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.
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!
(Photo Credit: 4sonrus.com)
Happy March Madness, everyone! Until next time!