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Are You A New Pellet Grill Owner? 18 Tips for Best Performance

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From the posts on social media, it appears many people received pellet grills/smokers this holiday season. Or are intending to buy one for themselves to take advantage of current sales. Collectively, we here at Steven Raichlen, Inc., have experience with many brands of pellet grills, from Green Mountain Grills, to Traeger, to Memphis, to Z Grills. Here, we’re pleased to share some of our best tips so you can get maximum enjoyment out of your new acquisition.

18 Pellet Grill Tips for Beginners
1. Season your new pellet grill.
Season your new pellet grill according to the manufacturer’s directions (a process that usually takes 45 minutes to one hour). This burns off any residual oils from the manufacturing process.

2. Allow yourself some time to get acquainted with your new grill/smoker.
Allow yourself some time to get acquainted with your new grill/smoker. We know you’ll be anxious to try it out, but don’t be overly ambitious. Instead of a whole brisket, which could take 15 hours or more, or a budget-busting prime rib roast, start with chicken (parts, such as breasts or wings, or a whole bird), pork loin tenderloin, or blade (shoulder) steaks, Cornish hens, salmon steaks or fillets, or other relatively inexpensive cuts that can be completed in 2 hours or less.

3. Identify any hot spots—most grills have them.
Identify any hot spots—most grills have them. Preheat your grill to medium-high as directed by the owner’s manual, then lay slices of cheap white bread shoulder to shoulder across the grate. Watch carefully, then flip after a few minutes. Take a photo of the results. The darkest bread will indicate where the temperature might be hotter. (Print the photo out and add it to your owner’s manual for reference.)

4. Don’t let your meat come to room temperature before cooking.
Whatever meat you select, put it on the preheated grill/smoker straight from the refrigerator. Do not, as many recipes suggest, allow it to come to room temperature before cooking.

5. Invest in a good meat thermometer.
A laser-type thermometer such as this one will give you a more accurate temperature reading at grill level than a built-in dome thermometer. Determine the temperature range of your grill model from lowest to highest (180 degrees to 500+, for example).

6. Take advantage of your pellet grill’s searing capabilities.
Many pellet grills feature searing capabilities, meaning they can reach temperatures over 500 degrees. Again, check your owner’s manual for information on your specific model.

7. Use lower temperatures to generate more smoke.
You’ll generate more smoke at lower temperatures, particularly in the “low and slow” range between 225 and 275.

8. Use the reverse sear method. 
Don’t be afraid to smoke your meat at a lower temperature, then finish it at a higher temperature. This two-step approach is especially useful for smoking chicken with crisp (not rubbery) skin, or the “reverse sear method” often employed for thicker steaks or prime rib (for more information, click here).

9. Never allow the pellets in the pellet hopper to run out.
Never allow the pellets in the pellet hopper to run out. If this happens, consult your owner’s manual before relighting the grill. If you must, set a timer to remind yourself to top off the pellets.

10. Use your pellet grill just like an oven. 
Your pellet grill/smoker can be used just like an oven, capable of baking, braising, roasting, etc. But the addition of wood smoke gives food much more intriguing flavors.

11. Experiment with pellet flavors.
Experiment with pellet flavors. Some brands of pellets are fairly subtle.

12. Invest in a smoking tube to supplement the smoke generated by your grill. 
If you want to supplement the smoke being generated by your pellet grill, or even cold smoke, invest in a smoking tube or maze such as the one by A-MAZ-N.

13. Position your grill at least 6 feet away from your home. 
Position your grill at least 6 feet from any walls, trees, overhangs, etc. (This is true for ALL grills and smokers.)

14. Clean your grill frequently. 
Clean your grill frequently to avoid the build-up of ash or grease. A shop-type vacuum is a necessity, as is a putty knife or sharp-bladed spatula. Don’t forget to clean the chimney or exhaust.

15. Use heavy-duty foil for easier clean up.
Use heavy-duty foil to cover the grease tray and/or to line the grease bucket. (Empty cans, such as tomato or coffee cans, can also be used as bucket liners.)

15. Always store pellets in a dry place.
Always store pellets in a dry place. Otherwise, then will turn to sawdust, and if in the augur, to something akin to cement!

16. Remove the grease bucket after each cook.
After each cook, remove the grease bucket from the side of the grill and store it in a safe place to keep it out of the reach of dogs, raccoons, or other hungry critters.

17. Use the upper rack of your grill to cook something that’s prone to drying out. 
Your pellet grill provides both convection and radiant heat. If you are cooking something that’s prone to drying out, such as chicken breasts or thin fish fillets, position them on the upper rack to protect them from the heat radiating from the bottom. If your unit didn’t come with an upper rack, you can balance a wire rack on fire bricks or purchase after-market racks. You can also put a pan of water or other liquid on the grill grate to generate moisture.

18. Smoke vegetables and side dishes on your new grill. 
Do smoke or grill vegetables or side dishes on your new grill. (You can preorder Steven’s latest book, How to Grill Vegetables, here.)

 

Did you learn something new? For the seasoned pros, what are your tips for first time pellet grill owners? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram!

The post Are You A New Pellet Grill Owner? 18 Tips for Best Performance appeared first on Barbecuebible.com.

Crash Course,Grilling Techniques,Homepage Feature,grilling tips

By: Cialina TH
Title: Are You A New Pellet Grill Owner? 18 Tips for Best Performance
Sourced From: barbecuebible.com/2020/12/25/18-pellet-grill-tips-for-beginners/
Published Date: 12/28/20

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Portobello Marsala Strip Steaks

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[FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post. After being big fans of Thermoworks products since 2010, I have recently enrolled as a Thermoworks affiliate.
We don't do a lot of sauces for steak. Dragging fresh slices of steak through the juices, seasonings, and melted butter on the cutting board is my standard MO. But every now and then, I like to shake things up and get a little saucy like I did with this Portobello Marsala Strip Steak.
The salty sweet flavor of the sauce and mushrooms pairs excellently with the steak.

Slight confession, we typically split a steak between the two of us for dinner because our appetites have slowed down as we have gotten older. The good news is that means we get to have steaks for dinner two nights in a row. 
The full recipe is at the bottom of the post. Here are a few pictures and tips from the cooks.
USDA Prime is the grade, Certified Angus Beef® is the brand. How is the brand more selective? For one, USDA allows for the steer to be A or B maturity for prime beef. However, Certified Angus Beef's 10 science-based standards allow only for A maturity.
In addition to the USDA grade and brand name, I also consider the color and marbling. I look for a steak that is deep red like this and has lots of white flecks (smaller the better) evenly distributed across the steak.

As I mentioned, often have this two nights in a row. In this mise en place, you can see we used black pepper and garlic salt for the seasoning.
In this mise en place, I used my NMT Umami Steak Seasoning which harnesses the natural flavor enhancers found in mushrooms. Of course, in both set ups, you see my trusty Thermapen instant read thermometer, the gold standard for food thermometers. Thermoworks is closing out the Thermapen Mk4's for just $69 right now (usually they are $90).
It was a sunny, mild day so I rolled my Challenger Designs Torch cart out from under the gazebo.
Make sure to give your cast iron skillet adequate time to preheat, about 5 minutes should get it to 500°f. If the steak doesn't sizzle and smoke when you put it on, the skillet isn't hot enough.
The advantage to a skillet over grill grates is that you get an even, flavorful crust like this from a skillet. Grill marks look nice too and I still grill steaks, but I probably use a skillet 7 out of 10 times. 
Cook times on a skillet are often shorter, especially with thinner steaks like these strips, so keep your eye on your steaks and have a fast reading thermometer.
Portobello and cremini mushrooms are the same mushroom at different maturities, so you may find these labeled as Portobello, cremini, or even "baby bellas". It doesn't matter, just make sure to slice them thinly for quick cooking and you'll want about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of them after slicing.
At these temps, the mushrooms will cook quickly like they do in stir fry.
Marsala has a low amount of alcohol so you don't need to worry about possible eruptions of flame like can happen with bourbon or tequila. But as with adding any liquid to a hot skillet, still be careful to avoid steam burns.
When the marsala is almost dry like this, it is time to add the beef stock. This skillet is the 1930's era Griswold that I restored last year.
This is after adding the stock, seasoning, and slurry. Tip: I don't use the full cup of stock at first. I use about 2/3 to 3/4ths of the reduced stock. If the sauce gets too thick, then I whisk in some more stock to get the consistency that I like.
This picture is terrible but I want to point out something about fortifying the sauce with butter.  First, be sure to use cold butter for the final step. Secondly, keep the butter moving around the skillet until it has melted and combined with the sauce, so it emulsifies. This will keep your sauce from splitting.
The sweet and salty sauce enhances the flavor of the steak without covering it up. 
When it comes to sauced steaks, this Portobello Marsala sauce and our gorgonzola sauce are two of my favorites.

Portobello Marsala Strip SteaksBy www.nibblemethis.com
Published 07/26/2021
Pan seared NY Strip Steaks with sliced Portobello mushrooms in a marsala sauce served over noodles.
Ingredients2 10-ounce Certified Angus Beef® Brand NY Strip Steakshigh temperature cooking oil such as canola, peanut, etc2 1/2 teaspoons steak seasoning (see notes)2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided6 medium-sized portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced1 tablespoon finely diced shallot1/2 cup marsala wine1 cup reduced beef stock (see notes)4 ounces dry Angel Hair pasta, cooked according to directionsSlurry made by whisking 1 tablespoon corn starch with 1 tablespoon of cold water together1 green onion, slicedInstructionsPreheat the grill to 500°f. Set up the grill for direct heat (cooking directly above the heat) and light the grill. Five minutes before cooking , add a cast-iron skillet or other grill-safe skillet to the grill and allow it to preheat.Sear the steaks. Lightly coat the steaks with about 1 teaspoon each of the cooking oil. Season each steak with about 1 teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Place the steaks in the skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until the internal temperature reaches 125°f for medium-rare. Remove to a resting rack and keep warm.Make the sauceSaute the mushrooms. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet and stir in the mushrooms to coat them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are wilting and giving off their moisture, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the shallot and cook until the shallot is tender and transluscent, another 1-2 minutes.Stir in the marsala wine and leave the grill open so the wine will evaporate down to just a tablespoon or so, about 2 minutes.Stir in the stock and the final 1/2 teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Allow to come to a simmer.Whisk in the slurry and cook until the sauce thickens, about 30-60 seconds.Remove from heat and slowly stir the cold butter until it is dissolved. Serve. Divide the pasta between two plates and top with the sauce. Slice the steak and place on the pasta. Garnish with green onions.Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins. Cook time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.
Total time: 25 mins.
Tags: steak, skillet, mushroomsNotes
Steak seasoning – I have used this same recipe using several steak seasonings so use your favorite. I often use my NMT Umami Steak Seasoning recipe. I also enjoy using using a 1:1 mix of dustless coarse black pepper and garlic salt.Reduced beef stock – Reducing the beef stock will concentrate the flavor and add body to the final sauce. Place 2 cups of beef stock in a pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to maintain a steady simmer until the stock has reduced in volume by half to one cup, which should take about 20 minutes.

pasta,sauce,skillet,steak

By: Chris
Title: Portobello Marsala Strip Steaks
Sourced From: www.nibblemethis.com/2021/07/portobello-marsala-strip-steaks.html
Published Date: 07/26/21

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Planking, Demystified

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If you’ve visited the Pacific Northwest, chances are you’ve enjoyed one of the most distinctive American ways to grill fish: on a cedar or alder plank. The process satisfies and gratifies on quite a few levels.

First, the wood imparts a unique flavor all its own—a spicy, wine-like flavor in the case of cedar; a woodier, smokier flavor in the case of alder. It also tends to absorb any strong fishy flavors, a plus when serving stronger-flavored fish like salmon or bluefish, to people who are iffy about seafood. The plank keeps the fish from drying out and from sticking to the grill grate (a perennial problem). Last, it also eliminates the need to turn the fish over (a task which bedevils even experienced pit masters).

The technique originated, it appears, with the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest who roasted local salmon in special cedar holders over blazing embers.

But there’s evidence that planking was also practiced in colonial times: George Washington hosted shad cook-outs at Mount Vernon, and an annual Shad Planking festival is still held each April in Sussex County. And 18th cookbooks describe cooking fish on planks in the oven. (Some food historians claim cooking food on hardwoods originated in Scandinavia.)

Inspired, chefs adopted the method, but didn’t limit the planked food to fish. In fact, any food that can be cooked low and slow and that doesn’t depend on searing can be cooked on planks. I have been experimenting with this technique for decades, and have published many recipes featuring not only fin fish like salmon and trout, but shellfish, meats like chicken and pork, as well as vegetables, tofu, fruit, and more. (See below.)

In fact, I recently introduced cedar grilling planks to my line of barbecue products. These planks—each package contains two 5.5- by 11.5-inch boards—will be your ticket to infusing your grilled food with flavorful wood smoke. They can be used with charcoal, gas, or pellet grills.

Personally, I like to singe the plank over the flames before arranging the food on it. But if you’re interested in reusing the plank, soak it in water (salted, if desired) or a flavorful liquid, like beer, wine, or fruit juice for an hour before grilling to discourage scorching. (A bag of ice or a heavy ceramic dish will keep the plank submerged. Do not use canned goods as the bottoms can leave black marks on the plank.)

Planking Tips:

  • Keep a spray bottle of water near the grill to extinguish any unexpected flare-ups on the plank as your food cooks.
  • Wood conducts heat more slowly than metal grill grates, so planked foods may take longer to cook.
  • Have a heat-proof surface at the ready—a place where you can set your planked food after removing it from the grill. An overturned rimmed sheet pan is one option. The planks might harbor glowing embers when removed from the grill.
  • To discourage sticking, brush the plank with vegetable oil before arranging food on it.
  • If you intend to reuse a plank—depending on how it’s been treated, planks can be reused one to two times—scrub it with plain water. Do not use soap.
  • For the most dramatic presentation, serve food directly on the plank.

Recipes for Planking

Plank-Smoked Camembert

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Smoked Planked Trout with Caper Dill Sauce

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Scotch Whisky-Smoked Salmon on a Cedar Plank with Grilled Mini Bagels

Scotch Whisky-Smoked Salmon on a Cedar Plank

Get The Recipe »

Smoke-Roasted Pears

Smoke-Roasted Pears

Get The Recipe »

Cedar Plank Chocolate Brownie S’Mores

Cedar Plank Chocolate Brownie S’Mores

Get The Recipe »

Planked Salmon with Maple-Mustard Glaze

Planked Salmon with Maple-Mustard Glaze

Get The Recipe »

Cedar-Planked Eggplant Parmigiana

Cedar-Planked Eggplant Parmigiana

Get The Recipe »

We’d love to hear your planking stories. Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram!

The post Planking, Demystified appeared first on Barbecuebible.com.

By: Daniel
Title: Planking, Demystified
Sourced From: barbecuebible.com/2021/07/23/planking-demystified/
Published Date: 07/23/21

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Chapli Kebab

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When my wife suggested having kebabs recently, I imagined I'd be cooking meat on a stick because that's inevitably where one's mind goes when using the word “kebab.” With new recipes for the site always a priority, I set out to find or create something not previously covered here and began scrolling the interwebs and Instagram for inspiration. When I came across a video of chapli kebab being fried in a large pan on the street, I was immediately taken. I dug a little deeper and familiarized myself the best I could from video, words, and pictures with the different varieties of chapli kebab made in Afghanistan and Pakistan and knew this highly seasoned ground meat mixture was going to be right up my ally. So I gave it shot and was completely won over by these non-skewered little discs of beef that I can't say represent authenticity for sure, but they certainly deliver on immense deliciousness.

The variation in chapli kebab between the two countries seem mostly to be around the exact seasoning mixture, but they are also not that far separated in that arena. I assume there's differences from vendor to vendor as well, so I doubt there's one right answer, which gives me hope that my initial combination of spices that included coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and pomegranate seeds, which I toasted and ground, was starting out on the right foot.

Chapli Kebab

The spices were just the beginning though, these kebabs had a ton of veggie mix-ins too—the chopping of all the onions, green chilies, tomato, cilantro, scallions, and garlic represented the most time and effort in this recipe. Once those were all prepped, it was quick to mix everything together with the high-fat ground beef plus the gram (chickpea) flour and egg used as binders.

Chapli Kebab

Once I had the mixture looking evenly distributed, I began portioning and shaping. I did this by breaking off roughly a 2-inch ball of meat and flattening it between my palms into a disc a little over three inches in diameter and about half an inch tall.

Chapli Kebab

Now frying in animal fat is the traditional way to cook these kebabs, but I figured they had to do well on the grill. That confidence was slightly defeated as I found they didn't grill with the ease I was imagining. The amount of veggies that went into the meat made it looser than things like meatballs and burgers, and that led the first couple patties I tried to flip to fall apart.

Chapli Kebab

I was able to avoid that folly going forward by ensuring the first side we very well seared before trying to move them at all. For something like a burger, this would make me nervous about uneven and potential overcooking, but I did want these kebabs cooked all the way through, plus a deep sear seemd to be the right course of action given chapli kebab is usually fried and get just as browned, if not more, in the hot oil.

Chapli Kebab

Once the patties were all done, I plated them up on fresh naan-e-afghani along with fresh sliced tomatoes, red onion, and lime wedges. I knew by just reading the ingredient list that I was going to love these, but I wasn't prepared for how much I was going to love them—for someone attracted to big flavors, these probably delivered the most flavor of any kebabs I've ever had. There was an upfront heat that had a great freshness to it which melded with the cilantro, scallions, and tomato. There was then a background sweetness that I attributed to the onions, while the spices gave that earthy quality which is common in a lot of Middle Eastern and Persian dishes. I didn't include the fresh veggies and bread accompaniments when I originally wrote up this recipe, but they felt so central to the meal as a whole that I thought they had to be added in to really deliver the full experience that brought me so much joy the day I made these chapli kebab.

Published on Thu Jul 29, 2021 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

  • Yield 3-4 servings
  • Prep 20 Minutes
  • Cook 10 Minutes
  • Total 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried pomegranate seeds
  • 1 pound ground beef (at least 20% fat)
  • 1 cup finely minced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/3 cup finely minced fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped green chili (such as Anaheim or jalapeño)
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced scallions (about 2 scallions)
  • 3 tablespoons gram flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  •  
  • For Serving
  • Sliced fresh vegetables (such as tomato, red onion, and cucumber)
  • 1 lemon or lime, wedged
  • Naan-e-afghani

Procedure

  1. Place coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and pomegranate seeds in a small skillet set over medium-high heat. Toast until spices become fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer spices to a spice grinder or granite mortar and pestle and process into a coarse powder.
  2. Place beef in a large bowl and add in ground spices, onion, tomato, cilantro, green chili, scallions, gram flour, garlic, salt, crushed red pepper, and egg. Using hands, combine mixture until ingredients are evenly distributed. Break off a roughly 2-inch ball of meat mixture and flatten into a patty roughly 3-inches wide and 1/2-inch thick. Place patty on tray and repeat process until all meat has been shaped.
  3. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place patties on grill and cook until well seared on first side, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip patties and continue to cook until second side is well seared and meat is cooked throughout, another 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer patties to a serving platter and serve immediately with fresh vegetables, citrus wedges, and/or naan-e-afghani.

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By: meatmaster@meatwave.com (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Chapli Kebab
Sourced From: meatwave.com/recipes/afghani-chapli-kebab-recipe
Published Date: 07/29/21

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