Love the idea of a barbecue, being outdoors and having a feast with friends. But you are unsure what to prepare, we’ve got you covered on from smoked cajun chicken wings to grilled marinated ribeye. We chat with BBQ enthusiast, pitmaster legend Josh “traegerdixon” Dixon about picking the right grill to get you started.
Preparation is key.
It’s so easy to go overboard when it comes to buying BBQ related ingredients! Most of the time you buy a rub/sauce/seasoning for a certain recipe and you never end up using it again. Eventually, you’ll end up with a pantry full of stuff and you have no clue what to do with what you have.
“Personally, I like having all my BBQ ingredients in one spot (though I do have a shed with backup’s, naturally!). When you have everything laid out in front of you, it makes it easier to not only come up with dishes, but a super helpful reminder for the items you might be getting low on.” says Josh.
My must-haves would include:
● Decent EVOO (love Pukara Estate in the Hunter)
● Apple Cider Vinegar Cooking spray (get duck fat spray – it will change your life!)
● Traeger’s range of spice rubs and sauces
● PepperSea Salt (Murray river all day everyday)
● Onion and garlic powders
● Dried herbs like basil, hyme, rosemary, parsley, chili flakes, panko crumbs
● Canned Beans like kidney, black, cannellini
● Honey sauces like soy, hot sauce (TRUFF a personal favourite of mine), Worcestershire, mustard, mayo, buffalo, ranch, I could go on.
What new flavours should we try?
“Now those frosty mornings are fading away, it’s time to change up the menu to utilise all the best foodie flavours of Spring. A few stand out home recipes for me:”
● Grilled salmon with coriander-garlic, Yoghurt spiced lamb burgers with spring slaw, Ginger grilled chicken with grilled radishes and also a dressing, Fennel rubbed pork loin with radish, Prawns and chorizo with grilled cabbage and asparagus.
A chance to play around with side dishes too:
● Grilled potatoes with red miso butter, Grilled sugar snap peas with a buttermilk aioli, Grilled Carrots with chilli-infused honey.
Some other delicious fresh produce to throw on the grill throughout the Spring months might be: – broccoli, kale, rhubarb, rabbit, oysters, cauliflower, anything lamb, duck, grilled pineapple, and grapefruit.
A craftsman needs the right tools, and a grill master needs the right grill. When you choose the grill that’s right for you, you have the ideal partner for a lifetime of incredible outdoor cooking adventures. You’ll want to consider safety, cost, ease of use, and most of all, the way the grill will make your food taste.
Let’s look at the three main types of grills: wood pellet grills, gas grills, and charcoal grills.
Wood Pellet Grills
When you cook with a pellet grill, the heat that cooks the food comes from the combustion of wood pellets. You set the temperature you want, and the grill burns the proper measure of pellets, circulating heat, and natural smoke through the cooking area via the built-in fans.
Pellet grills deliver consistent smoke and heat that is easily adjustable. The smoke gives everything you cook a natural wood-fired taste, and there are no flare-ups because the flame is kept safely away from the food. Thankfully, there is no need to monitor a pellet grill — the temperature stays where you want it for as long as you want. The Traeger Grills Pro Series pellet grill is an absolute standout, with its built-in WiFIRE® technology allowing you to take control of the grill from absolutely anywhere. A mobile meat sensation.
Pellet grills do require an electrical supply with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection, which protects against electrical shocks (if you have outdoor outlets, they are probably GFCI outlets). The maximum temperature of a pellet grill is about 260 Celsius.
Pros: Easy to use, consistent smokey flavour.
Cons: Higher starting cost, lower maximum cooking temperature.
When you cook with a gas grill, the heat comes from burners that are fuelled by combustible gas. It works much the same as an indoor gas stove. The big drawback is that because gas is odourless and tasteless, it doesn’t impart any smoke flavour to your food.
You can usually maintain consistent temperatures with a gas grill. LPG, the most common fuel source for gas grills, is relatively inexpensive and widely available too. Many gas grills can deliver extremely high temperatures which some people prefer for direct flash grilling.
If you want any natural smoke flavour in your food, you will have to add it yourself by utilizing smoke tubes with wood pellets or chips. The heat on gas grills comes from open flame, so if you want to cook anything low and slow you must do so over an unlit area of the grill, otherwise, the open flame will burn the surface of the food before the inside has a chance to cook.
Pros: Easy to use, inexpensive fuel costs.
Cons: Not designed for low and slow cooking, smoking requires special equipment, potential fire flare-ups, and, difficult to keep clean as grease falls into the barrel.
When you cook with a charcoal grill, the heat comes from charcoal briquettes. You light the briquettes, wait approximately 20 minutes for them to get hot, then pour them below the cooking grate. Charcoal grills can be inexpensive, and briquettes are available at nearly every grocery store.
However, temperatures can be hard to control when cooking on a charcoal grill. Different areas of the grill will be at different temperatures, depending on how hot the charcoals below them happen to be burning at that particular moment. Additionally, to get a true natural smoke flavour, you have to use speciality briquettes or add wood chips or chunks to the charcoal.
Any low and slow cooking process will require creating and maintaining a 2-zone system of higher and lower heat — with a pile of briquettes on one side and none or very few on the other. You must frequently check the temperature and add/remove briquettes as needed.
Cons: Very hard to maintain consistent temperatures unless using a more expensive ceramic charcoal grill, most inexpensive charcoal grills aren't designed for low and slow cooking.
Wood pellets are a natural, clean-burning product made specifically for use in pellet grills. They are designed to deliver ideal smoke for barbequing by combining flavour, ease of use, and maximum heat.
LPG is a by-product of the natural gas refining process. It is also used to fuel vehicles and small engines. LPG is odourless and flavourless.
Charcoal briquettes are made from wood by-products like sawdust and held together with chemical binders.
Set it and forget it? Or watch and worry?
If you cook on a wood pellet grill, you can pick your favourite meat and vegetables, select your flavours and temperatures, and know the cooking process will go just as you planned. You can talk to your guests, enjoy sports on the TV, or even run some errands while the delicious smoke flavour is permeating your food. A wood pellet grill also offers 6-in-1 versatility — you can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and BBQ food.
With gas and charcoal grills, any type of cooking requires near constant attention to the temperature of the grill, and how the heat is flowing across the food. To leave such a grill unattended is to invite a sudden flare-up or a loss of heat that could burn your food to a crisp or require added hours of cooking time. While some foods benefit from the high temperatures of a gas or charcoal grill, you’re sacrificing the wood-fired taste that you get from a pellet grill.