Monday, May 26, 2014


My youngest son was having a birthday.  One of his favorite foods is Beef Jerky...seriously, who doesn't love beef jerky . With the GMG pellet cooker, I can run really low cooking temperatures, so as a birthday present, I made him some beef jerky.  I thought it turned out pretty well.  Here's what I did:

First, I had to select the beef.  From everything I've read, the leaner the beef the better.  So I bought about 2.5 lbs of sirloin.  Sirloin is a pretty lean cut and, right now, it's relatively inexpensive compared with other beef prices.

When I got the sirloin home,  I stuck it in the freezer to make it easier to slice.  Slightly frozen meat is much easier to slice than refrigerated meat.  I got to slicing after the meat had solidified a little bit.  I cut the sirloin with the grain to a 1/8" thickness.  In retrospect, I might have gone thicker...up to 1/4" thickness should be okay, it will just affect cooking time.

Now for the marinade.  I did a lot of research into different marinades, and most had a couple of things in common:  Soy Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce.  Knowing that my son doesn't like spicy, but does like salty and sweet, I went with the following marinade:

1 Cup Soy Sauce
1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
2 TBSP Brown Sugar
1 TBSP Onion Powder
1 TBSP Garlic Powder

I poured this over the meat and let it marinade for 20ish hours.  I've found the best way to marinade is to put the meat in a 1-2 gallon ziploc bag, then pour the marinade in.  As I'm sealing up the bag, I make sure to get all the air out.  This seems to do the best job marinading while using the minimal amount of marinade.

When it came time for the smoking, I set the smoker to 170 degrees, and laid down a non-stick frog mat.  I laid out the meat and let it cook for 5 hours.  The result was a sweet, salty and smokey bit of beef jerky perfection!  The texture is perfect for me...I like my beef jerky to have some chew.  Cooking longer will make a crispier beef jerky, but I'm not a big fan of super crispy beef jerky.

My family's feedback is that they would like a little less soy sauce next time.  I'm going to play around with a bunch of different recipes.  I'll post the results on this blog.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Jerk Chicken - My First Attempt

So last week we were away celebrating my parents anniversary.  We had a condo for 3 days, and our condo had a grill.  One night, I grilled chicken that I marinated in Lawry's Jamaican Jerk Marinade.  I've had Jerk chicken and Jerk pork a few times and I always like it.  Last weekend was no exception.

As I was planning meals for the upcoming week, I decided to try Jerk Chicken, but I wanted to make my own marinade, rather than a store bought marinade.  I also wanted to cook it on my GMG Pellet Cooker using my new Grill Grates.  With all this in mind, I set about finding a Jerk Chicken marinade recipe, and I found one at allrecipes.  Here is the recipe I started from.

Reading this, and reading the reviews, I decided four things, 1) There is too much soy sauce in this recipe, 2) There needs to be citrus in this recipe, 3) I don't think I need green onions and 4) Where's the garlic?  That must be added.  Here is what I ended up doing for the marinade:

1 Onion - chopped
1 Jalapeno - seeded and chopped
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup White Vinegar
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
1/4 Cup Lime Juice
2 TBSP Brown Sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
1/2 tsp dried chives
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 Chicken Breast Halves

Note:  I had a lot of dried spices, so that's what I went with.

1 - Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 15 seconds.
2 - Pour over chicken breasts and marinate for at least 4 hours. (I did 7 hours)
3 - Preheat Grill to medium heat.  Grill for 15-30 minutes until done.

Ok, here is something I always do with chicken breasts that I think is a must.  I pound them to a uniform thickness, generally 1/2 inch thick.  This promotes even cooking, and tenderizes the meat.  I also usually cut each breast in half to give a more manageable portion size.

To cook these, I preheated my GMG to 300 degrees with the grill grates in place.  Reading about the grill grates, I thought they would get hot, but it was obvious 300 degrees was not enough.  So I kicked the grill up to 400 degrees to finish cooking.  I didn't get the sear marks that I wanted so I will need to experiment with the grill grates to see how hot I need to grill to get good sear marks.

These chicken breast turned out really well.  The flavor was not spicy, so probably not a true Jerk flavor, but it ends up being a very complex flavor.  The lime juice comes through and the soy sauce isn't overpowering, so I consider that a win.  Also, the combination of the marinade and the wonderful cooking of the GMG Daniel Boone Pellet Cooker created a very moist chicken breast.  If I were serving this for people who like heat, I would add a 2nd jalapeno, or even consider a Habanero.  My wife is not a fan of spicy, so this was perfect for her.  She really liked it.

I am calling this recipe a winner and looking forward to making it again.  I served it with rice pilaf
and sliced apples for the kids.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Wood Fired Pizza...sort of

Yesterday, it was down to just 3 of us, as our oldest son was on a band trip.  Our youngest loves pizza!  So, I decided I'd try making pizza on the pellet grill.

I used a pretty standard dough recipe.  It's 1 cup of warm water with a little sugar.  Add a packet of yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes while the yeast activates.  Then add that to the kitchen-aid mixer, along with 2 and 1/2 cups of AP Flour, 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1 tsp of salt.  Let it knead for about 6 minutes, and then let it rest for 25 minutes.

While the dough was rising, I turned on the cooker and set it to 450 degrees.  I placed a baking stone right in the middle of the cooker.  I wanted to get the stone good and hot before I put the first pizza on it.  Next, I got all the ingredients ready for topping the pizzas (yes, I know the counter is a little messy).

Once the dough was ready, I divided it into 3 balls and started rolling out the pizzas.  I can't toss dough like some, so I used a rolling pin.  I'm also terrible at making perfect circles.  But, my wife says the odd shape helps to show that it's homemade.

I made a personal pizza for each member of the family that was eating, so we could each have the toppings we wanted.  Once each pizza was topped, it went onto the cooker for about 12 minutes, and then I just rotated through 3 pizzas.  This was a bit awkward since we all ended up eating at different times, so next time I may have to figure out how to put 2 stones on the cooker.

Everybody really liked the pizza.  I can't say that it tasted exactly like a wood fired pizza, but it did have more depth of flavor using the pellet grill rather than the oven.  The crust turned out great.  It was fairly thin with good chew.  The picture to the left is the finished product of my boring old pepperoni pizza.  I think it looks pretty delicious and I know it was delicious because I ate the entire thing!

All four of us did get to sample the pizza as our oldest had the left overs when he got home.  He really liked it too!  I guess we'll be making this again sometime soon.