Here we are approaching another New Year and an open calendar. We believe the best way to celebrate any occasion is to gather with some dear friends, cook up an amazing meal and share a toast together! Here’s a celebration menu with the star of the show, Ultimate Prime Rib, getting the Griller’s Gold wood grilled treatment.
For a great party gather relatively early in the evening and have some great cocktails. Even though we’re grillers here on this blog, we know our way around a bar as well. Two great cocktails to start the evening off are a classic Champagne Cocktail as well as an Old Fashioned. Both are quick and easy to make, here’s the techniques:
Champagne Cocktail: Super easy!
Bitters (we like Angostura for this, although Peyaud’s are also good)
Champagne or sparkling wine – but don’t go sweet like Asti Spumante, regular sparkling wine, champagne, prosecco or sparkling rose all work great
Drop the sugar cube into the bottom of a champagne or wine glass, then add a few drops of the bitters and fill with the champagne, that’s it!
This is for a classic Old Fashioned. Note some variations at the end. And these scale up nicely so if you’re making a bunch, just do it in a pitcher or bar shaker. For each drink:
2 ounces bourbon, brandy, Canadian Whisky (ex: Crown Royal) or American whisky (Seagram’s 7)
Put all the ingredients into the bottom of a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or a cocktail muddler, smash the sugar and mix the ingredients. Pour over ice in a large rocks glass and add 1-2 ounces of club soda or 7 up (for a Sweet Old Fashioned) or ½ ounce of sour mix plus club soda (for a sour Old Fashioned). Garnish with an orange peel and a maraschino cherry. (photo: diffordsguide.com
Ok now that we’ve got the pump primed, onto the food. For cocktail snacks, nothing beats charcuterie – meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, mustards, jellies, etc. for being able to relax, be social and enjoy the company of your friends. We’re not going to cover that here, but the internet is FULL of ideas for this – just search Pinterest, Google or other places for ideas!
The Dinner, Starring Ultimate Prime Rib!
Our whole goal when we host a dinner party is to be able to be a guest at our own party. Therefore we love it when we can do most of the cooking in advance. For this meal, here’s our menu:
On that plate, you’ll have a big slab of wood-roasted prime rib, topped with fantastic roasted mushrooms with garlic, herbs and capers, a side of crispy smashed red skin potatoes and delicious spears of asparagus wrapped with prosciutto ham! Amazing!
And as far as that “be a guest at your own party” thing? Well, the potatoes make ahead and warm back up nicely, the Asparagus takes only 15 minutes to roast in the same oven where the potatoes are warming back up and the mushrooms reheat beautifully too – so your game plan is make the beef and have it resting (more in the recipe below) then 20 minutes prior to dinner time, toss the sides into a 350 degree oven, and the rib roast back out onto the grill to sear. The roast comes off, the sides come out, slice and serve!
Ultimate Prime Rib Recipe
This recipe couldn’t be easier!
The trick is our favorite pellet grill trick – Reverse Searing – where you cook low and slow until almost the right temperature, then let things rest, then a fast sear in a hot grill and slice and serve. Here’s an in-depth look at that technique.
Buy (for a dinner party for 6-8 people):
Beef Rib (or Ribeye) Roast: We like to do this with boneless rib roasts – they cook a touch faster. Buy one in the 6 to 7 pound range. Costco and Sam’s Club are the national chain players on this but also don’t be afraid to trust the butcher. This will not be an inexpensive cut of beef but it will be impressive when it’s done! If you can get Prime grade beef, do it, if not, just look for the one that shows the best marbling,
Trim the fat cap on the roast so that it’s an even ¼ to ⅛ inch thick then score it in a crosshatch pattern. That allows the seasoning to get down into the meat.
We like to season ours about 3-4 hours prior to cooking and let it “temper” (rise in temperature) on the kitchen counter. For seasoning, our favorite is good ‘ol SPG – salt, pepper and garlic powder. To that you could add onion powder as well. 2 parts salt, 1 part each of the rest. Give it a generous amount over every surface of the roast. We tend to think of steaks as flat objects – season both sides, but roasts are more like cubes!
You’ll want your grill nice and clean for this as when it’s time to sear, you’re going to crank the heat way up and that can cause fires if you have grease built up. So start with a clean grill!
Then preheat to 250F using your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets (we like Smokeshack or Competition for this recipe) for at least 20 minutes (cuz’ baby it’s cold outside!). Put a probe thermometer or your grill’s probe thermometer (if so equipped) into the thickest part of the meat, make sure it’s in meat and not a pocket of fat. And then head to the grill. Place the roast in the middle of the grate, shut the lid, set for your desired setpoint, close the lid and go join your friends.
A roast of this size will take 2-3 or more hours to get to 118F (which is the right temp to pull it off for warm red rare – if wanting pink Medium Rare then go to 122F). Just keep an eye on things and make sure you’re there to pull it off at the right temp.
When it hits the right temp, remove the meat from the grill, then wrap it in 2 layers of foil and nestle it into a picnic cooler lined with a towel on the bottom and a towel over the top. It will snuggle in there and the carryover heat will make it perfect. It can rest for up to 2 hours in there without appreciably cooling.
Then when you’re 35 minutes from eating time, fire the grill to 450 or 500F. When it is fully preheated and you’re 20 minutes from dinner time, put your sides in the oven as mentioned before, then, walk the roast back out to the grill, remove it from the cooler, and partially unwrap the meat, leaving it sitting in a “boat” of foil (that will catch juices and fat and keep your grill from catching fire).
Close the grill up and give it 10 minutes at this temperature, then remove it from the grill. Bring it back in and slice it into ½’ thick slabs of beefy glory! You’ll be the Prime Rib hero when you serve this to your friends and family!
Pair this with a great dry red wine, more cocktails, and good cheer!
From your family and friends at Griller’s Gold, to you and yours – Cheers to a Happy 2024!
Such a great month – winter is starting to go away (at least in southern/central regions), we’ve got March Madness and … St. Patrick’s Day!
And what’s the one food that is associated with St. Paddy’s? Corned Beef!
Given that this is a barbecue blog and all about smokey meats, let’s talk about the magic that happens when you take tasty Corned Beef, and you apply barbecue techniques of rubs, low and slow heat and smoke to it.
They call that magic Montreal Smoked Meat!
So exactly what is Montreal Smoked Meat (MSM) and why do we love it so much? It is cured brisket (aka Corned Beef) that is then smoked with an amazing (and spicy) coating that forms the bark on the outside.
It is a specialty of restaurants in Montreal (hence the name), and in fact THE place to get it in Montreal is Schwartz’s deli. MSM is like a brisket takes a trip to a New York Deli, on the way through Texas. It is similar to pastrami, only smokier and because it’s brisket (pastrami is a different cut), tastier! It’s got peppery spice, cured meat flavor and barbecue smoke! Pure heaven!
What makes “MSM” unique from regular barbecue brisket is the curing process. This chemically preserves the meat and gives it a unique flavor, versus raw brisket. The difference between Montreal Smoked Meat and regular corned beef is that corned beef is wet cured in a brining liquid (“pickled”) with peppercorns. The peppercorns are the primary spice (hence “corned” beef) while MSM is dry cured with a curing rub full of spices.
Making MSM is not a quick process – it takes about a week in total, but the results are amazing and worth your time. The only special thing you’ll need is curing salt – also known as “Prague Powder #1” or “Pink Salt” or “Pink Cure.” It is 6.25% granulated sodium nitrite and 93.75% table salt. The reason it’s pink is because it’s dyed that color so you don’t mistake it for salt and put it on your food like a seasoning. And don’t freak out about nitrates and nitrites in your food. You’ll eat more nitrate in a serving of spinach than you will in a serving of MSM.
The Montreal Smoked Meat Process
The process for making this is very straightforward:
First you cure the meat for 5-6 days with a rub that contains the Prague Powder #1. Then you rinse off that rub, rub it again with a peppery rub and you smoke the meat.
Finally, an hour or two prior to serving, you steam the meat to finish the cooking. Then you slice it thin against the grain and enjoy!
Because you only partially smoke the meat, this is an easy brisket to make. The smoking takes between 5 and 7 hours, then you steam it to finish it. You can also smoke it one day and steam it the next, making it very flexible around dinner plans.
Now, if you’re in a bit of a hurry, and want to shave some time or you think the whole curing thing isn’t your jam, you can make MSM from … commercial corned beef!
It’s a huge shortcut, and while you won’t wind up with truly authentic Montreal Smoked Meat, only a deli man in Montreal would know the difference. If you want to make it that way, skip forward to Step 3 in this post.
Montreal Smoked Meat – The Recipe
A brisket. We have done these with just brisket points (ohh yeah!), brisket flats (just as good, but leaner), and whole packer briskets. Regardless of which you’re doing, you’ll want to trim it out well. We suggest checking out one of the gazillion videos on YouTube for advice on that. For the fat cap though, shave it down until it’s only ¼” to ⅛” thick. You want the rub and cure to flavor the meat. Our most recent effort was done using only a 3 ½ lb brisket point that we had separated from a large packer and used the flat for a braised brisket dish.
The first step is to dry brine it for a week in the curing rub.
You’ll need to be able to keep it in the fridge, flat, for a week, so if your fridge is anything like ours, well, eat your leftovers and clear some space! For a curing container, we like to use those big 2.5 gallon zip closure bags. The meat will give up liquid as it cures, so we like to put the meat in the bag, squeeze out the air, zip it up and put the whole thing in a foil roasting pan just in case the bag leaks.
A note about the curing rub – the amount of curing rub you put on the meat is based on the weight of the meat, and that’s because there’s a specific ratio of meat to the Prague Powder#1 that you’re supposed to follow – 1 teaspoon per 5 lbs of meat.
Therefore, the recipe below is for 5 lbs of meat. If your packer brisket is 10 lbs, then double this – if it’s 12 lbs, make roughly 2 ½ x this recipe, etc.
⅓ cup kosher salt
1T ground black pepper
1T ground coriander
1t Prague Powder #1
2t granulated table sugar
½ t ground bay leaf (or take 3 bay leaves and smash them up)
½ t ground cloves
After trimming your brisket, apply this rub all over the meat, covering every part of it, and be sure to use all the rub. Slide the rubbed brisket into the big ziplock, squeeze out the air as best you can and close it up. Put that in the big pan and slide it into the fridge. Let it cure for at least 4 days and up to 6 days (we always do 5) – flipping it over once a day.
Step 2 – Rinse and Soak:
The day before you’re going to smoke it, take it out of the bag, flop it into the sink and rinse it well to get the curing mixture off as best you can – we use a clean dish brush (make sure it has NO soap on it!) to help persuade the mixture off the meat. Some pepper bits will stay stuck in the meat and fat – that’s fine, but you’re clearing the way for the next rub.
After rinsing, fill a large roasting pan or other container with enough cold water to fully cover the meat and soak it for at least 2 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes or so while it soaks. This helps take the salt out of the surface of the meat, which is important so that the next rub can do it’s thing!
STEP 3 – Rub #2 and Smoke
Fill your pellet smoker with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets – for this we recommend either Smokeshack Blend or Fruitwood Blend, but really they will all work great. Fire it up and preheat it for at least 20 minutes at 275 degrees.
While the grill heats up, mix up the next rub (and again this is for every 5 lbs. The difference with this is you don’t have to use all of it, so we actually make this in a larger quantity as it is fantastic on steaks – ever hear of Montreal Steak Seasoning? This is a homemade version.)
1 T coarse ground black pepper
1 t ground coriander
1 t paprika
1 ½ t garlic powder
1 ½ t onion powder
½ t dry ground mustard
½ t celery seed
½ t crushed red pepper
Optional ½ t ground Worcestershire powder (We make this optional as this is kind of hard to find, although it is very available online. This is great for a lot of things and gives a really great umami-boost.)
Spread this generously over the meat and pat it to make it set into the surface of the meat. Again, be sure to do all the surface area of the meat – edges too!
Ok, meat ready, grill hot, let’s get this on!
If you have a probe thermometer, place the probe in the thickest part of the meat with the tip in the center. If you’re doing a full packer brisket, we recommend placing the meat on the grill with the thickest part away from the chimney of your pellet grill. Smoke the meat until it hits an internal temp of at least 160F in the center – you can go a bit higher, but there’s really no need to. And if it stalls at 155 or so, that’s fine too. Depending on how big your brisket is, and what cut (full packer, point only, flat only), this could take anywhere from 2 ½ hours to 6 hours.
Take the meat off the smoker, bring it inside, put a layer of foil over it and a folded towel over that and let it rest for an hour.
LAST STEP – Steaming and Serve!
This is the kicker step for this – and it really makes great meat. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F (or increase the heat on your pellet grill to that level if your oven is busy).
Prepare a roasting pan with a rack in the bottom that will allow for at least ½” or so of water without touching the meat. Lay the brisket on the rack, then seal the whole roaster up with foil, tightly, so the steam doesn’t escape. If you are using a probe thermometer, poke the probe through the foil and into the center of the thickest part of the meat. Try to keep the hole as small as possible. Slide it into the oven and let it steam for between an hour to 2 hours. You’re going for at least 185 internal temp although it can safely slide as high as 205. Once you’re at 185 though, you’re done.
Remove from the pan, put it on a board and slice it thin across the grain.
It makes amazing sandwiches on rye bread with spicy mustard, and also is just great plain – no sauce needed. And since we’re talking St. Patrick’s day – this kicks the whole “corned beef and cabbage” thing to a new level since this meat is a flavor bomb! You’re not going to be making the cabbage in with the corned beef, but serving this with a side of boiled potatoes and cabbage is very very tasty. Especially when you pair it with a classic St. Patrick’s day beer like Guinness, Smithwicks, or Harp Lager.
Montreal Smoked Meat sounds complicated, but really, it isn’t. But what you will have is a dish that will blow away your friends and family when you serve it.
Got a griller in your life and finding it hard to shop for him or her?
Well our grilling blog crew at Griller’s Gold happens to be a bunch of “gear heads” and always love shopping for the latest and greatest bits to use when we indulge our favorite hobby. That is of course, turning out favorite yums for our families and friends on our pellet grills fueled with Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood Pellets.
We hope that our idea list below sparks some good ideas for your griller:
No good chef or serious BBQ griller doesn’t have their favorite thermometers. Having the ability to accurately measure temperatures means that you can accurately deliver food off your grill that is to the right doneness level, at a safe eating temperature and is of the highest quality.
Here’s a few of our favorites in a couple of different categories:
Instant Reading Thermometer: The ThermaPen
Ask any serious chef which instant-reading thermometer they use, and they’ll all say the same thing: ThermaPen.
A ThermaPen is a product from ThermoWorks, a company that makes professional quality temperature measuring devices for a variety of applications. The “standard” ThermaPen has a folding probe, and the best part is its speed and accuracy – it measures the temperature at the absolute pinpoint of the probe, and it delivers the reading within a few seconds. It is truly a pro tool!
A ThermaPen isn’t cheap by any means (regular price around $100) but they are built like tanks and last forever. We have one that is 20+ years old and still works perfectly! On sale now at $69.95 at https://www.thermoworks.com/thermapen-one/
Remote-Monitoring Thermometers and Probes
Some pellet grills come with plug-in temperature probes and that’s great – but we’ve heard they can be pretty variable on accuracy, and accuracy is what it’s all about. Here are some great products proven and used by the Griller’s Gold Team for remote-monitoring of your food (meaning that you can get the information without standing at your grill).
Meater Thermometers: We have to admit to falling in love with this thing when it was just an idea on Kickstarter and after waiting a year for it to arrive, well, we weren’t disappointed.
That’s several years ago now and they have continued to evolve and innovate the product. The concept is simple – a metal probe pen that you insert in your meat and pair with your phone and you’re good to go!
Inkbird Remote Thermometer: Inkbird is a pretty cool company and they make a variety of temperature control and temperature measurement products. A remote thermometer like this has several probes that you can push into your food, hang in your grill to monitor temperature, etc.
Great for if you’re cooking things that don’t get done at the same pace like a chicken plus a beef roast. Rather than picking just one for you, we suggest you shop their website – they have everything from fairly inexpensive bluetooth probe setups ($51.99) up to multiple-probe wifi-enabled counter-top consoles. See what fits your budget and your griller’s needs at https://inkbird.shop/collections/bluetooth-bbq-thermometers
ThermoWorks Smoke remote thermometer: Another item we’ve had for years – ours is past 10 years old now and is still on its original set of batteries!
This thing is bullet proof and works great and is on an insane deal. This is only a two-channel thermometer, but it’s dedicated remote receiver seems to have a much longer range than standard Bluetooth.
And the reason we’re suggesting this one is it is at an insane deal right now – $64.35. We paid close to double that when we first bought ours. That said, Themoworks has a huge selection BBQ products so you may want to shop a bit on their site. Here’s the link to the SMOKE: https://www.thermoworks.com/smoke/
Tools and Accessories for the grill
These items are fun/useful tool items to add to your pellet grill to be able to make different food items, enhance your grill’s performance, and the best part, have more fun:
GrillGrates are accessory grates that lay right on top of your pellet grill’s cooking grates. They work by absorbing the heat of the grill and somehow concentrating it, delivering up to 200F more heat at the grate rails, which delivers great searing and grill marks – moreso than what you can get from your grill’s standard grates.
We don’t need to know why they work, but trust us, they work great. We have them and love them! They make kits sized to fit your grill, or you can buy their standard sizes.
Flat top grills are metal plates you can lay on your grill’s cooking grate to cook typical flat-top grill foods like burgers, breakfast items like pancakes, hash browns and eggs, and even Japanese “Hibachi” style food.
There are a lot of selections out on the marketplace and for this category, we don’t have a particular one we recommend.
We do know that the GrillGrate folks (above) also make one. Things to keep in mind on these are to make sure that if you buy one that’s the same size of your grill that it is made for it – we’ve heard that these can obstruct airflow if they aren’t designed for your grill.
Now this all said, one “flattop” solution we love the best is our simple cast iron griddle from Lodge Cast Iron – this isn’t anywhere near the size of our pellet grill but it’s big enough to make a couple of omelets, or a few fried eggs all at once. A flat top on top of your pellet grill can save you the cost of one of those big dedicated flat top grills. Here’s a link to that product on Lodge’s site:
Of all the grill-friendly cooking accessories to have, cast iron cookware is the most versatile.
We own several sizes of skillets, as well as the griddle mentioned above, and because a) they are all-metal; and b) are cast-iron with no special finish to discolor or get ruined by grill use, they are perfect for grill cooking.
What to cook in them? Side dishes such as potatoes or vegetables, fish, especially delicate fish that might fall apart on grill grids, and even desserts (ever tried wood-grilled peach cobbler?) are amazing when kissed with that delicious Griller’s Gold flavor from your pellet grill!
Our favorite brand is good ‘ol, USA made Lodge, made in South Pittsburg, TN near the border with Alabama and near Chattanooga. Great place to visit! Visit their website for lots of ideas for gifts for your favorite griller. https://www.lodgecastiron.com/
Grilling gift hand Tools:
Here’s a list of things in our grilling bits cabinet that we can’t live without:
Thanksgiving is in a few short weeks and it’s our favorite food holiday!
Every family has all of their own wonderful traditions and favorite dishes. The great thing about owning a pellet-fueled grill, besides fueling it with Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood Pellets, is that with the precision temperature control these grills provide, they can serve as an additional oven for your kitchen, fueled with delicious smelling and tasting hardwood!
Many traditional thanksgiving foods will really benefit from the “kiss” of wood smoke flavor that you’ll get when cooking on your pellet-fueled grill. And of course, not every item is compatible.
So in this post, we’ll cover making an OUTSTANDING turkey on your pellet grill and then ideas for sides that work well with being cooked in a wood-fueled environment. On to the bird!
Fantastic Wood-Roasted Turkey
Making a turkey on a pellet grill does not have to be complicated in any way.
In fact, you can go as simple as:
Buy a turkey
Remove the packaging and the giblets package
Fire your grill up to 350F
Season it with salt and pepper
Put the turkey on the grill
Close it up
Take it off when the breast meat is 165F in the center.
Rest it for 30-45 minutes tented with foil
That’s as easy as it can be and it’s delicious that way. We will frequently do this super-simple method on a Sunday when we want to make food to feed the family for the week. It’s just so easy.
But, we’re here to talk about a fantastic bird, so here’s how you kick that up several notches!
Choosing the Turkey
Our turkey journey starts with the bird. We have tried a variety of different turkeys – all natural/minimally processed, fresh, frozen, free range, you name it. We have found that the “big brand” bird that everyone knows is also the most consistent in terms of quality, cutting, preparation and ease of cooking. These birds come pre-brined, so that step isn’t necessary.
If you do like to use minimally-processed turkeys, they really benefit from an overnight brining. If you’re not sure how to do it, visit YouTube or Google – there’s tons of resources.
To season, start by rubbing the skin overall with a few tablespoons of cooking oil or olive oil and then sprinkle the rub generously over the turkey along with salt and pepper. Be sure to season the cavity too! Then we tie the legs and wings close to the body with butcher string.
We like to roast the bird in a foil roasting pan and to raise the bird off the bottom of the pan so the air can circulate, we put a bunch of chunky-cut aromatic veggies across the bottom of the pan – quartered up onions, large pieces of carrot and celery do great for this. Those vegetables can then be used to flavor up your gravy with the pan drippings that land in the pan from the bird.
When cooking a turkey on the pellet grill, we don’t stuff it. We have found that by the time the stuffing is cooked to a safe temperature that the breast meat is overcooked, so we’ll do the stuffing in a side dish pan while the turkey rests. See below.
On to the grill!
Preheat your pellet grill using your favorite Griller’s Gold Natural Hardwood pellet flavor – for turkeys we use Competition Blend the most – to 225 degrees F. We’re going to start low and slow as pellet grills put out more smoke flavor at lower temps, then we’ll boost the heat and roast as usual.
Let your grill preheat at least 15 minutes at this lower temp and then load up the bird into the grill. If you have a temp probe, insert it deeply into the breast meat, but don’t hit the ribs in the center of the bird.
Close up the grill and go watch some football for 90 minutes.
In that time, the turkey skin will absorb a nice kiss of that delicious wood smoke. At the 90 minute mark, head back to the grill and turn up the temperature to 350F, and give the bird a 180 degree turn to the opposite direction. At this point, total cook time is dependent on the size of your bird, but the average size turkey (15 to 16 lbs) should take about 2 to 3 hours more time to finish up.
We like to check on the bird and give it turns about every 45 minutes for even cooking. The bird is done when your probe thermometer reads 165 degrees in the deep part of the breast meat. Check it in several places. The legs should be about 185 in the deep part of the drumstick and thigh.
Key Tip – RESTING the turkey
Now for the most important part: RESTING!
Bring the bird into the kitchen, lift it off the vegetable bed in the pan and put it on a platter or sheet pan. Put a “tent” of heavy duty foil over it and leave it alone for at least 30 minutes while you’re getting the rest of the meal on.
In fact, Gordon Ramsay recommends resting turkeys a full hour! There is a lot of thermal mass there, and it will stay hot and ready to serve, but the rest really lets the bird finish cooking and redistribute the juices for moist meat and flavor.
And that’s it – after the rest, carve and serve! It will be fantastic and the skin will be out of this world – that’s the chef’s treat for cooking and carving it.
Thanksgiving side dishes
As promised, here’s a list of sides you can also do in your pellet-fueled grill:
You made your bird in a roaster with a bunch of aromatic veggies – that pan will have lots of tasty drippings in it. Dump a quart of either turkey or chicken stock over the veggies to “rinse” the drippings off, then pour off into a large measuring cup or gravy separator.
Simmer your roasted veggies with the stock for 10-15 minutes to extract flavor and also concentrate the stock. Skim or separate the fatty drippings from the stock and use those to make your roux for your gravy. Your gravy will have a wonderfully smokey flavor.
After the bird comes off, put a baking dish with your stuffing in it out on the grill and bake it for about 30 minutes while the bird rests. It will pick up a little smokey flavor from the grill and be extra tasty.
Grilled vegetables on the pellet grill are outstanding! Have a look at our Farmstand Vegetables post for ideas!
Wood grilled fruit cobblers and “brown bettys” are outstanding when baked on a wood-fired oven, and your pellet grill, fired by Griller’s Gold pellets is exactly that – a wood-fired oven. Bake at the same temp and time as in your recipe but do it on your pellet grill for extra flavor!
Smoked Old Fashioned Cocktail
Yeah, we went there! Before your holiday guests arrive for the day, pour a bottle of your favorite bourbon into a shallow large baking dish like a lasagna dish. Fire up your pellet smoker at the lowest setting and use the “smoke” or “super smoke” setting if you have it. Put the pan of bourbon on the grill and close it up, and smoke your bourbon for 20 minutes. It will pick up a wonderful smokey flavor and aroma. Use it to make bourbon Old Fashioneds!
The days are longer. The sun is higher in the sky, the grass is greening up, and the crocus, daffodils, and tulips are starting to pop out of the ground—time for renewal and rebirth.
Spring also features the twin religious holidays of Easter and Passover. We won’t get into the religious meaning, but it’s a time when families get together to celebrate and EAT! So here are some fun things you can cook outdoors, fueled with Griller’s Gold Premium 100% Hardwood barbecue pellets!
Easter – every family has its own traditions, but we’re sure they include lots of great eats! Here are some fun ideas for you.
Smoked Deviled Eggs:
What’s traditional with Easter? Coloring Easter Eggs. And doing colored Easter Eggs with the kids means you’re making lots of hard-boiled eggs. Rather than having to eat egg salad for lunch the next two weeks, this is a great appetizer to use up those eggs for your family’s Easter dinner party after the kids finish hunting for them.
Most people we tell about this recipe go “huh?” with a healthy bit of skepticism, but we gotta say, this one is “don’t knock it till ya try it!”
Here we go:
Make in advance:
1 dozen or more hard-boiled eggs (again, use up those colored eggs!)
4 slices of bacon, cooked, crisp, and crumbled
Preheat your pellet grill using your favorite flavor of Griller’s Gold pellets at 180 degrees to make the smoked deviled eggs. While the grill preheats, peel your hard-boiled eggs, and when the grill is at temp, put the peeled eggs on the grill and smoke for 30 minutes.
After 30 mins, take the eggs off and cool them in the fridge for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes in the fridge, cut the eggs in half the long way and pop out the yolks into a mixing bowl. Return the egg white “shells” to the fridge to continue to cool.
For a recipe using 1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, add a half cup of mayonnaise, 2 ½ tsp of dijon mustard, ½ tsp of Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp of hot pepper sauce, ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper, and ½ tsp of salt to the eggs in the bowl and mix – making sure to mash up the yolks well.
Arrange the egg whites on a serving platter. Scoop the egg yolk mixture into a zipper bag, squeeze the contents into one corner, press out the air and seal the bag. Cut ¼” off the corner of the bag where the eggs are and “pipe” the eggs into the cavities of the shells, distributing evenly. You can also scoop the egg yolks in with a spoon, but the bag method is easier.
Dust the tops of the eggs with a shake of paprika for color, then top each with a little crumbled bacon and perhaps some snipped chives or green onion tops.
Serve. Take a bow to the thunderous applause.
These can be made up to a couple of days in advance, just keep them sealed from the air in a container.
The Main Dishes
Easter dinners are often known for a couple of traditional dishes – ham and lamb. Here are two great recipes that will make your family say “Ahhh!” as they push back from the table.
Double Smoked Spiral Cut Ham
Hams are the upper part hind leg of a pig and come in a variety of ways – boneless, bone-in, cured, smoked, etc. One of our favorites is the spiral cut ham – these beauties are typically cured, then smoked, then placed on a machine that cuts the meat on a spiral making it easy to serve.
They come fully cooked, so getting them ready to serve is just a matter of heat and eat. They recommend heating over a gentle heat, so what could be more perfect than the thermostatically controlled heat of a pellet grill set up for low and slow cooking.
A spiral cut ham – “half” hams are most popular. They run between 6 and 9 lbs and are distinguished by the one end that is flat. A whole ham weighs anywhere from 10 to 20 lbs and is twice the size and somewhat oval-shaped. Either works for this recipe – just vary the cook time!
Remove the packaging from the ham and place the ham in a large disposable roasting pan. The ham will give up quite a bit of liquid as it heats, and you won’t want that in your grill. The cook time will vary by size, but you’re seeking an internal temperature of about 150 degrees near the bone for your ham – that will typically take 2-3 hours at 250 for a half ham. The packaging should have heating instructions that you can interpret.
Most hams come with a glaze mix packet. (We like to make our own!) But feel free to use theirs – just follow the directions on the package. After your ham hits the heating temp, move it inside and fire your oven up to 500 degrees (if yours only goes to 450, that’s fine).
In a medium saucepan, heat up 1 cup of brown sugar, ¼ cup of apple juice, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard, ½ cup of honey, ½ tsp ground cloves, and ½ tsp ground ginger.
Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for a minute or two. Brush this all over the outside of your ham, then slide the ham into the oven. Heat at 500 for 3 or 4 minutes, then brush with more sauce and give it 3 or 4 minutes more. If it starts to burn at all, remove it quickly – you just want to caramelize the sugar on it.
Have a long, narrow knife and a meat fork handy for guests to free up the slices of their ham. If you have any glaze leftover, mix it with a few tablespoons of the liquid from your roasting pan and serve it on the side as a sweet gravy.
Super easy grilled Rack of Lamb
Lamb is so traditional for Easter dinner, but legs of lamb can be a bit intimidating and, frankly, tough! But a rack of lamb on a pellet grill is easy to do, usually super tender, and is done quickly.
Here’s our favorite recipe:
We buy pre-frenched, ready-to-go lamb racks from the warehouse stores. Costco almost always has these for a pretty good price. We always buy at least one on every trip to have them in the freezer ready to go. One rack will usually feed 2-3 people. For a hungry crew, have one rack for every 2 people.
For two lamb racks, mix up ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (canola works too) with the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, ½ tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbs fresh), and 1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed or 2 tbs fresh, finely chopped, plus about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp freshly ground pepper. Spread the marinade on the lamb on the meaty side and the ends, and marinate for about an hour.
Preheat your pellet grill using your favorite Griller’s Gold pellet flavor (we like Competition Blend or Smokehouse Blend for this recipe) to 250 degrees F. If you have one, put a probe thermometer in the lamb racks and set the alarm for 125 degrees.
We like our lamb bright pink, medium, so adjust accordingly. It will take the lamb racks about 30-45 minutes to get to that temperature. When they do, remove and cover with foil and a towel to retain the heat and boost the grill temperature to 400 degrees.
Return the lamb racks to the grill (and stay by the grill for this – lamb fat is notoriously flammable! If a ton of smoke starts coming from the grill, check for fire!) put them fat side down and sear for 2 minutes. Keep turning every 2 minutes until the internal temperature is between 135 and 140 degrees.
Bring them in, cut them into individual “lamb lollipops,” and serve!
Passover is the holiday that celebrates the Jews escaping the slavery of the Pharoah in Egypt. Jewish people have a standing joke about Jewish holidays that goes “They were persecuting us. We prevailed! Let’s eat!” and Passover is no exception! Here’s one of our favorite recipes:
Smoked Passover Brisket:
A traditional Passover dinner dish is a braised beef brisket. These are usually slowly braised with a savory liquid, often smothered with onions, and cooked until the meat is pull-apart tender. This recipe takes that traditional preparation and kicks it up a notch by starting the cooking out on the pellet smoker to kiss it with some tasty smoke flavor prior to finishing in the oven. This is super easy and fun to make.
A Kosher note: You can decide whether you use kosher ingredients for your family based on your own traditions and observance. This recipe is kosher-style which is to say it follows basic kosher rules but does not specify kosher products.
Buy and Trim:
We like to use a brisket flat for this recipe – which is also known as a “first cut” brisket. It’s the flatter lower muscle. We like to trim the fat cap of these to about ¼” thick and trim back the thin edges to the point where the meat is at least ¾ thick – save that trim. It makes amazing burgers!
For this style of brisket, rather than our usual BBQ rub, we first like to wet the meat with some Worcestershire sauce, then season it liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic salt – that’s it!
Fire up your pellet smoker for very low and slow – 180 degrees. For this one, our favorite pellet is Griller’s Gold Premium Wood BBQ Pellets SmokeShack Blend, but really, all of them are suitable. Put the brisket on, and set a timer for 2 ½ hours. If your grill has a “max smoke” or “super smoke” setting, use it. This is about the ONLY recipe you’ll see from us where we cook using time versus temp! All you’re doing is infusing the meat with smoke flavor.
Take your brisket off the grill and put it in a big roasting pan.
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Mix up a braising liquid consisting of 2 1/2 cups of beef broth, 1 cup of red wine, 1 cup of prepared Chili sauce (see Kosher note above), and ½ cup of dark brown sugar. Pour over the beef, then slice up at least two large, sweet onions into thin slices and bury the meat in the onion slices. This is one of those “more the merrier” things!
Cover the meat tightly with foil (or if your roaster has a lid). Put the meat in the oven and cook it for between 2 and 3 hours – the meat is done when it is at least 200F degrees internal and pulls apart easily at the edges. Remove from heat to a large platter, cover with foil and a towel to retain the heat, and rest at least 20 minutes – that will firm the meat up for slicing. Slice crossways to the grain in nice thin slices and serve with the onions and the liquid in the pan as gravy.
By the way … you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this delicious brisket!
So there ya go! Three amazing main dishes and one killer appetizer. From our families at Griller’s Gold to yours, wishing you happy springtime wishes and warm memories of these holidays!
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.
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!
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:
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!