Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Steak and Cheese Sandwich on the PK Grill

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I haven't been posting much on here lately. That is because we have been busy on weekends doing home repairs. We are also renovating our basement patio, which we have never used much in 20 years, into an expanded grilling area. 

Here's a quicky that we did this past weekend when the heavy rains from Hurricane Delta's remnants kept us from working on projects. I made these super simple steak and cheese subs on the PK grill.

Normally, I will do these when I break down a whole ribeye, and I save one of the ends just for steak and cheese sandwiches.  I run it through my meat slicer on a near-zero thickness setting for shaved steak. I don't do that often because a whole ribeye is not inexpensive, and cleaning the slicer is a bit of a chore. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Hatch and Guac Burger

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We have made a boatload of juicy and delicious burgers this Summer, and this Hatch and Guac Burger is among the best of them. 

Hatch and Guacamole Burger recipe for the grill

It's a 6-ounce beef patty cooked on a coal-fired griddle to get the grilled taste but with a flavor-delivering crust of which Maillard himself would be proud. We put it on a bed of mixed greens and topped it with fire-roasted Hatch chiles, a slice of Grainger County tomato, homemade guacamole, and fried tortilla strips.

But a great burger isn't just about toppings and condiments. For me, a phenomenal burger patty starts with two factors - 

  1. the freshness of the grind and 
  2. the cuts used in the grind. 
We used brisket and sirloin for the ground beef that we used for these burgers. Let's talk about grinding before jumping into the recipe.

How I grind beef for the best burger

The Daily Grind

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Event: Last Year's Praise The Lard BBQ Contest

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It has been a weird year since our team hasn't competed in any BBQ contests this year and we have only cooked at one food festival. In case you are missing these events as much as we are, here is a look back at the 2019 Praise The Lard event.

2019 Praise The Lard BBQ Contest

Praise The Lard is one of the crown jewels in the BBQ competition realm for several reasons. 

  • Praise The Lard is two BBQ contests in one, featuring both KCBS and MBN sanctioned events. 
  • Praise the Lard also includes a steak contest sanctioned by the Steak Cookoff Association.
  • Praise the Lard is excellently organized and well-executed by the legendary Mills family of 17th Street Barbecue.
This BBQ event has been on my BBQ event bucket-list for years. I finally got to compete in it last year with my friends at Flavor Anonymous. We have competed together at Memphis in May for years, but this was my first time with Flavor Anonymous in Murphysboro. Here are some of my pictures from the event.

2019 Praise The Lard BBQ Contest

The Cookers (aka Smokers)

I'm a gear junkie, I admit it. So the first thing I do after our team camp is set up is to walk around looking at all of the smokers. 

2019 Praise The Lard BBQ Contest

Offset smoker at 2019 Praise The Lard BBQ Contest
This was one of the first pits that caught my eye. It is a reverse-flow offset smoker with a transversely mounted firebox. TBH, I'm not sure what mounting the firebox that way does, but my guess would be they could get more volume that way without increasing length. Or, it does allow access to the firebox from the front instead of the side.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Leftover Special: Steak and Cheese Breakfast Hash

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We kicked off last weekend with a steak and scallop dinner.  Here's what we made with the leftovers.

Skillet potatoes au gratin cooked on the Big Green Egg kamado grill.
We made our skillet potatoes au gratin on one of our Big Green Eggs. This skillet is one that we recently restored; it's a Griswold #8 from the 1930s.

Certified Angus Beef® Brand ribeye steaks cooked on a grill
We also grilled several Certified Angus Beef® Brand ribeye steaks from Food City. We dry brined them in our NMT Umami Steak Seasoning for about 6 hours and then grilled them about 4 minutes per side at 450°f.

We had steak and cheesy potatoes leftover. The first thing that came to mind was making steak and cheese breakfast hash. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Half-Pound Cowboy Burgers on the Grill

 [FTC Standard Disclosure] I received no compensation for this post.

We get so busy "doing" on the weekends that we'll often eat lunch so late that we just combine it with an early dinner. Do you do that? That's what we did last weekend when we made these classic, big honkin' Cowboy Burgers for our lunch-dinner. 

This elbow-dripping burger starts with an 8-ounce patty of fresh ground beef and is loaded with smoky cheddar cheese, crispy bacon, bourbon-laden BBQ sauce, fried onions, and homemade spicy pickles.

As always, I have my cooking notes, tips, and more mouth-watering pictures below the recipe. Enjoy!

Cowboy Burgers


Published 08/30/2020


Monday, August 24, 2020

Ribeye Steak with White Beans and Bacon

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A popular dish in Tuscany is a straight-forward T-bone steak with white beans. So this quick steak dinner that I made this past weekend is Tuscan-inspired but Appalachian-influenced since I'm using East Tennessee's own Bush's® Beans. 

Certified Angus Beef Ribeye with White Beans and Bacon
I used a ribeye instead of a T-bone because the ribeyes looked the best. 

Cooking Strategy

My strategy was to set up a two-zone fire on a simple charcoal grill. I did my skillet cooking directly over the coals until it was time to simmer. Then I slid the beans to the indirect side, raised the grill temperature, and seared the steak directly over the coals. 

Equipment Strategy

For this cook, I chose to use my old CharBroil 500x. This tabletop grill is no longer in production but the Oklahoma Joe Rambler is an improved similar version. Tuscan grilling is basic (in a good way) and this aged grill is like that too. That's really the main reason that I picked this particular grill for this cook. 

Setting up a two-zone fire in a small, tabletop grill from Charbroil
This grill is set up for a two-zone fire with all of the fuel on the right side for sauteing and grilling and the left side is left open for indirect cooking.


Certified Angus Beef Ribeye Steak with White Beans and Bacon
Certified Angus Beef Brand® ribeye steak with white beans and bacon

Confession:  This is my bean and bacon soup recipe with less stock. Just about 1/2 to 1 cup more of stock and you'll have a quick and tasty soup. 

White Beans and Bacon


Published 06/22/2020


  • 3 strips Smithfield Homestyle bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can Bush's Great Northern Beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper


  1. Place cast-iron skillet or another grill-safe, non-stick skillet on a 350°f grill (medium heat) and allow it to preheat for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the bacon, carrot and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is turning brown and slightly crispy.
  3. Sprinkle the flour into the skillet and whisk until the flour and bacon fat combine to form a light roux, 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the stock while whisking until it is fully combined. OPTIONS - If you want rustic beans, leave this as is and move to step 4. For a finer sauce, use an immersion blender to process the liquid mixture before proceeding to step 4. We like it both ways.
  4. Stir in the drained white beans. Season with the salt and pepper. Push to the indirect heat on the grill or over a low heat burner, and let simmer lightly while you cook the steak.
  5. Season to taste with additional salt, as desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.

Cook time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.

Total time: 30 mins.

Tags: skillet

Certified Angus Beef Brand ribeye steak from Food City in Knoxville
I seasoned this beautiful Certified Angus Beef® ribeye steak from Food City with my NMT Beef Rub v.2 recipe, loosely covered it, and put it back in the fridge for about 4 hours to let it "dry brine". I took it back out 1 hour before I was ready to grill.

Lighting up Kingsford original using a JJ George grill torch
Lighting up a stack of Kingsford blue bag using a JJ George grill torch. Kingsford is doing a pretty cool thing to help support BBQ joints right now. They are opening a $5,000 tab at certain restaurants on a scheduled day.  Check out their Famous Bites page for details and recipes from those restaurants.

The mise en place for my beans. If you do a lot of cooking outdoors, do yourself a favor and get a tray like this. They reduce the number of trips back and forth and also make clean up easier.

I started the grill on medium heat (350°f) by having most of the vents shut down. Then when it was time to grill the steaks, I opened up the vents and opened the front access door to let more oxygen to the coals. That bumps the heat up real quick.

This view gives you a good visualization of the two-zone fire. I'm using direct heat to saute in this picture and will shift the skillet to the void on the left when it's time to let it simmer. That skillet is a 80+ year old Griswold #5.

Stirring in the flour to make the light roux. Your flour should be completely incorporated with no white lumps to be seen. You also might notice a "nutty" aroma that tells you it's done as well but that's harder to detect when grilling compared to using the stovetop. It shouldn't take but 1-2 minutes.

Making white beans and bacon while I grill the steak
Finishing up.  If your beans simmer too long and get thicker than you like, you can always stir in a smidgen more of stock to thin it out. I like them thick.

Certified Angus Beef ribeye steak with white beans and bacon
There you have it. Straight forward, tender, and amazing.

Want more delicious recipes and grilling tips?
I have two great books available for sale through Ulysses Press.

The Kamado Smoker and Grill Cookbook  
The Offset Smoker and Grill Cookbook.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Gyros on the Grill

[FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post. We bought our own Easy Kabab out of curiosity and have no affiliation with the manufacturer, but the link is an Amazon Affiliate link. 

I absolutely love a good gyro. Chef Adam Perry Lang calls them a "hyperseasoned crowd-pleaser" in his first book, Serious Barbecue. I have to agree because the bold flavors and tender morsels of meat make my mouth happy.

Homemade gyros cooked on a Big Green Egg
A batch of gyros that I cooked on the Big Green Egg last weekend.

What's a Gryo?

Gyro is a spicy ground lamb (or a mix of lamb and beef) that is roasted upright on a vertical rotisserie, basting itself as the fat renders. Thin slices of the meat are shaved off and typically served in a pita with sliced tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. The meat is slightly dense compared to the more loose texture of hamburger, yet very tender.

In Knoxville, your best bet for a great gyro is Yassin's Falafel House. His gyros are loaded with the highly seasoned meat, and the pitas are thick yet delightfully soft in texture.

A Crusty Strategy

For me, the best gyros have slices with crispy edges from the outer edges of the roasting meat. The crispy edges are like having bark in your BBQ, in that it adds texture and boosts the flavor. I've made Alton Brown's recipe and Chef Adam Perry Lang's smoked lamb gyro, and they were both delicious. But they both use a loaf or large roll for their process, which gives less of the crispy bits to go around. So I have started making my gyros as kabobs to get more of the crusty tidbits.

Grilling gyro kabobs on a PK Grill equipped with GrillGrates
Grilling my second test batch of this recipe on a PK Grill set up with GrillGrates.

I use a Fresno chile in my gyro meat recipe because I enjoy their mild heat. I have substituted a single serrano chile with excellent results. If you want more heat, use 2-3 serranos. 

I use some ground beef for 2 reasons. First, lamb is expensive, and second, I'm not a massive fan of lamb. I made a batch using just ground beef, and it tasted like seasoned hamburgers which was not what I was looking for. I think you HAVE to have a good bit of lamb in there to make it taste like gyros.

Gyros on the Grill