Posts Tagged ‘Grilling’

I seem to have a backlog of recipes to write about. I did fish and chips last week and made some super cool baked eggs, baked in toast. Watch for this one – it was super easy and combined cheese, eggs, toast and bacon, with a bit of cream all in one small muffin-sized package.

First up though is the brisket I smoked on Sunday on the new Weber Smokey Mountain. This is the third brisket I’ve made in the past six months and the most successful. The first version I started on the gas grill and finished it in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil. It was good, but lacked the smoky flavor.

The second version I made on my old charcoal Weber. The idea here was to get more smoke. Somehow, maybe I was sleeping in, I like to sleep in, I started late, about 4 hours later than planned, and didn’t finish it until 10:00pm that night.  My wife now frowns a bit when I start talking about making anything that takes more than 4 or 5 hours.

The rub on this version was perfect and I will share it below. I ended up overcooking the bottom of the brisket when the grill got a bit too hot and I forgot to turn the brisket in the last few hours. It ended up with about 1/4 inch of crust, which tasted great, but was not quite what I was looking for.

The third and last version I did this past weekend. My new smoker was delivered from Amazon last week and on Saturday I pulled it out of the box and put it together (in the family room – thanks, Nancy)!

Once again, I did sleep in this time, I started late, but I figured I had plenty of time to get the brisket done, low and slow.  I filled up bottom of the smoker with a load of fresh charcoal, threw the brisket on the top grill, closed the lid and took a temperature reading….140 degrees! What, no way, has to be wrong.  I’ll wait a bit and see what happens.

15 minutes later, 135 degrees. Oh crap. I throw in another load of charcoal I had working on the side. The temp goes up to 150. Something is wrong, but I have no idea what it is. The smoke is coming out of the thing like clockwork, but the heat is not even close to the 225 I’m looking for.

20 minutes later, 150 degrees still, I thrown more charcoal in, the temp goes up to 175 and then won’t budge. At this point I have enough charcoal in the bottom of the smoker to power a small steam engine. I’m now figuring it has something to do with lack of oxygen, but all the vents are open and things should be going well.

Now I’m starting to think about the bacteria that will start growing on the meat soon if I don’t get the f$%##ing temperature up. Ok, more coals and then more coals. Finally about 75 minutes into it I have the temperature at 225. Ok now, I have some time to think so I head to the Internet to see what I can find out.

Aha, the first picture points out to me that I forgot to the put the charcoal grate down as well as the charcoal chamber. How do I run a restaurant, not sure.  Good employees I guess.  Don’t ask me what I was thinking, but basically the charcoal was getting no airflow. I had it all piled up on the bottom of the smoker! CRAP.

So what to do. Well, I couldn’t handle it, I had to fix it. So I pulled the top and middle section off the grill and then used tongs to relocate the charcoal, fix the grill, put the charcoal back, put the meat back on, and pretty much started all over again. DOH!

Well, what time did we eat you might ask? I was shooting for the brisket to be done at 7:00 and I pulled it off the grill at 9:30. Not so bad, 30 minutes faster than last time. Hahaha. The meat was great and the smoke flavor was perfect. I can’t wait to do some ribs or pork shoulder next!

Here is some helpful info:

  • The Virtual Weber Bullet – Great web site will everything you want to know about the Smokey Mountain.
  • Pick a brisket that weighs 5 to 6 pounds and has a layer of fat at least 1/4 inch thick. Don’t pick up a small trimmed brisket that has not fat. It will dry out quick.
  • If you want smoky flavor, but don’t want to spend all day cooking the brisket, start it on a grill, 250 to 275 degrees, until the internal temperature is 140 to 150 and then finish it in a 325 degree oven, wrapped tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil, for an hour and a half or until the internal temperature is 190 degrees.
  • Thinly slice the meat across the grain and make sure to let the meat rest for 20 minutes before cutting.
  • If using a gas grill it should be easy to get the temp to 250. You will most likely leave the back burner on med and turn the others off. You will want to make a smoke pouch. You can do this by placing your soaked chips on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil, cover the chips with the foil, making an enclosed pouch. Then poke holes in the top so the smoke can escape. You will place the pack on top of the burner that is producing heat.
  • When barbecuing with indirect heat using charcoal you will need to add fresh coals every 45 to 60 minutes to maintain the temperature. In the past I would add unlit briquettes to my coals but I noticed that it took too long for them to burn and put off heat which meant uneven heating. Now instead of emptying the entire charcoal starter of lite coals into the barbecue I leave 3 or 4 at the bottom, then add 10 fresh coals on top and set aside. By the time I need to replace some of the coals in the Weber these coals are ready to go.

Kansas City Brisket (serves 6 to 8)

Recipe adapted from Peace, Love and Barbecue which is a great BBQ Book with recipes and stories!


  • 5 to 6 pound Beef Brisket with fat cap of at least 1/4 inch


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Lawry’s season salt
  • 3 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup celery salt
  • 1/2 cup onion salt
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme

Mustard Slather

  • 4 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons good beer

Combine all the rub ingredients and blend well. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk the mustard, vinegar and beer together until incorporated. Set aside.

Coat the brisket with the mustard slather. Season the slathered brisket, liberally, with the rub. Marinate overnight if you have the time. If not don’t stress it.

Smoke the brisket at 225 to 250 degrees for approximately one-and-a-half-hours per pound. Turn the brisket at three hours and then after another one-and-a-half hours.

Start with one cup of wood chips and then 1/2 cup every hour when you add more coals.

Cook to an internal temperature of 190 degrees. Take brisket off grill, tent with heavy duty aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

Here is the rub from Steven Raichlen.

Steven Raichlen Lean and Mean Texas BBQ Brisket Rub


  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine them all in a bowl and mix well. Rub the brisket on all sides!


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Pulled pork, bacon, back ribs… I love them all. Last week I made pork tenderloin and all week I’ve been thinking about doing pulled pork. I think about it often, but I rarely make it because of the time commitment necessary and my lack of planning. If you have the time though, make them, it is worth it! For me, this weekend seemed like the time to try and get them done.

For the first weekend in some time we didn’t have any caterings. We did pass on a few jobs that came up so that we could have a weekend off and spend time together. As always there are a ton of things we need to do, the most important is to start working on the business plan for the new location, but we decided to take a complete break from all things Dish!

We are pretty excited/scared to death about the new location. The owner of the property is going to be breaking ground in the next few weeks and we expect the building to be completed late spring or early summer next year.

My first big project is completing the business plan so we can go out and start looking for private investments. We started Dish with all private loans so I’m hoping some of our initial investors will come back and support us again, but you never know with the current state of the economy. Since the value of our house has dropped $80,000 in the past two years, doh!, there is really no line of credit left available so raising the money is really make or break.

Many people ask us why we want to open another location and warn us of all the things that can go wrong. Ultimately it all comes down to the lack of kitchen and prep space we are faced with each day. Imagine if you can, trying to prepare food for the restaurant customers while trying to produce food for 50 to 100 people for lunch deliveries while trying to prep for a 100 person party, all in less than 100 square feet of kitchen, one half-sized convection oven and portable burners. Our home kitchen is twice the size of our restaurant kitchen! I think in the last year we have had to turn down as much business as we have taken because of the space constraints.

So enough of Dish and my current concerns. On Saturday I made what I thought was exceptional pulled pork sandwiches. Making pulled pork is a two-day affair, but don’t be afraid. As long as you do a bit of planning the prep and method are fairly easy. The recipe presented below is a combination from America’s Test Kitchen and Steven Raichlen. The rub, sauce and the coleslaw come from Raichlen, who by the way has great grilling books that I can’t recommend more. The method, which shortens the overall cooking time comes from America’s Test Kitchen. I can’t say enough about their books. If you are just learning how to cook they are the best books to start with.

First let me share a few important tips:

  • When barbecuing with indirect heat using charcoal you will need to add fresh coals every 45 to 60 minutes to maintain the temperature. In the past I would add unlit briquettes to my coals but I noticed that it took too long for them to burn and put off heat which meant uneven heating. Now instead of emptying the entire charcoal starter of lite coals into the barbecue I leave 3 or 4 at the bottom, then add 10 fresh coals on top and set aside. By the time I need to replace some of the coals in the Weber these coals are ready to go.
  • If you are going to marinate or rub a big piece of meat, like a pork shoulder, don’t marinate it for less than 3 hours and 8 to 12 is ideal.
  • Invest in a good instant-read thermometer. I can almost tell, by touch, when my tri tip is done, but when it comes to other cuts of beef and pork, I’m very much at a loss. The best part of the thermometer is that I know for sure when something is done and I know for sure that I’m not going to make anyone sick!

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Please let me know if you make it and please share your barbecuing ideas for pulled pork. The more the merrier.

North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches (serves 4 to 6)


  • 1 teaspoon mild paprika
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your fingers.


  • 1 5-6 pound Boston butt (bone-in pork shoulder roast)
  • Vinegar sauce (below)
  • 10 to 12 hamburger buns
  • Coleslaw (below)
  • 2 cups of wood chips, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
  • 1 disposable aluminum pan

Vinegar Sauce:

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

For the vinegar sauce combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and whisk until sugar and salt are dissolved. Taste, add more brown sugar and/or salt as necessary. The sauce should not be sour, but piquant.


  • 1 small head green cabbage
  • 1 cup Vinegar Sauce
  • Salt

Finely chop the cabbage by hand. Place in a large bowl and stir in vinegar sauce. Let stand for 10 minutes, then taste and add salt or sauce if desired.

Okay, on to the pork…. Rub the spices onto the pork shoulder, covering all sides. Cover it with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to 12 hours.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-low. You want the temp in the grill to be 275 degrees. I lit one charcoal starter half full, about 40 briquettes for a large Weber. Open bottom vents fully. Once the coals are ready, place them on one side of the grill, 2 to 3 briquettes high, leaving 60% of the grill empty. Place 1/2 of the wood chips directly on charcoal. You need to place the other half one hour into the cooking.

If using a gas grill it should be easy to get the temp to 275. You will most likely leave the back burner on med-high and turn the others off. You will want to make a smoke pouch. You can do this by placing your soaked chips on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil, cover the chips with the foil, making an enclosed pouch. Then poke holes in the top so the smoke can escape. You will place the pack on top of the burner that is producing heat.

Unwrap pork and place in a disposable aluminum pan and place on grate opposite the side with the charcoal. Open the top vent three quarters of the way, cover. Cook, adding about 8 to 10 briquettes every hour to maintain an average temperate of 275 for three hours.

I used an oven thermometer, placed through the vent hole, to track the temperature in the grill. You can adjust the temperature by opening and closing the vents on the top and bottom of the grill. If you see the temperature on the grill going above 315 you can close the vents more on top. If you have the top fully open and the temp starts to fall to below 275 then add more briquettes.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Completely wrap the pan holding the pork with heavy duty foil. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the meat is fork tender with an internal temperature of 195 degrees. This will take 1 1/4 to 2 hours depending on how consistent the temperature was in your barbecue.

Take the foil-wrapped pan out of oven, slide into a brown paper bag. Crimp the bag shut and let it sit for 1 hour. This allows any remaining collagen to melt and is worth the wait.

Put some heavy duty gloves on, or use a fork and pull the pork into pieces, discarding bones and skin. You are looking for pieces that are 1 to 2 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of vinegar sauce to the pork and combine.

Toast your buns, if you’d like, add some mayonnaise to one side of the bread (yum), mound the pulled pork on the bun and top with coleslaw. Devour!

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I’m a bit behind on writing this post because I’ve been pretty busy the last few days. Monday night my refrigeration guy was able to come by and I didn’t get home until 7:30, which was a 13 hour day for me. I’m not complaining though because he is always fun to talk with. Tuesday night I ended up getting home late as well and once I was done working out I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I did sit in front of the TV and watched Tori and Dean with Nancy, don’t tell anyone thought! It’s a pretty funny show. Dean cracks me up.

We’ve had a bit of a reprieve at work this week after the large caterings over the weekend. We usually do two to four lunch caterings each day, but for the past two days we’ve only had a few. It’s fortunate in one way as we all needed the rest after last week. Unfortunately the catering business is fifty percent of our revenue so all-in-all it’s bitter sweet! Nice to have a slow few days, but not so nice when you run the totals at the end of the day.

On the positive side I just booked a 200-person lunch for next week which will go a long way in making up any shortfall from this week. Part of the menu will include 80 grilled pieces of lemon-herb chicken. I will definitely have to give Megan the “Chicken Mastery” certificate after this. Hahaha.

So before I get to the recipe I did want to post a few pictures of our place. The first one is from this past weekend when we were putting together boxed lunches. I think we literally had every table in the restaurant and most of the chairs, covered with the boxes.

This one covers a little larger area. If you look to the back left you can see a storage room and the mixer. If you can believe it, I almost can’t, this is where our baker Joannie stands most of the day, in that very tiny spot and makes hundreds of cookies, dessert bars, cupcakes, crisps, pies etc.

So getting back to the reason for this post… a few weeks ago Nancy picked up some cedar planks for me because I wanted to try them out for grilling salmon. Seemed pretty easy. Nancy was going to make corn chowder and I would make the salmon. I stopped at my new favorite place, Whole Foods, and picked up a pound and a half of wild salmon and headed home.

On the back of the plank package there was a recipe for a rub that I changed because I knew it would be too salty. The recipe was super easy and it tasted great. The smoke from the plank was awesome, not overpowering at all. You can find the corn chowder recipe (it was excellent) at Nancy’s blog http://dishingup.wordpress.com.

I will definitely use the planks again with salmon. I didn’t have to worry about flipping the salmon or putting the filets in tinfoil. The flavor was great, cleanup was simple and all in all it was a keeper. I will continue to experiment with rubs and marinades though.

If you have any experience cooking with planks please share them!

Spiced Rubbed Salmon on a Cedar Plank (serves four)



  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh salmon filets with skin on
  • 2 cedar planks
  • Honey for drizzling

Soak the planks in water for one to two hours before starting.

Preheat your grill to 350 to 375 degrees, medium-low heat. In a small bowl combine all the rub ingredients. Rub the salmon with a moderate amount of the prepared rub and set aside.

Place the planks on the grill and heat for a few minutes. Using tongs turn over the planks and place one piece of salmon on each plank. Close the lid and cook for 13 to 18 minutes depending on thickness of the salmon. You are looking for an internal temp of 135 degrees. You can also judge by touch and sight. It will be flaky, opaque and fairly firm to the touch.

Drizzle with honey and devour immediately.

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Tri Tip is one of my go-to’s when I want meat for dinner and leftovers to make sandwiches or put on a salad the next day. You can prepare it in under an hour with limited hands on time, and have a very filling and satisfying meal. Best of all, you can usually pick it up for around five dollars per pound which is much less than many other cuts of beef. If you have never tried it, then you are missing out.

Tri Tip was the first meat I was entrusted with, to cook, for the restaurant. We have many different recipes that take advantage of tri tip for our catering division and most include using a dry rub, grilling and then slicing very thin on our slicer. We constantly receive incredible feedback about our results and thus I was super stressed when Nancy asked me to grill 10 tips for a catering one night. She had to work another catering and I was pretty much the only one who had the the time to get it done.

I wasn’t worried about the rub, the recipe was written down. But I was worried about overcooking the meat. Now to be fair, I had made some at home in the past, but never with this type of pressure. To make matters worst I didn’t have access to anyone else, I was all alone.

Things ended up working out fine… mostly because I paid attention to a few important details that I want to pass along. First off, after rubbing the meat I let it sit at room temperature for 45 minutes so it would warm up a bit and cook the middle faster.

Second I sometimes setup a two stage fire on the grill, with the back two burners turned to high and the front turned down to very low. This allowed me to position the tips that are thicker on one end, with the thinner portion over the low heat, thus I didn’t overcook the thin part while trying to get the thick part up to temperature. If the tip your purchased is fairly consistent in thickness, don’t worry about it!

Lastly I used an instant read thermometer. I knew that I want the meat to be 130 degrees when I pulled it off, with a target internal temp of 135 degrees after it rested. Now I will admit that I had to use that thermometer much more when I started then I do now, but I will tell you there is no shame in using it. It is much better than slicing a piece open, letting out the juices, so you can take a gander at what the inside looks like.

So with all this said, last night I decided to grill some tri tip, make some aioli and grilled corn on the cob. The tri tip recipe was inspired by the Niman Ranch Cookbook along with the aioli. The corn was out of my head, but it is pretty darn basic. I wanted to use a marinade instead of a dry rub tonight, thus the use of someone else’s recipe as my building block. I’ve still not convinced myself to let out the Dish secret rub recipe, maybe in the future.

I can tell you though that Nancy and I have eaten quite a bit of tri tip and no recipe would make it onto this blog if it didn’t past muster with both of us. This one did. The aioli was a perfect complement to the simply seasoned meat

If you follow these simple tips and practice a bit, you will soon be making some killer tri tip.

Grilled Tri Tip with Black Olive Aioli (serves 3 to 4)

  • 1 tri tip steak, approximately 2.5 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pitted oil-cured black olives
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Place steak in a small, nonreactive baking dish. Combine the olive oil, rosemary and black pepper in a small bowl and stir well. Rub the mixture evenly over the tri tip. Cover with plastic and wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or up to 24 hours. (I marinated the steak for about 1.5 hours on the counter while working out, tasted great).

Remove the tri tip from the refrigerator for 1.5 hours before cooking.

Prepare and light a charcoal grill for direct grilling, or heat gas grill on high. While the grill is warming up start the aioli.


  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup olive oil

To make the aioli in a food processor, place the garlic and salt in the work bowl and process to chop as finely as possible. Wipe down the sides of the food processor to push the pieces back to the bottom. Add the mustard and lemon juice and pulse to combine. Add the egg yolks and, with the motor running, add the olive oil in a SLOW, thin, steady steam until all of it has been incorporated and the mixture is thick and completely emulsified.

Add the olives to the aioli, mix and season with cayenne to taste. I used a few dashes!

When the grill is ready, remove the tri tip from the marinade and season with a liberal amount of kosher salt on both sides. The more the better, don’t be shy. Place the steak on the cooking grate directly over the coals, cover the grill, and cook, turning once, for 18 to 24 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 130 degrees for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Now grill the corn.

Shuck the corn, place the corn on a plate and drizzle with olive oil. Turn to coat. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter for basting the corn as it’s cooking. I just melted the butter in the microwave, quick and easy. Place corn on the grill, grill for 6 to 8 minutes, turning every few minutes and basting with butter.

The meat should be ready to cut now. You will want to cut it into thin slices, across the grain of the meat. Serve with aioli, which was awesome!

Let me know what you guys think and how you cook your tri tip steak!

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Pizza has a special place in my heart. I’ve made, warmed up, ordered, picked up, reheated and plain ate a ton of pizza over the past 30+ years. My favorite pizza of all time was the Tombstone pizza that my dad would buy for me in the bars of Blair, Wisconsin. This is where my dad grew up and we would visit my grandfather every few years for vacation.

You see my grandfather was a bit of a bad ass, actually much more of a bad ass than my dad. When I started going back to Wisconsin at the tender age of 12, I was always allowed in the bars. Everyone knew my grandfather and even though he was in his ’70s at the time, they respected and still feared him. They would break the rules, hence I was never bothered in any of the bars, would have full run and, well, occasionally I could have a bit of beer.

Back then my dad, grandfather and I would go fishing all day long, almost every day then many nights we would take a trip to one of the 17 bars in Blair, population 1,100, circa 1980. Between playing pool, sneaking a drink here and there and well, eating pizza, I had the time of my life.

Rivaling my childhood pizza memories was the trip Nancy and I took recently to Italy for our honeymoon. I couldn’t get enough pizza when I was there and I think I ordered some almost every day, 17 days in total. True Italian pizza is in my opinion is the best you can get. Yes I love all types, but the thin crispy crust with a few toppings, it’s simplicity at its best.

Fast forward to present times… Even though I’ve eaten 100s and 100s of pizzas, unbelievably I’ve never grilled one on my barbecue. I’ve thought about it quite a bit, but for some reason, I guess I chickened out. I end up throwing them in the oven. Good but not great!

So this past Sunday I finally worked up the courage to give it a try and let me tell you, it was awesome. I did take a shortcut and used dough I purchased at our local bread shop and I used Trader Joe’s pizza sauce, but the basil was from our garden and I used fresh mozzarella for one of them and shredded mozzarella and pepperoni for the other.

By all means you can make the dough yourself. I’ve done it before and it’s very rewarding. But all you have to do is call the local bread shop. We purchase ours for something like a buck per pound.

This post is for all of us who don’t have a ton of time and want to get some great pizza on the table, after work, without any hassle. Better yet, invite all of your friends over, purchase a bunch of different toppings and throw an awesome party. Your guests will be talking about it all summer long.

Grilled Pizza Margherita or Grilled Pizza Whatever

  • 1 Bottle of TJ’s Pizza Sauce or Homemade Sauce
  • 1 pound of Pizza Dough – Divided then formed into two balls
  • 6 to 8 ounces of Fresh Mozzarella cut into cubes
  • 6 to 8 Fresh Basil Leaves, medium sized
  • Optional – caramelized onions, Pepperoni, Salami, etc, etc.

Set up your grill. If using charcoal then you will want to light about 40 coals. When ready spread them out on one side of the grill so you have a cool side and a hot side. If using a gas grill, light all the burners, close the lid and heat to high. You will then turn the front burner off completely when ready to grill the pizza. This will be your cool zone.

Lightly oil a large baking sheet or cookie sheet. Take one of the balls of dough and using your fingers and hands stretch the dough into a rectangle. I suggest about 13 or so inches long and 9 or so inches wide. Don’t worry about it being perfect, it’s to eat not to hang on a wall. The important thing to figure out is how thick you like your crust, so experiment with this part. It will be fun. Repeat with other ball of dough.

Prepare your ingredients, sauce, cheese and toppings. You want them ready and in reach once your dough hits the grill.

You will want to grill one at a time. Practice makes perfect. Gently lift the dough and drape it over the hot zone of your grill. Depending on the heat of your grill you will leave them there for 1 to 3 minutes. You are looking for nice grill marks a crisp and hardened bottom. If the top starts to bubble don’t worry about it.

Using two spatulas or tongs or a combo turn the dough over and move it to the cool zone on your grill. Working quickly brush the top half with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, apply the sauce, cheese and basil leaves or the other ingredients you are working with. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slide 1/2 of the pizza back over the hot zone close the lid. Every 30 seconds to 60 seconds rotate the pizza and close the lid so that the cheese melts on the top and the crust doesn’t overcook. You are looking for a nice crunchy crust, golden brown, some charring, but not burnt.

Enjoy! Please share ideas for toppings and your pizza grilling experience.

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Wow, what a week. We went out to Mexican food on Friday, Spanish Tortillas on Saturday and Sunday mornings, baby back ribs for dinner on Saturday and slow cooked (6 hours) brisket on Sunday. Monday, left over Brisket. Tuesday I came home from the restaurant and Nancy was baking two pizzas, one with fresh mozzarella and basil from our small garden and one with some pepperoni, mozzarella and cheddar.

I told myself I would eat two small pieces, 5 trips back to the cutting board and 7 pieces later, they were small, I was laying on the carpet with the dog standing over me (I think she was laughing), feeling full, content and well a bit sick! The pizza was good and my willpower was bad!

Holy cow… how am I supposed to not gain poundage like this? For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve lost 45 pounds in the past year. How? Simply less food, watching portions and exercising for 45 minutes each day. Oh and not eating like I did the past four days more than once every three or four weeks. Yes you can have a ton of fun eating and experimenting while still losing weight. I also eat very small meals throughout the day, 300 or 400 calories and then I try and limit my dinner to 600 calories max. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in hearing more. I’ve done quite a bit of research and testing. Maybe too much!

So how do I fix this? I still want a filling meal, in fact I still wanted meat. I need to get out Mark Bittman’s vegetarian book soon. What I came up with is a relatively low fat, turkey burger. I have cooked them multiple times on the stove on on my All Clad grill pan to great reviews and they always come through. They taste good, fill me up and best of all I don’t feel any guilt when I’m done. Both of the kids even like them, though they like my chuck cheeseburgers better.

I decided on Wednesday night that I would try to barbecue them for a change. I’ve been really juiced on the BBQ lately so I thought why not. I was a bit worried about the burgers sticking to the grill so I decided to rub a bit of olive oil on each side which did the trick. Also make sure your grill is oiled! One other important note, don’t let these burgers sit on the counter for long like I suggest for other types of meat. They don’t hold together as well as they get warmer and tend to break on the flip. Lastly, you do not have to put breadcrumbs in your turkey burgers to keep them together. Breadcrumbs are for a meatloaf, not burgers.

Now you will notice one thing in the one particular photo, ahhh, well, yeah there is a version that doesn’t look too low fat, which is the one with the Brioche Bun, yummmm! Yes the bun has more calories than the hamburger and the cheese combined, hahah. Oh well, I guess after the past week I still don’t completely have my willpower back. Whole Foods just opened not far from my house this week, yes I’m so freaking happy, and I couldn’t resist them when Nancy pointed them out to me!

As for the recipe I found it in “Best Light Recipe” last year and have adapted if for the BBQ. They suggest cooking it on the stove, so will include their version and mine. Honestly the Cooks Illustrated books are some of the best cook books you can buy if you want to understand and learn what is going on with the food. Oh and it tastes as good on the stove as the grill!

So next time you have eaten your quota for the week, but still want a good burger, try these out. I promise you, it will be time well spent.

Turkey Burgers on the Grill: Serves 5 (my adapted version)

  • 1 1/4 pounds Ground Turkey 7% fat
  • 5 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup of low-fat ricotta cheese
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Prepare grill for medium high heat. Make sure to oil grill before starting to keep burgers from sticking.

Combine the turkey, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, ricotta and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a large bowl until mixed well. Divide the mixture between 5 burgers, 3/4 inch thick.

Lightly salt both sides of the burgers and then coat with a small amount of olive oil.

Grill for a total of 9 to 11 minutes depending on desired doneness, turning only once. Instant read thermometer should read 160 degrees to be safe. One minute before taking burgers off be sure to grill your hamburger buns or sourdough English muffins, add cheese to the burgers, close lid and let melt. If using Brioche they will grill fast and can burn pretty quickly so wait until you pull the burgers off, then grill them.

Grilled Asparagus

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

Place asparagus on a plate or in a bowl. Drizzle oil over the asparagus and turn spears until they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and turn again.

Grill asparagus for 7 – 10 minutes. I put them on when I first start my burgers, flip them halfway and if they cook before the burgers I move them to the top rack of my grill!

Turkey Burgers Serves 4 (Cooks Illustrated)

  • 1 1/4 pounds Ground Turkey 7% fat
  • 3 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup of fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Combine th turkey, ricotta, Worcestershire, mustard, salt and pepper together in a large bowl with your hands until uniformly combined. Do not overwork. Divide the mixture into 4 portions. Light toss one portion from hand to hand to form a ball, then lightly flatten the ball with your fingertips. Make four 1-inch thick patties.

Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until smoking. Lay the burgers in the skillet and cook until light brown and crusted, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the burgers and continue to cook until the second side is light brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and continue to cook until the burgers are no longer pink in the center and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes longer.

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Baby Back Ribs

In my household both of my stepsons, Randy and Jacob, 20 and 16, will rarely if ever eat leftovers, unless the food is incredible. I cooked baby back ribs on Saturday, 3 racks – about 6 pounds, and they were gone the next day! I would have to say they were the best ribs I’ve had in a long time and we will be making them again without any real changes to the recipe. Well I might use our secret rub next time, though the rub we used was excellent.

Eating ribs brings back a lot of good memories for me, but the best were the times when I would go visit my sister and her husband in San Jose, back in the ’80s. I was in my teens, my brother-in-law Randy would BBQ the ribs and my sister would make real, fried in oil.. super yeah, French Fries… I just loved them.

I found the somewhat adapted recipe for the ribs in “How to Grill” by Steven Raichlen. If you like to grill and enjoy back back ribs, I would suggest you make them soon. I would also suggest picking up Mr. Raichlen’s books as there is a ton of good information and so far his recipes work! I know, I know, ribs seem complicated, indirect this, temperature control, adding that, spraying them, huh and what the heck is a rib rack. They are actually much easier than you think and your friends and family will be impressed.

I have been grilling lately with my gas Weber grill, but for this task I went with the Weber Kettle grill. I wanted to cook them on medium heat with wood chips and I wanted them to have some smoke… Gas misses the mark a bit on this one, but if you don’t have a charcoal grill handy, don’t let it stop you.

When shopping look for a package marked either “Baby Back Ribs” or “Lion Ribs” or “Back Ribs”. The meat between the ribs are called “finger meat”. These ribs are cut from higher up on the hog near the backbone where the chops and tenderloin come from which means more tender! Each package should weigh approximately 2 pounds. Below I will list the recipe for the rub and the ribs. It is hard to explain how to prep the ribs so take a look at the YouTube video from Weber that does a great job.

Baby Back Ribs


  • 4 racks of ribs (about 6 – 8 pounds)
  • 3 cups of wood chips, hickory – Soak 1 hour in apple cider, then drain
  • 6 cups of apple cider, plus additional for spraying the ribs
  • 2 whole lemons, halved
  • 2/3 cup of Basic Barbecue Rub (see recipe below)
  • 3 cups of BBQ sauce (make your own or use a commercial brand)

Place the ribs in a large nonreactive roasting pan. Pour the cider over the ribs. Squeeze the juice from the lemons over the ribs. Turn the ribs over a few times to coat with marinade. If desired let the ribs marinate in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours, turning several times. I didn’t have time to marinate them for long, so feel free to skip or reduce the time to 10 – 15 minutes. I did, and the results were still amazing.

Drain the ribs, blot them dry with paper towels. Liberally cover both sides of the ribs with the rub, pushing it into the meat. Let the ribs sit in the fridge again for 1 to 2 hours. Oh, yeehaw, I didn’t have time for this either. My dad was patiently waiting for dinner already… I didn’t want to push it. I did let them sit on the counter for a half hour while I got the grill going.

Meanwhile set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. You want the temp in the grill to be 350 degrees. I lit one charcoal starter full, about 40 – 50 briquettes for a large Weber. Once the coals are ready, ashed over, you will place half on each side leaving the middle empty where you can place a drip pan, which can be an aluminum half pan. Hmmm… how do I ever get things to work? I didn’t use a drip pan and didn’t have any problems with flare ups as I had no coals under the meat.

If using a gas grill it should be easy to get the temp to 350. You will most likely leave the back burner on high and turn the others off. You will want to make a smoke pouch. You can do this by placing your soaked chips on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil, cover the chips with the foil, making an enclosed pouch. Then poke holes in the top so the smoke can escape.

I used an oven thermometer, placed through the vent hole, to track the temperature in the grill, again shooting for 350. You can adjust the temperature by opening and closing the vents on the top and bottom of the grill. If you see the temperature on the grill going above 350 you can close the vents halfway on the top. If you have the top fully open and the temp starts to fall to below 300 then add another 10 more unlit coals, see below.

When ready to go, toss 1 cup of wood chips on the coals or if using gas, put your smoke pack on top of one of the burners that is producing heat. Cover the grill and cook the ribs for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Spray the ribs with apple cider every 30 minutes until done. After about an hour add 7 more fresh coals and 1/2 cup of wood chips per side.

Lightly brush the ribs with 1 cup of BBQ sauce 20 minutes before the ribs are done. When the ribs are fully cooked the meat will have shrunk back from the bones 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch and the meat will be tender enough to tear apart with you fingers. Be careful not to overcook.

Transfer the ribs to a platter, let rest for a few minutes, cut as desired and serve with BBQ sauce.

Basic Barbecue Rub


  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons of celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Combine with your hands. If you want more spice substitute the sweet paprika with hot paprika!

Notes: I used a rib rack that I purchased at Williams Sonoma so I could fit more ribs on the grill at one time. If you don’t have a rack I would invest in one. They are everywhere! You can pick them up online for anywhere from $16 to $40. The temperature of my grill was a fairly consistent 350 to 370 and it took exactly 1.5 hours to finish the ribs. The rub was also from “How to Grill” by Steven Raichlen. I may share the rub we use at the restaurant in the future, but I might have to fire myself if I do. Still thinking about it!

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