Grilling & Smoking Feed

Grilling Basics - Grilling Good Eats

By Mike Thayer

How much charcoal should I use? How long does charcoal stay hot? What kind of grill should I buy? Which is better, gas or charcoal? Do I put the lid on or leave it off? Are those wood pellets any good? These are all great questions. Whether you’re new to grilling or are looking to expand on your grilling expertise, you’re reading the right resource.  The answers are here.

I take great pleasure in grilling good eats!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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Product Review: Kingsford Onion, Garlic & Paprika Flavored Charcoal

Kingsford Garlic Onion Paprika flavored charcoal
How much garlic, onion & paprika flavor will this deliver?

By Mike Thayer

Make no mistake, I am a charcoal enthusiast.  In my humble opinion, for a grilled meal, you can't beat charcoal and a Weber Kettle. 

I do like to throw some added flavor through wood in combination with the charcoal, chunks of pecan wood to do up some brats, chunks of a fruit wood for pork or chunks of oak for beef.  It all depends on what you're grilling or smoking.  The key is creating layers of flavor.

I recently did a review of Kingsford's Cumin Chili Flavored Charcoal and I really like it. I have to admit that I was initially skeptical of 'spice flavored smoke,' thinking, "How much spice flavor will that actually crank out?" and "Isn't that what spices, rubs and marinades are for?  Talk about lazy grilling...." 

I lost all skepticism I had for 'spice flavored smoke' when I dumped the chimney of that Cumin Chili charcoal.  You can smell all those spice notes, it's like I was already grilling something and I hadn't even put any food on the grill yet!  The aroma of the cumin and chili was enticing and it did indeed help create depth of flavor in the chicken I fired up that day.

So today, I'm reviewing Kingsford Onion, Garlic & Paprika Flavored Charcoal.

Here is the description pulled from the Kingsford website:

Garlic Onion Paprika:  "Savory, caramelized flavor featuring an earthy base of garlic paired with the mildly sweet notes of onion and warmth of paprika."  The flavored briquettes are hickory based.

Bacon cheddar brats, bacon wrapped hot dogs, bacon wrapped Kielbasa
It's a celebration of bacon!

In testing how much flavor this charcoal delivers, I did a "Celebration of Bacon," grilling up bacon cheddar brats, bacon wrapped hot dogs and bacon wrapped Kielbasa.  You can't beat a brat done right on the grill and everything is better with bacon!  I used to do beer brats, then I experimented with wine and doing brats in those ways are tasty, but my favorite way to do brats is to just let them pick up the smoke flavor over indirect heat and my go-to wood for brats is pecan.

How did the Garlic Onion & Paprika charcoal do?

I continue to be a fan of the Kingsford line of 'spice flavored smoke.'  All of the meats I prepared on the Weber were delicious, complimented with those notes of garlic, onion and paprika.  And complimented is a key word, it's not overpowering smoke, it lets the deliciousness of the meat shine!  The brats had that nice crisp, snap of a bite when puncturing the skin, the sausage inside was juicy and there was that nice smoky spice flavor throughout.   The dawgs, Kielbasa and bacon was all good too, but those brats were the best.

Kingsford Flavored Charcoal
In the bag, traditional Kingsford briquettes and 'Signature Flavor' briquettes

Costing me $13.99 for an 12 pound bag, I'm giving Kingsford Onion, Garlic & Paprika Flavored Charcoal 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's reasonably priced and most definitely delivers another layer of flavor on whatever you're grilling!  This charcoal is certainly a repeat buy and I can't wait to try the Basil, Sage & Thyme flavor!  Marinade and/or dry rub (on this day it was bacon & black pepper)+ Kingsford Flavored Charcoal = Another Dose of YUM!

5 stars

 

I take great pleasure in grilling good eats!

~ Mike Thayer

Related:  Product Review: Kingsford Cumin Chili Flavored Charcoal - Grillinggoodeats.com

A bacon cheddar brat
The brats really picked up the flavored smoke
brat
A juicy brat, with a nice smoky bite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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The many uses for Tzatziki Sauce

By Mike Thayer

Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki on a burgerTzatziki isn't just for gyros....   The sauce is actually a fantastic change of pace addition to any grilled meat or fish.  Use it as a topping on a burger, put a generous dollop on salmon, serve it on the side with kabobs.  It's also excellent used as a veggie dip, salad dressing, put it on a pork rind, a lettuce wrap sandwich and more.  You can pretty much substitute Tzatziki sauce for anything you might use mayonnaise on and with only about two carbs per two Tablespoon serving that makes it Carb-Check Diet friendly!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 an English cucumber, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One Tablespoon dried dill
  • One Tablespoon lemon juice (citric acid is a nice alternative)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix until thoroughly incorporated, cover and chill for about 30 minutes or until ready to use. 

Carb-Check Diet_smallNot only is Tzatziki delicious, versatile and easy to put together, it's cheap to make!   You can whip up a batch of Tzatziki for less than $5 and have plenty of leftover ingredients to make more, or create something else.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Grilling Good Eats: Give your steak the finger

Beef tempsGrilling Tip #10:  How do you know when your steak is done? Give it the finger. No, not the middle one, well, you can use that one if you want….. Poke the steak with your finger. If the meat is soft to the touch and doesn’t bounce back, it’s still pink inside. If it’s got some give but bounces back a bit, it’s medium. If it’s firm when poking, it’s well done.

Better yet, purchase a digital thermometer to check for the desired temp.  Remember, grilling isn't about how much time that steak has been on the on the grill (fires are like snowflakes - they're all different), it's about the temp.  Don't spend money on a beautiful steak, only to over-cook it on the grill.  That would be a disappointing meal.  In my Grill Master opinion, anything grilled to "Well Done" sucks, it's a waste of meat and money.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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No charcoal chimney necessary when using Tumbleweeds to fire up the grill

By Mike Thayer

You can start your charcoal several ways, you can use lighter fluid, you can buy those ‘Match Light’ briquettes, or you can do what I think is the best way to go (up to now) and that’s fire up your charcoal using a charcoal chimney. I don’t like lighter fluid for several reasons. I don’t like to store it, I don’t like running out, the smell can get on your hands and clothes, and inexperienced grillers tend to put too much on or start grilling over charcoals that aren’t really ready yet, giving your food that nasty fuel taste. Those ‘Match Light’ briquettes are OK, they’re very convenient, but they are more expensive and like the traditional charcoal/lighter fluid starting method, can put a fuel taste on your food if cooked over before the coals are really ready. Avoid the fuel taste risk completely and start your charcoal WITHOUT resorting to lighter fluid. 

I wrote an article awhile back about using Weber Lighter Cubes to start charcoal, a great product that eliminates the need for newspaper but is still a bit dependent on the use of a chimney.

TumbleweedEnter a game changer, Tumbleweeds, made by Royal Oak.  These things are great, so good in fact, they eliminate the need to use a charcoal chimney.  No more putting on the glove, no more handling a hot metal container, no more worries about some hot ash getting getting loose and hitting your foot causing a bit of pain because you're wearing sandals......

All you have to do when using Tumbleweeds is put a base layer of charcoal or chunks of your favorite wood in the grill (I like to use a basket in my grill), throw a Tumbleweed in, place a few more lumps, briquettes or chunks around it, light the Tumbleweed and let it do it's thing.  One 'weed' has about an 8-10 minute burn time and as that charcoal starts to gray, you can add more if desired.  This can all be done right where you wanted to dump the hot coals from a chimney, but no chimney is required!

Don't get me wrong, there's still the need to have a charcoal chimney on hand, especially for long cooks and adding additional coals to the fire.  But when first firing up the grill, a chimney isn't needed when using Tumbleweeds and they outperform Weber Lighter Cubes.

Tumbleweed litPlenty of room to throw some pecan wood chunks on top, no worries of putting out the Tumbleweed fire

For tips on how to use a charcoal chimney if you're not familiar with them, go to www.grillinggoodeats.com

Costing me about $4 for a box of 16 Tumbleweeds, that's 16 grilling events.  They can be used to start camp fires and outdoor fireplaces as well!  Very reasonably priced and outstanding at the task of starting that fire, I'm giving Royal Oak Tumbleweeds 5 out of 5 stars.

5 stars

Related:  Weber Lighter Cubes

Related:  Arranging Your Coals

 

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Enjoy this post?

Buy Me a Coffee

If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Grilling Good Eats: Lamb cuts and how to grill them

By Mike Thayer

Lamb cuts graphicIf you've never had lamb before, it's a MUST try! Lamb is the go-to meat in much of the Mediterranean. It's used there like beef is here in the states to make sandwiches, casseroles, entrees and sides. It's enjoyed as roasts, chops and you've probably heard of a 'Rack of Lamb' which is delicious! The meat presents a whole different flavor profile and it's outstanding! So if you're looking for something a little different to try, lamb is the ticket, no mint jelly required!

Becoming familiar with lamb cuts, their versatility and how butchers might label those cuts when packaging puts you on the path to becoming a Master Griller. So too does knowing which cuts can take direct heat and which ones are best grilled low and slow.

Let's start with cuts from the Neck which are inexpensive, but not really marketed and packaged as Neck meat by most butchers.  Neck meat is typically used to make Ground Lamb and Stew Meat, but if you've got a good relationship with your butcher, ask him to cut you some Neck Filets.  Meat from the Neck is a bit tough, so when grilling use the reverse sear method, low and slow on indirect heat until tender, then finish the Filets over direct heat to achieve those grill marks, pull the Filets when they hit the 135 degree mark and let them rest.  The Filets will continue to cook when resting and should peak a few more degrees to a perfect medium rare.

Shoulder cuts are an economical choice, as the meat here is a bit tougher, but still quite delicious!  Butchers will package and label cuts such as Shoulder Roast (bone-in), Rolled Shoulder Roast (boneless), Ground Lamb, Stew Meat and Shoulder Chops (also called blade or arm chops).  From the bone-in Shoulder Roast you can get a great meal of Pulled Lamb, rubbed with Rosemary, garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper and olive oil, then grilled low and slow over indirect heat until that meat falls away from the bone, about 4-5 hours depending on the weight of the roast.  Served on warm pita or flat bread, it's Another Dose of YUM!  Prepared with the same style of rub and a little white wine, the Shoulder Chops can be done over direct heat, searing them for those great grill marks then finishing them over indirect heat until that internal temp hits 135 degrees.

Meat from the Rack section of the animal are typically the most expensive, and that's because they are incredibly delicious and tender.  Rib Chops or Rib Cutlets are popular ways you'll see Rack cuts packaged but the most iconic is the Rack of Lamb, which is 8 chops together, uncut, about two pounds of meat.  You'll often see this packaged with a French Cut, where a few inches of meat is removed from the end of the bones which makes for more elegant, restaurant quality presentation.  All these cuts are excellent on the grill.  Single chops should be grilled over direct heat, seared to get those great grill marks, then finished over indirect heat until you reach your desired doneness.  A Rack should be done over indirect heat, roasting for about 30 minutes, then transferring over to the hot side of the grill, keeping the Rack over the flame just long enough to caramelize the outside edge of the meat on both sides.

One of the most readily available cuts from the Loin are Loin Chops, also known as T-Bone Chops.  These are tender, delicious 3 - 4 ounce chops with an attractive "T" shaped bone that runs through the meat. Season with your favorite dry rub, or marinate 4 to 6 hours, then grill over direct heat to desired temp.  I almost always go for the chops, they are simple to prepare and simply delicious!  Other Loin cuts you'll see at the meat counter are the Loin Roast and cubes for Kabobs.  KABOB TIP #1: Always put your meat and veggies for kabobs on separate skewers. A meat and veggie skewer combo looks great in the meat counter display case at the grocery store, but the fact is the veggies on the skewer cook through much faster than the meat. You want tender crisp veggies with a hint of charcoal flavor, not dried out, charred veggies to go with that lamb. KABOB TIP #2: Don’t overload the meat on the skewers, leave some space between the cubes. Meat that is packed too tightly won’t cook evenly, won’t look as nice when served and most importantly, won’t taste as good. Place your meat kabobs over hot coals to get a good sear, lid off. Turn a quarter turn after about two minutes, repeat through four rotations giving you a medium rare kabob. Place your veggie kabobs on the grill after the meat kabobs are cooked halfway through. Serve together with rice pilaf and warm pita bread.  It's another dose of YUM!

A bone-in Leg of Lamb makes for an impressive presentation, a cut that's perfect for any holiday celebration or entertaining a big group.  A boneless leg, a.k.a. a BRT, or Boneless Rolled, is one the most versatile cuts of lamb and perhaps the leanest because it's a hard working muscle.   With leg cuts you can grill them whole bone-in or boneless, you can trim some to make kabob meat, divide into individual chops or make smaller roasts.  Chops, smaller boneless roasts and steaks from this cut are typically packaged with labeling such as Sirloin Chops, Sirloin Roast, Rump Roast, Center Leg Roast, or Leg Steak, a.k.a. Lamb Steak.  These are more value-oriented cuts than the prized rib and loin chops and roasts but can be just as delicious with proper preparation.  A whole boneless Leg of Lamb typically weighs 7-8 pounds so there will be plenty of ways you can enjoy this cut and as you've figured out by now, the larger cuts like roasts need to be grilled low and slow over indirect heat, while chops, steaks and kabobs can be seared over the flame for that great sear. 

Lamb Shanks come in both Foreshanks and Hindshanks but aren't exactly grill friendly.   Don't get me wrong, they're absolutely delicious cuts and the meat practically melts off the bone when they are slow cooked, but that's very tough to do on the dry heat of the grill.  A value cut, shanks are big on flavor but do best simmering in a broth.  Break out the cast iron pot and make a stew. 

From the Breast section you get one of the most inexpensive cuts of lamb, Lamb Spareribs, a.k.a., Denver Ribs which are perfect for grilling and rival baby back pork ribs dressed in your favorite BBQ rub or sauce.  Meat from this area of the animal is also used to make Ground Lamb.

Meat from the Flank can be tough and is typically made into Ground Lamb.  Hello Lamburgers!  Try the following recipes, The Mediterranean Burger and Gyro Sliders!

So in becoming familiar with lamb cuts, Shoulder cuts are the most economical choice for the grill, you can't go wrong with Loin Chops for any meal and cuts from the Rack and Leg will be crowd pleasers.   If you haven't tried lamb before, you're missing out!  Go pick up a package of chops and grill yourself up a nice meal.  You'll be saying, "I wish I would have bought more lamb!" with the first bite.

And don't forget, anything grilled to "Well Done" sucks, it's a waste of meat and money.


Grilling Good Eats: Pork cuts and how to grill them

By Mike Thayer

Pork Cuts graphic 3Pork is under-eaten and that’s a grill crime. Sure, ribs are popular, but there are so many other cuts of pork that a lot of folks just don’t consider but should. Ribs are fantastic, but so are pork roasts, chops, blade steaks, loin kabobs and more. They’re all so darn tasty!

Becoming familiar with pork cuts, their versatility and how butchers might label those cuts when packaging puts you on the path to becoming a Master Griller. So too does knowing which cuts can take direct heat and which ones are best grilled low and slow.

There are pork cuts for every occasion, from casual dining to formal gatherings.  Let's start with the Boston Butt cuts.  I know what you're thinking, that's not a very glamorous name and as you can see from the diagram, it's actually the pork shoulder, not the butt.  So why the heck is it called a butt?  In the colonial days of New England, butchers would take the less prized cuts of pork like hams and shoulders and pack them into barrels for storage and transport. The barrels they put them in were called butts. The shoulder cut became a Boston specialty and soon came to be known in all of colonial New England as the "Boston Butt."  The Boston Butt, a.k.a., Pork Butt, a.k.a., Pork Shoulder, is usually packaged at the meat counter as is using the aforementioned names in 4 - 10 pound packages and boneless.  If you've ever had pulled pork, you were eating pork shoulder.  This is an inexpensive cut but packs a lot of flavor and embraces dry rubs, sauces and marinades very well.  But because it has a lot of fat and marbling (flavor), it needs a low and slow preparation.  When grilling, go low and slow over indirect heat and we're talking hours of cooking time, approximately 2 hours per pound at 225 degrees.  It's even better in a smoker!  And while a 5 pound Boston Butt is perhaps the most popular cut from this section, you'll also Pork Temp Chartsee Blade Steaks and bone in Shoulder Chops at your favorite meat counter.  Butchered off the shoulder blade and the fat trimmed, the steaks and chops can and should be grilled over direct heat.  These are generally cut on the thinner side and by the time you get those great diamond shaped grill marks on both sides, your pork is perfectly grilled to a nice medium rare, 145 degrees, the minimum safe temperature for pork.  Less common at the meat counter but also very delicious is Cottage Bacon, which is pork shoulder that is boned out, the cap of fat taken off, cured, pressed, and sliced thin.  It has a unique ham/bacon flavor profile and grilled Cottage Bacon sandwiches rock!  Just a minute or two on each side over direct heat is all it takes.

Behind the shoulder is the pork Loin which is the leanest and most tender part of the pig.  This is where the versatility of pork really shines.  Babyback Ribs (taken from the top of the rib cage along the backbone), Country Style Ribs (boneless strips of pork loin), Pork Rib Roast (a.k.a. Rack of Pork), Canadian Style Bacon, Loin Chops and Loin Roasts are cut from this area and in this section you'll find what BBQ competitors refer to as the "Money Meat," the Tenderloin.  Loin roast is sometimes confused with the tenderloin but the similarity is in name - loin - only.  The term 'roast' simply refers to a large cut of pork that is sold in pieces typically weighing between two and 10 pounds.  The Tenderloin is a smaller, long cut that usually weighs about a pound and when properly prepared is in my humble opinion THE most delicious cut of pork, tender indeed, it's aptly named and why you'll pay a bit more for it.  You'll often see these at the meat counter pre-packaged in a marinade.  Loin Roasts, while not as tender as the Tenderloin, are more economical but also very delicious when brined or dry rubbed and grilled over indirect heat.  Here's the versatility part, the boneless pork loin..... You can treat it like a roast, cut it into chops, slice it thin for grilled sandwiches or chunk it up for kabobs. It’s cheap, delicious and a bonus is its flavor diversity. It absorbs marinades/sauces well and works great with just about any chicken recipe. Try using pork loin instead of that chicken breast in your favorite chicken recipe, you’ll like it!  Just don't over-cook pork loin cuts, they tend to dry out quickly.  The Pork Rib Roast can be a real show stopper and a Pork Crown Roast, where the Rack of Pork is turned into a circle and tied is perfect for an elegant setting.

Ham is the polite reference to the hind legs and yes, butt of a pig.  Hams can be wet-cured, dry-cured, spiraled and/or smoked.  There's bone-in hams and boneless hams, they come fully-cooked, partially cooked, uncooked and even boiled.  A Whole Ham includes both the butt and shank cuts of the leg and can weigh 10 to 20 pounds.  If you don't want a Whole Ham and that much meat, you have a few options.  A Butt End Ham is the upper cut of the hog's hind leg and a Shank End Ham is the lower cut of the hog's hind leg.  There's also the Center Ham Slice, a.k.a. the Ham Steak.  The Butt End has more meat but is also fattier and tougher to carve than the Shank End.  Some consider the Shank End portion to have a sweeter flavor.  When it comes to grilling, I go with the fully cooked varieties.  With fully cooked hams, there are no temperature concerns and all I have to worry about is enhancing some already incredible flavor that a good ham provides.  Ham Steaks, a little olive oil and your favorite dry rub turn out great grilled over direct heat, getting those great grill marks, about 2 - 3 minutes per side.  For Whole or End Cut hams, the low and slow approach is the way to go.  This is where you can really doctor the flavor profile up with citrus juice, apple juice, brown sugar, cloves or whatever else trips your trigger.  Cooking time is about 15 - 20 minutes per pound at about 250 degrees. Basting or spraying your ham is a must, they can dry out otherwise and if you are going to glaze or sugar your ham, wait until the last 30 minutes of cooking time to do so.  Sugar and/or glazes tend to get bitter if applied too soon. 

Bacon isn't just for breakfast anymore and who DOESN'T love bacon?  The Bacon we all know and love comes from the belly of the pig, to be specific, Bacon is simply the name for cured, salted or smoked pork belly that is then sliced or cut in a slab.  Everything is better with bacon and just about any entree dish out there has some kind of version with bacon in it.  Grilled bacon is awesome, enhancing that smoky flavor.  You can't walk away when grilling it though or you'll get high flames and burnt bacon.  Start out grilling your bacon over indirect heat dressing it with some fresh ground black pepper, then put it over the flames to crisp it up just before serving.  Pork Belly itself is becoming more popular these days in its fresh form.  When grilling, it's a low and slow cook over indirect heat with a 1.5 pound pork belly taking about an hour to become Grilled Good Eats!  This cut takes on Asian flavors quite nicely!

Spareribs come from the upper belly of the hog and are known for their delicious, bold pork flavor.  These ribs are larger and heavier than Babybacks and they have better flavor because they have a higher fat content.  When Spareribs are cut and squared up with the sternum bone, cartilage and rib tips removed creating a nice, rectangular-shaped rack, they turn into St. Louis Style Ribs, the preferred ribs for competitive BBQ on the Kansas City Barbecue Society Circuit.  Ribs deserve a low and slow preparation and it's all about the dry rub.  You can find an excellent dry rub off the shelf to your liking at your local grocery store, but know that doing ribs right is an art form and can take years of practice to perfect, getting the rub, spritz, cook time and sauce just right.  Talk about having fun trying!

You'll see pork products from the Picnic section of the pig labeled as Arm Roast, Picnic Shoulder Roast, Arm Steak or Picnic Ham (which isn't really a ham, it's a roast)Cuts from this section are less expensive than Butt cuts, they're a bit tougher and not as well marbled, but can be used interchangeably in many recipes calling for pork roast and BBQ.  Roasts from this area require low and slow grilling and are better served sliced than they are pulled or shredded.   This section of the pig is also often used in the making of ground pork.

The pork Jowl, a.k.a., cheek meat is delicious, but unless you live in the south, it's not readily available and marketed in other areas of the country.  Most people that know and understand Jowl meat fry it up like bacon.  Ask your local mom & pop butcher if he'll package some up for you.  Treating it like bacon, it's excellent on the grill, starting off low and slow over indirect heat and finishing hot over the flames to crisp up the edges.

So in becoming familiar with pork cuts, know that pork is an excellent and easier-on-the-wallet alternative to the high price of beef and the bonus is you can use pork in almost any kind of chicken dish.   The price for pork is most often driven by what's the most lean and tender, the loin section cuts overall being the most expensive and then there's what's currently popular, especially around the holidays, like a Christmas ham.  If you're wanting to get the most bang for your buck, go with boneless pork loin and do your own butchering.  If you're looking for a crowd pleaser for a party that won't break the bank, go with a Pork Crown Roast.  If you really want to stick to a budget but crave pork, then Picnic cuts are your friend.

And don't forget, anything grilled to "Well Done" sucks, it's a waste of meat and money.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

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If you appreciate the article you just read and want to support more great content on BachelorontheCheap.com, you can help keep this site going with a one-time or a monthly donation.  Thank you so much for your support! ~ Mike

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Grilling Good Eats: Beef cuts and how to grill them

By Mike Thayer

Beef Cuts GraphicBecoming familiar with beef cuts, knowing where on the cow that steak or roast comes from and how butchers might label those cuts when packaging puts you on the path to becoming a Master Griller.  So too does knowing which cuts are tender and don't need much preparation before grilling and which cuts are tougher and need a marinade to soften them up.  Going beyond the basics in really knowing your beef helps you determine if you'll be grilling over direct heat for a good sear or grilling over indirect heat for low and slow deliciousness.

Let's start with "Chuck," a.k.a., beef shoulder.  From here you get cuts and package labeling like Chuck Roast, Arm Roast, Blade Roast, Chuck Steak, Blade Steak, Charcoal Steak and Flat Iron Steak*.  Chuck cuts are tougher cuts of meat (the shoulder muscles work hard) and for that reason are also less expensive than other cuts.  Chuck has great base flavor but needs a good marinade to help soften things up before grilling and these cuts do best over indirect heat, low and slow or in the case of the Flat Iron, a reverse sear (*starting off by grilling over indirect heat, then finishing the steak hot, over direct heat).  Don't over cook!  Grill to a nice medium-rare to medium.  Anything over medium starts to become rubbery, tougher to chew and you've essentially grilled out the flavor.  Nobody likes a chewy, dry piece of meat!  Oh, and scraps from this part of the animal are used to make Ground Chuck, now you know what part of the cow that comes from.  Ground Chuck is excellent for grilled cheeseburgers, better than regular ground beef - more flavor!

Beef temp graphicRib cuts include meats and package labeling such as Standing Rib Roast (a.k.a. Prime Rib), Rolled Rib Roast (boneless and wrapped in butcher's twine) and my personal favorite, Rib Eye Steaks!  These are tender cuts and have a lot of marbling, a.k.a., FLAVOR.  Being tender and full of flavor, they're also more expensive.  In my humble opinion, these cuts do NOT need much doctoring help at all in prepping for the grill.  When I do Rib Eye steaks, it's just salt and pepper - let that meat sing!   Grill over direct heat to get that good sear and those great grill marks, then move to indirect heat to finish cooking to desired temp. And for the record, anything grilled to "Well Done" sucks, a waste of meat and money.

Plate cuts are actually the lower part of the ribs.  From here you get Short Ribs and Skirt Steak.  These are tougher cuts but they pack A LOT of flavor!  A good marinade softens them up but the grilling approach is different for each.  Go low and slow with the Ribs, away from the flame.  The Skirt Steak, which is actually the cow’s diaphragm muscle, can take the heat.  It's a thin cut, sear it on both sides over high heat, but it's GOT to have marinade or dry rub on it for at least four hours prior to grilling. Fun Fact:  Skirt Steak is most commonly used for fajitas.

From the Short Loin area you get some great steaks!  Bone-in Club Steak, New York Strip Steak (Boneless and fat trimmed), Kansas City Strip Steak (Bone attached with a thin strip of fat) and if the tenderloin is included in the butchering you get T-Bone and Porterhouse Steaks.  All these steaks are excellent on the grill.  I like to prepare these cuts by applying my favorite steak rub before grilling.  T-Bone and Porterhouse grilling tip:  With these steaks you're getting two types of meat - a strip steak on one side of the bone (the bigger piece of meat) and tenderloin on the other (the smaller piece of meat and more tender).  Always keep the strip steak side of the T-Bone or Porterhouse pointed to the flame.  The tenderloin side cooks faster and doesn't need near as much direct heat.  A reverse sear preparation is best for these steaks.

The full Sirloin part of the cow runs from the 13th rib, back to the hip bone and is sub-divided into Top Sirloin and Bottom Sirloin sections.  From the Top Sirloin you get, you guessed it, Sirloin Steaks!  A nice steak, but a leaner steak and so it needs some fat help.  With a little olive oil, some salt and pepper or your favorite rub, Sirloin Steaks are excellent on the grill over direct heat.  The Tenderloin is where Filet Mignon comes from, the most tender cut of beef - the very pointy end of the Tenderloin.  Like the sirloin, it's a lean cut and needs some fat help, that's why you often see bacon wrapped around these beauties.  A reverse sear method of grilling is best.  Grill over indirect heat until about 10 degrees short of your desired heat and then sear it over direct heat and crisp up that bacon to finish.  Center Cut Roasts are also taken from the Tenderloin, the name speaks for itself and because they're so tender and lean they also come with a higher price.  To grill, it's low and slow, use a drip pan and baste to keep it from drying out.  You'll love that smokey roast flavor!  From the Bottom Sirloin you get Tri-Tip Roast, Ball Tip Roast, Tri-Tip Steak and Flap Steak.  These cuts are lean, a bit tougher, but SO versatile!  Any of them are great sliced into strips or cubed for Kabobs and married with a marinade before grilling over direct heat....  Well it's another dose of YUM!  Savings Tip:  Buy a roast from the Bottom Sirloin and cut your own steaks, or strips, or cubes...  By the pound, it's cheaper to do that than buying your steaks, or strips, or Kabobs already cut at the meat counter.   

The full Round part of the cow is basically the back legs and rump area, which gets a lot of exercise - so we're talking lean but tougher cuts of meat and similar to the Sirloin area, the Round is broken down into subdivisions, the Top Round and the Bottom Round.  The key to remember about any cut from the Round is that this is the least flavorful part of the cow.  It's also why these are typically the least expensive cuts.  From the Top Round you get the Top Round Roast and Top Round Steaks, a.k.a. London Broil (not bad, but SO over-rated). Before you get to the Bottom Round - it's a center cut thing - you have what's called Eye of Round Roast and Eye of Round Steak - kind of like the 'eye' of the hurricane, get it?  And in the Bottom Round you have Rump Roast, Sirloin Tip Roasts, Sirloin Tip Steaks (it's a marketing thing, meat cut from where the Round section meets the Sirloin section, hence the use of "Tip," but know that it's not really Sirloin....  and Stew Beef.  These are all cuts of meat that MUST have a marinade or dry rub applied before grilling and do best in a low and slow preparation, OFF the flame over indirect heat.   Nothing in this group can be quickly prepared like a tender and melt-in-your-mouth Rib Eye.  Don't get me wrong, these cuts can provide for a great meal, but marinade overnight and prepare your coals for a slow cook.    The best thing about the Round is it's easy  on the wallet and when done right, delivers nicely on the taste of beef.

From the Flank you get Flank Steak and Ground Beef.  Flank Steak is delicious, but it is a tougher cut and most definitely needs a marinade to help break it down.  It's one of the most inexpensive cuts of beef, popular because of the price and also because it embraces a marinade so well.  Grill quickly over high, direct heat and cut against the grain into strips for serving.  Flank Steak is also excellent in a stir fry!

Saving for what in my opinion is the best for last, the last cut is all about the Brisket.  There's a reason this cut doesn't have a breakdown of roasts, steaks, strips or tips....   It's simply all about the Brisket, which is essentially the breast muscle, the chest of the cow.  It takes on a major muscle workload for the animal and therefore has a lot of connective tissue and collagen.  Yes, that means it's a very tough cut of meat but it also means it's PACKED with flavor!  The Brisket deserves a pedestal and why it is heralded at BBQ competitions around not only the U.S., but the globe.  It's popular prepared as corned beef and further spiced to make pastrami, but it's best known as THE meat for smoking, low and slow deliciousness.  It's so good, yours truly makes a dynamite chili with the leftovers (if there are any).  Back in the day, Brisket was an inexpensive piece of meat, a working man's purchase....  But once people started catching on to how much flavor a properly prepared Brisket has, well, now it's one of the more expensive cuts of beef.  Funny how that works....  This is a fibrous piece of meat that must have a marinade or dry rub working overnight.  And this ultimate piece of beef needs to be slow smoked for 8 - 12 hours, depending on the size of your brisket.  Sliced thin, it's heaven on a plate.

So in becoming familiar with beef cuts, know that price is most often driven by what's the most tender (the Tenderloin), what takes more butcher expertise to slice up (the Rib and Short Loin sections) and what's currently popular (Brisket).  If you're wanting to get the most bang for your buck without sacrificing on flavor, buy in bulk and go with roast cuts from the Sirloin section and doing your own butchering.  If you're looking for a crowd pleaser for a party that's easy on the wallet, think flat steaks, thin steaks that take to marinades and grill up quick, we're talking flat iron, skirt, flank and hanger steaks.  If you really want to stick to a budget but crave beef, then Round cuts are your friend.

And don't forget, anything grilled to "Well Done" sucks, it's a waste of meat and money. 

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Grilling Good Eats - Accessories & Gadgets

Grilling Good Eats

by Mike Thayer

I already covered 'must have' essential tools in Chapter 2, but let's do a quick recap of the basics needed for cranking out a great meal from the grill before we get into accessories and gadgets.  

The charcoal chimney: For me, there’s really no better way to light charcoal.  They’re easy to use and there's no foul lighter fluid smell or residue. 

Grill gloves: Get a good glove for working with charcoal chimneys, re-positioning a grill grate, lifting a hot lid or even pulling some hot baked potatoes off the grill. 

Tongs: NO grill master is without a good pair of metal tongs. For added control and gripping power, be sure to buy a pair with some kind of scalloped edge in the tip end. 

A good spatula: A metal spatula for the grill is a MUST have. Pay the extra buck or two for quality, a metal spatula with a rubber or silicone grip. Stay away from wood handles!

A basting brush:  Get the newest brushes made out of dishwasher safe silicone. They don’t grab as much sauce like the traditional brushes do but they last longer, the brush ‘hairs’ don’t fall out and they clean up much easier. You’ll have to do a little more dipping, but that’s OK.

Meat thermometer: An instant-read meat thermometer is a good thing to have, especially if you want reassurance that what you've prepared for family or guests has hit the right temperature. Safe eats are good eats.

A good quality wire brush: It’s simply the best tool for keeping your grilling surface clean.

A good quality cast iron skillet: It can take the heat, they’re versatile and a well seasoned skillet, like charcoal, delivers another layer of flavor.

Grill Accessories & Gadgets ~ going beyond the basic tools

Skewers:  There are two types, metal and wood (usually bamboo).  I have both, as they each have a unique purpose. 

Skewers metalMetal skewers are fantastic because you don't have to spend time soaking them to avoid burning, they're washable, excellent for everyday grilling.  When preparing a meal for myself or family they're perfect, everybody can have their own skewer or you can pull the good eats off the skewer for family style plating.  The price range for a decent set of 6 metal skewers runs between $15 and $25.  Go for flat blades, not round - avoid food spin.  

Wood/Bamboo skewers are something you should always have on hand.  If you're into food on a stick or are grilling for a party, this is the way to go.  Perhaps the best thing about them is there's no washing Skewers  woodrequired, once the grilled eats are eaten, throw the skewers away or put them on the fire.  There are a few downsides to wood skewers.  You need to soak them for about 30 minutes prior to loading them up with eats.  If you overload a wood skewer with eats they can splinter.  Most wood skewers are round, so food can spin on you when you're trying to turn that meat or veggie on a stick when on the grill.  It can be frustrating turning that beautiful skewer of lamb kabob, you try to rotate the meat a quarter turn for even cooking and two of those six kabobs on that stick spin in place, those two kabobs 'refuse' to cook on another side.  The answer to avoiding food spin is to double up on skewers.   Wood/bamboo skewers are inexpensive, easily found at your local grocery store for $1 or $2 in 50 - 100 count bags.

Veggie Fish Grill TrayA Fish/Veggie Tray comes in real handy when grilling up delicate foods like fish and smaller foods like shrimp, peppers or veggie slices.  A tray or pan prevents smaller bites from falling through the grates and onto the coals - a grill crime!  A good grill pan or tray provides you an easy flip/rotate surface, raised edges and slots to allow smoke through.  Weber makes a darn good grilling tray that runs about $20. 

Grill lightFlashlights just don't cut it for grilling at night, besides, they take away a hand that could be holding an aluminum can.  If your grilling area is not well lit, then a grill light will come in handy for those after dark eats!  A quality grilling light will have LED bulbs, a flex tube so you can adjust the direction of the light and a base that can attach to your grill area with either a screw clamp or magnetic base.  Quality grill lights go for $25 and up.

Grill coverProtect your grill with a grill cover.  If you're like me and keep your grill outside on a permanent basis, then a grill cover is a must.  It not only helps to keep your grill clean and outdoor dust/bird poo/bug free, but it extends the life and shine of your grill.  Water and grills just do not mix and a grill sitting out in direct sun all day everyday fades the finish.  Whether your grill is charcoal, gas or electric, invest some money in a grill cover.  And don't go cheap here, buy a quality cover that will fit properly and last.  Most grill manufacturers make covers to fit for their grills, try to stay away from anything 'universal' or off-brand.  Quality covers go $50 and up.

Charcoal CaddyKeep your charcoal, wood and/or wood pellets dry with a charcoal caddy.  Not everyone has a garage or shed to store their charcoal, grilling wood or wood pellets in.   And for guys married and living in an apartment, I bet your wife isn't letting you keep grilling fuel in the living room.  A charcoal caddy is multi-purpose.  They not only keep your fuel safe from the outdoor elements, they are portable and travel well too.  A quality caddy can store an entire large bag of charcoal or pellets and feature a snap on lid that can also open up and pour.  A lid like that means you can store several small bags of chunk wood in their bags, just snap off the entire lid and choose from and assortment of apple, mesquite or hickory for example.   Or, pour in a large bag of charcoal into the container and when you're ready to fire up the grill, just flip open the pour lid and dump charcoal into your chimney.  No charcoal dust on your hands!  I have three of these.  One for charcoal that I can pour.  One for pellets that I can pour and one holding several small bags of chunk wood. Kingsford makes a nice caddy for around $12.

Grill mat Protect your deck, patio, hard surface with a grilling mat.  Let's face it, grills create greasy messes and some of that ends up on the deck/patio/surface where you grill.  Grill stains are unsightly and nasty to step in.  Keep things clean and stain free with a grill mat that is oil, flame and UV resistant and has a non-skid surface to prevent sliding.  And mats are MUCH easier to clean than wood, brick, stone or concrete.  You can even get a 'Fan Mat'!  Quality mats go for $20 and up.

Grill organizerDon't have enough space to put everything you need for grilling?  A grill organizer is great for campsites, small patios or any grilling area where you just flat out don't have any counter space.....  Yes, there's a pun in there..... counter space, as in flat out of?.....  Maverick puts out a decent organizer for around $25.  The concept is smart because it goes up, rather than flat and out, excellent for tight/cramped spaces.  The screw clamp base easily attaches to any grill or table.

There are a lot more accessories and gadgets that I could cover here and look forward to reviewing in the future, but the above will surely put you on the road to grill mastery!

 

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Grilling Good Eats - Sauces, Marinades, Seasoning, Pantry Items

Grilling Good Eats 2Grilling Good Eats

by Mike Thayer

Even if you aren't an experienced griller, there's no excuse for food that's underseasoned.  That's why I'm starting off this chapter with what to stock in your pantry.  You might wonder what a pantry has to do with grilling.....  FLAVOR!  Remember, we're talking creating layers of flavor, cooking over a fire is one layer, a type of wood is another layer, and sauces, marinades and seasonings enhance and add to those great grilled layers!  With a well stocked pantry, you can create virtually any kind of sauce, marinade or dry rub you can think of. 

The whole key here is to stock a grill pantry and fridge/freezer with items you really like.  Don't buy things just because it's THE trendy thing to do right now.  Don't purchase items that are just "OK" but you really don't eat that often.  If you're not a cayenne pepper kind of person, there's no sense in having a lot of that in your pantry, buy a larger amount of something you really like instead.  When it comes to dried herbs and spices, they can get pricey, so don't buy a large variety just because it might impress somebody or you think you'll try it..... but it just ends up getting old.  Buy what you know you like and if you want to experiment, great, but go small.

A pantry set up for the grill

Basics for the Grill Pantry ~ Items you need for just about whatever you're grilling or smoking

  • Kosher salt
  • Regular table salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Some kind of vegetable oil
  • Vinegar ~ you could go crazy here, there are a lot of vinegars out there, regular, red wine, rice wine, balsamic, champagne, sherry...  go with what you know and like.  I keep regular, rice wine (it's mild), apple cider and balsamic on hand

Baking Basics for the Grill Pantry ~ most notably for grilling desserts in cast iron or on skewers

  • Baking chocolate
  • Biscuit and/or cornmeal mix
  • Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • Corn meal
  • Evaporated milk
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancake/waffle mix
  • Vanilla extract

Sweetener Basics for the Grill Pantry ~ for desserts, sauces, marinades

  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses ~ a must have to make BBQ sauce!
  • Honey

Dried Herbs, Seasoning and Spice Basics for the Grill Pantry ~ remember, go with what you know and like

  • All purpose seasoning salt
  • Bouillon cubes and/or powders or pastes, beef & chicken
  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Cardamon
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Cumin
  • Dill
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Ground pumpkin spice
  • Italian seasoning mix
  • Minced onion
  • Mustard powder
  • Old Bay, regular ~ excellent with fish/seafood
  • Onion Soup Mix
  • Oregano
  • Paprika ~ sweet and smoked
  • Parsley flake
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Thyme

Beverage Basics for the Grill Pantry

  • Beer
  • Bourbon
  • Tequila
  • Vodka
  • Wine, red and white

Egg and Dairy basics for the Grill Refrigerator

  • Butter, unsalted
  • Eggs ~ I like to buy the 18 count containers and I've always got two on hand
  • Heavy cream
  • Milk
  • Sour cream and/or plain yogurt
  • American cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese

Fresh Produce for the Grill Refrigerator

  • Apples
  • Broccoli and/or cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Lemons/limes/oranges
  • Lettuce
  • Seasonal fruit

Must-have Condiments for the Grill Refrigerator

  • BBQ sauce ~ I prefer to make my own, but hey, sometimes you need a "quickie"
  • Jellies/jams
  • Italian dressing ~ an excellent impromptu marinade
  • Ketchup
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • Mustard ~ keep a variety on hand, yellow, brown, Dijon, it's a change of pace and it keeps well
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pickles, relish
  • Ranch Dressing ~ an excellent burger condiment 'cheat'
  • Sriracha 
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Thousand Island dressing ~ can you say, "special sauce?"
  • Worcestershire sauce

Basics for the Grill Freezer

  • Bacon
  • Beef, ground
  • Beef, steak ~ your favorite cut
  • Chicken ~ breasts, thighs, drumsticks, wings, whole chicken
  • Pork sausage
  • Pork chops
  • Dough ~ pizza crust, pie crust, puff pastry
  • Vanilla ice cream  ~ topped with some grilled fruit, yum!

Fresh Produce for the Grill Counter (a.k.a., kitchen counter)

  • Garlic
  • Onions ~ store in your pantry if you've got the space
  • Potatoes ~ another item for the pantry if you've got the space and have fun with this one, there's russet, Yukon Gold (a personal favorite), red potatoes, fingerlings, new potatoes, purple/blue potatoes (great for grilling)
  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas

Another basic item to keep at the ready and fresh on your counter, a good loaf of bread.  Get away from the mass produced sliced stuff, spend the extra buck here and get a whole loaf, it tastes better.  TIP Don't store bread in the fridge thinking it will extend its shelf life, it won't.  Putting bread in the fridge actually dries it out which means it won't hold up in a sandwich like it's supposed to and there's the loss of flavor thing.... 

So there you have it, a nicely stocked GRILL pantry, fridge, freezer and countertop.  The nice thing is, you can build this up a little at a time.  Whenever you make a grocery list, refer to this article and add a few items from it to your grocery list.  You'll stock your pantry in no time.   And remember the best benefit:  Properly stocking a pantry for the grill leads to more grilling, which means eating out less, eating better and saving money!

Rubs & Marinades

Rubs and marinades turns ordinary into......  wait for it.....  ANOTHER DOSE OF YUM!  You can go subtle, bold, sweet, savory, spicy, whatever you want!  And when in doubt or you just don't know what kind of flavor profile you're craving, you can't go wrong with a simple treatment to what you're grilling using just good 'ol salt, pepper and olive oil.  When in doubt, use this.  It never disappoints. 

 

Mike's Spicy Chicken Rub

 This is a great dry rub with a little influence from Turkey.  Apply it to your favorite cut of chicken for grilling.   

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Mix all ingredients to incorporate.  Best when rubbed on the meat at least four hours before grilling.  Store excess in an air tight container.

 

Basic Cajun Spice Rub

It says it in the name - Cajun - excellent on chicken, pork, seafood

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil

Directions:

Mix all ingredients to incorporate.  Best when rubbed on meat at least four hours before grilling.  For fish/seafood, go for one hour before grilling (you don't want the fish/seafood getting mushy).  Good for 4 serving portions.

 

Mike's Sweet Heat Rub

Excellent on beef!  It's good on chicken and pork too, but excellent on beef!

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

Mix all ingredients to incorporate.  Best when rubbed on the meat at least four hours before grilling, good for 4 serving portions.

 

Chicken Shwarma Rub

A nice little Mediterranean flare, best on boneless chicken thighs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Mix all ingredients to incorporate.  Best when rubbed on the meat at least four hours before grilling, good for about 6 chicken thighs.  TIP:  Always mix your rubs in a separate container before adding to the meat.  You get a better incorporated mix that way and because the seasonings didn't touch the meat, you can store any excess in an air tight container for later use.

 

Roast Beast Rub

If you don’t have a favorite off-the-shelf rub (I like Cookies Flavor Enhancer), here’s a quick and easy rub to try.

Ingredients

  • One tablespoon Kosher salt
  • Two tablespoons of granulated garlic
  • One tablespoon onion powder
  • One tablespoon dried oregano
  • One tablespoon paprika
  • One teaspoon dried mustard
  • One teaspoon black pepper

Directions: 

After rubbing down your beast to roast, put it in a big zip lock bag or plastic container and refrigerate overnight..

 

Korean Style Ribs Marinade

If you're looking for something a little different than BBQ, here it is.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red pepper flake
  • One medium onion, chopped
  • The juice from one lime

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together all the marinade ingredients.  Add the meat and marinade for at least four hours before putting on the grill. 

MARINADE TIP #1:  If you've got too much marinade and it hasn't come in contact with raw meat, save some back for a dipping sauce.

MARINADE TIP #2:  Something else you can do with excess marinade that hasn't come in contact with raw meat is add a small ladle of it to the water you use to cook rice with.  And oil based marinades are excellent brushed on roasted potatoes, adding some zest to that potato bite!

 

Mike’s Asian Flare Short Rib Marinade:

If you don't like the Korean style above, try this one.  VERY tasty!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • The juice from one lime (if you don’t have any limes handy, substitute with 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar)
  • Two fresh green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions
Make the marinade, then pour over the ribs and refrigerate overnight.  Good for about three pounds of ribs.

 

Mike’s Poultry Brine
If you’re looking for something a little different in how to do grilled chicken or turkey, this might just be the ticket for you. Talk about moist and tender poultry! It’s an easy brine and adds a lot of flavor to any cut, chicken breasts or thighs, turkey breasts, turkey drumsticks, in fact, this brine is excellent with pork cuts as well.

Ingredients

  • One gallon of warm water
  • ¾ cup of Kosher salt
  • One heaping tablespoon of Cookies Flavor Enhancer
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Directions
Put the salt, sugar and olive oil into a big pan, add the warm water. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved, which the warm water helps to do. After the water comes back down to room temperature (VERY important, we’re brining the poultry, not cooking it), give the brine another quick stir and add your chicken or turkey, letting them brine for at least four hours in the fridge. Overnight is even better. This amount of brine is good for a whole chicken, or up to about 8 pounds of breasts, thighs or drumsticks. This brine is so good, you don’t have to add a dry rub to the meat if you don’t want to. Grill naked…… keep your mind out of the gutter, that means no seasoning. I’ve grilled poultry ‘naked’ plenty of times, just brushing the chicken thighs or turkey legs with garlic infused olive oil after each quarter turn (about every 2-3 minutes), hitting it again with the olive oil when moving it to the cooler spot on the grill (indirect heat) to finish cooking and then hitting it again with the olive oil just before plating.

Download Mike's Poultry Brine Recipe

 

Sauces ~ Ketchup and mustard are great, but here are a few recipes to really compliment your grilled fare

Mike’s ‘Quick Whiskey BBQ Sauce’

This is really more of a convenient cheat rather than a bonafide recipe, but it’s time saving, easy to put together and rather tasty!

Ingredients

  • One cup of KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce (or whatever brand might be your favorite)
  • ¼ cup of water
  • One tablespoon of dried, minced onion
  • 2 shots of your favorite whiskey/bourbon (reserve a 3rd shot for yourself)
  • 5 generous shakes of Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • One tab of butter

Directions
In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt your butter. Let it coat the bottom of the pan and once it’s coated, add all remaining ingredients and just let it all simmer to marry all that flavor for about 15-20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. This is a great sauce to use just before plating.

 

Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki isn't just for gyros....   The sauce is actually a fantastic change of pace addition to just about any grilled meat or fish.  It's also excellent used as a chip or veggie dip, salad dressing, put it on a cracker, a sandwich and more.  You can pretty much substitute Tzatziki sauce with anything you might use mayonnaise for.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 an English cucumber, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One Tablespoon dried dill
  • One Tablespoon lemon juice (citric acid is a nice alternative)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix until thoroughly incorporated, cover and chill for about 30 minutes or until ready to use. 

 

Chipotle Aioli

This is a nice add to just about any kind of burger or grilled sandwich for a nice little kick, heck, it's good just spread on a piece of grilled bread!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • The juice from half a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix until thoroughly incorporated, cover and chill for about 30 minutes or until ready to use. 

 

Easy Peasy Pan Sauce

Meat fats and fruits make for delicious sauces!  Try this before you grill up some pork chops:

Trim some of the fat off the chops before marinating or rubbing and save it to create pan drippings. When you’re grilling, put those fat trimmings in a cast iron skillet over low heat and let them render to create the base for a sauce or gravy.

Easy Peasy Pan Sauce…. Combine pork fat drippings with a little flour, some black berries or blueberries - whatever kind of berry you might have on hand for that matter - and some balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste and you’ve made an excellent compliment to the chops, chicken or beef you've been grilling up!

 

Quick Dipping Sauce/Condiment Cheats

  1. Combine 3 parts Ranch dressing to 1 part Louisiana Hot Sauce
  2. Combine 3 parts Ranch dressing to 1 part Sriracha

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