Is there a more special occasion than a home-cooked holiday feast? We think not. So we’d like to encourage you to look at holiday grilling as the celebration it is. Pick elegant foods to cook on your pellet grill before you put them at the center of your holiday table. Thanks to Peter Jautaikis, whose The Wood Pellet Smoker & Grill Cookbook inspired us, we propose:
New York Strip Roast for the main event
A NY strip steak is always a good call for the meat lover; it says ‘steakhouse’ and that means quality. Now picture serving thick NY strips cut right from the roast which has been smoked over hickory pellets after being rubbed with garlic and the prime rib spice mix of your choosing. The flavor is luxe, the meat is a treat. Consult your butcher to order the right size for your holiday gathering, and plan for time to marinate, smoke, and rest the meat. Something this special is worth the effort.
Now that you’ve gone all festive for the main dish, let’s move on to starters and sides
Finally, for a perfect starch to accompany that fancy NY strip roast, take scalloped potatoes to a whole new level with perhaps the ultimate luxury ingredient: the truffle.
Add earthy truffle flavor to your favorite scalloped/au gratin potato recipe with a dash of white truffle oil, which is available at many groceries and specialty food stores this time of year. Or, choose a cheese that includes truffles, and grate into the cream sauce. Get even more savory by layering mushrooms into the baking pan. If you want to skip the improv and have all those ingredients mapped out in one easy yet fabulous recipe, try Chef John’s Truffled Potato Gratin from Allrecipes.
We wish you and yours all the joy of feasting this holiday
What’s not to love about Bluetooth BBQ thermometers? They generally cost around $50—a nice price for a holiday gift that’s perfectly situated between ‘stocking stuffer’ and ‘splurge.’ They help you stay warm indoors while your food heats up on the grill outside. They connect to your phone. And they earn a whole lot of enthusiasm from consumer reviewers. This helpful grilling technology also has big fans on the Griller’s Gold team—here’s how Scott summarized the joy.
“We love using ours so you can keep an eye on what’s happening without being tied to the grill or smoker.”
This is what real-world users say they’re glad to get from
these grilling tech goodies:
Convenience and comfort—you monitor your outdoor cooking without standing outdoors. (This is especially welcome when you’re preparing slow-cooked, smoked foods.)
Ease of use—from quick setup on your mobile phone to clear temperature readouts on the screen.
Digital precision—those temperatures are going to be exact. With multiple probes, you can even check the temps in different parts of a larger cut of meat to ensure consistency.
Four top-rated Bluetooth meat thermometers
These 5 picks all get five-star ratings on Amazon. (There are plenty of additional choices that get four-plus scores, too.)
This summer, we’re serving up three great side dishes. They’re going to look kind of familiar, but each is deliciously distinct from its traditional picnic ancestor. What makes these sides the next generation of outdoor dining goodness? It’s simple. The main vegetable in each is grilled.
Corn off the cob
First up, check out this grilled corn salad. Why leave corn on the cob once you’ve roasted it up? Slice it off and then mix it into a bowl with fresh, colorful ingredients like green pepper, tomato, and red onion, with a cilantro and olive oil dressing. (From allrecipes.com)
Next, we have a creamy grilled potato salad. Start by browning and crisping up the potatoes on the grill, then go rich with a dressing of mayonnaise zipped up by pickle juice, paprika, and mustard. Add the crunch of chopped dill pickles and the yumminess of boiled eggs. (From tasteofhome.com)
Slaw that slays
Finally, there’s this gorgeous grilled variation on a coleslaw theme, two-toned grilled cabbage wedges with spicy lime vinaigrette. (From breannasrecipebox.blogspot.com)
Learn more about mixing and matching these sides with other items on your BBQ menu here.
Does your family put a leg of lamb at the center of the Easter table every spring?
Keep up the tradition but update it, too, by grilling your leg of lamb.
Methods of cooking lamb
Many top chefs strongly encourage boning the leg before grilling. Butterflying is the most common suggestion. Leave it to your butcher to carefully separate the meat from the bone while keeping the main pieces connected. Then the meat is spread out in one piece, like a butterfly opens its wings. Try this recipe here.
Instead of butterflying a boned leg of lamb and cooking it whole, slightly more ambitious home cooks carefully cut along the four natural muscle separations, which are visible, and pull the four pieces apart. Grilling the lamb this way contributes to the most delicious crust, makes it easier to determine the doneness of pieces of different thickness, and simplifies carving. Try this recipe here.
For a simpler approach, grill the leg bone-in. Because this cut is so thick, it requires slow cooking over indirect heat – perfect for the wood pellet grill. Try this recipe here.
If your family typically cooks ham for the holiday, this year, try smoking one for yourself.
“You can indeed smoke a ham from scratch. It’s a pretty interesting process, involving brining for 12 to 14 days, among other things. If you want to save the time but want to add your own delicious smoked flavor in your own backyard, start with a pre-cooked ham.”
The site’s Malcolm Reed offers this great recipe (also shown here in video) to get the juices flowing. Malcolm combines a pre-cooked ham, a homemade sweet glaze, and an expedited smoking technique. Yum.
Malcolm adds this tip:
“Since we’re essentially “double-smoking” the ham, you should stay away from using stronger woods like Hickory or Oak. These will easily overpower the natural flavor of the ham. Place the ham on the smoker and check it every hour. If the outside starts to look a little dry, use some of the glaze for basting.”
The entire cooking time should take about 2 ½ – 3 hours.
Whether you choose lamb or ham, enjoy a great grilled holiday.
From the fine Floridians at Grill Junkie, here’s a whole lot of hot info on grilling and smoking in cool spells. Yes, even in Florida, wind and weather can challenge the outdoor cook. You need to make adjustments to help ensure success. Read this excerpt, check the forecast, and get ready to BBQ with attitude all year ‘round.
From BBQ in Winter: 6 Tips for the Die Hard, we’re sharing the helpful definition of the problems grillers and smokers face in cold weather. Read and enjoy the full article for specific suggestions and strategies. And BBQ on!
The Prime Directive: Keep your BBQ hot enough to smoke, no matter how cold it is.
Smoking in cold temperatures presents several challenges. When operating a charcoal, gas or wood-fired backyard smoker, the weather is always something you need to pay very close attention to. When temperatures are very low you need to be especially careful. Reaching and maintaining ideal smoking temperatures can be difficult at best, and very hard if the wind is blowing. Metal smokers are particularly challenging because the metal acts to conduct the heat quickly away from your BBQ, grill or smoker.
The first thing to imagine is the temperature difference. On a nice warm summer day, you might find that your smoker, sitting in the sun, has an internal temperature around 100° F. without a fire in it. Open the lid to get things ready and maybe it cools down to 85° F. If your target temperature is 225 degrees F. then you need a fire that will increase in smoker temperature by 125-145° F. If, on the other hand it is a cold, overcast day the internal temperature of your smoker could be 35° F, meaning you need to increase the temperature by 190° F. This is near twice the temperature difference. This means that you will have to have better temperature control, a hotter fire, and more fuel than usual on hand.
Now we need to take into account the wind. The most important thing about wind is the direction relative to your smoker. Some smokers, like the large offset smokers, have a definite airflow path. Air comes into the smoker through the firebox and moves across the cooking chamber and out the stack. If the wind is blowing in this direction the increased airflow will burn your fuel faster and can cause high-temperature spikes. This means keeping the vents closed down more than normal. If the wind is going in the other direction it can stop the airflow entirely and keep the heat out of your cooking chamber. It is best to let the wind add to the airflow and not stop it so if possible position your smoker so that the wind is blowing in the direction of the natural smoker airflow. It is very important to keep an eye on the wind as well as your smoking temperature.
Of course, it’s very difficult to smoke in heavy rain but cold weather also brings the occasional unanticipated light rain or snow. When water hits your smoker it is going to evaporate. Evaporation pulls heat from your smoker. If, during the course of a smoke you find some rain or snow falling it is time to open up the vents, getting things stoking, and bring up the temperature to offset this heat loss. Keep a close eye on it and you should be okay.”
Making Valentine’s Day dinner at home, lovingly handcrafting a very special meal, is about as romantic as it gets. Here are some heartwarming choices for the main dish.
If you want steakhouse style, buy high-quality, thick New York strips, with their beautiful marbling, tenderness, and flavor. Remember not to trim the fat; leaving it on contributes to both taste and moisture. Grill them with care and attention, per Peter Jautaikis, author of The Wood Pellet Smoker & Grill Cookbook. Jautaikis recommends steaks 1-1/4” to 1-1/2” thick, cooked 2 to 3 minutes per side on a grill preheated to 450 degrees.
If you have more time to put into your culinary efforts to celebrate your true love, smoke a flavorful tri-tip roast. Marinate overnight, prep the grill, and plan on cooking 2 hours for a 2 ½-3 lb. roast. It’s another great recipe from Jautaikis.
Now, light the candles, set an especially elegant salad out on the table, make sure the chocolate dessert is ready to serve, and pour two glasses of your favorite red wine.* For the BBQ lover, it’s the perfect occasion.
*Want some suggestions for red wine pairings that are as perfectly suited as you and your mate? For grilled strip steak, a robust wine with the tannins, acidity, and alcohol to cut through the meat’s fat is the ideal; look for Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel, according to the blog at wines.com. And Fiona Beckett’s blog, Matching Food & Wine, enthusiastically recommends a lush, ripe Australian Shiraz with smoked beef.