Another year, another list of must-haves when working the grill. I’ve compiled another list of some of my favorite things I personally love using.
CAMP CHEF WOODWIND WiFi GRILL
I was fortunate to get my hands on one of these Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi grills and I have loved using it! Most pellet grills are using WiFi capabilities now and Camp Chef has joined the ranks. The WiFi controller has a nice color display and even a protective cover to keep it from getting scratched, rained on, breathed on wrong, etc. Not only can you control temps, but also the level of smoke flavor you impart, too. The ash can below the grill where the auger is makes for very quick cleaning without having to remove all the parts from inside the grill to get to it like you do with other pellet grills. The Camp Chef app is simple, yet very well done. Easy to control and monitor temps while away from the grill.
Ever since I jumped headfirst into the world of barbecue, I learned quickly that a quick, accurate digital thermometer is a must. With super fast readings in only 2-3 seconds, I use the Thermapen Mk4 for EVERYTHING that I cook. Every. Single. Time. I swear by it and even though I’ve had my first one for over three years now, it still works like a charm. Haven’t even needed to change the batteries in it yet. I’ve become a fan boy of the Thermapen Mk4. I’ve been collecting other colors in the rainbow. Find your favorite color on the Thermoworks website!
GRILL TORCH by JJGEORGE
When I’m cooking with coals, my favorite way to get them lit is by using this grill torch from JJGeorge. Using it is simple: attach the torch to a small can of propane, turn the knob on the torch to crank up the gas, then press the ignite button and now you have fire! Coals light up quicker and who doesn’t love holding a stick that blows fire? Check it out on Amazon.
DALSTRONG 10″ KNIFE
Whenever I use this knife in my pictures and videos on social media, it grabs people’s attention. I think some lose focus on the meat and are mesmerized by the look of this Japanese super steel blade with 66 layers of folded steel, the rock-hollow divots, and curved blade near the tip. This sharp knife is technically known as the Shogun Series 10″ Butcher’s Breaking Cimitar Knife, but I call it my little machete. I love using it for larger cuts, such as brisket, ham, turkey, or even for showing off while cutting steaks. Strong enough for cutting through cartilage and precise enough for trimming fat. Oh, and the handle forms to my hand so well. Wow your friends and family with one of your own!
I have featured nitrile gloves in other BBQ Essentials lists before, but I’m constantly asked what type of gloves I’m using that it bears repeating. Nitrile gloves are great for handling food to prevent the spread of bacteria and you don’t have to wash your hands 12,000 times while prepping and cooking food (I may have exaggerated a little on the handwashing, but still). I prefer to use the nitrile gloves from Gloveworks HD.
LARGE CUTTING BOARD
When prepping and slicing larger cuts of meat such as turkey or brisket, having a larger surface to prep and finish on is super convenient. Having grooves in the board to catch juices is important, too. There are many good cutting boards out there, but I have chosen this Camp Chef Professional Bamboo Cutting Board because of how deep the grooves are and the little pocket in one of the corners to hold even more excess juices. This board is HUGE, measuring at dimensions of 26.5 x 17.25 x 1.33. I have used this one for over a year and it has held up very well. This board is actually a perfect fit for this patio cart, too.
LOOKING FOR MORE BBQ ESSENTIALS?
Well, you’re in luck! Check these other posts for more of my favorite tools in BBQ:
In the world of grilling, pork chops don’t get enough love as they should. They tend to be upstaged by beef cuts such as ribeye, New York strip, and filets. But pork chops do have some things going for them: they’re leaner cuts, they’re usually cheaper, and when cooked right, pack some incredible flavor. This smoked and seared honey garlic pork chop recipe will have you grilling pork more often.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
To prep these smoked and seared honey garlic pork chops, you will need 2 lbs. of pork chops, a tablespoon of kosher salt, two teaspoons of black pepper and garlic powder, and one teaspoon of paprika. I like to apply kosher salt first and then mix the other ingredients and put on after. Make sure to apply on all sides, especially if you’re using king cut pork chops from Omaha Steaks like I did. These things are about two inches thick and weigh 16 oz. each! You’ll also need some garlic herb butter and honey near the end.
HOW TO COOK PORK CHOPS RIGHT
One of the problems some folks have with pork chops is that they turn out too dry and are tough to chew. This is because the pork chops are cooked too long. Some consider pork to be done at the same temps as chicken, meaning that at 165 degrees the meat is fully cooked and safe to eat.
According to the National Pork Board, pork can be cooked to 145 degrees, which is good for medium rare. This is very important when cooking pork chops, especially. This leaner cut will be more juicy and tender to the bite when cooked to 145 degrees.
SMOKING AND SEARING THE HONEY GARLIC PORK CHOPS
Before you prep the pork chops with the seasonings, make sure to get your grill up to 275 degrees on indirect heat. When it comes to pork, I like to use either hickory or pecan wood/pellets. Prepping the pork chops should be fairly quick, so make good use of the time while you wait for the grill to get up to the desired temp.
Once the grill is at 275 degrees, put the pork chops on and keep there until internal meat temps reach 135. The length of time the pork chops are on there will depend on their thickness. Since the pork chops I cooked with are two inches thick, it took me about an hour to reach that temp. But I find it is more important to measure according to temp rather than time. Make sure to get yourself a reliable digital thermometer, like the Thermapen from Thermoworks.
As the pork chops are getting close to the 135 degree temp, get a skillet on separate grill or burner up to searing temps, which start after 500 degrees. That way, the skillet will be hot and ready when it’s time to put the pork chops on. But right before you put the pork chops on, get your garlic herb butter and mix it around the skillet first.
Then put the pork chops on there, flipping after a minute. Depending on the thickness of the pork chops, get some of that sear on the sides, too. Pull off the skillet and place on a cutting board to rest. You should have reached the desired 145 temp at this point. While it is resting, drizzle honey on the pork chops and let it rest in while the meat is resting/carryover cooking. Give it about 15 minutes before slicing. Now your smoked and seared honey garlic pork chops are ready!
Smoked & Seared Honey Garlic Pork Chops
With a kiss of smoke flavor and the sizzle of a cast iron sear, pork chops become the main event for your dish. Season and sear with a little garlic flavor, then drizzle some honey on top, and you've got yourself some epic pork chops!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Additional Time10 minutes
Total Time1 hour15 minutes
2 lbs pork chops
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 Tablespoons garlic butter
1 Tablespoon honey
Preheat grill to 275 degrees on indirect heat. Season pork chops by applying kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika on all sides.
Place pork chops on grill and cook for an hour or until internal meat temps reach 135 degrees (meat will cook more when searing). When meat approaches this temp, get a cast iron skillet up to searing temps.
Put garlic butter into cast iron skillet right before placing in the pork chops. Sear on each side for about a minute. Remove when pork reaches internal temp of 145 degrees. Drizzle honey on each side while meat rests for 10-15 minutes. Slice and enjoy!
Pork chops are done when meat reaches 145 degrees, which is good enough for medium doneness.
8 oz Amount Per Serving:Calories: 350Total Fat: 165gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 150mgSodium: 95mgCarbohydrates: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 40g
NOTE: Nutrition information isn't always accurate.
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?
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
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
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.
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.
Yield: 20 servings
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 Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
1 top sirloin cap (about four pounds)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
Preheat grill. Set up rotisserie attachment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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 Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour15 minutes
Additional Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour40 minutes
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
Preheat grill to 225F on indirect heat with either hickory or oak wood
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.
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.
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.
6 oz Amount Per Serving:Calories: 460Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 42g
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?
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.
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!
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!
Yield: 8-10 servings
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 Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
4 ears of corn
1/2 onion, julienne
1- 8oz cream cheese, softened
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
Shave ears of corn, dice jalapeño, and slice half an onion julienne. Put these ingredients in a skillet and sauté. Set aside.
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.
Pour mixture into greased cast iron dutch oven and cook on grill over indirect heat at 325F uncovered for 30-40 minutes.
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.
6 oz Amount Per Serving:Calories: 260Total Fat: 170gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 477mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 9g
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
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 Time25 minutes
Cook Time5 hours
Total Time5 hours25 minutes
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
25-30 corn tortillas, warmed
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, diced
1 jar green tomatillo salsa
Saute onion, jalapeno, and garlic in cast iron skillet. Set aside.
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.
Divide chuck roast into 6-8 pieces, season, and sear pieces in cast iron skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side
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.
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.
Chuck roast was used for this recipe. To go more authentic, substitute beef cheek.
To make more spicy, either add more jalapeno or substitute serrano pepper.
2 street tacos Amount Per Serving:Calories: 251Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5.9gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2.3gSugar: 2gProtein: 22g
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
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.
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!
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 Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check noodles after 15-20 minutes to make sure they don't dry out.
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.
1 Cup Amount Per Serving:Calories: 425Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 675mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 10g
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!
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.
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
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!
Yield: 6 servings
Teriyaki Marinated BBQ Tri tip
Prep Time6 hours
Cook Time1 hour30 minutes
Additional Time20 minutes
Total Time7 hours50 minutes
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
Trim silver skin off of tri tip. Set aside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This teriyaki marinade can be used for other meats as well, so no need to limit it to this tri tip recipe!
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.
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.
5 oz Amount Per Serving:Calories: 200Total Fat: 10.5gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 50mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gProtein: 25g
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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!
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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!
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.