It looks like summer is finally arriving after a cold spring here in the upper Midwest where the Griller’s Gold blog team resides. Time for lazy days spent on a boat, picnics under a big shady tree in a park, outdoor music festivals, long hikes and much more.
This is also time to have some great ideas for tasty things that are a) portable and b) safe to eat with minimal refrigeration. And of course prepared on your pellet grill using Griller’s Gold Premium Hardwood pellets!
The star of that summer show is Pellet Grill Jerky. We really don’t know a single person who isn’t vegan that doesn’t love a good strip of jerky. The fun part is that this recipe is repeatable across a lot of other meats – not just beef.
To accompany the Jerky recipe we also have recipes for smoked cheese crackers, smoked caramel corn and smoky nuts – all great to munch on a summer day accompanied by a great cocktail. And speaking of great cocktails, we have a couple to share with you too!
Let’s get to it!
Pellet Grill smoked Beef Jerky
Making your own homemade beef jerky will ruin you forever from buying the commercial stuff. For starters, the amount of jerky you can make for about $20 total will be at least 3X what that $20 would buy in the commercial brands. And it is so easy!
Also the trick to having your jerky be more safe out of the refrigerator is to use some curing powder in the marinade. This powder, available online is what is used to cure bacon and other meats. This recipe is for beef flank steak but you can also substitute game meat (venison is off the chart!), turkey or pork.
- 2-3 lbs of beef flank steak
- ½ tsp Pink Curing Powder #2 (“Prague Powder”) (You can also use Morton’s InstaCure, follow the box instructions on how much to use)
- 1 cup Pineapple Juice (we used Jumex branded Pineapple Nectar)
- ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- ½ cup dark brown sugar OR ¼ cup Agave Syrup
- 4 cloves of garlic, mashed or pressed (or 1 tsp granulated garlic)
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated (OR ½ tsp powdered ginger)
- 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tsp hot sauce (we use Frank’s Original sauce)
Chill the beef well – or even put it in the freezer for about 45 minutes – you want it very cold and firm for good slicing. Cut the piece of flank steak in half AGAINST the grain, then turn it ¼ turn and make ⅛” thick slices WITH the grain. Cutting with the grain is key to having those nice chewy pieces of jerky.
Mix up your marinade. Put the meat into a 1 gallon zip closure freezer bag and then dump in the marinade. Press as much air out of the bag as possible, then put the bag into a shallow container and place in the fridge. (This is to contain any leakage, this marinade will make a sticky mess out of your fridge if it leaks. Ask us how we know!) Let the meat marinate at least overnight, or up to 24 hours.
On cook day, fire up your pellet grill to its lowest setting with your favorite Griller’s Gold pellets. For this recipe we like Smokeshack Blend or Hickory. Our pellet grill will run at 165F and if yours has a “super smoke” or extra smoke setting, use that.
Give it at least 15 minutes to warm up to temp.
Then simply lay the meat strips over the grill, leaving a bit of air gap between them to allow the warm air and smoke to circulate. Close the grill up and set a timer for 5 hours and go do something else!
After 5 hours the meat will have smoked, dried and shrunk into amazing jerky strips. Try one warm off the grill – it should be chewy, not juicy. If it needs more time, (if it is juicy for example, or not firm) then let it go 1 more hour.
Remove the jerky to a cooling rack over a baking sheet and let cool at room temp. Store in a sealed bag or container in the fridge. It also keeps great longer term in the freezer in a well sealed container with the air pressed out. On an outdoor day, it’s safe that this is out of the fridge as it’s both cured and smoked.
Super easy! There are a lot of variations of recipes out there – just search for “Pellet Grill Jerky” recipes, or combine your own ingredients to make it yours!
Smoked Cheese Crackers
These are so decadently tasty they ought to be illegal. And ridiculously easy to make!
- 1 regular sized box cheese crackers like Cheez-Its
- 2T butter
- 2T worcestershire sauce
- ½ t hot sauce (again, we like Frank’s Red Hot)
- 1 ½ t of your favorite BBQ seasoning
Preheat your pellet grill to 165F with Griller’s Gold pellets.
Melt the butter, then mix in the rest of the sauce ingredients. Put the crackers in a large mixing bowl, dump the sauce over them and gently toss to coat well all over.
Spread the crackers out on a cooling rack placed over a large cookie sheet and put that on the grate of your pellet grill. Let smoke for 1 hour, then boost the heat to 300F and bake about 30-40 minutes until the crackers start to darken a bit.
Remove from the grill and let cool to room temp. Store in a zip lock bag or sealed container, although they won’t last very long!
Smoked Caramel Corn
As much as the Griller’s Gold Blog Team is all about fresh ingredients and making from scratch, well, this one is so easy to do with a commercially made caramel corn, that it feels like cheating. The trick is you want just enough heat so that the coating softens and absorbs smoke, without burning. 200F seems to be that magic temp.
The ingredient is a big bag or container of caramel corn, and if you want to mix it up a bit, using the caramel corn/cheese corn mix, this is also outstanding in this recipe.
Preheat the pellet grill (using Griller’s Gold pellets of course) to 200F, spread the corn out over a large rimmed baking sheet and put it into the grill. Let bake/smoke for 1 hour, tossing every 15 minutes. Remove and let cool, store in a zip top bag or sealed container.
Smoked Cajun Seasoned Nuts
This takes that container of mixed nuts and kicks them to the next level, and then just for fun, kicks them even further with a pop of sweet heat from Cajun seasoning and some honey.
- 3 cups mixed nuts of your choice, or a single kind of nut, whatever you prefer
- 3 T butter
- 2 T honey
- 1 ½ tsp Tony Cachere’s Cajun Seasoning
Preheat your pellet grill to 165F with Griller’s Gold pellets – for this recipe, try Applewood or Hickory.
Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking dish and smoke them for 1 hour at 165F. Remove from the grill and increase the grill heat to 350F.
Meanwhile melt the butter, and mix in the honey and Cajun seasoning. Dump the nuts into a bowl and toss well with the melted butter/honey/seasoning.
Line your rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the nuts out evenly over the pan. Bake in the pellet grill at 350F for 30 minutes, stirring the nuts after 15 minutes to bake the coating onto the nuts and caramelize the sugar in the honey.
Store in a sealed container (but have a handful hot from the smoker, they are amazing!).
smoked Cocktail Recipes
What’s the point of snacks without drinks? Here’s a couple of our summer faves, starting with our favorite Margarita recipe:
Never Fail “Toppest Shelf” Margarita
This is for a margarita that is more like a martini than the oversized monsters you see in Mexican restaurants. Note, there is no mix in this – it’s all individual and fresh ingredients because that makes the best drink!
Those mixes are loaded with things like high fructose corn syrup and citric acid. Bleah. Also critical to this using super premium tequila and top shelf orange liqueur. Nothing that comes in a plastic handle bottle, please!
For two fantastic Margaritas:
- 4 ounces very premium tequila, we like Resposado grade from Don Julio, Milagro, Casa Migas, Cabo Wabo, or Hornitos.
- 1 ½ ounces Cointreau, which is a very premium orange liqueur
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1 ½ ounces of Agave Syrup
- Salt or Tajin Seasoning for rimming glasses
Rim a pair of chilled glasses (either martini or rocks glass) with sea salt or Tajin seasoning (if desired)
Put all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker or large pint glass and stir well. Fill the shaker or glass with ice and either shake (better) or stir vigorously to cool and slightly dilute the drink.
Either strain into a martini glass (dividing, you’re making two here!) or divide the drink and ice from the shaker evenly into two rocks glasses.
Perfect Ice Cold Summer Mint Julep:
This cocktail is most often associated with the Kentucky Derby but we just love it all summer long as it is frosty cold and tastes so fresh.
- 4 ounces premium Kentucky bourbon of your choice. We love to use Woodford’s Reserve for our Juleps, but really any good bourbon works.
- 1 ½ ounces simple syrup (You can buy this premade but why do that when it’s super simple to make. Recipe: https://tinyurl.com/4bmbp45e )
- 6 mint leaves, torn, for muddling. 6 more mint leaves on stems for garnish (3 per stem)
- Crushed ice (at least 2 cups)
In two rocks glasses (although the tradition is a copper cup), add 1 ounce of bourbon to each plus a splash of simple syrup and 3 torn mint leaves. Muddle the mint with the bourbon and simple syrup.
Add the remaining bourbon and simple syrup to each drink and stir, then fill with crushed ice. Add a short straw and garnish with 3 whole mint leaves on a stem. Sip slow and enjoy!
So that’s it for this time.
Have a great start to your summer and we will see you again soon in this space!