March Madness grilling!

March Madness grilling!

Ah, “March Madness” – ostensibly that, of course, refers to the big college basketball championship series and its exciting “gotta win to advance” format. But when we think of March Madness, we think of the weather getting more springlike and our MAD desire to get out there and GRILL SOME STUFF! Right?

So, this post is about how we combine those two – here’s some March Madness-worthy bites you can make right on your grill using Griller’s Gold Premium 100% Hardwood pellets to give everything that tasty wood-grilled flavor!

If you’re like us, you’re camped out in front of the big screen watching sports, you need to have some good snacks, and some good beverages handy – good friends also make it more fun. We’ll revisit some of the snack items we’ve written about before AND give you three great  recipes for classic “watching sports munchies.”

smoked Chicken Wings Three Ways

Seriously, is there a more perfect food than a chicken wing?  There are three or four good bites of tasty meat, usually either fried, grilled, or baked, and tossed with some yummy sauces. So we’re going to take you through how to get great wing results on your pellet grill and some outstanding sauce ideas to go with them. 

Griller's Gold Smoked Wings Recipe - crispy wings with golden color

Expert Wing Tips

Buy: We like to buy our wings at Costco or Sam’s Club in the big bags of frozen raw wings. Be sure to purchase raw – you want end-to-end control of the product.  If buying fresh wings at the grocery store or butcher shop, by all means, go for that – we like the flats and drumettes separated, and no tips, but whole wings can be cooked this way as well.

Prep and Season:  Thaw your wings and drain them, then spread them on a rack over a sheet baking pan and let them dry at room temp for about 30 minutes – this step helps the skin get crispier.  For 4 lbs of wings (about 30 pieces in total, split between drumettes and flats), mix:

  • 1 ½ Tablespoons of baking powder (yes, this helps the wings crisp up as they cook)
  • 1 ½  Tablespoons of a seasoning mix of your choice – we like Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, but Morton’s Season-All, or just about any other seasoning mix works.  If you want to go old school, mix up 1 tsp each of salt, pepper, and sugar and ½ tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. 

Toss the wings in this seasoning mixture in a large bowl to evenly coat the wings. Spread them back out on your rack and let rest another 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat your pellet grill to 425F degrees.  Yup, we’re comin’ in hot!

Griller's Gold Smoked Wings - chicken wings on the grill spaced evenly

Cook:  Put the wings on the pellet grill, spreading out evenly, so there’s a touch of air space between them – it’s the convection air that makes these crisp up.  Cook for about 30-40 minutes at 425F degrees, turning every 10-15 minutes – you’re looking for 180 degrees at the bone of one of the thicker drummettes.  

A note for non- pellet grill owners: 
This recipe works great on a charcoal or gas grill as well – just cook the wings over indirect heat (so shut off a burner, or bank your coals to one side). And if you want great wood-grilled flavor, prepare a “cigar” of Griller’s Gold pellets by taking a cup or so of the pellets and rolling them in a sheet of aluminum foil.  Twist off the ends and poke several holes in the foil with a skewer.  Place directly on the coals or your “flavor bars” over the lit burners on your gas grill.  Use the same heat – 425F degrees.

wing Sauces X3!

We promised three sauces, and these are easy, so here you go:

Classic Buffalo 


  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 T of Brown Sugar
  • 1 T Minced Garlic

Melt 1 stick of butter and whisk up with 1 cup of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Place back on low heat until it bubbles a bit, then whisk in 1T brown sugar and 1T minced garlic (Ok yeah, technically this is garlic Buffalo, but don’t bust us. It’s fantastic!). Toss with the wings hot off the grill and serve.  Don’t forget the ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping!

Korean Sticky Heat 

This one is so yummy – hot/sweet umami bomb! 


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 T Canola Oil
  • 1 T Goshujang or Sambal Oleek
  • 2 cloves of garlic mashed (or 1 tsp minced garlic)
  • 1 1/2 tsps of ginger paster puree
  • 1/2 tsp Asian Fish Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Asian sesame oil

In a saucepan over medium heat, mix ½ cup soy sauce (we like the low sodium variety), ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 1 tablespoon Gochujang or Sambal Oleek – both of these are Asian chili pastes that add heat and flavor, 2 cloves of garlic mashed (or 1 tsp minced garlic), 1 ½ teaspoons of ginger paste/puree, ½ teaspoon Asian fish sauce, ½ teaspoon Asian sesame oil. 

Let simmer for a few minutes to blend flavors, then toss with the wings.
Extra napkins and maybe some wet wipes for the sticky hands on this one!

Garlic Parm

This recipe is so simple but so good.


  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt
  • 3-4 T of grated parmesan cheese

Melt one stick of butter to bubbling, add 2 tsp minced garlic and simmer for a minute or two to “bloom” the garlic.  Add 1 tsp seasoning salt, then remove from heat.  Toss the wings in the butter and garlic mixture, add 3-4 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, and toss well.  Serve!

By the way, if you decide to make the wings in the oven or deep fryer, of course, these sauces will work well there, too!

smoked BBQ Baloney!

Yeah, we said that. You may know this recipe by a few other names like “Redneck Ribeye” and “Poor Man’s Prime Rib,” but what it is, is simply delicious!  And ridiculously easy to do.

Griller's Gold Smoked Bologna - three images, one cooked and cut into cubes, one raw and one half done on the grill

BUY:  Go to your local grocery’s deli counter and ask for a 4 to 6-inch piece of their slicing bologna (or baloney if you prefer) whole – people call this a baloney “chub.” You don’t want it sliced!  They might look at you funny but roll with it! We have found that the Eckrich brand works really well but just buy whatever you like.

PREP:  Fire up your pellet grill with Griller’s Gold pellets of any kind and preheat to 250 degrees F.  Take your “chub” and split it in half so that you have two “half-moon” shaped pieces, then using a sharp knife, cut a ¼” or so deep crosshatch pattern into the round surfaces of it. Slather it with yellow mustard (just good ol’ hot dog mustard is fine) to give your rub something to stick to, then cover it well with your favorite barbecue rub.

COOK:  Onto the pellet grill it goes – we like to smoke it for 3-4 hours at 250.  There really is no “done” point on this – it’s ready when you decide to pull it off and eat it!

SERVE:  Cut the BBQ Baloney into bite-sized cubes, making sure that each cube has a bite of bark on the outside. It’s a bit of a geometry puzzle, but we’re sure you’ll figure it out!

Lay them out on a platter with some toothpicks.  We also like to offer a few dipping sauces – BBQ sauce, some spicy, grainy mustard, maybe a hot sauce! And this is way good with the leftover Korean Sticky wing sauce above.

NEXT LEVEL:  These are fantastic when made into sticky burnt ends – just mix ¾ of a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce with ¼ cup of honey.  Toss together with the cubed-up baloney and then put in a foil pan (if using the grill) or baking dish (if indoors) and bake at 325~350F degrees for 20 minutes to caramelize the sauce.

Beef Jerky, smoked the easy way!

Beef Jerky is SO easy when you have a thermostatically controlled pellet grill – and you get that fantastic wood flavor from those Griller’s Gold 100% Hardwood pellets. Usually, when we make this recipe, we make it from scratch, but this is a faster recipe that uses some commercial products to get the job done. Now that said, this does require an overnight step and a relatively lengthy cook but, well worth the reward!

Griller's Gold Blog - Smoked Jerky Snacks on the pellet grill

BUY:  2-3 lbs of beef flank steak

PREP:  Remove the beef from the package and lay it out in a single layer on a platter, plate, or baking sheet. Next, put the pan into the freezer for about 20 minutes to make it easier to cut the meat up. 

After the freezer rest, cut the steak into serving-sized strips with the grain of the meat. Marinate overnight in a good-quality Asian teriyaki-style sauce. Our favorite is Soy-Vey Very Teriyaki, but feel free to use your favorite.

COOK: Preheat your pellet grill to 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Place the strips of meat on the grill crossways to the grid bars (don’t want them to fall through!), close the lid, and go away for 2 ½ hours. At 2 ½ hours, go check them – you’re looking for well-dried strips of beef that still have a bit of tenderness on the bite. They will be a bit sticky. This cook usually takes us between 3 and 4 hours.

Remove from the grill, cool to room temp and serve. Don’t be surprised if your friends snarf them all up!  Save any leftovers (IF there are any!) in a zip lock bag in the fridge for up to a week.

Smokey Snacks Revisited:

Check out some delicious game-day munchies from an earlier Griller’s Gold blog post.

Smoked Goldfish(™) crackers or cheese crackers  

This is a super easy smoker recipe! Toss one bag of Goldfish crackers or a regular-sized box of cheese crackers with a ¼ cup of cooking oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. If you want heat, add ¼ t of cayenne pepper. 

Spread in a foil pan and put in the smoker for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Temperatures are ok from 180 to 250 on these as well.  Absolutely delicious!

Smoked Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips  

These are even easier! Spread a bag of nacho cheese flavored tortilla chips out on a sheet pan and slide them into your pellet smoker at 180 degrees – let them go 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  

You’ll never eat another “straight from the bag” nacho cheese tortilla chip again. It also works great with potato chips, especially cheese flavored.

Smoked Queso Dip  

This kind of dip has been quite the rage of late in the BBQ social media forums and it’s quick and easy to prepare, too.

There are a thousand different recipes for this online. 

Here’s the one we’ve found to be the best combo of easy and tasty:

Taco Meat or Chorizo smoked Queso Dip 

Using a prepared taco seasoning and ground beef, prepare 1 lb. of taco meat to the instructions on the package. You can also substitute crumbled chorizo sausage, browned and drained. For this recipe, use a ½ pound of the taco meat or browned chorizo.

  • 1 can Rotel tomato/chile pepper mixture
  • 1 cup diced raw onion
  • 1/2 cup diced pickled jalapenos (can be omitted if desired)
  • 20 ounces of Velveeta cheese cut in 1” cubes (note – regular cheese like cheddar will not melt evenly enough for this, you need the pasteurized process cheese to work right)
  • ⅔ cup of sour cream

Mix together the prepared taco meat, the Rotel, onion, and jalapenos or chiles and spread out in a foil pan, then scatter the cubed cheese over the top.  Smoke for 45 minutes at 250 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes, then stir in the sour cream and smoke 15 minutes more.  Serve hot with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Smoked Queso Dip

(Photo Credit:

Happy March Madness, everyone! Until next time!

WINTER GRILLING – Don’t stop for the snow!

WINTER GRILLING – Don’t stop for the snow!

True outdoor cooking enthusiasts aren’t afraid of winter. Snow? Bring a shovel. Cold? Not a problem. Ice? Pfft – it’s nothing!

That said, there’s no getting around the fact that in the winter…

  • It takes longer for your grill to preheat
  • Some grills won’t get all the way up to the hottest temperature they can in the summer
  • Wind and cold can make maintaining lower temperatures harder to do
  • The “go outside and hang around the grill” factor is pretty much gone

How to Grill Well in the winter

So, this all said, here are some thoughts and ideas to help you keep on grilling, smoking, and making those yummy foods all winter long with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets as the fuel!

Situating your Grill for Best Winter Results

Just like real estate success, grilling success in the winter is helped a lot by location, location, location. 

If you can do it, the best thing to do is to move your grill as close to your house as possible – the ideal is just out a door, and even better, is in a spot just out the door that is somewhat sheltered from the wind. The easier it is for you to get out the door and tend the grill, the more likely you are to be using it in the winter.

Many grillers keep their grills in the garage when not in use, and roll them out for use – this works well of course, but the challenge is often the wind. One easy idea is to arrange your cars or vehicles to help block the wind.

As always, of course, safety first! Follow your grill manufacturer’s recommendations in terms of proximity to your home, and NEVER grill in an enclosed space like an attached garage – the carbon monoxide can permeate into your home with disastrous results.  You should also never grill in the garage in case of a flare-up or worse. Use common sense, but know that you’re solving for convenience and a little bit of wind protection.

And the last idea – while it’s a bit of an investment, a patio heater makes a world of difference in the enjoyment of outdoor cooking. A cold night with little wind, the heater fired up right near the grill with a proper cocktail in hand, and you’ll stay outside with the grill just like in the summer!

Cooking Methods in the Winter:

Generally speaking, most grills struggle when it comes to maintaining evenly controlled temperatures in windy and cold conditions. Therefore, a nice, long, low and slow cook may not work well unless it is a relatively warm and calm day.  If you’ve got a nice day in the 30s or 40sF with minimal wind, by all means, roll smoke for the low and slow, but that’s not going to work well on a day that’s 10F with a 20 mph arctic breeze blowing on your grill, sucking away your heat.

Hot and Fast

Rule #1 of successful winter grilling is “Hot and Fast.”

Using Hot and Fast as the rule – higher heat, shorter cook times, helps ensure that you get good results. You will find there are a number of recipes out there for Hot and Fast Brisket, Hot and Fast Ribs, etc. All of those are great for doing in the winter, and we have a short hot and fast primer at the end of this article.  This said it all comes with rule #2 … Know your grill!

Know Your Grill

Knowing your grill means, knowing what temperature you need to set your controller on to get the desired temperature in the enclosure of the grill. 

Thermostatic controlled grills, like most pellet grills, if things are well adjusted, will deliver an AVERAGE temperature of the setpoint temp. However, that temp will swing as much as 20 degrees over and under the setpoint.

In the winter, your swings will largely be under the setpoint – your grill will get to the setpoint, stop feeding pellets, but the icy wind blowing by your grill will rapidly cool it back off. 

The best way to deal with this is to use a remote thermometer to monitor the internal air temp of the grill. If you find that the grill temp looks to be lower most of the time than your setpoint, boost your setpoint up until you start seeing the right temp more often on your remote thermometer.

And finally, there’s the easy method which is “crank it and go!”  This is simple – set your pellet grill for max heat and let her get good and hot and start cooking! For the charcoal and gas grill folks, this means building a big fire or setting it on high and cooking hot over direct heat.

What to Cook and How To Cook:

Foods that do well in either “hot and fast” or “crank it and go” are things like

  • Chicken Parts
  • Steaks and Chops
  • Burgers
  • Sausages
  • Shrimp
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Small pork loin roasts
  • Thinner beef roasts like a London Broil

And we all know how to cook these, right?  Crank the heat, toss it on, give it a flip, remove when done. 

That said, here are some good hints to help you cook better grilled food in the winter:

  • Allow extra time to preheat
    Baby, it’s cold outside – and just like your car or truck on a cold morning, your grill needs extra time to get warm!  Don’t be tempted to put the food on before it hits the desired temp – you’ll never recover from that.
  • Flip Often
    On things like steaks and chops, particularly when they are thicker cuts (up to 1 ½” or more, you may find that turning them more often – say every 2-3 minutes – rather than just once during the cook time will result in a more even doneness. In the winter, the enclosure of your grill will likely be cooler than normal and the majority of the heat is rising from below. These frequent flips help the heat penetrate the meat evenly.
  • Avoid recipes that require a temperature change
    Those temp changes take much longer in the winter than they do in the summer.  Best to just get it hot and fast first.
  • Cook everything together
    Let’s face it, this is more for you than the food, but maximize your grill space usage.  Doing veggies and meat? Get those veggies on with the meat so you make fewer trips to the grill.
  • “Mis en place”
    Yeah, we’re getting some French cooking method on you here. That phrase generally means “gather everything you need before you start.”  Because your cook times will be faster and shorter, make sure you have everything ready to go before you put the food on the grill.

So there ya go!  Ok now, we know that you will want to also try the Hot and Fast method for things like Brisket or Ribs. 

Primer for Hot and Fast Brisket or Ribs:

Slowly smoked beef brisket shashlik is poured with a specially prepared mushroom Griller's Gold blog

Whole packer briskets if doing brisket and baby back ribs if doing ribs. A packer brisket will retain more juice in this hot and fast method, same with the ribs.

On the brisket, because it has less cooking time, be sure to butcher out the large pieces of hard white fat between the muscles. Check YouTube for how to do this.

Moisture and Rub:
Try slathering your ribs or brisket with a good coating of yellow mustard prior to applying your favorite rub.  This will help add moisture to the meat.

You want your grill to be delivering 325 degrees heat – so per the “know your grill” section above, set your grill accordingly.

Leave it Alone:
Don’t check it every 20 minutes or whatever you do when the weather is warm. Every time you lift the cover on your grill, you’re losing valuable heat.  Leave a brisket on at least 4 hours before looking the first time and leave ribs at least 2 hours.

Texas Crutch: 
Just like low and slow, the stall is real. And if you choose to do a Texas Crutch, know that fat-soaked butcher paper is pretty flammable. So consider using foil if you’re going to do the Texas Crutch.  It will greatly accelerate your cook time.

A whole packer brisket will be done in 4-6 hours using this method, and ribs will be done in 2 ½ to 3 hours at these temperatures.  Brisket is done when about 200 degrees internal temp deep in the center of the meat. Ribs are done when they split when you bend them (aka “the crack test”). 

There are a lot of good resources online for Hot and Fast barbecue methods.  Be sure to check them out!

Good Grilling!

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.


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.


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!

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