BRAZILIAN GARLIC PICANHA RECIPE

Picanha sliced to serve.
Make Brazilian-style picanha in your own backyard!

If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse (aka- churrascaria or rodizio-style), chances are you’ve had picanha. The servers that come by your table will bring this beef on the skewer that is shaped like a “C” and slice it off the front and onto your plate. Picanha is my favorite meat at the restaurant! And with your own rotisserie attachment for your grill (or a long metal skewer that you are willing to manually rotate over an open flame), as well as a few simple ingredients, I will show you how to make this Brazilian garlic delicacy in your own backyard!

WHAT TYPE OF MEAT IS PICANHA?

Picanha is made from top sirloin cap (aka coulotte or rump cap) such as this one.

If you live in North America and ask your butcher for meat to make picanha, they may not know what you are talking about. To help you get this cut, tell him/her you want a top sirloin cap, coulotte, or rump cap. This cut of beef will be roughly four pounds. Butchers like to cut this up and sell sirloin steaks, so you may need to convince your butcher to either get a sirloin cap from the back or special order you one for later.

PREPARING THE GARLIC PICANHA

Slice the sirloin cap into thirds and season with kosher salt, pepper, and minced garlic.

Once you have this sirloin cap, take the fat cap on top and score the fat by slicing criss-cross cuts into it. Do you best to not cut into the meat. Take some kosher salt and sprinkle all over the fat cap and meat-exposed sides.

Once that is done, slice the meat into thirds, from the widest side down to the smallest (as seen in the picture above). Apply some more kosher salt to the freshly sliced sides that didn’t get covered earlier. Now apply some black pepper and then some minced garlic, both over all sides of the pieces of meat.

TIME FOR THE SPIN CYCLE

Brazilian picanha ready to cook rotisserie style.
Skewer the sliced Brazilian garlic picanha and cook rotisserie style.

The traditional way to cook picanha is to form the meat into a c-shape form and pierce it onto a big, metal skewer. A rotisserie attachment for your grill is highly recommended, although you could use a large metal skewer to put over the hot coals and rotate ever so often. But seriously, look into getting a rotisserie. The folks at Kamado Joe make a Joetisserie attachement that fits most 18″ ceramic grills.

Picanha cooking up over them coals.
You spin me right round baby, right round… (that song gets stuck in my head every time I use the rotisserie)

Cooking it this way means the meat is basting in its own juices, enhancing the flavor even more. Cook it this way for 20-25 minutes until the meat reaches the desired temp you are looking for. I like to cook my Brazilian garlic picanha to medium rare. Using a digital thermometer, like the Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4, is a fast and accurate way to gauge meat temps.

REST, SLICE, SERVE

Once that is done, put on some heat resistant gloves and place onto a cutting board to rest for a little bit before slicing. I do this to help the meat build up juices and maximize the flavor in every bite. Leave the meat on the skewer for the Brazilian steakhouse effect. Slice the meat by cutting the tops of the cuts of picanha parallel with the skewer. I prefer to cut in thinner slices. After slicing a couple of times, feel free to put the skewer back over the coals for another spin on the rotisserie to cook the fresh surfaces and develop some more crust for future slices.

THE VIDEO!

THE RECIPE!

Yield: 20 servings

Brazilian Garlic Picanha Recipe

Brazilian Garlic Picanha Recipe

Brazilian steakhouses (or churrascarias) are known for their sirloin on skewers cooked rotisserie style, known as picanha. Combining this sirloin cap with kosher salt, black pepper, and minced garlic, this recipe will replicate that same flavor in your very own backyard!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 top sirloin cap (about four pounds)
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill. Set up rotisserie attachment.
  2. Score the fat on top of the sirloin cap by cutting into the fat (but not the meat) in a criss-cross pattern, with cuts being an inch apart. Sprinkle kosher salt on top of the scores fat.
  3. Sliced meat into thirds, applying rest of kosher salt, black pepper, and minced garlic on all sides. Skewer meat by forming cuts into a c-shape form and poking skewer through as seen on the recipe card photo.
  4. Cook meat on rotisserie, make sure it is spinning. Cool this way for 20-25 minutes until internal meat temp reaches 130-135F. Remove, rest for 10 minutes and slice off tops of meat, parallel with the skewer.

Notes

  • after slicing, put remaining picanha (still on skewer) back on grill to cook if you want to get more crust
  • Picanha also goes by top sirloin cap, rump cap, or coulotte. Your butcher should know one of those terms.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20 servings

Serving Size:

1 piece

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120 Total Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 40mg Sodium: 430mg Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 16g

The Top Tomahawk Ribeye Steak Recipe

Tomahawk ribeyes are essentially steaks on a stick. Giddy up.

Tomahawk ribeye steak is becoming more popular thanks to an increase in folks who like to grill and BBQ influencers (such as myself) on social media promoting these magnificent cuts of beef. These steaks are a bit pricey at the butcher and that alone can make it intimidating for a newbie who is afraid he/she will screw it up. Don’t worry about screwing it up. I’m here to make sure you won’t screw it up.

What’s the difference between a regular ribeye and a tomahawk ribeye?

The main thing that makes the tomahawk ribeye steak different than a regular ribeye is the giant rib bone attached, measuring about 18-22 inches long. It definitely brings a “wow factor” to the meal. It drops jaws, turns heads, and makes some grown men cry (don’t judge me).

Another element that makes the tomahawk ribeye different is the thickness. Since the rib bone is attached, the ribeye will be around 2 to 2.5 inches thick. Some butchers can cut a regular ribeye this thick for you if you special order them that way, but right off the shelf you end up with an inch of thickness or less so they can sell more steak to more people. Expect a tomahawk ribeye to be around three pounds: two pounds of beef, about a pound of bone.

Prepping the Tomahawk Ribeye

Simply apply a savory, salt and pepper based rub before smoking.

Getting the tomahawk ribeye steak ready for the grill is just like prepping any other steak. I prefer mine with a simple salt and pepper-based rub. The main ingredients I use are equal parts kosher salt and ground black pepper, then a little less of garlic powder (feel free to mix in a couple more ingredients such as onion powder or paprika). Sprinkle the blend of spices over all sides of the meat portion of the tomahawk ribeye steak. Feel free to let it sit for a little while at room temperature to let your seasoning sink in a little. It is okay for beef to sit out a little while, not so much for poultry or pork.

Reverse Sear = Smoke then Sear

The end result is worth it. Trust me!

You may be familiar with searing: the process of grilling the meat at a high temp (usually 550F and above) to start off and then moving to the oven at a lower temp until done. Reverse searing is the opposite of that (hence the name) because you start off by cooking at a low temperature and then finish it off with the high heat on a direct surface.

Why reverse sear instead of traditional sear? Because you can infuse smoke flavor into the tomahawk ribeye steak first and then sear to lock in that flavor AND those juices from the meat! I like to use smoking woods such as hickory, oak, or pecan for beef. Smoke it between the 225-250F range until internal temp reaches about 125F. This can take about an hour.

While the tomahawk ribeye steak is smoking, make sure to get another grill surface as hot as you can for searing. As you gauge temps inside the meat, like I do with my Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks, you will have a better feel for when to get the sear going on the other grill.

NOTE: don’t feel ashamed if you sear on a skillet on the stove burner in your house. As long as you have a hot surface to cook on you’ll be fine. But there’s a chance you may set off the smoke alarm in your home.

Searing with a Cast Iron Skillet

Turning the cast iron skillet upside down covers the entire surface of the tomahawk ribeye steak.

While some folks like to sear on the grill grates, I prefer on a cast iron skillet. Reason for being is that the hot cast iron will cover the entire surface of the steak so you get more of that savory crust as compared to the lines where the grates are. Also, you can throw ingredients such as butter, garlic, and rosemary onto the cast iron to add flavors to that crust.

Are you ready to hear a cooking hack? Turn the cast iron skillet upside down! Do this so you can get the entire surface of the tomahawk ribeye steak seared. You’ll notice if you try to lay the steak in the skillet, the bone keeps the bottom portion of the steak from hitting the surface. Turning the cast iron upside down gives you a perfectly even sear on each side. Sear for 1-2 minutes on each side or until internal temp reaches 135F, which is good for medium rare.

Rest, then Slice

Resting 20 minutes and then slicing is optimal for flavor.

Once the tomahawk ribeye steak has reached your desired finishing temp, remove from the heat and let it rest for a good 20 minutes before slicing. This way, you let the juices build up and the meat will stop cooking inside. Slice against the grain and feel free to devour right off the cutting board!

Goes well with corn pudding on the side!

The Recipe!

Yield: 6 servings

The Top Tomahawk Ribeye Steak Recipe

The Top Tomahawk Ribeye Steak Recipe

Tomahawk ribeye steaks can be intimidating to cook in large part due to the size and price. You want to make sure you cook it right and don't waste your money. Following this recipe will make you look like an expert right away!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tomahawk ribeye steak (about 36 oz of meat)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 225F on indirect heat with either hickory or oak wood
  2. Combine kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder and apply on all sides of tomahawk ribeye steak. Place steak on grill for about an hour or until internal meat temp reaches 125F.
  3. On a separate grill (or stovetop) get cast iron skillet up to searing temps (starts at 550F) Place butter, garlic and rosemary in skillet right before moving tomahawk ribeye steak to the surface for searing. Sear steak for 1-2 minutes on each side, with internal temps reaching 135F. Remove and rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

Notes

1. To sear entire surface of tomahawk steaks, turn the cast iron skillet upside down. This way, the bone doesn't keep the lower portion of the steak from touching the surface.

2. Feel free to sear in a cast iron on your stove top if you don't have another grill accessible.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6 servings

Serving Size:

6 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460 Total Fat: 32g Saturated Fat: 14g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 132mg Sodium: 108mg Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 42g

Southern Corn Pudding

Southern corn pudding is the comfort food you never knew you needed.

My introduction to Southern corn pudding came when I went up to the From the Ashes BBQ festival up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Anthony DiBernardo, of Swig & Swine in South Carolina, had this side dish he was cooking in a large cauldron and immediately caught my interest.

Combining ingredients such as cream cheese, jalapeño, and, believe it or not, corn, this side dish became one of my favorite things I’ve ever eaten! And with permission from Anthony himself, I now share with you this side dish that will rival your main course at your next cookout!

How do I get started?

The sautéed corn, onion, and jalapeño are key to this recipe.

First things first, make sure to get an 8 oz block of cream cheese and let it sit out long enough to soften. Now to get started on your corn pudding, take four ears of corn and use a knife to cut the kernels off. You can either set them aside or put them right into a skillet. Next, slice about half and onion and cut it julienne, meaning long thin strips. Then dice a small jalapeño (whether or not the seeds are left in is up to you). Put these ingredients in a large skillet on medium heat for sauté-ing. You’re gonna want that little bit of char on there because the flavor and the crisp of it will stand out. Once you have sautéed the corn, onion, and jalapeño, set aside.

The rest of the ingredients

For the next steps of this Southern corn pudding, you’ll need a hand mixer and a medium or large sized bowl. Mix the softened cream cheese and three eggs together until smooth. It may take a little while to mix until smooth depending on how soft you got the cream cheese.

Mix it all together…but don’t forget the shredded cheddar cheese!

Once the cream cheese and eggs are blended together in smooth harmony, pour in a cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of self rising cornmeal, two teaspoons of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. Oh, and the shredded cheddar cheese. You’ll want at least two cups of that. Mix all of these ingredients together, folding in the corn, onion, and jalapeño from earlier.

Time for the dutch oven!

Cooking outdoors in a Dutch oven is ideal, but this dish will also turn out just fine in your oven, as well.

Pour your mixed concoction of Southern corn pudding from the bowl into a greased dutch oven. Since I’m putting this on the grill over indirect heat (or hung about a foot above a fire as seen in this picture), I’m doing this in the cast iron dutch oven. Cook uncovered at 325F for 30-40 minutes. You can tell when it’s done by digging a spoon in and it comes out mostly clean. Pull off the grill and let it sit out for a few minutes before serving. This will serve about 8-10. Feel free to double the recipe for a bigger group. In fact, you may want to double it anyway so you can have seconds…or leftovers!

The recipe!

Yield: 8-10 servings

Corn Pudding

Corn Pudding

Corn pudding is the comfort food you never knew you needed. It is the perfect compliment for any BBQ main dish. Combining ingredients such as corn, cream cheese, and jalapeño, you may just want to make a batch to eat by itself!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1/2 onion, julienne
  • 1- 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup self-rising cornmeal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Shave ears of corn, dice jalapeño, and slice half an onion julienne. Put these ingredients in a skillet and sauté. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, use a mixer to combine softened cream cheese and eggs until smooth. Add heavy cream, sugar, cornmeal, salt, pepper, shredded cheddar cheese. Mix until incorporated. Fold in sautéed corn, jalapeño, and onion.
  3. Pour mixture into greased cast iron dutch oven and cook on grill over indirect heat at 325F uncovered for 30-40 minutes.

Notes

1. If you can't find self-rising cornmeal, combine almost a 1/2 Cup of cornmeal with a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Makes the ideal substitute.

2. You can make this in your oven and not even use a dutch oven.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8-10

Serving Size:

6 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 260 Total Fat: 170g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 178mg Sodium: 477mg Carbohydrates: 24g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 8g Protein: 9g
Nutritional information isn't always accurate.

Backyard Barbacoa Tacos (on the grill)

These backyard barbacoa tacos made on the grill are a big hit any day of the week (not just Taco Tuesday)!

Do you love tacos? Do you consider yourself a grillmaster (or aspire to)? Then this Backyard Barbacoa Tacos recipe is a must try! Using your braising skills on the grill, you’ll look like an expert and wow your friends over on your next taco night (which should be every night, am I right?)!

WHAT IS BARBACOA?

Barbacoa is a form of cooking meat that has its origins in the Caribbean, but the style we are most familiar with is the one from Mexico, which originates with meats steam cooked underground. Some recipes call for beef from the head of the cow (such as beef cheeks), others call for goat meat (aka- cabrito). Since this backyard barbacoa tacos recipe comes from a gringo and his grill, I’ll be using a chuck roast because this cut of meat is much easier to find in the US.

A PLETHORA OF INGREDIENTS

Adobo and beef together. The barbacoa tacos begin!
Adobo and beef together. The barbacoa tacos begin!

While I tend to post recipes that involve less than 10 ingredients, this one is worth the exception and you’ll taste why. For starters, I dice onion, jalapeño, and mince garlic then sauté in a cast iron skillet on the grill (you can also do this in a frying pan on your stove). Once those are done, I put them in a blender with apple cider vinegar, lime juice, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, and cloves. Blend until smooth, which shouldn’t take long since we are using a lot of liquid. This mix you just made is called an adobo, which is a special marinade that consists of peppers, vinegar, and spices.

NOTE: if you’re keeping track at home, that’s 11 ingredients so far.

…AND THEN THERE’S THE MEAT

Now that the above ingredients have formed your adobo, it’s time to take your chuck roast and cut it into sections. We are using a 3 lbs. cut of chuck roast for this recipe, so you’ll either want to cut it into six or eight pieces. I like to put a simple rub of salt and pepper on these pieces to add additional flavor to the meat.

Sear the chunks of chuck roast in a large cast iron skillet (preferably the one you already used to saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeno.
Sear the chunks of chuck roast in a large cast iron skillet (preferably the one you already used to saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeno.

Once you have divided the roast into chunks, place them in a heated cast iron skillet and sear each side for a minute or two. If you have seen other recipes on my website regarding steaks such as tri-tip or New York Strip, you’ll know how much I value the reverse sear. It does feel a little weird to sear first and then slow cook after, but with this recipe it is worth the exception. Make sure all pieces are browned on each side.

Now that the searing of the chunks of chuck roast has been done, place them in a foil pan. I recommend using an 8×8 pan or something a little bigger, depending on how big of a cut of chuck roast you have. Pour the adobo in the pan. I like to add a couple of bay leaves for flavor.

SMOKE AND BRAISE ON THE GRILL

With the meat and the adobo together in the foil pan, place on the grill at 275 degrees over indirect heat. I used my ceramic grill which came with deflector plates to put over the lit coals to create this indirect heat. I put a couple of chunks of hickory wood in there with the coals for some extra smokey flavored goodness. Cook like this for four to five hours or until the meat is shreddable with a fork. The wait for these backyard barbacoa tacos will be well worth it!

At least 200 degrees is a good temp for shredding beef.
The barbacoa reached 200 degrees after almost five hours on the grill. Reaching an internal temp of at least 200 degrees is good for shredding beef. Using my Thermapen Mk4 by Thermoworks.

Since every animal lives a different life and some cows use their muscles more than others, each cut of beef may cook differently. If the meat is still not shreddable after four to five hours, then cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil to help expedite the process.

It’s also worth noting that you may want to flip the chunks of beef over during the cook so the chunks of beef are easier to shred since they have been braising in the adobo.

SHRED IT UP!

barbacoa shredded and ready to eat.
Make sure to let the beef you just shredded sit in the adobo for a little while before serving. That way, the juices soak up into that barbacoa.

Once the beef has been removed from the grill and sat out for a moment, start shredding the chunks of beef. I used a couple of forks, but you can shred with your hands (wearing some insulated gloves) or even a hand mixer if you wish (but that can get messy, so beware). Let the shredded beef sit in that juicy goodness of the adobo for a little while before serving.

Speaking of serving, I recommend offering up this backyard barbacoa on some warm corn tortillas and topped with diced onion, cilantro, and some green tomatillo salsa. Even give a freshly cut lime a gentle squeeze over the top and you’ve got yourself some amazing backyard barbacoa tacos you cooked up on the grill!

barbacoa yes!
Warm up them corn tortillas before you paint a masterpiece with your backyard barbacoa (and toppings).

THE RECIPE!

Backyard Barbacoa Tacos

Backyard Barbacoa Tacos

Tired of having ground beef tacos? This barbacoa recipe will transform your taco night from average to extraordinary! And it can all be made on your grill (or oven/stove if you prefer).

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 chuck roast (3lbs.)
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 C apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3/4 C chicken broth
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • FOR TACOS:
  • 25-30 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, diced
  • 1 jar green tomatillo salsa

Instructions

  1. Saute onion, jalapeno, and garlic in cast iron skillet. Set aside.
  2. Create adobo (marinade) by combining apple cider vinegar, lime juice, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, and cloves in a blender. Add sauteed onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Blend until smooth.
  3. Divide chuck roast into 6-8 pieces, season, and sear pieces in cast iron skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side
  4. Place meat in 8x8 foil pan and pour adobo in. Add bay leaves. Place on grill at 275 degrees over indirect heat for 4-5 hours, turn chunks of beef halfway through the cook. Done when beef at or above 200 degrees internal temp or when beef can be shredded with a fork.
  5. Shred beef and let rest in adobo before serving. Serve on corn tortillas warmed on a skillet, top with diced onion, cilantro, and green tomatilla salsa.

Notes

  1. Chuck roast was used for this recipe. To go more authentic, substitute beef cheek.
  2. To make more spicy, either add more jalapeno or substitute serrano pepper.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

2 street tacos

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 251 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 5.9g Trans Fat: 0.5g Cholesterol: 76mg Sodium: 282mg Carbohydrates: 15g Fiber: 2.3g Sugar: 2g Protein: 22g

Smoked Jalapeño Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

This smoked jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese is ready for its closeup.

While the BBQ meat is the main event on the plate, you can’t overlook the supporting cast: the side dishes. I’d like to think the sides you make should be good enough to eat on your own after the BBQ is all gone. This smoked jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese has been a hit with my friends and I think it’s worthy to share.

MAKING THE MAC

Mixing it up in the Instant Pot!

You may be wondering if you cook the smoked jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese all on the smoker. While there may be some recipes out there that call for it, this one does not. You can cook this indoors either on the stove or in the Instant Pot. For the Instant Pot, take a 16 oz bag of elbow macaroni (I prefer the large elbows), four cups of water, three tablespoons of butter, and two teaspoons of salt. Set the Instant Pot for four minutes and when you are done with the venting afterward, remove the lid and switch to sauté. Then add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups of medium cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 cups of pepper jack cheese, and a diced up jalapeño. Mix until cheese is melted.

SMOKING THAT JALAPEÑO PEPPER JACK MAC AND CHEESE

Now that the mac and cheese is done cooking, it’s time to add that smoked flavor! Pour your jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese into a foil pan, preferably a little larger than 8×8 (I’ve tried that and not all of it fits. But if you want something to snack on while the rest of it smokes…). Feel free to top with something like bread crumbs to give it a little more texture. I used some jalapeño cheddar pork rinds and crumbled them up and poured over the mac and cheese in the foil pan.

Substituting bread crumbs for chicharrones (a variation of pork rinds) can alter the flavor.

Put the soon-to-be smoked jalapeño pepper jack mac and cheese on the grill at 225 degrees over indirect heat. We keep it that low because the mac and cheese is already cooked and you don’t want to dry out the noodles. For the smoke flavor, I prefer to go with hickory wood on this one. Let it cook for 30 minutes. Remove from grill and dig in!

THE RECIPE!

Smoked Jalapeño Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Smoked Jalapeño Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Kick your basic mac and cheese up a notch by adding some jalapeño and pepper jack cheese. Top with jalapeño cheddar pork rinds and give it a kiss of hickory smoke to complete the side dish!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 oz large elbow macaroni noodles
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • OPTIONAL: handful of crushed pork rinds for topping

Instructions

  1. Place water, macaroni noodles, butter, and salt together in Instant Pot. Seal vent and set on Manual for 4 minutes. Preheat grill/smoker to 225 degrees on indirect heat with hickory wood.
  2. Once the Instant Pot beeps when the 4 minutes is up, turn the top knob from sealing to venting. Once venting is completed, remove lid and set to sauté. Pour in heavy whipping cream, both cheeses, and diced jalapeño. Stir until cheese is fully melted.
  3. Pour mac and cheese into a foil pan (preferably something a little bigger than 8x8), top with crumbled pork rinds (optional) and put on grill for 30 minutes. Remove and serve.

Notes

  1. The pork rinds (or chicharrones if you prefer) are optional, but do add to the flavor and provide some texture. Substitute bread crumbs if you prefer.
  2. Check noodles after 15-20 minutes to make sure they don't dry out.
  3. If you want to kick up the heat, you can do one of the following: include the seeds from your diced jalapeño; substitute pickled jalapeño; or substitute for a serrano pepper.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1 Cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 425 Total Fat: 20g Saturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 8mg Sodium: 675mg Carbohydrates: 47g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 8g Protein: 10g

Teriyaki Marinated BBQ Tri tip

Tri-tip getting the reverse sear treatment with some avocado oil and garlic herb butter.

If you’ve seen other posts besides that popular one here on my blog, then you’ll notice that I love  me some tri-tip. My favorite way to cook up some tri tip is to rub it, smoke it, and then sear it in a cast iron skillet until medium/medium rare. No marinades, nothing fancy. That is, until now.

Teriyaki Makes for a Good Marinade

I like to marinade steaks every now and then, but usually buying a pre-made marinade and letting that do the job. Since its always fun to create your own recipes at home, I decided to work on a marinade with teriyaki. After a few tweaks, I made a teriyaki marinade that became a hit in my house!

Ingredients used for the homemade teriyaki marinade.

For this teriyaki marinade, I used mostly items you may already have in your kitchen: soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion powder, brown sugar, and an orange. The last item, ginger root, you may need to get at your local grocery store.

Putting it Together

Putting the recipe together is pretty simple. First, get a gallon-sized plastic storage bag and open the top. Second, dump in the liquids, being a 1/2 cup of soy sauce (or low sodium soy sauce if you wish) and 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Next, put in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.

The last couple of ingredients, garlic and ginger, can be done in different ways. With the one clove of garlic, you can either mince it (you can buy a jar of already minced garlic for fairly cheap) or smash the clove and put it in that way. I say smash it so the juices inside the clove will come out into the marinade.

The ginger can be done with the ginger root by shaving off the skin (to throw away) and then dicing up about 1 or 1 1/2 teaspoons worth to put in the marinade. If you can’t find ginger root, or don’t want to take the time to shave it and dice it, then using 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger will suffice. Why the smaller amount of ground ginger? Because ground ginger is more concentrated in flavor than the fresh root itself.

Ingredients in the bag. To the fridge!

Now that the ingredients have been mixed in the bag, take your trimmed tri-tip and place it in the bag, seal it, and let it sit in the fridge for about six hours. The marinating process is more about adding flavor to the meat and six hours should be good enough for a thicker cut like this.

Cooking the Meat

Tri tip sliced against the grains.

When it comes to cooking the tri tip, I prefer a reverse sear. In a nutshell, this means slow cooking it first and then searing to finish it off. I like to give it some smoke flavor (usually hickory or pecan) at 225-250F until internal temp reaches about 128F, which takes roughly 60 to 75 minutes. Then I put it in a pan with avocado oil (great for high temp cooking), garlic butter, and rosemary and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side until internal temp reaches 135-140F. While I usually like my steaks medium rare, I like the tri tip on the line of medium rare/medium. Call me crazy, but the body wants what the body wants!

After the meat is done searing, put it on a cutting board and let rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing. This will let the meat juice up and have better flavor when you finally dig in. I also recommend slicing the meat against the grain to get a better bite. Tri-tip is unique in that the grains go different directions near the middle, so be on the lookout for that. I recommend studying the direction of the grains prior to cooking. The marbling in the meat will help guide you for later.

Keep in mind this teriyaki marinaded BBQ tri tip recipe isn’t exclusive to this cut of meat. Feel free to use it for other meats as you wish!

The Recipe!

Yield: 6 servings

Teriyaki Marinated BBQ Tri tip

Teriyaki Marinated BBQ Tri tip
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 7 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tri-tip roast
  • 1/2 Cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 clove garlic (smashed or minced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions

  1. Trim silver skin off of tri tip. Set aside.
  2. In a gallon-sized resealable bag, pour in soy sauce, Worcester sauce, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic, and ginger. Seal and mix. Open bag and put tri tip in. Seal bag, mix again and place in refrigerator for six hours.
  3. Preheat grill/smoker to 225F on indirect heat, using hickory wood for smoke flavor. Remove tri tip from bag and place meat directly on grill. Cook for 60-75 minutes or until internal meat temp reaches 128F.
  4. In a cast iron skillet, pour in avocado oil to cover inside of pan. Heat on a separate grill surface or burner at high heat. When desired heat is reached, place garlic butter and rosemary in pan right before cooking the meat.
  5. Sear meat for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and let rest on cutting board for 20-30 minutes on before slicing.

Notes

  1. This teriyaki marinade can be used for other meats as well, so no need to limit it to this tri tip recipe!
  2. If using ginger root instead of ground ginger, remember the ground ginger is much more concentrated. Up the ginger root to 1-1 1/2 teaspoons.
  3. Tri tip has two separate grains or direction the muscle fibers go. It's best to check the tri tip before cooking to see where the grains split directions. That way, you can better slice against the grain and have a better bite.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

5 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200 Total Fat: 10.5g Cholesterol: 79mg Sodium: 50mg Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Protein: 25g

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’.

BBQ Travels: Austin

Ever since I got into barbecuing, I’ve wanted to travel to central Texas. More specifically, Austin. It is widely considered one of the barbecue havens of the world. Some folks consider it to be Barbecue Mecca. Either way, I kept talking of going but did nothing about it. That is, until one day I was hanging out with a couple of friends at work who also barbecue and I brought up this trip. We were sitting at our desks at work when one started looking up flights and the other checked hotels/AirBnB and the next thing I knew, we were headed to Austin!

Landing in Austin.

We landed in the late afternoon and we were starving. We had a few places in mind to hit up and first was to drive outside of Austin and go to Driftwood to visit the famous Salt Lick.

SALT LICK (Driftwood)

This place is out of the way and sits on acres of land. It’s pretty much a ranch about 20-30 minutes outside of Austin. You pull up into a big gravel parking lot that has no problem filling up, especially on a Friday night. Between the two indoor dining areas (old side and new), there is an outdoor seating place with benches and a stage for live music. All in all, the place can seat 1,000 people at once!

They have outdoor areas on site for people to have picnics, playgrounds for kids to play on, grass to run around and plenty of trees to take shade on those hot Texas summer days. They also have enough outdoor space to hold events such as weddings.

We sat in the old building where there iconic indoor pit is located. The employees were kind enough to let us come behind the counter and take pictures. Just ask and they will let you back.

The iconic pit at the Salt Lick.

The seating, from what I observed, is mostly long wood benches. The walls are made of rock and cement with both normal ceiling fan lights and white Christmas lights draped throughout. This place holds true to their heritage and gives you an authentic experience.

The servers were friendly and fast with bringing out our food, even with it being a busy Friday night. My buddy Corey inquired about their sweet tea and a server named Dixon came and brought him a medium sized cup filled for a sample (not one of those tiny, smaller than Dixie kids cup types). He then asked about lemonade (to make an Arnold Palmer) and Dixon said they didn’t have any but that he would make him a fresh batch because “all I do is mix water, lemons, and sugar.” Excellent customer service!

We had brisket, pulled pork, sausage, Burnt Ends, pork rib, and turkey for meat. The sides were potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, pickles and onions. The potato salad stood out because they used their signature yellow sauce in the mix. It was divine and I don’t like potato salad that much.

Some of the food fare at Salt Lick (pictured: brisket, pulled pork, slaw, potato salad, and beans.

Have I mentioned the place smells like barbecue inside and out? This ambiance, food, and customer service made it feel like barbecue heaven. I would fly back to Austin just to come to Salt Lick!

FRANKLIN

Corey, Matt, and I at the front of Franklin Barbecue.

Us BBQ enthusiasts know all about Franklin Barbecue: the meats, the long lines, the reputation of Aaron Franklin himself. For those who aren’t familiar, Franklin Barbecue has quickly become the Mt. Everest of BBQ joints. It’s quality of barbecue, the limited,  four hour window of time it is open (11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Tues-Sun), downtown location, and coolness of the pit master himself all drive the demand and make people wait outside in long lines for hours for this stuff.

A portion of the line at Franklin Barbecue. The folks in the front of the line got here at 5:30 a.m.!

Being from out of town and connoisseurs of fine barbecue ourselves, we’ve been chomping at the bit to try this place. To ensure we had a chance of getting to eat here, we showed up at 7:30 a.m. and there were already over 100 people in line! The people at the front of the line said they got there at 5:30 a.m.! Remember, this place opens at 11:00. I felt good about our chances of eating here and that was confirmed when an employee came out and starting sizing up the line, giving estimates as to when we were anticipated to eat. Our spot in line was given a 1-1:30 p.m. window. That will make SIX HOURS of waiting! Man, this place better be worth it.

Most people in line were smart and planned ahead by bringing camping chairs and coolers full of drinks. We, the out-of-towners, brought comfy shoes to stand in. While we couldn’t magically produce chairs for our wait in line, if you need a drink there’s a little coffee shack on premise and the inside of Franklin Barbecue opens for beverage and souvenir sales at 8:30, so you can get your drinks and swag while you wait. There are also port-a-potty’s outside and you can use the bathrooms inside before lunchtime.

A little later in the morning the same worker came out to ask people in line what they planned on ordering so they could set expectations. We said brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, and sausage. She didn’t shoot us down, so I think we have a shot at getting all the stuff we want.

A view from the entrance at Franklin.

Our time in line was quite enjoyable due to the local folks waiting around us. We talked for hours about everything and even played card games with them. Maybe it’s that Texas hospitality, maybe the bond of barbecue, maybe both. Either way, the long wait wasn’t that bad.

Once we got inside the door, we had another 25 minutes to wait before our turn at the counter. You order your food and you get it right there. Then you pay and find a table. Wasn’t hard to find a table because some folks just took their food and left. The seven of us found a table just fine (we sat with the new friends we made in line).

After six hours, we made it to the ordering counter!

Here it is: the moment of truth! The years of hype, the 1,400 miles traveled, the six hours of waiting in line, and now we get to FINALLY sink our teeth into the glorious barbecue we’ve been hearing all about. Truth be told? It was worth it! The brisket was the best I’ve ever had, both the point and the flat! In fact, their flat beats out other BBQ joints’ point. The pulled pork was incredible, too. I also think this was the best I’ve tasted. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone style and very juicy. The turkey and sausage were okay. Same with the sides. But their key lime pie was excellent!

Our glorious spread of meats (and sides) at Franklin.

Turns out I have a follower on Instagram named Bin who works at Franklin Barbecue and even though he wasn’t working during lunch hours he alerted one of his fellow pit crew that I was there. Braun was kind enough to give me and my friends a tour behind the scenes! How cool is that?

They have three 1,000 gallon propane tanks that have all been repurposed as offset smokers. They are already working on the meats for the next day, so these bad boys keep pumping out that white oak smoke around the clock. Braun told us they do 72 briskets a day! Serving up that many briskets in a four hour window is insane (especially when you remember they sometimes run out sooner than that).

One of the three, 1,000 gallon propane tanks that have been repurposed as gargantuan smokers.

This had already been one of the greatest barbecue experiences of my life, but what made it even better was that I go to meet the man, the myth, the legend: Aaron Franklin!

Me with the legendary Aaron Franklin!

Aaron was very down to earth and easy to talk to. He’s a busy man but still makes time to come out from behind the scenes occasionally and chat up customers (and even agree to photo ops with fans who geek out like myself).

Was it worth waiting in line for six hours? Yes. Not sure how often I would do that, but you must experience the greatest brisket and pulled pork at least once in your life.

STILES SWITCH

My feast at Stiles Switch.

After hanging out on 6th St for a little bit, I convinced my friends we should eat barbecue again and this time try Stiles Switch for dinner. When we first pulled up, it was dark in the parking lot and didn’t seem well lit by the restaurant, either. There were plain, rusty metal doors labeled “ENTRANCE” and my buddy Corey said it looked like the entrance to a strip club. We were a bit skeptical going in, but the inside ambiance was the total opposite of outside. It was a lively, down home rustic feel with wood walls, some neon lights, and the aroma of smoked meats.

Corey chillin’ at the Stiles Switch.

The line wasn’t too bad and we got our food quickly. It is the same style as Franklin where they give you your food at the counter and pay there. My buddy and I decided to split a three-meat plate of brisket, ribs, and pulled pork…and a jalapeño sausage on the side. With two sides to choose from, the guy in front of us recommended one called corn casserole. We got that and the pinto beans w/ brisket.

The brisket was pretty solid and the ribs were the best I’ve had. The pulled pork was pretty good. While I appreciate the concept of the different flavor of sausage, it was a bit too spicy for me.

These may have been the best ribs I had in Austin.

The area where Stiles Switch really shines is their sides! That corn casserole was by far the best side I’ve had. Unlike the usual sides of potato salad, beans, and cole slaw, this corn casserole stands alone and had me scraping my plate for every last morsel I could find. My buddy Matt had the potato salad and he loved it. The pinto beans w/ brisket were pretty good, too.

That corn casserole was $$$

Unlike most BBQ joints that offer sauces that all look and taste somewhat similar, Stiles Switch goes out of their way to offer flavors unique from each other in style and appearance.The sauce they give you at the counter for dipping your food in is excellent. It’s a little runny, but pretty good flavor. They have a molasses sauce that was really good in small dosages. The mustard sauce was definitely mustard tasting. They had a peach habanero sauce that I wasn’t in the mood to try, but can appreciate that they were going for sauces that stand out from each other.

My buddies and I decided that Stiles Switch is a great place to go for an overall great barbecue meal.

BLACK’S BARBECUE (Lockhart)

Black’s is a classic in Texas. One of the originals.

While documenting this barbecue trip on Instagram, I received a lot of recommendations to head to Lockhart, TX which is about 30-40 minutes away. It’s a small Texas town with authentic, rustic charm and is known for its barbecue. There are more than a few barbecue places in this town and we decided to go to Black’s. We chose Black’s because it is the oldest barbecue joint in Texas and has quite the reputation. It’s in an old building on an old Main Street looking road, probably been there since they opened.

Behind the counter at Black’s.

You walk in and it feels like a barbecue dining establishment that hasn’t changed much over the years. They have the red checkered picnic cloth table tops but covered in old plastic (kinda like how your grandparents cover their furniture in plastic covers, you know?), stained wood walls with pictures of family and celebrities who’ve come by, and traditional country music blaring. I loved how authentic this place felt and almost felt like a true time warp to 30-40 years ago, but in a good way.

Not much has changed inside over the years.

As far as the food goes, the brisket was really good (which seems to be a common theme down here in central Texas). The ribs were okay, pork was good, and the chicken (I got white meat) was flavorful but a little dry. We only had one type of sauce on our table, which was good. The pecan pie was also good, not great. Sides were pretty good (potato salad, mac n cheese, beans, slaw). Overall, it might have been my least favorite barbecue place to eat in central Texas, but still better than most places that aren’t in central Texas.

Brisket and chicken are the main feature here on this two-meat plate.

To sum things up, this was a dream trip for me. Austin has a ton to offer and wish I could’ve stayed longer than three nights. Also wish we could’ve hit up more places because I received so many recommendations of other BBQ joints out here. For what I was able to experience, I hope I was able to give you all a glimpse of what barbecue is like in central Texas and the places we hit up. I love the passion they have for BBQ there. Til next time, Austin.

Going Viral on Instagram: is it a Good Thing?

Woke up the next morning to see this video at over 170,000 views!

I’ve had my @learningtosmoke account on Instagram for over two years now and have seen my share of highs and lows. I’ve had posts that have done really well and others that get overlooked, I’ve been trolled and praised, I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with some cool companies and critiqued on pretty much every aspect of BBQ that I can think of. And with one viral post, all of these things happened at once.

I recently posted a video of me showing how to properly slice a tri-tip. This isn’t the first tri-tip slicing video I’ve done. I have at least two or three others on my account and have seen some moderate success in views. On average, a good video (for me) will get about 10,000 views in the first 24 hours. Not bad, but still not getting the reach I hope for. The tri-tip video you see in the screen shot above was shared on 4/2/2018 ended up getting over 320,000 views in 24 hours! I was shocked. I don’t understand why this video, out of all of the videos I have posted up to this point, has far and away gained more attention than I could’ve imagined. It doesn’t make sense to me: I shared it on a Monday night. I wasn’t doing a giveaway. It wasn’t the first time sharing a tri-tip slicing video, either. No fancy cameras were used. No elaborate background or sound effects. Just me using my iPhone, a cutting board, knife, and of course, the meat.

The tri-tip was a big hit with my guests!

At first, I was thrilled. Seeing my work being viewed all around the IG barbecue world was a dream come true. I finally made a video that was getting a lot of attention. I was famous. Internet famous. Instagram famous. If only for a few minutes. I felt on top of the world, but then I learned that there are two sides to fame. I was getting a lot of positive comments from friends and followers and seeing my new followers grow more in 24 hours than I typically see in two weeks. It seemed unreal! And then, the ugly side of social media reared it’s head.

As the video went viral, it continued to expand its reach to more and more Instagrammers. And when a post goes viral, the trolls come to pay a visit. After my followers within the BBQ community had made their encouraging comments and moved on, others started coming in and critiquing every little thing I was doing. It seemed like the negative comments were pouring in one after another. I was being trolled by vegans and carnivores alike. I way overcooked it. I didn’t cook it long enough. I should’ve used a Japanese style knife to cut meat and not the European one I had used. I used the fork wrong. I shouldn’t have used a fork at all. Meat is murder. I’m going to get cancer from eating meat. I shouldn’t use a wood cutting board for meat. It felt like every little move I had made in the video was getting scrutinized. I ended up deleting some comments and blocking a few people (which I maybe block one person a year). After being proud of the video, I was now growing frustrated with it. I actually debated whether or not to delete it. I love to engage with my followers and strive to reply to every comment. In this case, I didn’t feel like I had to justify everything I did to every negative commenter, nor should I have to. The video is what it is and I’m proud of it so I have kept it up.

Apparently this was way over cooked to some folks. 

I try to be a positive person and created my website and social media pages to encourage and help others not feel inadequate in their barbecue journey. But the incessant trolling on my page was making me wish I could kick a comment in the nuts. But that isn’t me. If I let them get to me, then I become like them. I would lose my identity I have worked hard to create and they win.

A summary of the attention this video was getting.

The reason I share this with you is because most of us using social media strive to have our posts be recognized by others and we hope our hard work reaches the masses, but we sometimes overlook the downside of going viral. Just remember that its you who is in control of how you react. Keep working hard for your success and don’t let the haters discourage you from you goals. Remember (again): haters gonna hate while winners keep winning.

BBQ Essentials List

Now that I’ve been barbecuing religiously for a while, I’ve experimented with a variety of tools and accessories to make this craft more enjoyable and the end product more gooder better. There are always the variety of rubs and various cuts of meat, but this list is focused on the non-edible items (hence, the “tools and accessories” reference in my last sentence).

Without further ado, I present to you this list of BBQ Essentials that, in my opinion, are must have’s for barbecuing.

Nitrile Gloves

Nitrile gloves in action! Sorta.

If you’ve been following me on social media (namely Instagram) at @learningtosmoke you will notice me handling food while wearing thin, black gloves. These nitrile gloves are powder free and have three times the puncture resistance of latex. They are also ambidextrous and disposable. I like using them when prepping meat (especially poultry) to keep raw meat juices from getting on my hands, rub and other items from getting under my fingernails, and I don’t have to wash my hands as much. I typically go through two or three pairs with each smoke I do.

You can find these nitrile gloves HERE (NOTE: they offer other colors besides black)

Thermoworks Smoke

The Smoke in action.

If you don’t already have a digital thermometer, I highly advise you buy one. Like, right now. While I swear by the suite of Thermoworks products, the one I want to highlight for this list is the Smoke. I actually did a product review on this at the beginning of 2017. The Smoke is made specifically for BBQers like us (that’s you and me). It has a dual probe thermometer for BBQ that monitors both the temperature of the food and the pit. You can also set alarms to go off when temps either exceed or fall below your specifications. The Smoke comes with a wireless receiver that has Bluetooth and, as of recently, now offers a Smoke Gateway (aka Wi-Fi adapter) to improve the range to wherever you go (sold separately). I’ve had mine for a year now and still use it often!

Check it out by clicking here. You can also click on my banner ad at the top of the page.

Wireless Grill Brush

A wireless grill brush will make sure no unwanted wires get into your food.

Keeping a clean grill is important so flakes of burnt crust from previous cooks don’t stick to your food. While it is quite common to use the traditional wired brushes, I’ve been hearing stories of the metal wires coming off, sticking to the grill, getting into someone’s food, and causing intestinal pain because the metal wire is poking their insides. Don’t believe me? Here is a CBS News article speaking to it. With that said, I prefer wireless brushes. They don’t scrape as powerful, but the cleaning is much easier on a warm grill. These wireless grill brushes can also be used on porcelain grates for those using pellet grills.

Find yourself a wireless grill brush HERE

Large Cut Meat & Fish Spatula

This spatula is large and can handle some weight.

I saw someone else using this on social media and knew I had to have one. I have not been disappointed. This spatula is efficient in size and strong enough to hold the weight of meats such as whole chickens, large steaks, pork shoulder, and filets of fish.

Buy this spatula by clicking HERE

Well-insulated Cooler

Built tough and well-insulated…and made in the USA!

If you spend way too much time following barbecue enthusiasts on social media like I do, you will begin to see folks using some heavy duty coolers. They do this because they keep drinks (and other items) cold for days, and can also double as a place to keep food warm for hours. I mainly use my coolers for keeping barbecue warm and have kept it that way for hours, so I don’t have to worry about being finished to soon before I need to serve it. I use Pelican coolers because they do an excellent job at the previously stated activities, but are built tough, made in the USA, and come with a lifetime warranty.

Get the best deals on that Pelican cooler HERE

Boning Knife

This 6” boning knife gets used a lot!

As you become more familiar with prepping the various meats you smoke, you’ll learn more about the importance of trimming them. In my experience, a boning knife works best. A more narrow blade that curves at the tip to help get more precise slicing done. They also tend to be quite sharp, which is helpful when trimming off that annoying silverskin. I picked one up at my local BBQ shop for about $20 and have considered it a great investment.

You can pick one up HERE

Pink Butcher Paper

Wrapping in pink (or peach) butcher paper helps meat develop bark while accelerating the cooking process.

Explaining why I prefer pink butcher paper over foil 95% of the time is worthy of it’s own blog post. But to summarize, wrapping meats in butcher paper while still in the smoking process allows the air to flow through while still holding in heat. This way, you develop a better bark on the meat and it doesn’t turn out soggy like with foil, which creates steam inside. It also is great for food presentation. I like to use it as a liner on a tray when serving up the sliced/shredded product. Try it once and you’ll be hooked!

Get a roll of your own HERE

Headlamp

Shine a spotlight wherever you look during those late night/early morning barbecue sessions.

Why on Earth would I choose a headlamp as something essential to BBQ? Because when you do longer smokes for brisket or pulled pork, for example, you are likely tending the smoker early in the morning and even late at night (and sometimes through the night). Using a headlamp, like the Pelican 2740 that I use, makes seeing things a whole lot easier. And with it being darker sooner (and longer) in the wintertime, I see the headlamp as a must.

Check out the headlamps HERE

High-temp Gloves

This coal is on fire…but my hand is not.

Being around the grill means you are dealing with coals, hot grill surfaces, and large pieces of meat at temps of upward to 203F. Unless you are the Terminator, then I recommend getting yourself some high-temperature gloves. I have been using Dragon Knuckle gloves for this past year and they have saved me many times! Using a ceramic grill with a deflector plate underneath the grill for low and slow cooking, I remove the plates so I can get the grill up to searing temps to finish off my cook, known as the reverse sear. I don’t feel a thing with these gloves on when I remove the plates. I’ve handled burning coals in them and have been protected, too. These things protect your hands from heat past 500F! Although don’t hold on for too long, for you will begin to feel the heat eventually. (NOTE: I don’t recommend pouring hot liquid on these things for they are not water/liquid resistant)

Get yourself some Dragon Knuckle gloves HERE

 

There you have it! Stay tuned for other products I have tested and recommend!