Brisket Burnt Ends

 

Burnt ends are consider by some the holy grail of barbecue.

 

Ever since I got into smoking meat, I’ve been told that burnt ends are the pinnacle of barbecue. To be honest, I never had much of an interest in making them. After waiting 12-14 hours of smoking a brisket, then letting it rest for at least another hour on top of that, I am not very keen to wait another 90 minutes to two hours burnt ends and to eat the meaty goodness I’ve labored (and sometimes starved myself) for.

I’ve had all sorts of good intentions to make them in the past. However, whenever I slice up the point of the brisket into cubes, they look so good already! Tender to the touch, those meat juices oozing out, the savory flavored bark on the outside, and that classic brisket smell my family and I have been taunted with for hours, I mean how can I wait any longer to eat?

When the brisket is done and smells sooo good, you’ll need to exert some will power to not eat it (well, at least the point).

Well, one day I decided to brave it. Exercising the determination of a cornered honey badger, I powered through the slicing of the point and tossed the meat cubes into a foil pan. Adding a few other ingredients, I put them back on the grill/smoker at 275F and after about 90 minutes, I had taken these meat cubes and turned them into something worth posting about!

I have tweaked with the ingredients here and there since then and I think I have figured out a pretty good recipe for burnt ends. Good enough that I feel confident sharing with you folks.

What are burnt ends?

Little nuggets of heaven. That’s what.

But how do you smoke a brisket?

Smoking the full brisket (also known as a full or packer) is a topic that could be covered over multiple postings in and of themselves (such as trimming the brisket, fat side up or fat side down, wrapping or no wrapping, etc.). In a nutshell, trim off some of the fat, rub with your favorite rub (or a simple 50/50 mix of salt and pepper), put on the grill/smoker at 250F using your favorite smoking wood (I prefer pecan, hickory, or oak). Let it ride until the brisket hits an internal temp in its thickest spot between 195F to 203F internal. Remove and let rest for about an hour before serving.

The slicing

Try to restrain yourself from gobbling these up before making them into burnt ends. Trust me, it will be worth it!

Now that we have briefly covered that, let’s get into the burnt ends! First off, take the finished brisket and separate the point and the flat. This is done by finding that thick vein of fat which divides the two portions of meat. Now that the point is separated, start cutting it into cubes, slicing about one to 1 1/2 inches apart. Place the cubes into a foil pan (I usually go with an 8×8).

The other ingredients

The lineup of ingredients to mix in the foil pan with the cubed up brisket.

With the cubes of brisket in the foil pan, add about one tablespoon worth of your favorite beef rub (or salt n pepper). After that, grab your barbecue sauce and pour on about a cup. Follow up with a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, two teaspoons of honey, four tablespoons of butter and three ounces of Dr Pepper or whichever cola you prefer (but seriously, Dr Pepper goes well with barbecue).

Trust the process

Wrapped up and cooking back on the grill.

Mix the ingredients together in the pan and wrap the top with aluminum foil. Preheat your grill/smoker up to 275F. Hopefully, you have done this during the prep so you have less time to wait. Once at the desired temp, put your foil wrapped pan on the grill and cook it for an hour.

After one hour, go back to the grill and remove the sheet of aluminum foil. Cook uncovered for another 30 to 60 minutes. We uncover at this point so all of the juices in the pan will start to reduce and help create some stickiness to the burnt ends themselves.

Unwrap the pan, mix up the ingredients a little bit, and cook for at least another 30 minutes.

You don’t want burnt ends to be too saucy because it wouldn’t be much different than just dumping BBQ sauce on cut up pieces of brisket. Let the mix of ingredients cook into the cubes. Its normal to have some juices still in the pan when they are done.

How will I know when they’re done?

Mmm…little nuggets of heaven!

Once the burnt ends have finished cooking uncovered, remove from off of the grill and let them rest for about 10-15 minutes. This will help some of the remaining sauce to thicken some and also let the meat relax so juices can build up a little inside.

The burnt ends will render like this when they are done.

To tell if they are done, I like to do the squeeze test. I take a cube and then squeeze down with some pressure. If it shreds apart, then they are cooked well. I also like to have my burnt ends be a little sticky to the touch.

The video!

Yep, I made a brief video of making burnt ends that pretty much explains everything I just told you. Maybe I should’ve led with this.



The recipe!

Brisket Burnt Ends

Brisket Burnt Ends

Brisket burnt ends are considered the holy grail of barbecue. Follow this recipe and make your own!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 brisket point, fully cooked (point can be from full brisket)
  • 1 Cup BBQ sauce
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp rub
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 oz Dr Pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 275 degrees
  2. Cook the full brisket, separating the point and flat when done. Slice the point into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes and place in foil pan
  3. In the foil pan, combine rub, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, butter, honey, and Dr Pepper with the brisket cubes. Mix in pan and put sheet of foil over it.
  4. Place on grill/smoker and let it cook for one hour. Remove foil and cook uncovered for another 30-45 minutes.
  5. Remove from grill, rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

Notes

**THE FULL BRISKET WILL NEED TO BE COOKED PRIOR TO MAKING BURNT ENDS**

After burnt ends have cooked for an hour and you unwrap the foil, feel free to drain some of the excess juices in the foil pan

Make sure the burnt ends render when you give them a squeeze.

Aim to have them be a little sticky.

I use Dr Pepper, but feel free to use your favorite cola instead

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

3 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 245 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 6.2g Cholesterol: 90mg Sodium: 41mg Carbohydrates: 0g Protein: 24g

Twice Smoked Ham

 

Twiced smoked ham with a homemade glaze will make you a hit at parties (if you aren’t already)!

 

In this post, we are all about ham! Even though most of us serve up ham during the holidays or Easter, it’s a friggin’ shame we don’t cook ’em up more often. If you do it right and add your own personal flare to it, then you’ll want to cook these up more often!

Isn’t the ham already smoked?

Ham straight outta Compton…or the package. Whatevs.

When you buy a ham at the store, they usually come cured and smoked. If you wanted to, you could unwrap the thing and eat it as is. But you didn’t come here to do that, did you?

Why smoke it again?

Step one: getting that smoke flavor.

When you buy one of these precooked hams, they are already smoked. They usually come smoked with hickory flavor. Smoking it again allows you to add your own unique touch with such woods as apple, peach, or pecan. You may even want to smoke it with hickory wood to enhance that existing flavor. Besides, it sounds more flattering to your guests when you tell them you’re serving up “twice smoked ham”.

For starters…

Get your grill heated to 225F. As you’re waiting for it to get up to temp, take the ham out of the packaging and toss some of your favorite rub on it. You know that little glaze packet that comes in the package? Throw it out and make the one I have in this recipe! I’ll get to that later. Anyway, put the ham on the grill at 225F for two hours and then add some flavor to it!

Adding some flavor

The ingredients for that extra flavoring.

Truth is, you can smoke the ham on the grill as-is, but why not make it different than everyone else’s and add some flavor to it? After the ham has smoked for a couple of hours at 225F, put the ham in a foil pan (if you haven’t already) and then add a half cup of teriyaki sauce, a cup of orange juice, and half a can of Dr Pepper, pouring each over the ham as the liquids trickle down into a pool in the foil pan.

Adding some of that OJ flavor to cook into this ham.

Wrap foil over the ham and the pan, crank up the heat to 275F for another couple of hours or until internal meat temps reach about 140F.

After a couple of hours of smoke and pouring the liquids on, make sure to wrap in foil, turn up heat to 275F and cook longer.

Gettin’ glazed

As your twice smoked ham is approaching the 140F mark, start working on the glaze! At first, I was intimidated to make a glaze because it sounds like something creative culinary minds do. Then I decided to do that whole self-confidence thing and give it a try. I gotta admit this was fun to make! For this one, I decided to mix brown sugar, orange juice, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, chili powder, spicy brown mustard, ground cloves, and cinnamon together in a sauce pan. Apply medium heat, take off once it starts boiling, and let it sit a few minutes to thicken.

Mixing the glaze ingredients together to make…well, glaze.

If you read that whole sentence of ingredients and felt a little overwhelmed, I don’t blame you. When I see a lot of ingredients, I usually pass on the recipe and move on. A lot of this stuff you may already have in your kitchen, so you’re mostly there!

Back to the ham

Now that your glaze is ready, go back to the twice smoked ham and carefully pour the juices in the foil pan into another container for basting purposes later. Now that the ham sits all alone in the pan, make it rain glaze all over it until the sauce pan is empty. You’re gonna want that glaze to cook onto the ham, so I recommend putting it in the broiler for a few minutes to get that caramelized effect.

NOTE: if you happen to have a grill torch then you can do that instead. It’s more fun to do.

“What ham? Not the ham I just bought.”

The twice smoked ham glazed and begging to be eaten.

Let the twice smoked ham sit for a few minutes and then start slicing! Most hams are already spiral cut, but you can be a rule breaker and slice from the top-down.

NOTE: If you know this movie quote I used for the title of this section, then we can be friends.

The recipe!

Yield: 1 awesome ham

Twice Smoked Ham

Twice Smoked Ham

Take that store-bought ham and smoke it again with wood flavor of your choice! Also, make a glaze that will taste much better than that packet you got in the package.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pre-cooked, spiral-cooked ham (about 10 lbs)
  • 1 Cup orange juice
  • 1/2 Cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 Cup Dr Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons rub
  • FOR GLAZE
  • 1 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup orange juice
  • 3/4 Cup honey
  • 1/4 Cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Dr Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 225F. Remove pre-cooked ham from packaging and apply rub. Put ham in foil pan and on smoker for two hours.
  2. While on the grill/smoker, pour teriyaki sauce, orange juice, and Dr Pepper on ham, allowing juices to sit in pan. Wrap ham and pan in foil, turn up heat to 275F for at least two more hours or until internal meat temp reaches 140F. Drain juices from pan into separate container for optional basting.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine ingredients for glaze and put on stove at medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until boiling. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes to thicken.
  4. Pour glaze over ham, covering completely. Broil in oven for at least three minutes to caramelize glaze.
  5. Rest, slice, and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

Varies

Serving Size:

1 Cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 95mg Sodium: 1400mg Carbohydrates: 1.4g

BBQ Essentials 2.0!

Another year, another BBQ essentials list! Not to say that the items I shared last time are completely obsolete, but I want to add to the previous list. Consider it an addendum to the previous BBQ Essentials list. Check out more products that I love to use when grilling and BBQing!

Thermapen Mk4

Don’t overcook food again!

For those of you that follow me either here on this website or on Instagram, you’ll know how much I swear by using a digital thermometer. I like to cook by temp, not time. Every animal has lived a different life, meaning the meat off of one animal may be tougher than another, which can lead to the same cut of meat cooking longer than another. With that said, I use my Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks on every cook I do. I get fast, accurate temps and backlit, rotating display that changes with the various angles I use to probe. And with how frequent I have used it over the past couple of years, I haven’t even had to change the battery.

You can get your very own Thermapen at the Thermoworks website.

Gloveworks HD Nitrile Gloves

The unique texture on these nitrile gloves helps provide a better grip, even when handling greasy food.

I’m constantly asked what kind of gloves I use in my video posts on social media. In my previous BBQ Essentials post, I mentioned nitrile gloves as a must-have. I still believe this and I have found a brand I have grown to love in Gloveworks HD. They have a great grip and have had some great customer service from these folks, which goes a long way in my book. I love using the black gloves, but they also have other colors such as blue, orange, and neon green.

Check out these Gloveworks HD nitrile gloves on Amazon.

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Smoked tri-tip reverse seared in a cast iron skillet is my favorite way to cook this cut of beef.

I love to reverse sear steaks and roasts. While the flame-kissed sear you get directly on the grill grates makes for some beautiful culinary aesthetics, I prefer to sear in a cast iron skillet for two reasons:

  1. I get that seared crust over more of the meat surface in a skillet as compared to only where the grill grates touch
  2. I can add other ingredients such as butter, rosemary, and garlic for the meat to sear in and capture that extra flavor

My Lodge cast iron skillet has been used plenty over the flames and has gotten better with each cook. And for that, I give them my super-duper-important seal of approval! I recommend the 12″ skillet because it can accommodate my tri-tips and other big hunks of meat. I have other sizes of these skillets for cooking other dishes in and love them.

This is the best price I could find a cast iron skillet at online.

Chef Shamy Garlic Butter

That garlic butter from Chef Shamy making these NY Strip steaks more flavorful!

Remember how I talked about using ingredients to throw in the cast iron skillet when searing? I consolidate the butter, herbs, garlic, and parmesan all into one with the Chef Shamy Garlic Butter (wow, that sentence sounded like a paid endorsement. Don’t worry, it’s not). I have made my own compound butter and while it’s fun to do, I also like to how this blend is done and having it readily available at the last minute. The flavors lend themselves great to searing steaks, spreading on poultry, making garlic bread, and other good stuff.

Check out the Chef Shamy butter online at Amazon.

Anova Precision Cooker

Sous vide cooking your steaks before searing on the grill is an excellent way to make your steaks! (pic courtesy of PCmag.com)

One look at this device and you’re probably thinking to yourself: what on Earth does this indoor device have to do with BBQing outside? Well, the sous vide method of cooking is great for getting the food evenly cooked before searing on the grill. There. Tied it in. Seriously though, the Anova Precision Cooker with WiFi (there’s also a Bluetooth version available) will take you from a really good cook to a great one! Wondering what sous vide is? To summarize, its a method of cooking food in a tightly sealed bag submerged in temperature controlled water. The Anova Precision Cooker lets you control the temp of the water it cooks in, so you don’t overcook it.

A few months back I cooked a steak sous vide using the Anova and then seared on the grill afterward. Have you heard of “fork tender” steak before? Try “spoon tender” for this one! That’s right, I straight up cut this one with a spoon!

Check out the Anova Precision Cooker at a great price.

Reverse Searing 101

Reverse searing steak on a cast iron grill grate.

What is a reverse sear?

In case you need a refresher, a traditional sear is when you start out cooking food at a high heat, which usually begins around at 500F. Once the meat has been seared on both sides, then it is cooked in the oven until it reaches the desired internal temp. A reverse sear is a method of cooking meat at a low temperature first, usually by smoking or sous vide, then finishing off on a high heat surface.

Crust and juices equal a dynamite steak (or tri-tip roast in this instance).

How do you do that voodoo you do?

With smoking, I like to get my grill/smoker to 225-250F using indirect heat and leave the beef or pork chops/steaks in until it reaches an internal temp of 125F (length of time to get there depends on thickness of meat), then move to either a grill above 500F or cast iron pan on the stove (or grill) at high heat. I do about two minutes on one side and then flip the meat over for another two. Doing this creates a flavorful crust on the outside of the meat due to something called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its distinctive flavor. I like my beef medium-medium rare, so I wait to reach an internal temp of 130F (around 137F for pork) before removing.

This tomahawk ribeye got the reverse sear treatment. Crust=Flavor!

If starting your cook with the sous vide method, you’ll want to seal the meat and seasonings in an airtight bag (usually done with a vacuum seal) and then place in a warm pot of water that is around 125F. Once again, thickness of the cut of meat matters. For a rule of thumb on how much time to spend cooking it, check out this excellent post from Serious Eats.

Searing in a cast iron skillet is another way to finish off a steak.

Why should I reverse sear?

Quality. Flavor. Tender. Juiciness. Crust. Go with the reverse sear and you’ll find your steaks suddenly rival those at your favorite steakhouse. It is more cost effective than going out for steak, nor do you have to put on pants and go out in public. I’m just sayin’.

Smoked BBQ Pork Tenderloin

If you haven’t noticed from most of the recipes on my website, I like simple. That means I try to maximize flavor with the fewest ingredients possible (mostly. Every once in a while I like to expand my horizons). Lucky for you, this is another one of those recipes. Pork tenderloin may sound fancy and expensive, but its quite affordable. And this smoked BBQ pork tenderloin will provide you quite the bang for your buck!

Where does the tenderloin come from?

Graphic courtesy of smithfield.com

The pork tenderloin is a cut of meat that comes from close by the mid-to-lower spinal area of the animal. While most muscles are used for movement, the tenderloin is used for posture. The tenderloin is considered the most tender part of the pig because this muscle isn’t used as much as the others.

Tupac? No, I said “two-pack”!

When at the meat department of your local grocery store, don’t be surprised to see pork tenderloins come in a two-pack. It’s quite common. These cuts of pork typically weigh between 3/4 lb. to 1 1/2 lb. each and are relatively cheap, so they put two in the package to make it worth selling.

Removing the silver skin

When taking the tenderloins out of the package, you’ll notice a thin, shiny layer on some areas of the meat. This is what is known as silver skin, which was meant to hold the muscle together while in the pig. Since the pig doesn’t need it anymore, feel free to peel it off. You’ll want to because leaving it on can affect the bite of the tenderloin and the meat’s ability to absorb the seasoning you put on it.

Trimming off the silver skin.

To remove the silver skin, it would be best to use a boning knife. This blade has a little curve to it near the tip as it thins out, making it easier to poke just under the layer of silver skin and push through until it comes out the opposite side of the shiny, filmy stuff. Then you start pushing the sharp side of the blade forward in a gentle, back-and-forth sawing motion until the silver skin is removed. Repeat this with other sections of silver skin until removed. This should only take a few minutes.

Need a visual? Here’s a video of me trimming a pork tenderloin!

The easy part

Now that you have made it past that part, it’s all downhill from here (not the “downhill” as in, it’s gonna suck. But the “downhill” as in, it gets easier. Maybe I should’ve just said “it gets easier” instead of typing all of this in parentheses. Oh well.)!

Next step is to season the tenderloin with your favorite blend of spices. I don’t like to coat it to heavily, but put on an adequate amount until you get the flavor you want out of the seasoning/rub. That’s it for this step!

Trimmed, seasoned, and ready for the smoke!

Take the tenderloin out to your grill/smoker that you have already got up to the 240-250F temperature on indirect heat and place it on there. As far as smoking wood goes, I like apple wood for this one.

With the pork tenderloin being relatively small, it cooks pretty quick. Usually about 45 minutes is all it takes. After 30 minutes of being on the grill, lift the lid and apply some of your favorite BBQ sauce and honey on the tenderloin with a basting brush.

Brushing up these tenderloins with BBQ sauce and honey.

Close the lid and come back in about 15 minutes.

When is it done?

Using a digital meat thermometer, such as the Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks, insert the probe in the middle of the thickest portion of the tenderloin to gauge when it’s done. The reason for this is to make sure it doesn’t undercook and you don’t get yourself sick. Look for a finishing temp of 145F.

It’s done!

Why 145F? Isn’t that undercooked? Have you been taught that 165F is when pork is done? If you’re like me, then you’ve been taught this same thing for most of your life. This rings true for ground pork, but for most other cuts, such as pork steaks, chops, roasts, and even tenderloins, the USDA recommends a minimum of 145F, which is good for a medium finish. This keeps the meat juicy and from drying out at the 165F temps. Since the meat has a little carry over temp, feel free to pull off a couple of degrees lower if you wish.

Rest, slice, and serve

Now that the meat is off the grill and on a cutting board, let it rest about 10 minutes before slicing. Doing so allows it to relax and let the juices start to build inside. After this short wait, start slicing into 1/2″ to 1″ slices. You’ll notice how tender and juicy it is, as well as the sign of a nice smoke ring inside. These are signs that you have done this thing right. Sample one or two (or five) to ensure they are good enough for your family or guests before sharing with them.

The recipe!

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

Leaner. Cheaper. And when cooked to the right temps, it makes for a tender, tasty meat you can feel less guilty about devouring!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 Tbsp rub/seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 250F over indirect heat with apple wood
  2. Trim pork tenderloin by removing silver skin. Apply rub.
  3. Put meat on smoker and cook at 250F for 30-35 minutes. Apply honey and BBQ sauce with basting brush. Close lid and let cook another 15 minutes or until internal meat temp reaches 145F. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Notes

When brushing honey and BBQ sauce on pork tenderloin, it isn't necessary to lift the meat off the grill to get the bottom.

Use a digital meat thermometer for a fast, accurate reading.

When checking temps, put probe of thermometer into the center of the thickest portion of the meat to ensure the whole thing will cook through properly.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

4 oz.

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167 Total Fat: 40g Saturated Fat: 1.6g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 82.7mg Sodium: 64mg Carbohydrates: 0g Protein: 29g

Reverse Seared BBQ Tri Tip (Keto Friendly)

Smoked tri-tip reverse seared in a cast iron skillet is my favorite way to cook this cut of beef!

If you follow me on Instagram, you will see tri-tip show up on my feed often. It’s definitely in my top three of meats to barbecue. It is the first meat I ever smoked. I’ve prepared it in different ways and my favorite (right now) is to reverse sear it. Before I get into that process, let me answer a question you may have…

What is a tri-tip?

The tri-tip has a triangular shape as seen here.

The tri-tip is a cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin on the cow. It is boneless and tender. As with other cuts of beef, you will want to look for some good marbling (small streaks of interwoven fat) in the meat. There are three different grains in this cut, which can make slicing against the grain a little tricky if you only slice it the same direction the whole way.

This cut of beef gets it’s origins in Oakland, California where a butcher started selling it whole in the 1950s. Prior to this, the tri-tip was usually grinded up into hamburger meat or sliced up for steaks. Becoming popular on the central California coast in the Santa Maria area, the preferred method of cooking this cut was to grill over an open flame from red oak wood and finish at medium rare. There are deviations of how it is prepared nowadays and the reverse sear method is one of them.

What is this “reverse sear” you speak of?

Before we get into revere sear, let’s make sure we cover what it means to sear. Searing is when you cook something over direct, high heat to get that nice, browned crust and then put it in the oven to cook at a lower temp until done. Reverse sear is the opposite of that in which you cook the meat low and slow first THEN sear to finish it off.

I prefer to reverse sear by smoking the meat to get that smoke flavor infused and then crank the high heat to finish it off with that nice, flavorful crust.

The beginning of the process

When preparing the tri-tip, you’ll want to take a boning knife and remove any silver skin that exists on the meat. You will usually find silver skin on the bottom. To remove, barely put the tip of the blade of the knife underneath the silver skin and push across until the tip of the blade appears from under that surface. Proceed with a gentle, sawing motion down the length of the silver skin until it is removed. Keep in mind there will likely be more than one spot on the tri-tip with a patch of this filmy substance.

Once that is done, simply take your favorite seasoning/rub and apply. I like to go light on the rub when it comes to tri-tip because I like the flavor of this cut of beef to stand out and not overpower it. Feel free to let the meat sit at room temp for a little while (beef is okay for this) and let the spices sweat into the meat. If you are going keto, choose a rub with minimal to no sugar. Most rubs are like this, but check the label to be sure.

Rub and smoke are the two things I do to prep for the sear.

Smoking the good stuff

Now that your grill/smoker is up to 250F (I’m assuming you’ve done this already, but you know what they say about those who assume…), simply put it on the grill, close the lid, and let it ride. Since tri-tip cooks like a steak, make sure to monitor the temp regularly. You can do this by using an instant read thermometer, like my Thermapen Mk4 made by Thermoworks, or by using a wired probe device that will track the temps for the duration of the cook, such as the Smoke (also by Thermoworks) so you can track both temps in the grill and in the food.

Make sure when checking temps in any meat that you go into the middle of the thickest portion. That way, you know it will be thoroughly cooked to the temp you desire.

Pull the tri-tip off when internal temp hits around 125-127F.

Searing time!

When the meat is around 90-100F, start to get a grill or stove top burner going and your cast iron skillet heated. Some folks prefer to sear on the grill grates and get those nice grill marks, but I love to sear in a cast iron skillet. I want that Maillard reaction (the process of amino acids and reducing sugars reacting to form that crust on the food and give it extra flavor) to take place on the whole surface of the meat, not just the parts that touch the grates.

Not only do I like to use a cast iron skillet for searing the whole surface of the meat, but also because I can easily give the crust even more flavor by putting such flavor-boosting ingredients such as butter, garlic, and rosemary in the pan and let it cook in.

For the finish, I like my steaks medium rare. With that in mind, I take the tri-tip out of the pan (after searing on both sides) when internal meat temp hits around 135F. Keep in mind that there will be some carry over cooking going on, meaning the meat will likely rise a few degrees while resting.

Like a steak, medium rare is the ideal way to serve up tri-tip.

Rest and slice

When it comes to tri-tip, I like to let it rest about 10-15 minutes before slicing. Doing this will allow the meat to relax and let the juices build up, meaning more flavor.

Slicing the tri-tip against the grain can be a little tricky. Remember how earlier in this post I said that this cut of meat has three different grains?

Sliced half way because the other half needs to be cut a different direction.

While there are three different grains, one of them is at the very tip of the elongated portion of the tri-tip, so don’t worry about that part. I usually cut that part off as a sample for myself (sampling the meat before serving it is what we barbecuers like to call “pitmaster’s privilege”). The main section to watch for the switch is by the corner opposite of the crook in the meat. You should be able to see the grains switching directions around that way. Slice right down the middle of that as to separate the meat into two and slice against the respective grains.

If you had a hard time envisioning what I was just talking about, this 33 second video by Thermoworks gives a visual explanation much better than I can type. Enjoy.

The recipe!

Reverse Seared BBQ Tri Tip (Keto Friendly)

Reverse Seared BBQ Tri Tip (Keto Friendly)

Tri-tip is a roast that cooks like a steak, doesn't take too long to smoke and just might become your favorite cut of beef! Keto friendly, too!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tri-tip (1.5-2.5 lbs)
  • 3 Tbsp rub/seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 t garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker for 250F on indirect heat over pecan wood
  2. Trim silver skin off of tri-tip. Apply rub on both sides.
  3. Place meat on grill/smoker. Let cook at indirect heat for at least an hour before checking temps.
  4. Once internal meat hits temp around 90-100F, get cast iron skillet ready for searing
  5. When tri-tip reaches temps around 125F, go to skillet and put butter, garlic, and rosemary in. Remove tri-tip from grill/smoker and put in skillet, searing on both sides for about 2 minutes each or until internal temp hits 135F.
  6. Remove from skillet and let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing
  7. Feast and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Pecan and/or hickory wood is my preferred wood to smoke tri-tip with, but feel free to substitute for whichever smoking wood you prefer
  2. You can sear in the cast iron skillet either indoors or outdoors, over a stove top range or another grill.
  3. Remember that the grain of the tri-tip changes directions in the middle of the meat. Slice down the area where the two directions meat (usually in the area between the point and crook)

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

5 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200 Total Fat: 10.5g

Product Review: Pit Hawg BBQ Ash Vacuum

The Pit Hawg BBQ Ash Vacuum from Dustless Tools.

Barbecue is a hobby that provides some good times and even better food. These are the things that drive most of us. But when we think of BBQ, cleaning is the last thing to comes to most of our minds. However, the upkeep is necessary to get the maximum performance out of your grills and yield the best food you can. That’s why when I was offered a Pit Hawg to demo, I jumped at the opportunity.

The Pit Hawg BBQ Ash Vacuum is made by Dustless Tools and is a lightweight, handy vacuum that is made with barbecue grills in mind. Also, it can also be used indoors for fireplaces and wood stoves. It is less than two feet tall and only 13 inches wide. It comes with a handle for easy carrying and the hose is about five feet long, so you can have your vacuum up next to you and reach all angles of your grill with the hose (as you may know, grills come in different shapes and sizes). Just a heads-up that the cord is 10 feet long, you may need to plug in an extension for outdoor use.

The Pit Hawg in action. Also, look at me with a picture on the internet! I’m famous (…is what the 1998 version of me would think)!

I usually clean my grills prior to using them (usually because I’m too lazy to do it the same day or the day after). That means I end up vacuuming up cold ash. Some of you may be eager beavers and like to clean soon after. You need to be careful of hot ashes and the air inside the vacuum creating a bellowing effect, which can cause a fire. If you can’t tell the difference between warm and hot ashes (as sometimes that is difficult), the Pit Hawg has a thermal shutdown feature that will turn off the vacuum if it gets too hot. Speaking of the inside, the Pit Hawg is easy to clean out. Simply undo the three latches on the rim of the vacuum, remove the lid, and dispose of the ash inside.

An “aerial view” of the vacuum.

Sometimes when I’m vacuuming with this, the suction isn’t the best. Thankfully the Pit Hawg has a button you can smash when you need more sucking power. It’s a big, yellow button on the top of the device that is fun to pound. Kids and adults in my house have fun smashing this button (the adults more so than the kids…and by “adults” I mean myself). The aluminum nozzle also has a couple of attachments to help better clean your grill, including a rectangular wire brush for grilling grates.

Not enough suction? Smash the big, yellow button!

Do I like this thing? Let me tell you that I bought a standard shop vac a couple of months prior to getting this Pit Hawg and my shop vac has sat in storage ever since. I like that this Pit Hawg is lightweight to carry, has good suction, and is easy to clean. The attachments to the hose help get the best clean you can. I like using this and think you would too!

Bacon-weaved Breakfast Fatty

This breakfast fatty loaded with all of the good stuff!

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast? If you’re cooking up breakfast at home and want some sort of pork product to go with your pancakes and eggs, most folks make a choice between sausage or bacon. But why not both? You can have a complete breakfast all-in-one with this epic breakfast fatty! If this concept is new to you, just know I’m not the first to make these. In fact, they seem to be a common staple amongst avid barbecuers. Put a slice of this breakfast log in between a biscuit and you’ve got an even more epic breakfast!

The breakdown

The ingredients used for this breakfast fatty are as follows (in no particular order):

  • bacon
  • ground sausage (or chorizo if you want to spice it up)
  • hash browns (cooked)
  • scrambled eggs
  • chopped onion
  • diced green bell pepper
  • cheddar cheese
  • rub/seasoning
  • BBQ sauce (for the last 20 minutes of the cook)

The bacon weave

Behold, the bacon weave!

The outermost layer of the breakfast fatty is a bacon weave. It’s like a tasty safety net for the rest of the ingredients to stay in. Granted, the ground sausage should keep it all in, but is having all that bacon as part of the meat cocoon such a bad thing? I don’t think so.

Anyway, some of you may wonder how to make a bacon weave. To lay it out in a simple way, I’ll do numeric bulletpoints:

  1. Put down a strip of parchment paper or clear plastic wrap
  2. Lay five or six strips of bacon vertically, each strip close to the other
  3. Take the even numbered strips and pull back part way
  4. Lay a new strip of bacon horizontally, across the odd numbered strips of bacon (the ones that aren’t folded back)
  5. Flip the folded over strips back (look! You’ve made the beginnings of the weave!)
  6. Now take the odd numbered vertical strips and lay and pull up to fold over, up by the horizontal strip already weaved in
  7. Lay another horizontal strip down next to the other horizontal one
  8. Pull the flipped over bacon strips back down
  9. Now that you’ve come this far, just alternate between flipping over the even and odd vertical strips to lay down the horizontal ones until the weave is complete!

The next layer: ground sausage

Flatten the ground sausage on the bacon weave.

Now that you have woven a blanket o’ bacon (good job, by the way!) take a 16 oz. package of ground sausage and flatten it out in a square-like shape over the bacon weave. If it doesn’t reach the edges of your weave, it’s okay. Just make sure you have flattened it out enough to put your other ingredients in and roll it up. Speaking of…

The rest of the ingredients

Put the other ingredients (sans sauce) in like this.

For those of you keeping score at home, we have scrambled eggs, hash browns (cooked), cheddar cheese, diced onion, diced green bell pepper, and rub remaining to put in this thing. Lay out these ingredients in a straight line, layering on top of each other. When doing the cheese, you can use either shredded or long, skinny rectangular cubes. The advantage of the long cubes in the log is that the cheese is centered in one spot and has that cheesy, gooey look when it’s sliced and served. And as far as the rub is concerned, you can either apply it on the ground sausage or on the bacon part. I usually apply it on the bacon (because I forget to put it on the sausage).

Rollin’ up a fatty

Rollin’ up the breakfast fatty.

Remember how I mentioned to lay down a sheet of parchment paper or clear plastic wrap? I hope you did because rolling up this meat cocoon is a lot easier this way. As you have laid the inside ingredients on top of each other in one direction, take the parallel end and start rolling. The goal is to roll as if you want to make one end of the ground sausage touch the other end. No tight rolling, just roll to where when you eventually slice it the meat will have enclosed the inside ingredients.

Finishing up rolling the opposite side. Getting one side to kinda overlap the other.

Pull back the parchment paper or plastic wrap and put toothpicks into the loose bacon tips at the ends of the rolled up fatty to help keep its form rounded on the ends…and to keep stuff from oozing out.

 Put it on the grill

Placed on the grill with indirect heat.

When cooking this thing, I put the breakfast fatty in at 275F and leave it in for about 90 minutes. I like to use my digital thermometer to check the temps inside. When it is around 150F, I apply the BBQ sauce on the bacon. Close the lid and then remove the log when the internal temp hits 165F. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Checking temps with my Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks.

The recipe!

Bacon-weaved Breakfast Fatty

Good for breakfast or tailgating, this BBQ staple is great any time of day!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Active Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10-12 strips of bacon
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 2 Tbsp rub
  • 3/4 C hash browns, cooked
  • 3 eggs, scrambled
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 C diced onion
  • 1/8 C diced green bell pepper
  • 3 Tbsp BBQ sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 275F on indirect heat
  2. Lay down sheet of parchment paper and create the bacon weave.
  3. Apply ground sausage on top of bacon weave and spread into a square-like shape. Apply rub onto ground sausage.
  4. Spread cooked hash browns in a horizontal line down the center of the ground sausage. Place scrambled eggs, cheese, onion, and green bell pepper on top in similar fashion.
  5. Take one end of the parchment paper (parallel to the line of hash browns and other ingredients) and loosely roll the fatty. Remove parchment paper and secure ends with toothpicks.
  6. Place on grill (275F at indirect heat) and cook for 70 minutes.
  7. Brush BBQ sauce on the bacon, close lid and cook for another 20 minutes.
  8. Remove, rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Notes

For crispier bacon, turn grill up to 325F during last 20-30 minutes.

If you want to make this spicy, substitute jalapeños for green bell peppers, pepper jack cheese for cheddar cheese, and even add some chorizo.

Cook until the ground sausage has hit a temp of 165F.

Place slice of breakfast fatty in a biscuit or English muffin to make an ultimate breakfast sandwich!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

6 oz.

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325

Easy Pulled Pork

This pulled pork recipe is quite the crowd pleaser…and simple to make!

If you’re new to learning how to barbecue (that rhymed), I highly recommend smoking a pork shoulder. Also known as a pork butt or Boston butt, this cut of meat comes from the shoulder of the pig. Hence, I like to call it the pork shoulder. While it is a popular meat at barbecue joints, don’t be intimidated. Pork shoulder is a very forgiving meat in that you can make some mistakes and it will still turn out pretty darn good. I have a simple recipe I use often and it yields incredible results.

The ingredients

Pork shoulder, rub, and mustard. That’s it for the prep!

One aspect that makes this recipe so easy is the number of ingredients: four. All you need is a pork shoulder, spicy brown mustard (or regular mustard), your favorite bottle of rub, and a can of Dr Pepper for spritzing during the cook.

Is there trimming involved?

Start by taking your pork shoulder out of the packaging. I like to give it a gentle rinse and patting dry with a paper towel before using the other ingredients. Once that’s done, put it on your cutting board or whatever sanitary surface you plan on using. As far as trimming goes, pork shoulders usually come trimmed up pretty well out of the package with no other work to do. There may be a random flap of fat hanging off somewhere and you are free to trim that off and go on your way. Now, you’ll notice a layer of fat on the top part. Every barbecuer I know leaves it on. Some like to score the fat side with cuts about a 1/2 inch deep and do so in a crosshatch pattern (cuts about 1 inch apart) because they feel the fat (and other seasonings on top) will render into the meat better. I am going simple here and leave the fat side alone.

Applying mustard and rub

Next, get your bottle of mustard and start squirting over the meat. Make sure to smooth it over all sides of the shoulder, not just front and back. After you’ve finished rubbing that mustard on, grab your bottle of rub and start shaking, covering all sides of the pork. I like to be a little generous with the rub here as the pork can be bland without it.

The smoking process

On the grill getting that smoke sauna!

Hopefully you’ve had your smoker outside getting up to smoking temps. I like to go 275F, which is on the edge of going from smoking to baking. When smoking pork, I like to use either a fruit wood (such as apple, cherry, or peach) or go with my favorite: pecan. Once I am near temps, I put the pork shoulder on the grill and let the smoke do the rest…and the spritz. Which reminds me…

How often do I spritz?

This is a question that is bound to get a different response from pretty much every barbecuer out there. Some say spritz every hour. Others may say once every two hours. There are folks who don’t spritz at all. Not only that, but you will get feedback of blends to make for your spritzing, usually with the main ingredient of apple juice or apple cider vinegar (I’ve mixed both). Since I’m keeping it simple here, I use a can of Dr Pepper. Not only does it provide a little bit of a sweeter flavor that pork mixes well with, it also gives a richer, darker color to the outside of the meat. I like to spritz about two or three times during the smoke session. TIP: open the can of Dr Pepper a few hours beforehand and let it sit out and get flat. It will spritz better that way.

To wrap or not to wrap?

Wrap or no wrap, the end result is tasty!

Some like to wrap their meat in foil when the meat hits around 150-165F range because its usually at that spot that the meat stops progressing in temperature because it starts to sweat to cool down. This phase is commonly known as the stall or Texas crutch. Wrapping helps trap the heat to help the meat cook hotter and faster. I haven’t been wrapping during cooking lately because I am giving myself plenty of time to finish. But do what you want in this regard.

When is it done?

Why do I keep using my headlines as questions? Yep, I asked another question. *insert facepalm here* A lot of recipes give you a set number of hours to tell you the meat is officially done. I don’t buy into that. I’ve had similar sized pork shoulders cooking side by side in the same grill at the same temps and have had one finish before the other. This experience happens to me often. The reason for being is that, as BBQ pro Chad Ward told me once, “every animal has lived a different life.” Meaning that some animals have used their muscles more than others, making their meat tougher. Some may have been fed differently than others, eaten more than others, etc.

One way to tell if the pork shoulder is done is by using a digital meat thermometer, like this Thermapen Mk4 by Thermoworks, and seeing temps in the 195-205F range.

There are two ideal ways I can tell when the pork shoulder is done: by internal meat temp, which shredding temp is between 195-205F, or by using the meat thermometer to simply probe the meat. If the probe goes in and out smooth like butter, then it is done.

Rest and serve

After cooking, I like to let it sit out for 30 minutes and then wrap and rest.

When the pork shoulder is done cooking, you will want to let it rest. This helps the juices build up and the meat cool down. Let it rest at least 30 minutes before tearing into it. I like to let it rest and then wrap if I plan on serving it later. I then put it in a well-insulated cooler and remove when I’m ready to eat.

Shredding the pork only takes a matter of seconds!

Some folks like to shred the meat with some sort of bear claw-type meat shredding tools. I like to put on two layers of gloves and shred with my hands. The underlying layer is a pair of cheap worker gloves you can get at a gas station or hardware store. The outer layer is a pair of nitrile gloves (I like to use Gloveworks HD). That pair of worker gloves underneath helps acts as a bit of insulation to protect from the heat of the meat. If the meat is done at the ideal temps, then shredding only takes about 30 seconds. Shredding the pork this way is seriously one of my favorite things to do in barbecue! There’s something gratifying about making quick work of something that took hours to finish. Serving soon after shredding is prime time for texture and taste so you and your friends/family/strangers should eat up quick!

The video!

If you don’t eat it all, no worries. Another great thing about pulled pork is that it reheats very well, even after freezing. It is the only meat I freeze leftovers of and eat at a later time because it is still quite tasty.

The recipe!

Easy Pulled Pork

Easy Pulled Pork

Smoked pulled pork is a favorite in the barbecue world and is surprisingly easy to make. Using only three ingredients (four if you count the Dr Pepper for the spritz), this recipe is super easy and yields tasty results!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pork shoulder (aka- Boston butt), 6-8 lbs.
  • 1/4 C spicy brown mustard
  • 4 Tbsp rub
  • OPTIONAL: Dr Pepper for spritzing

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill/smoker to 275F with indirect heat, using smoking wood of your choice
  2. Place pork shoulder on cutting board and apply spicy brown mustard, then the rub
  3. Move pork shoulder to grill/smoker and cook for about 10 hours, spritzing on occasion with Dr Pepper
  4. Remove when pork hits between 195-203F internal temp
  5. Rest for 20-30 minutes before shredding

Notes

  • For the spritzing, its best to open the can/bottle of Dr Pepper hours beforehand and let it get flat. The soda will spray better this way.
  • Finishing times for meat can vary. Keep track of temps throughout to make sure it finishes at the temp you want.
  • While pork is technically edible at 142F, pulled pork needs to be finished cooking around 195-203F to make it more shreddable and still juicy
  • Regarding smoking wood, I prefer to use pecan or a fruit wood such as apple, peach, or cherry. Pork does well with these flavors.


Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

6 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 496

Smoked Candied Pecan Pie

Smoked candied pecan pie will rock your taste buds!

If you’re a fan of watching reruns of the show Parks and Recreation like I am, you may recall an episode in which Andy Dwyer (played by Chris Pratt) was giving advice to Tom by saying, “‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ I read that one on a can of lemonade.  I like to think that it applies to life.”  While I’m not going to go that deep in thought on you, I like to think when life gives you pecans, you make pecan pie.

The Best Way to Eat Pecans

As you may recall, I have a recipe for smoked candied pecans here on the website. It’s my second favorite way to eat pecans. My #1 favorite way is to take those smoked candied pecans and make a pecan pie!

I have a not-so-top secret recipe I like to use that involves things like sugar, more sugar, corn syrup, salt, and butter. But don’t worry, there’s also a touch of orange zest in there, so you got your fruit category covered. Seriously, pecan pie isn’t known for being healthy, but it is known for being delicious and now you can see why.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 Cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter (aka- 1 stick), melted
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 Cups smoked candied pecans
  • 1 pie crust

Directions

  1. Take a medium mixing bowl and put in brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, corn starch, orange zest, salt, light corn syrup, melted butter, and three eggs. Stir ingredients together.
  2. Lightly grease a pie tin (or pie pan, pie plate, or whatever you prefer to call it)and put your rolled out pie crust in. Make sure pie crust conforms to the pie tin (or pie pan, pie plate…you get the deal here).
  3. Take half of your pecans and scatter them on the pie crust.
  4. Pour ingredients from mixing bowl into the pie crust.
  5. Take remaining pecans and place on top, making sure to spread them around.
  6. Cover pie in foil and put on your grill with the heat at 350°F for 30 minutes, using pecan wood chunks (or pellets of using a pellet grill) for flavor. NOTE: you can always bake this in your oven as an alternative, but keep in mind you won’t get that extra pecan smoke flavor infused.
  7. After 30 minutes, remove foil from pie. Bake uncovered for another 20-25 minutes.
  8. Let rest until pie is at room temperature.
  9. Dive right in!
Great tasting pie doesn’t need your fancy plates!

Notes

  • When zesting the orange, start at one spot and zest lightly on the surface, spiraling around the orange. The reason for this is you get the best zest from the outmost part of the peel. Going further into the peel in one spot makes the zest more tart.
  • Corn startch helps thicken the pie’s consistency.
  • When baking the pie, you can tell it is done by giving the side of the pie tin a tap and watching how it moves. If it sloshes around, it needs more time. If it jiggles just a little bit, then it’s done.

I hope you enjoy this pie recipe and serve it up for holidays, parties, family gatherings, Tuesdays, etc.!