Holiday Weekend Menu – Monday

Holiday Weekend Menu – Monday

Ah, Monday of a three-day weekend.  You’ve gone hard all weekend, time to chill a bit, maybe do a few chores around the house or vacation home, and get ready to dive back into the workweek.  You’ve got a few guests around still, so let’s feed them right – but let’s make it a bit more fun and interactive.  One of our favorite ways to do that is a burger and sausage bar!

Burgers and sausages on a pellet grill, especially one fueled with Griller’s Gold 100% Hardwood Pellets, are especially good. The “kiss” of smoke you get when you cook hot and fast on a pellet grill gives these old faves an extra “something” you just can’t get from plain old charcoal or from a gas grill.

Burger Bar: 

A fun way to do this is to let everyone season and create their own burgers.  Offer a burger bar with a selection of meat, a variety of seasonings and sauces, shredded/crumbled cheeses,  and chopped onions, mushrooms, and peppers as mix-in items.  For seasonings, consider ingredients such as garlic and onion powder and herbs like thyme, as well as rubs and commercial blends.  Check out this great recipe, Smokehouse Burger.

For sauces … hot sauce, barbecue, steak sauce, soy, etc..  Then let your guests have at it. If you’d like to control portions to make sure your meat supply covers everyone, just make pre-weighed balls of ground meat.  In terms of meat, for ground beef, let’s face it – fat is flavor – consider 80 or 85% lean ground beef.  To make things interesting, you can offer up additional ground meats like chicken breasts, veggie burgers, lamb, bison, turkey, even game like venison if you have it. 

For sanitary purposes and to keep things straight, provide vinyl or nitrile food service gloves as well as sheets of foil for each person to put their burger on.  Offer up squares of paper that your guest can put their names on to help keep straight whose burger is whose.  

Holiday Weekend Menu – Sunday

Holiday Weekend Menu – Sunday

After a full day of eating “high on the hog” yesterday, we’re thinking we need some lighter things for Sunday dinner.  Chicken and salmon on a pellet grill are about as easy as it gets, and the great news is that they don’t take a lot of time.

Chicken: 

One of our favorite ways to do chicken on a pellet grill is to just do whole chickens.  Prep could not be easier – take them out of the package, make sure the giblets and anything else is cleared out of the cavity, season them up, and put them on the grill.  

Our favorite seasoning rub for poultry is yet another Meathead Goldwyn fave, “Simon and Garfunkel Rub”.  At the risk of dating ourselves, think of their famous song … “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme …”  The recipe has a few more things in it, but it’s one of those things that we make in bulk and keep in our pantry all the time. 

Give the chickens a good rub down with a tablespoon or two of olive or other vegetable oil, then sprinkle well with salt, and add the S&G rub generously over the skin. Then all you need to do is put them on a pre-heated 350-degree pellet grill, and grill for about an hour to 90 minutes, depending on size.  

We like to buy smaller chickens as they cook more evenly. Chicken is done when it hits 155 degrees in the thickest part of the breast.  Don’t go much beyond that as the breast will dry out very quickly.  We like to serve one chicken per two people as wood-roasted chicken makes amazing leftovers.  For extra fun – serve it “caveman style” – put a chicken on a plate between two people, no utensils, and let them have at it!  

Salmon: 

The pellet grill fueled with Griller’s Gold pellets is also a great way to cook salmon.  Buy a large whole salmon filet – again, the warehouse clubs are great for this – either farm-raised or wild-caught – your choice.  There are a myriad of rubs and preparations but one we find that’s an easy go-to is 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.  Mix well and spread over a large salmon filet – you don’t need to use it all. 

There are two ways to do this – hot and fast and low and slow – they get different results. 

If serving the salmon hot off the grill, we prefer the hot and fast method – with this, heat the pellet grill to 400 degrees. For fish, a light to medium smoke is good – Griller’s Gold Competition Blend is great for this or for a nice sweet touch, Griller’s Gold Cherry.  Drizzle some olive oil over your filet and rub it over the fish evenly, then spread the rub on your filet.  Put directly on the grill, cook for about 8 minutes, then turn the filet.  You may find it easier to cut the filet into 2 or 3 pieces, but if you can manage it with a couple of large spatulas, or maybe a metal pizza peel, it looks very impressive for your guests to serve the whole filet.  Cook the filet until it separates in layers and the layers are just past opaque.  Internal temperature is about 135F.

For low and slow, you’re making a much smokier product, and it’s great served cold on a salad, on crackers, on bagels like lox, etc.  Same techniques as above with rub and all, but instead of a 400-degree grill, you want 225 degrees.  

It will take an hour to get to perfect doneness with the low and slow method and it will be more done than the ideal stop point for hot and fast.  Now, this all said, you can definitely eat this hot off the grill, but cooling it overnight and serving as a cold appetizer or main course will have your guests holding a coronation as the king of the BBQ.

Holiday Weekend Menu – Saturday

Holiday Weekend Menu – Saturday

It’s a beautiful Saturday – ever have one of those weekend days where you fire up the grill or smoker early in the morning and go all day with it?  

The beauty of using a pellet grill is that it’s so easy to do – just like your home oven – dial in the temp you need and off you go.  And your results are even better with Griller’s Gold 100% natural hardwood pellets. So, how about an entire breakfast cooked on the pellet grill to get things started?  Sound good?  Let’s go!

BREAKFAST

For your grilled, wood-roasted breakfast, fire up your pellet grill with a mild sweet wood, like Griller’s Gold Fruitwood blend – that will serve us well for use all day. Set it on full high – you’re cooking hot and fast first this morning.

Start by cooking some bacon – because what day doesn’t start better with bacon?  

Simple – use a rimmed sheet pan that fits your grill, and put on one layer of your favorite brand of bacon.  It will be crisp and amazing with an additional kiss of smoke – takes about 15 minutes in total. While the grill is preheating, make some good old-fashioned buttermilk biscuits to bake on the pellet grill.  They will come out tasting like they were baked in an old-fashioned wood-fired oven.  

Our favorite is Alton Brown’s biscuit recipe, but even baking mix biscuits or “tube” biscuits will taste better baked on your pellet grill. Note – biscuits love high heat so if doing them, crank your pellet grill up to get as close to 450 as you can. You can cook the bacon alongside it.  

Finally, how about eggs to go with all that?  A delicious frittata cooked on the pellet grill will work great.  Start by sauteing some onion and anything else you like in there – perhaps red peppers chopped, sliced mushrooms, etc.  Just put your oven-proof skillet right on the grill (we like our well-seasoned cast iron for this) and use plenty of butter.  If you’d like some spinach in your frittata, don’t sautee that, it will go in with the eggs.  

Whisk up your eggs – for a frittata in a 10” skillet, figure about 8 eggs.  You can season your eggs with some salt, pepper, perhaps some paprika, and a shake or two of Worcestershire.  If you’re adding spinach, give it a rough chop, and then mix in with the eggs.  No frittata is good without some cheese, so mix in a half cup or so of a good sharp cheddar, shredded.  

When the vegetables have softened, stir in the eggs/cheese/spinach mixture into the pan, then sprinkle some more shredded cheddar over the top and put on the grill.  At this point, drop the heat to about 350F and close up the pellet grill.  Let the heat and smoke do it’s thing – the frittata is done when it is clearly cooked across the top, the cheese topping is melted and perhaps browned a bit.  Serve with the biscuits and bacon and you’ve got a breakfast that will carry you well into the afternoon!

DINNER

So the pellet grill is hot and that Griller’s Gold Fruitwood Blend aroma is filling the air – this is a great time to get the “all-day low and slow” going – and perfect for that, is pork shoulder, aka “Boston Butt”.  

The pork shoulder is what all good pulled pork comes from – and whether you have it pulled, chopped, sauced, or otherwise, it benefits from a long, slow cook.  Drop the temperature setting of your pellet grill to 225F, season your pork shoulder well with your favorite rub and put it on, close it up, and leave it alone!  

Check every couple of hours to make sure you have enough Griller’s Gold pellets to keep the cook going.  The Fruitwood Blend is perfect for pork – sweet, smokey heaven!  Pork shoulders are done when they hit 203 degrees internal temperature – that’s the “butter zone” where the fats and collagens in the meat all melt like butter and make it all marvelously tender and juicy!  

Expert’s hint #1:  Use the “Texas Crutch”  

Keep checking the temperature of your meat every hour and when it “stalls” – stops changing by more than a few degrees for more than an hour, wrap the meat in foil or butcher paper.  This is called the “Texas Crutch” and is used by competition BBQers to be able to deliver a properly smoked roast of meat in only 6 or so hours. It also makes it supremely juicy!  

Your meat will likely stall around 160 degrees for several hours unless you wrap it. The stall is caused by a neat bit of physics where the evaporation rate of the moisture in the meat (which cools things) equals the incoming heat from the grill. After wrapping, and staying on your pellet grill (or you can move it to the oven at the same temperature), your meat will finish cooking and hit 203F in about 2 hours or so.

Expert’s hint #2: Rest it!  

If you use the Texas Crutch, your meat will be done well before dinner time.  You can of course eat it right away (who can resist?), but for extra juicy results, just take your wrapped meat, put an additional layer of wrapping on it, then line a small cooler with a folded bath towel, gently nestle it in there and cover it with another towel, then close up the cooler. Rest it until you’re ready to shred or chop it.  This nap will help it be really super moist and tender!

Now it’s mid-afternoon – the pulled pork is done and resting and you still have a hot pellet grill emitting marvelous fruitwood smoke. Chances are some additional friends have appeared, so let’s get some ribs and wings on the grill!  

Baby Back Ribs will be an amazing addition to your meal and they take about 2 ½ hours on your pellet grill using a “hot and fast” method. If you’re serving them as the primary item of a meal, figure a half-slab per person and if you’re having them as part of a BBQ platter like this, 1 slab per 4 people will be fine. Increase the pellet grill heat to 350 degrees, and rub your ribs with your favorite rub. We like Meathead Goldwyn’s Memphis Dust – sweet, spicy, peppery. Be sure to salt your ribs well as there is no salt in the rub. Get the ribs on and go.

Now, how about some wings for an afternoon snack?  

You’ve got a hot grill – take some fully thawed wings or wing sections, toss them in some olive oil and then rub – since you have the Memphis Dust mixed up, just use that.  Throw them on – they take about an hour to cook fully through, turning once or twice.  You can eat them right off the grill, or sauce them with Buffalo Sauce, BBQ sauce or, one of our favorites – Japanese BBQ sauce, which is a sweet/salty/umami bomb of a sauce. The best we’ve found is Bachan’s Japanese BBQ sauce.  If you sauce them with BBQ sauce or the Japanese sauce, give them a good coating of sauce 10 minutes before taking them off the grill just to caramelize the sauce a bit, then give them another hit of sauce 2 minutes before taking them off.

So you’ve got this amazing meal – don’t forget the sides!  Sides are great to make in your pellet grill.  Here are some ideas for you:

  • Baked Beans: Baked beans on the pellet grill are really easy to get some great results – and while making Baked Beans from scratch gives amazing results, just “doctoring” your favorite brand of canned beans works great too!  “Ramp up” your favorite brand of canned baked beans with some extra ketchup, onions, mustard, barbecue sauce, molasses, etc., and then bake them in an open pan on the pellet grill for about an hour. Smokey, tasty, fantastic!
  • Roasted Vegetables: Chop up some broccoli, cauliflower, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, and mushrooms, then toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast them for about a half-hour in a 350-degree pellet grill with whatever pellets you have in there (as long as they are Griller’s Gold of course!).  For an extra treat, finish with some smoked salt.
  • Mac and Cheese: Make your favorite baked Mac & Cheese recipe and just bake it in your pellet grill!   The extra smoke will give it that wood-oven roasted flavor and beautiful coloring to the top.
  • Roasted Potatoes: Buy “B” size creamer potatoes, cut them in half, and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried thyme.  Then spread in one layer on a sheet pan or foil roasting pan and bake in the pellet grill at 350 for about 45 minutes. 
  • Smoked/Roasted Potato Salad: Yeah, you heard that right!  Take the above-roasted potato recipe and once they are done, smash about half of them, then toss all of them with your favorite potato salad recipe.
  • Smoked Salsa: This one is amazing!  Take Roma tomatoes halved, red and yellow bell pepper, anaheim and jalapeno chilies, whole peeled garlic cloves, halved onions and spread them out on a sheet pan.  Roast in the pellet grill at 350 until the tomatoes are shriveled and lightly browned, the peppers are browned and blistered and the onions are tender.  Take it all and run it in the blender until smooth seasoning with salt and fresh lime juice.  To make it less hot, slice the jalapenos lengthwise and remove the seeds and ribs.  There are lots of recipes online for this – just Google!

But we’re not done!  Yup, you can make dessert on your pellet grill! Cobblers and Brown Betty’s – anything with a crumb or biscuit top, will get a wonderful wood-oven baked flavor when made on your pellet grill with Griller’s Gold pellets. For a dessert, use something sweet like Cherry or Fruitwood blend.  Here’s a great recipe for Apple Cobbler.

Whew!  That was quite a day of grilling. Be sure to use your grill’s shut down mode at the end of the day so that it is ready to go for the next day’s grilling fun!

Holiday Weekend Menu – Friday

Holiday Weekend Menu – Friday

Life goals – a weekend where you cook EVERYTHING on the grill.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner – let’s do it.  That’s what is so versatile about modern pellet grills – they have an automatic start-up, so no sparks, chimneys, fluids, etc. and at the same time they have amazing flavor from the natural hardwoods used to make the pellets. 

That said – not all pellets are equal – Griller’s Gold, however, are pure, 100% natural hardwood – nothing but amazing taste.

So imagine – it’s a three-day weekend like Memorial Day, 4th of July, or Labor Day weekend and the fun starts Friday evening – it’s been a big week and you’re hungry to tuck into a big ‘ol steak for Friday night dinner.  With pellet grills, it’s super easy to make them spectacular. 

Start by buying good quality meat – warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s are always good choices, as well as your local butcher. Buy the best you can afford – and if you can afford Prime, well, it’s the best. 

For this Friday night, 3-day weekend dinner, let’s get some prime ribeyes, and we’re not talking wimpy sandwich steaks but proper, 2” to 2 ½” thick-cut ribeyes on the bone.  Some butchers call them “cowboy cut” and if you get them with the extended rib bone, they are called Tomahawk cuts.  That said, don’t forget … you’re paying prime meat prices for that big impressive-looking bone. Thick cut, bone-in Ribeyes without the Tomahawk bone are the best value.

If you’ve planned ahead, try dry brining them – this is a simple process by which you just cover them with a generous coat of kosher or sea salt – about ½ teaspoon per pound of meat and then leave them unwrapped in the fridge overnight.  The salt will leach into the meat and release moisture – this surface moisture loss helps the steak form an amazing crust!  And if you didn’t plan ahead – even an hour’s worth of “dry brining” at room temperature does wonders.

Next, time to build flavor. 

Now, there are plenty of folks that say “all you need is salt” – and that’s certainly a valid argument.  That said, you can also build some very nice flavors in your crust with some simple ingredients.  One very tasty rub is from barbecue blogger Meathead Goldwyn and his Amazing Ribs site called “Big Bad Beef Rub” – it’s a mix of pepper, garlic, onion, mustard, and chili powders with some sugar and cayenne. Another one is what they call “SGP” which is simple – salt (which you’ve already done), garlic powder, and pepper.  Don’t be afraid to experiment!

To do a big thick cut like a thick ribeye right, the “reverse sear” method is the way to go – you cook low and slow to start until the internal temp is just short of your desired doneness, and then either fire up to very hot on your grill, or, our favorite method, move them to a hot cast iron skillet to finish.

After your steaks are seasoned up the way you like them, preheat your pellet grill at 250 degrees loaded with Griller’s Gold Competition Blend pellets. (Not grilling on a pellet grill? Check out our blog about how to grill with pellets on any type of grill.) These pellets offer a classic barbecue flavor with a blend of oak, cherry, and hickory hardwoods.  For medium-rare reverse sear steaks, you’ll want to cook them to about 130 degrees over the low heat – which should take about 45 minutes to an hour for 2 ½” ribeyes. 

While they cook, consider also cooking an appetizer or even baking some bread – you’ve got all that heat and smoke already going! A favorite is this spinach and cheese-stuffed Baby Bella mushrooms – put these on when the steaks go on, and you’ll have a tasty appetizer after about 20 minutes. Check the bottom of this article for the recipe.  The mushrooms only take 20 minutes or so on the grill so they are the perfect appetizer – woodsy, smokey, amazing.

To finish the steaks, take a large cast-iron skillet and preheat it on a gas grill (should this be pellet grill or stove burner) set on medium heat or in a 400-degree oven. Have some fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme at the ready along with a couple of tablespoons of chopped garlic and a big knob of butter – about a half stick. 

When the steaks hit 5 degrees shy of doneness, take them off the pellet grill onto a warmed platter, wrap them in foil to rest for about 15 minutes, and get everything else ready to serve. 

When the steaks have rested a bit, toss the knob of butter into the big cast iron skillet, swirl it around while it sizzles and melts, then put the steaks down, pressing them to make sure they get a great sear. After about a minute, put the garlic and the herbs in the pan, and tilting the pan, begin basting them with the buttery, herby, goodness.  After another minute, turn them, baste them again for about 2 minutes – then remove them to a warmed serving platter.

You can serve them now with the butter sauce or … kick it up a level … add about a tablespoon of green peppercorns, sauteeing those in the butter for a minute or two, then a shot of cognac, flaming off the alcohol with a match.  The final touch is about a ¼ cup of heavy cream whisked in. 

Slice the steaks off the big bones, then slice each steak across the grain into about ¼” slices and pour the sauce over. Serve with some classic steakhouse sides like garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed or creamed spinach, roasted asparagus, fresh bread, and a big chewy red wine!

For a grilled main dish for the holidays, go upscale

For a grilled main dish for the holidays, go upscale

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:

Hickory 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

This grilled Brie with cranberries looks seasonal and tastes very rich and indulgent, too. We recommend you spread it on grilled bread slices.

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 season.

Give the grilling gift of the year: Bluetooth BBQ thermometers

Give the grilling gift of the year: Bluetooth BBQ thermometers

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.)

CHUGOD Bluetooth Meat Thermometer

Franker Wireless Meat Thermometer

AJY Smart Bluetooth Wireless Remote Digital Food Thermometer 

Nobebird Bluetooth Meat Thermometer

While you’re thinking about winter grilling, here are some best practices when the weather outside is frightful .  If your holiday gift shopping list needs some more items, check out our griller gift list post, updated for Christmas 2019. And send Griller’s Gold pellets to your friends with wood pellet grills; you can order on Amazon.

Happy grilling to all from Griller’s Gold!

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