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



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

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By: Cialina TH
Title: Are You A New Pellet Grill Owner? 18 Tips for Best Performance
Sourced From:
Published Date: 12/28/20

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Grilling Tips

Nashville Hot Cauliflower



Say wha?
Saw this idea a few weeks ago, don't remember where.  I started with a roasted cauliflower recipe I like to use; boil the whole head in heavily-salted water for no more than 5 minutes, drain for ten, coat surface with oil and black pepper, then roast at 450º for 25 minutes.  I didn't know if I should pre-coat with the oil, as I'd be dipping it after it was cooked, so I painted one-half of the head with oil and marked it with a toothpick.  After 15 minutes on the Egg I had this:

The left side does show a bit more darkening, but not really worth the trouble.
I had printed out a Nashville Hot Chicken recipe some months back, but haven't made it yet.  I looked it up, and the first two ingredients for the sauce were 1) half-lb of lard, and 2) two sticks of butter!    I thought that may be a bit overwhelming so I made something up:  melted 3 Tblspns of butter, added a clove of garlic, then whisked in a tsp of cayenne, 1/4 cup of Frank's Red-Hot, 2 tsp soy sauce, and 2 tsp of a cornstarch/water slurry.  Once thickened, I poured it in a bowl big enough for the cauliflower head.  
After 15 minutes on the Egg, I put the cauliflower in the bowl and rolled it around; was just the right amount to totally coat it.  Returned it to the Egg for ten more minutes to "set" the sauce:

Kinda purty, like a 7 pound meatball.  I sliced it into "steaks", not florets, and let the pieces fall where they may.  Served with Kimchee:

The kimchee added nothing as far as color contrast, and nothing to do with Tennessee barbeque, but Ron's recent thread had me hungry for kimchee so…  The meal could've used a big pile of white rice, however.
Thanks for looking.  

EggHead Forum

By: Botch
Title: Nashville Hot Cauliflower
Sourced From:
Published Date: 06/06/21

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Grilling Tips

A brief caveman pic tutorial



For those on the reverse sear/caveman fence, this may or may not seal the deal; (all temps *F on the dome)
Low and Slow around 250*F to around 7-8 *F below your desired finish temp. (Expect this step to run around 45 minutes for 1 1/2" and reasonably up steaks-half inch excluded  )

Now time for the hot and fast:  Open the dome and shut the lower vent-let the fire produce a hot lava bed across the coals,

Time for some long tongs and nimble-flip at around 60-90 seconds and pull when your finish temp is there.

You will be justly rewarded.  Add to your arsenal.
Stay healthy and safe out there- (Same steak for the whole show!)

EggHead Forum

By: lousubcap
Title: A brief caveman pic tutorial
Sourced From:
Published Date: 06/07/21

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Grilled Flatbread with Charred Shallots and Figs



Figs are something I have let fall to the wayside in recent years. There was a time when I eagerly awaited the short windows of time when I was able to walk into my local grocery and purchase tender and sweet figs, and over the years they've worked their way into dishes on this site and off. The shift to almost entirely home cooking during the pandemic reminded me of the virtues of figs and the additional fodder they provide for recipes that offer something different from my usual rotation. So I picked up a package back in the fall and used some pantry staples to put together these grilled flatbreads with charred shallots and figs, then I wrote it up and scheduled the post for seven months from that date to remind to eat more figs when their first season hits in early summer.

This recipe was really born out of finding something new to do with figs that I purchased on a whim, and a pizza making session the day before I made these flatbreads left me with a desire to keep rolling with grilling dough. I have made many variations of flatbread dough throughout the years, but they were all doughs specialized for a specific cuisine, so I was looking for a more all-purpose recipe here and decided to try one out I saw on Food52. The hallmark of this high hydration dough is the large amount of extra-virgin olive oil in it, which I hoped would make this a flavorful bread without the long fermentation time I normally use to achieve that goal.

The first rise for the dough to double in volume took just under and hour, and during that downtime, I put together a balsamic glaze to use as a finishing drizzle on the flatbreads. I had a very small bottle of balsamic vinegar in the cupboard, so I poured the entire contents into a saucepan and added a little brown sugar to it. I then let the mixture simmer over medium-low heat until it reduced by half and had a spoon-coating thickness. When done, I removed from the heat and set aside.

Once the initial rise was finished, I transferred the dough to a well floured cutting board (it was a very sticky dough), divided it into four, and then formed each of those pieces into a ball. I set the portioned dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, covered with a damp cloth, and let it start the second rise, which took about 30 minutes.

During this time, I got everything else together needed for the final flatbreads so I could assemble them very quickly while the bread was still hot and at its very best. After lighting the fire, I cut up my figs into somewhat thin slices and also halved and peeled six small shallots.

The grill was ready to go after twenty minutes of ignition time, and I began by grilled the shallots, which I did over direct heat, placing them cut side down and just letting them cook until well charred. At this point they were somewhat tender, but not fully, so to finish them off, I flipped them over and grilled them until second side was also charred, which took less time than the first since they were already more than partially cooked. Once done, I transferred the shallots to a cutting board, removed the root ends that were holding them together on the grill, and then cut them into thin slices.

The shallots cooked pretty quickly, which was a good thing because the fire was still blazing hot to grill the bread, and a hot fire makes for the best flatbreads. I've rolled out other flatbreads I've made before, but this dough was so soft and stretchy, I went with freeform hand stretching this time. I did as best I could to get the bread even throughout, but, like with pizza dough, it was hard not to have a little extra heft around the edges with the center being thinner.

Happy enough with my globular oval shape, I carefully put the dough over the fire and let it cook until it began to brown a bit. I then flipped it over and browned on the second side and by then the bread was mostly cooked through, so I just kept flipping and moving it as needed to get it across the finish line and add a little extra color too.

As soon as the bread was off the grill, I brushed it with olive oil and assembled the final dish. I started with a layer of arugula, which I ended up going heavier on with subsequent flatbreads for an increased peppery character. Next went on the slices of figs and strips of shallots followed by dollops of a soft goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. After slicing it up, I dug in and ate it while still pretty hot.

My first taste was of the bread, which had a nice crunch and chew, although it was not as flavorful as dough I let ferment for many more hours at room temperature or days in the fridge. That lighter touch though meant the toppings were more prominent, and for me it was the sweet and fruity figs that served as the centerpiece. Although there wasn't one in every bite, their presence was lasting and was elevated by the tangy and sugary glaze and given savory contrasts by the cheese, arugula, and shallots. I consumed a couple slices of this first flatbread before moving on and cooking the rest—wanting each one to be as fresh as possible when served. All-in-all, this was a good reminder that I need to get figs back into the rotation more, and having written this post mainly as a nudge to myself, you may see at least one more recipe featuring this dual seasoned fruit on the site before the year is out.
Published on Thu Jun 3, 2021 by Joshua Bousel

Print Recipe

Yield 4 servings

Prep 15 Minutes
Inactive 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Cook 20 Minutes
Total 2 Hours 5 Minutes

For the Balsamic Glaze
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
For the Dough
3 cups bread flour (396 g)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (3.5 g)
1 teaspoon instant yeast (4 g)
1 1/4 cups warm water (292.5 g)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (43 g)
For the Flatbread
6 small shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8oz fresh figs, thinly sliced
2 handfuls arugula (about 2 oz)
5oz soft goat cheese
To make the balsamic glaze: Whisk together vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer until reduced by half and thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
To make the dough: Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add water and oil and knead with dough hook on low speed until dough comes together. Increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer stand, cover with plastic wrap, and let dough rise at room temperature until roughly doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and cut into 4 even pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes more.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals evenly across charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place shallots on grill, cut side down, and cook until well charred, about 5 minutes. Flip shallots over and continue to cook until well charred on second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer shallots to a cutting board, remove root end, and cut into thin strips.
On a floured surface, stretch one piece of dough out into an oval roughly 1/8″ thick. Place dough on hot side of grill and cook until browned and lightly charred in spots. Flip bread and continue to cook until second side is browned and lightly charred in spots. Transfer bread to a cutting board and brush with olive oil. Place 1/4 of the arugula on top followed by slices of figs and shallots. Spoon on dollops of goat cheese and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut into slices and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings.
Dough recipe from Food52.

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By: (Joshua Bousel)
Title: Grilled Flatbread with Charred Shallots and Figs
Sourced From:
Published Date: 06/03/21

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