanish rice side, you’re grilling like a champion. And we applaud all of you who BBQ with attitude.

And check out our other post in the ‘skip the shopping trip series’ — on making dinner with a minimal number of ingredients you’ve got on hand.

When you can’t just run out to the store 1: BBQ with what you’ve got

When you can’t just run out to the store 1: BBQ with what you’ve got

Right now, it seems right to talk about enjoying meals together at home. For this blog, it means that we want to share ways to make great grilled meals with a few ingredients you have on hand. Grilling is something we almost always do at our own home — and nowadays, grilled goodies are more of a comfort food than ever.

Count on a minimal number of ingredients

You can look online for all sorts of 5-ingredient recipes. You can even search with a list of what you’ve actually got: like “recipe with beef tomatoes onions bell peppers.” Most recipe writers and cookbooks will say that the ingredient limit doesn’t include things like herbs and spices, salt, pepper, flour, oil, vinegar, mustard, ketchup, water — the bare essentials.

For grillers, that “doesn’t count” list might make you think of something: marinade! Want a refresher on marinating for the grill? This is one of our favorite past posts, including guidelines for making your own marinade from scratch. You’ll read about rubs, too, and they’re just as versatile and easy to get going without a trip to the grocery.

Now, what you’re marinating (or rubbing) matters. But the technique works for so many different meats. Which is perfect if the selection was limited when you went to the store, or if you have only a few choices in the fridge or freezer.

Minimalist main dish on the grill

The National BBQ Association recently shared this one-minute “poor man’s brisket” recipe video that captures the idea: a protein, some seasonings, rub technique, and you’re ready for BBQ with attitude. What’s great about this approach — the method applies to all sorts of proteins you might have in your freezer.

Minimalism on the side

For a hearty yet, simple side for meat (or meatless main dish if you like), these grilled cauliflower steaks define a minimalist recipe. Basically, there’s one ingredient plus good old marinade. The recipe’s instructions call for drizzling and sprinkling tasty marinade made of olive oil, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. If you’re new to cauliflower steaks, review the instructions for cutting the cauliflower heads so the slices stand up to cooking.

Be sure to check out our next post about recipes inspired by the pantry. And keep on grilling!

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