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Pellet Grill Cooking – Unlimited Flavor Possibilities


When Joe Traeger adapted pellet stove technology to invent his first pellet grill, the scope of outdoor cooking changed forever. No longer would someone need multiple grills or ovens in order to have versatile options at their disposal. Joe’s invention allowed users five different cooking options with one grill which was a major breakthrough in the industry. However, pellet grill cooking was still somewhat limited since cooking temperatures of the early grills didn’t reach higher than 450°F. This meant that if outdoor cooks wanted to char, grill, and sear their meats, they typically had to do it on another piece of equipment.

That all changed when Louisiana Grills parent company Dansons invented the Flame Broiler Sear Plate, a device which allowed the heat shield to slide open which would expose food to direct flames. This modification allowed pellet grill users the most cooking options available in one grill. This cemented pellet grills as the most versatile grills on the market.


What Can You Cook on a Pellet Grill?

With 8 in 1 versatile cooking options available to unleash flavors, pellet grills give cooks a seemingly endless amount of choices. Any recipe that calls for smoking, baking, searing, BBQ, grilling, roasting, charring or braising can all be done on a single Louisiana Wood Pellet Grill. This is because Louisiana Grills can cook with indirect or direct heat.

Indirect Heat on a Pellet Grill

When the sear plate is closed, air circulates around the pellet grill much like a convection oven allowing for an indirect heat cooking method. Depending on the temperature of the grill, indirect heat allows the cook to smoke, bake, barbecue, roast, or braise.


Direct Heat on a Pellet Grill

When the sear plate is wide open, food on the grill is exposed to a direct flame. At high temperatures, this allows for true searing, charring and grilling on a wood pellet grill.


Cooking on a Wood Pellet Grill

Here is a little more detail on the 8 in 1 cooking options that Louisiana Wood Pellet Grills offer:

Smoke

Pellet grills are often referred to as pellet smokers because they are an efficient grill for low and slow smoking. When pellet grills are set to temperatures below 225°F, the auger slowly feeds wood pellets into the burn pot which allow for the mild temperature swings which allow the pellets to smolder and produce smoke. While the low heat slowly cooks the food, the smoke infuses the wood flavor into whatever is being cooked. 225°F is also a great temperature if the goal is to produce more bark on the meat.


Bark is when the outer surface of the meat forms a chewy, but flavorful jerky like texture. At temperatures within this range, water inside meat literally begins to sweat and cool the meat around the same time the air flow convection is heating the surface. This creates a period known as the stall where internal temperatures seem to be at a standstill. The surface of the meat is drying out as water evaporates creating a bark. The longer the stall, the more bark is produced on the meat.

Try This: Smoked Tri Tip with Java Chophouse


This Tri Tip recipe may be light on effort compared to other smoke recipes, but it is big on flavors. The nutty Java Chophouse helps enhance the savory beef of the Smoked Tri Tip. This meal pairs well with Syrah or Merlot.

Barbecue

Many confuse barbecue, smoking, and grilling as the terms are often intertwined. When it comes to cooking temperatures, barbecue is within the range of 225°F to 325°F. Like smoking, barbecue is cooking in indirect heat over a long period of time. And like smoking, barbecue produces smoke and bark, albeit not as much. Less bark and less smoke are why some people prefer barbecuing over smoking. Cooking at this temperature can be optimal for flavor depending on the meat. If you’re attempting to cook brisket or pork shoulder to 205°F internal temperature, the longer and slower the cooking process, the more tender and moister the meat will be. However, for leaner cuts like chicken, pork loin, and ribs, the temperature zone referred to as barbecue can be an excellent option.

Try This: Competition Smoked Baby Back Ribs Recipe


This recipe utilizes the 2-2-1 method which incorporates both smoke and BBQ temperatures for optimal smoke flavor and caramelization on the surface of the meat. The result is a smoky, tangy and tender rack of ribs.

Grill

As stated before, Grilling and BBQ are often intertwined terms used to describe outdoor cooking. However, the distinction is as important for cooking as baking and roasting is. The reason being is that grilling is a term that should be used to describe cooking quickly at high heat over an open flame. BBQ is the exact opposite of that, the only common trait is that the cooking is done outdoors. Cooking temperatures for grilling on a pellet grill should be above 350°F with a direct heat source.


The set temperature will differ depending on what is being grilled. When grilling a thick chicken breast, it is best to use a lower temperature to allow the inside of the meat to cook slowly without burning the outside.

When grilling a thin piece of meat or vegetable, like a skirt steak for instance, it is best to use higher temperatures as the inside of the meat will cook much faster. When cooked too long, the inside of the meat will be tough and dry if it is a thin piece.

Try This: Argentinian Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce


This skirt steak recipe takes little time to cook on the grill but thanks to 45-minute soak in marinade, the flavors are fresh and delightfully pronounced with notes of sweetness from the red wine vinegar, spice from our own Chop House Rub, and fresh herbs and garlic. This steak can even be marinated the night before in order to make for an easy weeknight cook on the grill.


Sear/Reverse Sear

Searing is the process of browning food over a direct or indirect flame (like in a pan for instance) at extremely hot temperatures. Optimal set temperature for searing on pellet grills has been debated due in large part to most pellet grills not being able to reach grill temperatures of over 500°F. As mentioned before, when the Flame Broiler Plate on on Louisiana Grill is open, temperatures of the grill can reach well beyond that.


The Maillard Reaction is a process where the amino acids and sugars in the meat change their chemical composition and form new compounds when heated. Thus, the surface of the meat browns and changes the composition of muscle and fat. The fat begins to soften and melt while developing a crunchy almost charred crust while the muscle becomes more tender.

If using a rub, marinade or sauce, caramelization also occurs during the searing process which combined with the Maillard Reaction leaves meat with a flavor that can’t be compared.


The Reverse Sear

Reverse searing is when searing is performed after the meat has been cooked at low temperatures until just before the point of desired internal temperature. This is usually performed on thick cuts of steak (or other meats like pork chops) in order to not leave the inner part of the meat undercooked. With the reverse sear method, thicker cuts of meat can be cooked all the way through and still have that delicious external crust.

Try This: Reverse Seared NY Steak


As stated previously, it is recommended to reverse sear thick cuts of steak. This NY Steak is no exception. This method will allow you to cook the steak internally to a desired level of doneness and still get that delicious, caramelized and crunchy texture worthy of a steakhouse menu. Seasoned lightly with steak seasoning and charred with butter, this technique is easy to master and one you will be coming back to again and again.


Char

Somewhere in between searing and burning is charring. Think of charred food as food that has been kissed by the fire with a tiny bit of scars left behind. Meat, vegetables, and fruit can all be charred on the grill. Charring enhances the flavor depth of such foods and gives the food the visual appearance of grill marks. It tells the eater subconsciously that this is a dish that is fresh off the grill.


Chemically speaking, char is formed by heating organic matter without the presence of oxygen, in a process known as pyrolysis.

A big difference between charring and searing, (besides length of exposure to heat) is that charring needs to be done over an open flame and is usually done on a grill in order to receive those coveted grill marks.

While most everyone is familiar with a charred hot dog, charring can also be performed for a variety of applications including: to crisp the skin of meats such as fish or chicken, to give a crunchy texture to vegetables such as Brussel sprouts or peppers, and caramelize the sugars of fruits.


Try This: Grilled Mexican Corn on the Cob


Grilled corn on the cob is a barbecue side staple. The sweetness of the corn with the charred kernels compliment the smoky flavors of barbecue really well. This Mexican takeadds a little salty and sour acidity to the mix by using key lime jerk seasoning, lime juice and feta cheese.


Bake

Baking, to put it technically, is a term for a method of cooking with dry heat in an enclosed device, such as an oven so heat can circulate below, around, and above the food being cook. Ingredients usually involve the elements of flour, water, and a leavening agent such as yeast or batter.

One doesn’t normally think of baking when it comes to outdoor cooking, however there can be an amazing flavor advantage for using a Louisiana Wood Pellet Grill to bake a host of dishes including desserts, casseroles, and pizza. Again, using wood flavored pellets can lift the flavor profile of any dish.


Consider the classic apple pie (for example). An apple pie cooked traditionally in the oven has delicious elements of sweetness and tartness. Now imagine adding subtle notes of hickory, maple, and cherry smoke infused flavor. With Louisiana Grills Competition Blend Pellets, giving apple pie this complex mix of spices and aroma is as easy as filling the hopper with one bag.

Another natural dish to bake on a pellet grill is of course, the pizza. Incorporating a pizza stone can give cooks a very similar environment to cooking a pizza.in a wood fired oven. The stone gives a nice crunch to the crust, while the pellets add in delicious and smoky wood flavors.


Try This: Bourbon Bacon Brownies


These brownies are a tasty and richly divine treat. The perfect dessert to top off a relaxing Sunday of outdoor cooking on the patio. They not only taste heavenly, but the aromas that permeate from the bacon and the smokiness of the pellet grill really make the baking process an immensely pleasurable experience.


Roast

Roasting and baking are similar methods of cooking, the main difference being that roasting is performed at temperatures above 400°F in order to give the food a nice brown crust (remember the Maillard Reaction we talked about earlier). Roasting usually incorporates meats and/or vegetables in an open, uncovered pan.

Try This: Prime Rib Roast


If there is one type of meat that encapsulates all the benefits of roasting, it has to be Prime Rib. The high temperatures brown and caramelize the simple rub of salt, pepper, garlic and herbs while the quicker cook leaves inner part of the meat incredibly juicy and tender. The result is a flavorful outer crust with a bite that melts in the mouth. Combine with a side of roasted vegetables like carrots or Brussel sprouts and roasted potatoes and you have an elegant meal that will help you perfect your roasting technique.


Braise

Braising is a relatively easy technique that can turn tough meats into restaurant quality dishes that are packed with flavor and fall off the bone tender. Braising and boiling are very similar with the key difference being that the food is not submerged when it is braised.


Braising is typically a four-step process.

  • The first process involves searing the meat in a dutch oven, pot or pan. For best results, cast iron is recommended.
  • Then the meat is removed and vegetables such as celery, onions, garlic, carrots, etc are sautéed in the leftover drippings from the seared meat.
  • Next the braising liquid is added to deglaze the pot and the leftover bits on the bottom are scraped back into the liquid. These bits are packed with flavor and need to be dissolved into the liquid.
  • Finally, the meat is added back into the pot. It should not be submerged, otherwise it would be boiling in the pot. The liquid is brought to a simmer and then covered and brought onto the grill at 325°F to 350°F.

The result is a very rich, savory, and elegant dish. The more the broth is deglazed and reduces, the stronger the flavors.

Once again a pellet grill can add yet another flavor element into the mix and give braised food wood fired flavor. Simply sear meat in a cast iron pan in order to collect the juices and the circulating smoky aromas will infuse with the meat throughout the process.


Try This: Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary


This specific recipe calls to grill the lamb shanks first , but you can use the same four step process as outlined above. Braising is a great technique for lamb shanks since it will result in incredibly soft lamb and the meat absorbs the deglazed liquid and juices extremely well.


8 in 1 Versatility That Infuses Flavor


There is no other cooking device, indoor or outdoor, that is extremely versatile and infuses so much flavor. Find out why so many outdoor chefs and enthusiasts are joining in on the pellet grilling phenomenon and enhancing their culinary repertoire. Visit a dealer today to get a firsthand pellet grilling experience.

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