Christmas Guide 2017

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Every year for the past half dozen or so I’ve either been asked to write a barbecue gift guide or to contribute to other blogs with a few of my recommendations.  This year, I thought about doing things a little differently.  Yes, I know I could just keep every item barbecue related and that would be fine, but I thought why not open up the list a bit more?  Why not just do a list of the things that I love for one reason or another, that I use often or thoroughly enjoy using when I get the chance?  Along the way maybe a better story of who I am and why I do what I do may find its way into being.  Where possible I’ve posted an Amazon link if you decide to add any of the items to your collection.  Obviously not every item will be available via Amazon, in those cases I’ve provided links to sites I trust.

Also as a full disclosure, I’ve had a part in the success of Grilla Grills.  I am proud to be apart of this team and it is one of the most rewarding barbecue relationships I have ever had.  This includes releasing a signature line of sauces and rubs with them and being closely involved in the sourcing and releasing of several accessories.  So it goes without saying that with that much involvement some of these items made this list.  This is not me trying to convince you to buy anything from Grilla, nothing on this list made the cut if it did not meet the criteria mentioned above.


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Lodge Logic Square Skillet – There are a few standards I think every kitchen needs and a classic cast iron pan is one of those things.  From making corn bread to searing steaks they are just invaluable.  This pan was on my list last year and it still is my favorite pan for just about everything.  When I bought mine I knew I’d be using it a lot so I added the silicone handle cover as well.  I wondered if I’d really think the extra $4 (pricing depends on color chosen) was worth it, and I’m glad to say it still is.  Treat cast iron pans right and you have a pan literally for a life time.  In fact one of my wedding presents from my grandmother almost 20yrs ago was a small round cast iron pan that she used for decades before passing it on to me.  There aren’t a great many things that you can buy today that you can pass on to your grandchildren when they get married, but this is one of them.


grizzly

Grizzly Coolers 60 – It’s no big secret that I’ve been on a mission for the past year to test a lot of coolers.  I’ve been sent some as test units, paid full price for others and after it was all said and done there was only one left standing and that was the Grizzly line.  Mark Lambert first turned me onto Grizzly and I have to give him credit there.  I liked the line so much I pushed for Grilla Grills to carry them on their site.  One note on sizes as Grizzly has a lot of sizes available.  I really find that the 60qt size works for me.  Some will want larger, some smaller, but if I were on the competition trail I know I could run two 60qt sized coolers and get the job done.

Let’s talk about what I feel Grizzly get’s right.  First has to be price.  Yes, there are cheaper, but in this market segment there are also some two to three times the price for the same sized cooler.  Second has to be the weight.  I really liked several other brands but what kept me coming back to the Grizzly was the size vs weight.  They are not nearly as heavy as some and when you have to lug these things on and off trailers and in and out of the back of trucks, weight starts to matter quickly.  The last thing I feel Grizzly does better than the rest is the drain plug.  You want to dump out the entire liquid contents of the cooler in a minute?  This cooler can do that without having to tip it over.  This was a factor I never considered until I lived with several other brands and it took forever for some of them to drain after I cleaned them.  And when you are doing everything from brining turkeys to hauling adult beverages, ease of clean up and keeping everything safe matters.

Let’s be real here, all the coolers in the roto molded segment keep ice for longer than anyone frankly expects.  So why pay more for the cooler if you don’t have to?  The only cooler that had a few more tricks up is sleeve that I really liked was the Orion.  Their latching system is better, but I just can’t recommend their products due to the pricing.  Orion was one of the heaviest I tested which really became an issue in the long term.

drifter

While we are talking about coolers let me bring up the soft sided cooler that Grizzly makes as well, the Drifter.  I was fortunate enough to get a Drifter 20 for testing earlier this year.  I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but after living with it on several trips and also seeing that I could fit a whole packer brisket in it I was sold.  We took this cooler with us on a trip to Florida (14hrs in the truck) and a trip to Orange Beach, Alabama (10hrs in the truck) and each time I was more impressed with the Drifter 20.  The amount of storage it has and its innovations make it a winner and frankly make it worth the $150 price tag.  Never mind it’s just plain cool (see what I did there), has tons of storage compartments and isn’t just some flabby pouch when empty.  If you’ve been considering a high end soft sider, I definitely recommend giving this one a look.


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Ticwatch S Knight – I hesitated to put this one on the list since I know the world is divided between Apple and Android users, but what the heck it’s my list of favorite things and this definitely is a favorite thing.  I’ve been on the fence about buying a smartwatch for a long long time, which might sound counter intuitive given that I’m a tech guy by day.  I frankly just don’t think that most smartwatches are worth the cost.  I also never really found one that straddled that line between fitness tracker, heart rate monitor AND personal assistant device.  Several months ago while considering buying one for my birthday I ran across the Kickstarter campaign for the Ticwatch S and thought, for $130 why not.  I figured I would be ok at that price and could stomach not loving it for just over a hundred dollars vice spending the $300 I was considering.  Fast forward to just before Thanksgiving and mine was delivered.  Being someone who is constantly reaching for my phone I wanted something to keep me from doing that as much.  After all more times than not I’m covered in grease/fat when I’m cooking and I have about 5 different company emails I have to keep up with so me digging in my pocket for my phone after receiving an alert is never ending.  I’m super glad to say the Ticwatch S has filled this void and I LOVE IT.  For the money it’s definitely worth it, even at non Kickstarter prices.  If you are looking for a great smartwach for a reasonable price check it out, you’ll be glad you did.


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Camelbak Chute 40oz Insulated Bottle – I know this one sounds crazy on this list, but as someone who packs this thing around as religiously as I do my phone I had to include it on the list.  Ask anyone who travels with me and they will tell you this thing has more miles on it than my truck.  I also credit this bottle with helping me keep extra weight off and it was key in getting my health turned around almost two years ago.

How does a water bottle do that?  Well, its about forming habits and replacing bad habits with good ones.  I quit soda cold turkey about two years ago.  I’ve not had even a sip since.  So what I did to replace that urge was carry around my water with me everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE.  I wanted to find a bottle that was easy to clean, could take a beating, kept stuff cold and flowed easily.  The idea was that I needed to drink a gallon of water a day and I didn’t care to be sucking on a straw all day.  Thankfully I found this water bottle and Stur water enhancer at the same time.  I hate to even think how much money I’ve spent on Stur in the last two years, but I go through about 20 of those little bottles a month and for me it’s 100% worth it to not be addicted to soda’s any longer.

I’m not advocating anyone necessarily do what I did, but if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, I do advocate for everyone to take a serious look at what they are putting in their bodies, because that is likely the problem.  And believe me when I tell you that your children are watching you and will take their cues from you.  My two boys no longer drink any soda’s either and also drink water about 90% of the time.  They do drink some juices and milk as well, but I was shocked at how much their diets mimicked mine as they started seeing changes in me physically, mentally and emotionally.  Never once did I ask them to make those changes, which was all the better.  My boys even have their own smaller Camelbak Chutes and that is worth way more to me than the cost of the product.


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Perfect Pushup Elite – While I’m harping on health I have to plug these.  Both of my wrists are completely screwed up so it was really limiting me in doing push ups.  One day while visiting with Mark Graham of Grilla Grills I saw these sitting next to his desk and asked if he liked them.  He gave them a glowing review and I thought, “well if its good enough for Mr. Fitness himself I’ll give them a try.”  Well Mark was right, they work and I really love them.  I have an alarm on my phone/smartwatch that tells me to get up and move once an hour.  Since I work at home on a computer all day this is very important to me.  So when my alarm goes off I grab these and bust out as many push ups as I can do then return back to being the sloth that I am.  It’s not that I think these will change your life, its that I think these are apart of changing your life, and that I am all for if you are tired of looking like the “before” picture in a late night infomercial.


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Thermoworks Thermopop – I get asked often, “what’s one thing you will not cook without?”  My answer used to be a Thermoworks Thermapen, now that has changed to the Thermopop.  I still love the Thermapen for sure, but the Thermopop is $30 and it’s much easier for me to recommend.  It’s just as accurate, nearly as fast AND easier to carry around.  There are very few devices that will make you better cook across the board, but this is one of them.  Even if you already have the Thermapen I still recommend you buying one of these.  I have about half a dozen and I keep them literally everywhere I cook and one even stays in the console of my truck and in my knife roll.  I don’t leave home without it and I just don’t think you can find a better thermometer for the money bar none.  Save yourself some headache and just order a couple in various colors because I don’t know anyone in barbecue that has just one of these.


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Meathead The Science of Great Barbecue – seriously is there a better name for a cook book? I really like Meathead’s take on things.  Its one part Good Eats format where the science is the focal point and one part great cook book.  In the end I think we can all agree that Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn and his site AmazingRibs.com has become the encyclopedia of all things barbecue.  I recommend articles from his site weekly and he has made a career of proving scientifically what works and what doesn’t.  Give this book a try, it’s worth the read.

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Extreme Ownership – I stumbled on this book late last year and it changed a lot of things for me.  The past year has been a quest of getting my head right.  If you are looking to be a better leader, make a change in your life or just generally figure out how to be a better human give this book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin a read.  I’ve bought several copies for friends and I just can’t recommend it enough.  Want to hear more of what Jocko has to say?  Subscribe to the Jocko Podcast.  If you are military or former military this podcast should be mandatory.  Start at episode 1 and work from there.  Believe me it’s worth the ride.

 

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Way of the Warrior Kid – Yes, another Jocko Willink book.  This one is for any kid in your life.  I’ve personally bought almost 20 copies of this book and have given to every kid I have coached, mentored or ever worked with.  This book changes things for young people.  It shows them they can make a difference.  They can own their situation.  They do not have to be afraid of working hard.  My 7yr old has read this book and will tell you it is favorite by far.  This story is told through the eyes of Mark a 5th grader.  Mark’s uncle Jake, a Navy SEAL, comes to stay with Mark’s family for the summer and he helps Mark with his fear of water, the school bully, multiplication, memorizing the Presidents and pull ups.  If you have children take the time and read this book right along with them.  It will be worth the time and effort, I cannot recommend it enough.  Our job as parents is not just to love our children always, but to help arm them with the tools and ideas that will make them better humans and citizens.  It all starts at home with you.  There will never be a better time than right now to start making a difference.


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Lodge L410 Hibachi – It seems like everyone is always looking for the best steak searing device and I always wonder why this little jewel doesn’t get recommended more.  It’s compact, you can’t break it and you can get this thing rocket hot for some insane steak searing.  Need some great charcoal you can find in your local big box store?  Check out B&B Hickory Lump, its quickly becoming a favorite of mine.


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Dalstrong Shogun Gyuto – I actually have a few Dalstrong knives now, but I keep coming back to this 8in Gyuto blade.  I just love it.  I’ve tested the Dalstrong Phantom Chef’s knife as well and really enjoyed it for it’s agility and super light weight.  Where the Phantom’s are light and agile the Shogun’s have a weight and strength about them.  I just can’t describe it, but the weight and feel of these knives just feel reassuring in your hand and make you feel more confident.  The pinch on these knives are fantastic and the blades are razor sharp.  I’ve also purchased the Shogun paring and birds beak knives, each phenomenal in their own right.  Dalstrong does a great job of releasing limited run knives and some really interesting options.  Be sure to keep checking them out because if they do not have one that you love right now, give it a month they will.


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Grilla Injector – Let me just say that I love this injector. This is another great example of the partnership between Grilla Grills and I.  At Memphis in May we were cooking whole hog and we had probably 8 injectors on site and throughout the course of injecting both hogs every single one of them failed.  I went to Mark Graham and said “that’s it man, we are going to fix this once and for all and offer it on the website.”  Mark said “lets do it, bring it on.”  Well fast forward a couple of months, a few prototypes I tested and the end result is this behemoth.  It’s heavy, its stainless and I love how the needles thread onto the syringe.  I could wax poetic about this work of art for days, but check out the YouTube video, it pretty much sums it up.  If you don’t have this, GET IT.


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Don Francisco’s Hawaiian Hazelnut Coffee – This is definitely one of my favorite things.  I have one really good cup of coffee a day.  That cup is almost always DF’s Hawaiian Hazelnut.  I know it’s odd to include coffee on a Christmas list, but that should tell you how much I enjoy this coffee.   It’s not always easy to get via Amazon and when it is available I order a couple of tins to make sure I don’t run out.

If you love hazelnut coffee, this one kicks in just a hint of coconut which makes it great black without added sugar.  For me I add the slightest hint of pure Stevia powder and it’s perfect.


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Ion Tailgater Express – I am most definitely 100 percent an audio file.  I don’t do much of anything without music playing.  When it’s not music it’s podcasts.  I bought this earlier this year because I wanted something to take to the pool to listen to with the kids.  It is splash resistant, has a really big built in battery that lasts a long time, has bluetooth and a USB port to allow you to charge your phone.  In addition to all these features, it sounds fantastic.  I like this thing so much that I now travel with this speaker when I go on trips.  If it died tomorrow I would order another immediately.  This little speaker has replaced a Bose unit that I ordered for the kitchen.  I know, crazy right!?!!?  I got the Bose in, unboxed it and listened to it for about 10 minutes and honestly did not feel it sounded significantly better than the Ion so I returned it.  This little box is a strong bang for the buck.


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Ladder 8 Steel Grill Brush – This is probably one of the items I get asked about more than any other in the grilling world.  I don’t know why but finding a great grill brush seems to be nearly impossible.  I’ve gone through about 15 different models over the years and this is the only one that I still recommend.  Now before someone comments about the dangers of a bristle breaking off and being digested let me address that right up front.  First off that danger is slim and if you wipe down your grates after brushing them it is virtually eliminated.  Second the material the brush itself is made from will determine how likely the bristles are to break off.  That is why I love this brush.  The bristles are strong and after over a year of use mine still looks new.  If that wasn’t enough every single one of these brushes are backed by a lifetime warranty and a love it or leave it money back guaranty.

All of that is fine and good but how well does it work?  The 4 head design of this brush and the angle of attack built into the handle make all the difference.  There is very little on your grill that this brush won’t take care of in just a few swipes.  If you are looking for your “next” grill brush, order this one, it will be the last one you buy.


Grilla Grills Signature Sauces and Rubs – Before I get into talking about each of the sauces and rubs let me talk about what this product line means to me.  I’ve gone on record as saying this is hands down the best work I have done in my 10yrs in barbecue.  I really do mean that.  My relationship with Grilla is special and there is something about it that has brought what I do to another level.  Everything I do with them I want to be best.  They make me better and I make them better.  It is a rare partnership that works this well.  I was called crazy when I agreed to sign on to help out a company, that at the time was a complete unknown.  I was warned that I would be used for my ideas and kicked to the curb.  I was told that taking a backseat in a larger organization was career suicide.  All I know is that when I sat down with the team at Grilla I knew they were something special and different.  I knew immediately that with someone on board who had been through all the pitfalls in this community that they could be quickly successful.  So I shook the owners hand in that meeting and told him I’d give him everything I’ve got and expected their trust in return to make this company something amazing.

Those ideas and sentiments are what drive me to be the best.  I refuse to release any product before it’s perfect and I refuse to put out any sauce and rub that is not world class.  I have zero doubt that what has come from this partnership is one of the best sauce and rub lines in existence bar none.  That is not said to be cocky, but it is said because I know the amount of time and effort I have put into every single one of these products and I believe that to the very core of my being.  Find another grill company who has sauces and rubs that will say that and can back it up.  It’s a very rare thing indeed.  The core difference is that most grill makers add sauce and rubs and accessories to pad their bottom line.  They just want to make another sale.  They make huge profit margins on those things and frankly do not focus on making them the best they can be.  Mark and I refuse to do that.  Every single product has to be the best we can make it, done so at a reasonable price and delivered as frequently as possible with free shipping.

tbThick & Bold – This started it all and was the basis of the initial partnership with Grilla.  We took this sauce to the World Championships at Memphis in May and tied for first.  It was one heck of a lead off product and is fantastic on everything.  This sauce set the bar really high for me and I knew I could not release anything else unless it was equal in every way.  The thing that makes Thick & Bold special is the balance between the sweet, the tanginess and the way can be used as everything from a dipping sauce to a finishing glaze.  This sauce is as versatile as they come and we have competition teams even using it as part of their brisket program and winning just about every time they cook.

 

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Gold N Bold – I swore for a very long time that I would never do a mustard sauce.  Frankly I didn’t think I had much to say in this genre of sauce and Ron Worby of Susquehanna Blue Smoke had done it as well as it needed to be done.  When I was asked to finally dig in and see what I could do I ordered every mustard sauce I could find.  Frankly most fell into two categories.  Mustard that had some spices added that were very hard to stomach.  Seriously try to eat spoonfuls of mustard and see how that goes.   And then there were what basically were tomato based sauces that had mustard added to make them more tangy.  Neither of these appealed to me.  I wanted to find a mustard sauce that you could eat directly off of the spoon, still top a hot dog/hamburger with it, but had something more going for it flavor wise to make it worthy of doing.  After an insane amount of trying and failing I finally found this sweet spot of balance and I knew I was on to something.  We took this sauce back to Memphis in May and served to the on site judges on our whole hog entry.  When they all freaked out over it and asked where they could buy it I knew it was good.  When the two chef’s on our team told me it was the best they had eaten then I realized it was time to stop messing with it and get it ready for final release.  It took from June until September for the factory to get it dialed in to my requirements, but in the end all that frustration was worth it.  Its a great sauce and even if you think you don’t like mustard sauces you should give it a try.

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Kongo Kick – When it comes to “hot” barbecue sauces I just do not feel there is ever a clear win.  Those that know me well know I will not play if I cannot win.  So when Mark Graham asked me to make one for Grilla I was apprehensive.  The reality is that they are never hot enough for the people who love heat and the mention of heat drives away all other consumers.  Thankfully early on the name for this sauce was decided on and that allowed me to set the tempo for what the sauce should be, a great barbecue sauce with a kick at the end.  I went through about 15 different pepper blends before finding a combination that I felt added a great dynamic to the sauce while also allowing the heat to gradually build as it was being eaten.  Most people are surprised that there is some habanero in this sauce as they assume it would be painfully hot.  I love the flavor of habanero’s but not always their heat.  I was able to find away to add a great robust chili middle flavor profile and use the habanero as the light clear bite at the very end.  Think of a great bass guitar solo where the drummer joins in and ends it all with the crash of a cymbal.  That is exactly what Kongo Kick does and I love this sauce for that reason.  It was yet again me trying to balance all of this flavor chaos like a conductor while not letting any one thing outshine another.  Even if you do not like “hot” barbecue sauces you should give this one a try, it has a whole lot more going for it than just heat.

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AP Rub – All Purpose as a name has been so used and abused in the world of barbecue.  So much so that it’s frankly become a bit of an inside joke.  If you don’t know what you should name your rub, name it All Purpose.  Well when I first came up with AP almost 10 years ago and then revamped it a few years later I wanted something that really lived up to the name.  The balance of salty, sweet, herbs and heat make this great on everything from chicken and ribs to popcorn and veggies.  AP Rub is the first product that I went back and revamped after I really learned how to balance flavors.  That principal has stuck with me ever since and from this product came many successful products after.  There is a reason that Grilla sells out of it…because it simply works.

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Grilla Beef – The lore associated with the Beef Rub has been years in the making.  From the days of Draper’s Moo’d Enhancer to us pulling it off of the shelves and getting hate mail to me finally deciding to redo the product and release it Grilla.  Well, its been one heck of a ride.  This single product more than any other I was so afraid to redo.  Moo’d Enhancer was something special.  It was the first time that I really felt I had caught lightening in a bottle so to speak.  It was 1 part intuition, 1 part happy accident and 2 parts stubbornness.  I really wondered for a long time could I recreate it if I had to.  I frankly avoided doing it like the plague.  I knew it would be the place where I had to face whether I still had “it” or not.  For songwriters and composers they are always worried they will somehow anger the God’s and no longer be able to connect with that part of themselves where the lyrics and melodies come from.  It’s no different for me.  I had been told I was done, I couldn’t make magic any more, that I was washed up and that barbecue as an industry had moved on.  In the end I had to gather myself up, ignore all the haters and self doubt and just get back on the horse and get after it.  I’m proud of every product I’ve ever done, but Grilla’s Beef Rub was a defining moment for me where I proved to myself that I still have something to say.  From this lesson Gold N Bold and Kongo Kick were also born.  I still have a lot of miles left in me creativity wise and I’m glad to get to release those ideas with a company like Grilla Grills.  I am blessed beyond measure just from getting to work with such a great team that believes in me.  I try everyday to measure up to that and do my best for them and their customers.


From this dude in Western Kentucky, that for whatever reason people have decided to listen to, I appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read this post.  I am just a guy doing what I love and I am thankful for every friend I have made doing this crazy barbecue thing.

I hope this list gives you some ideas for Christmas, but more than that, I hope it gives you a small insight into me and what I do.  It’s never glamours, always takes more out of me than I expect and is hard on my family and I wake up everyday thankful for another opportunity to share what I love with you and yours.

 

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, be blessed my friends and always stay saucy 🙂

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Official Rules and Regulations for the Big Giveaway

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This isn’t particularly fun but it is important if you wanna win!

Official Contest Rules and Regulations

Open to residents of the United States of America only and governed by United States of America Law

No Purchase Necessary.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The Giveaway Contest on Facebook (the “Contest”) is sponsored by Drapers’s BBQ and Pap’s Foods (the “Sponsors”).

ELIGIBILITY: To enter and be eligible to win, a person must be a legal resident of The United States of America who has reached the age of majority at time of entry in the jurisdiction in which he/she resides and who is not an employee, representative or agent of The Sponsors, any independent contest organization, or their affiliated and related companies and, if applicable, their respective advertising or promotion agencies, dealers, and members of the immediate families of, or persons domiciled with any of the above. In these Official Contest Rules & Regulations, “immediate family” means mother, father, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and/or legal or common-law spouse.

HOW TO ENTER: During the Contest Period, you may enter the contest at The Sponsors Facebook page. During the Kentucky BBQ Festival held during the Contest Period, onsite entry may be made available at the discretion of the Sponsors.
Be certain you have read, and agree to be bound by, the Official Contest Rules & Regulations and indicate if you do not wish to receive future information from The Sponsors regarding upcoming events and/or promotions.

PRIZING: There is one prize available to be won, consisting of the following: one Pit Barrel Cooker of the Pit Barrel Cooker Co., one ChefAlarm by ThermoWorks, one Meat Maniac sampler back by Pap’s Foods and one Pitmaster Pack by Draper’s BBQ to include A.P. Rub, Moo’d Enhancer Rub, Smokin’ Sauce, team hat and 2 bags of Kingsford charcoal.

Total approximate retail value of prize pack is $500. To the extent permitted by law, The Sponsors makes no express or implied warranties, or conditions of any kind with respect to the safety, appearance or performance of any Prize. Prizes must be accepted as awarded without substitution, are not transferable, not for resale and have no cash surrender value. The Sponsors reserves the right, in the event that a Prize or any component of a Prize cannot be awarded as described for any reason, to substitute another prize without liability.

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To be declared a Prize winner, each selected entrant will also be required to sign a declaration and release form (the “Release Form”) confirming compliance with the Official Contest Rules & Regulations, acceptance of the Prize as awarded, without substitution, and releasing The Sponsors, their independent contest organization, and their affiliated and related companies, their dealers, and their respective shareholders, directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, successors and assigns, and, if applicable, their respective advertising or promotion agencies from any liability in connection with the Prize or this Contest. The Release Form must be returned within the time period specified on the Release Form or the Prize may be forfeited. Prizes will be shipped to each confirmed winner by The Sponsors to the address on the Release Form within six (6) weeks of being confirmed a winner. Limit of one (1) Prize per person.

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The Sponsors and the independent contest organization accept no responsibility for loss, damage or claims caused by or resulting from the Contest or acceptance of any Prize.

The Sponsors and the independent contest organization are not responsible for: (i) entries which fail to comply with these Official Contest Rules & Regulations and all such entries are void; or (ii) any failure of the Contest Website during the Contest, including any problems or technical malfunction of any computer on-line systems, servers, access providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any email or entry to be received on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or any combination thereof including any injury or damage to an entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any material in the Contest, all of which may affect a person’s ability to participate in the Contest. Entry data that has been tampered with or altered are void.

In the event it is determined that an entrant has entered in a fashion not sanctioned by the Official Contest Rules & Regulations, the entrant will be disqualified and all of the entries submitted by the entrant will be disqualified.The Sponsors reserves the right for any reason, within the U.S. Law, to terminate or suspend this Contest or to amend the Official Contest Rules & Regulations at any time and in any way, without prior notice. Without limiting the foregoing, if, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as originally planned, The Sponsors reserves the right to cancel the Contest and conduct a draw from all previously eligible entries received by the Contest Closing Date. The Sponsors and/or the independent contest organization shall not be held responsible for any problems, errors or negligence that may arise or occur in connection with the Contest.

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Product Review: GMG Fruitwood Blend Pellets

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pellets

Our good friends at Green Mountain Grills supplied me with a 28 lb. bag of their new Premium Fruitwood Blend Pellets to try out and give a review on.  Now fans of Drapers BBQ know that we are huge GMG fans.  We love our Daniel Boone’s and our Jim Bowie’s.  I personally have held off using GMG’s branded pellets for 2 reasons.  Number one is there is not a dealer close to me and pellets are like propane when you need them you need them quick.  Number 2 was their lack of fruit-wood flavors.  I love apple, peach and cherry flavor pellets when cooking on my GMG.  The folks at GMG have heard our requests and developed a fruit-wood blend.   How would they compare to some of the pellets I have been using?  Well let me tell you.

I opened the bag for the first time and I was greeted with a fruity aroma.  I could not make out what fruit (as it is a blend) but it did smell sweet.  The pellets were lighter in color that the other brand I was using previously.  I don’t know that this makes a difference at all but thought I would report it anyway.  The pellets appeared to be well made.  They were solid and not crumbly and a variety of different sizes from half and inch to an inch long.  GMG claims that they have less dust than other brands of pellets.  I would tend to agree with that.  I have only ever used 2 other brands and GMG appeared to have less dust.  No scientific test to back that up just my 2 eyes checking.

I cooked 2 different meats with these pellets on 2 different days.  I had a 5 hour rib cook at 230 degrees the entire cook and a 12 hour brisket cook at 225 degrees the entire time.  I added a few different pellets at the end of the brisket cook just to make sure that I did not run out but do not think I used much if any of those.  All in all I got 17 hours of cook time from a 28 lb. bag.  I was pretty pleased with that pellet usage and the usage was right in line with what I usually use.

Results.  That is what we are all about at the end of the day.  Were the ribs and brisket good?  How was the smoke ring?  How was the flavor?  These are the true tests of how good the pellets really are.  rib 6-13Lets start with my ribs.  Excuse the bragging here but I do think these were right up there with some of the best ribs I have ever made.  Tried some new things with this cook.  I tried a new blend of spices (Drapers AP as a base), did not wrap them, and the pellets.  Look at that smoke ring.  It is huge.  The ribs did not have an over smokey flavor.  You could really taste the meat and the rubs used.  My eight year old son ate half a slab and he is like Mikey from the old Life cereal commercial.  He won’t eat anything.  Now for the brisket.  It was a good brisket not a great brisket but a lot factored into that.  I think I put a little to much rub on it and left it on about 30 min to and hour too long.  The bark was a little crusty and I don’t think I got the smoke penetration I was looking for.  It was a little roast beefy but good.

I have only one request for the good folks at GMG.  I would like to see the breakdown of the fruit-wood blend and what type of fruit-wood it contains.  The pellets performed very well during both cooks and I would not hesitate to use them again.  With the fact that GMG gives you 8lbs more that the leading pellet brand for the same price it is a no-brainer to go pick a bag up.  Check your local retailers for some new GMG Fruitwood Blend Pellets.  I highly recommend them.

 

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The Art of the Reverse Sear.

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Some times you try new cooking techniques because you want to make something better, or easier than before.  Some times you do things out of necessity.  Rarely do both occur on the same attempt.  Last weekend my local grocery store, had Hereford Tri-Tip roasts and Duroc pork shoulders on sale for 50% off of regular price. This sale made the Tri-Tips $3.55 per lb (usually $7-8) and the shoulders $1.55 (usually over $3) per pound.  Unheard of prices for these 2 items.  I purchased about $200 worth of meat for $100.  I had the desire to cook a Tri-Tip that night as I had not cooked one all winter.  I have 2 sons with activities on the weekends and I really did not have time to tend a grill for 30 minutes to a hour and cook this wonderful piece of meat.  I thought this would be a great chance to try out reverse searing this steak.  I had heard of the reverse sear before and knew that a Tri-Tip would be the perfect cut of meat to use this technique on.  I scoured the web for about 15 minutes and found some information  on how to do the reverse sear with a Tri-Tip and I was ready to go.

Seasoned Tri-Tip on the smoker.

Seasoned Tri-Tip on the smoker.

My son and I trimmed and seasoned the Tri-Tip.  Nothing 2 complicated.  It consisted of garlic salt, Western Sizzle steak seasoning and a BBQ rub that I will have a review on in a couple of weeks.  I prepped the pellet cooker, set the temp for 275 degrees and I was ready to start cooking.  I placed my thermometer probe in the thickest side of the meat.  I wanted to reach an internal temperature of 130 degrees before I moved it over to the propane grill to finish it off.  Once on the pellet grill, I left it in the hands of my wife to watch while my sonsand I ran an errand.  The thermometer was set to sound and alarm at 120 and my wife called me home when it went off after about 45 minutes.  When I arrived back home the steak was at 132 degrees and I moved it to my propane grill to finish off.  After grilling (searing) for 15 to 20 minutes more the Tri-Tip was at the desired temp of 145 degrees.  I took it off and waited for it to rest for 15 more minutes to slice it.

Reverse seared Tri-Tip ready for slicing.

Reverse seared Tri-Tip ready for slicing.

Now that I have told my story let me explain want a reverse sear is.  Normally when grilling you sear first and lock in the juices and form a crust on the meat then you cook the meat indirectly until you reach your desired temperature.  With reverse searing, you indirect cook first until the meat reaches a desired temp then you sear at the end to for a crust and finish the meat off.  What I got when I reversed seared was a tenderer steak, a juicier steak and a steak that had more flavor because I was allowed to add smoke into the cooking process.  My meat had a more uniform temperature throughout giving it uniform color except at the ends where it was slightly less rare.  Here is an infographic to explain.

If you added a smoke ring to the example on the right, this is what my steak looked like.

If you added a red smoke ring to the example on the right, this is what my steak looked like.

The reverse sear is not a hard technique to learn or accomplish.  Cook low and slow first the finish hot and fast.  If you watch your temps close nothing will go wrong and you will be rewarded with the juiciest, most flavorful Tri-Tip you have ever eaten.

 

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Boy Scout Feast – A Fish Story

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If you have read my posts in the past, you know that my son’s are both involved in scouting.  My oldest son’s troop has an annual feast camp-out in the month of November every year.  Last year, when we were considering joining Troop 10, we were guests at this camp-out.  This year we were full fledged participants.  I brought my GMG Daniel Boone and a salmon recipe given to me by Steven Hartsock of Sock’s Love Rubs prepared for a long day of work and long evening of feasting.

The Grub-master told me I would be cooking turkey breasts and salmon for the feast.  I have done turkey several times before and think I make a really good smoked turkey.  Salmon on the other hand scares the heck out of me.  I really have never cooked a piece of salmon that I would be proud to serve to someone.  I am not a big salmon fan in the first place so anything I am going to serve will have to knock my socks off.  I asked a lot of BBQ friends what they did to salmon.  I received a lot of different answers.  Wet Brine?  Dry Brine?  160 degrees?  225 degrees?  What to do?  I finally settled on a recipe that was given to me by Steven Harsock creator of Sock’s Love Rubs.  It was a wet brine with some unique savory ingredients that just said “autumn season” to me.  The recipe contained brown sugar, whole all spice, clove and peppercorns.  These are things that I never would have thought to put into a brine for fish.  After 2-3 hours in the brine we took the salmon out and rinsed it off making sure none of the brine ingredients clung to the fish.  After rinsing the fish, we let it air dry for 1-2 hours.  When the fish was dry I gave it a good sprinkle with some Drapers AP rub.  I knew that the flavor profile of Shane’s rub would reinforce the flavor of the brine.  I also gave the fish a good coating of brown sugar.  The recipe also gave me instructions on how to make a baste, but I was so busy that I decided to go with just a heavy coating of brown sugar instead.

Salmon fillets after brining on the Green Mountain Grill

I had a little over 2 hours to smoke the 4 large pieces of salmon which was just enough time.  I put them on and set the GMG at 225 degrees and let them sit in the smoker.  Of course I had to open the GMG multiple times to show off the salmon, so it probably would take a little less time to make this at home when you are not looking so much.  I cooked the salmon to a temperature of 140 degrees.  Then placed the salmon in our hotbox for about 30 minutes before serving.

The buffet line was filled with a large variety of delicious meats and side dishes.  We had chuck roast that was cooked all day in dutch ovens, tur-duck-ens that were flown in from Louisiana, sausages made from exotic game meats like deer and alligator, turkey breasts, brisket and 2 whole pigs roasted for us by a local meat market.  It was really quite the spread.  I was hoping my salmon would be a favorite of the crowd.

Salmon fillets after smoking and ready to be served.

As the people got in line and began to fill there plates you could hear comments about everything.  The people loved everything we had on the table.  I tend to go get my food last when I cook usually because I have sampled my product before it hits the table and am a little less hungry because of that.  My buddies pushed me into the line and said I needed to eat with them after I had cooked all day.  When we reached the salmon, only enough for 4 small portions remained.  One serving for me and my 2 buddies and then 1 left for someone else.  The line was only about halfway done.  The Grub-master underestimated how popular the salmon would be.  We went to our table and began to eat and a lot of people went out of their way to compliment me on how good the salmon was.  I was really amazed as this was my first try at smoking salmon.  The ultimate compliment came about an hour later.  I was packing my spices back into the car and I overheard to men talking about how good the salmon was.  It was an hour later and they were still talking about it.  What a compliment!

I have never had a piece of salmon that I cared for very much.  Most salmon I have had has been palatable, but the it never has been something that I crave or have to make.  I find it is usually dry and very fishy tasting.  It is not one of my favorite foods.  That being said, this salmon was moist, savory, sweet and not fishy tasting at all.  It was the best piece of salmon I ever had (sorry for the brag) and would actually request this again.  I would like to thank Shane Draper and Steven Hartsock for all the help last week.  Without those 2 men, I would not have received all the praise that I did.

 

 

 

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Introducing Sean Bardwell of Tatoos N Que

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If you don’t “like” him on Facebook or follow @SBQue on Twitter you may not recognize this pitmaster.  His name is Sean Bardwell and has a competition BBQ team called Tatoos N Que.  I have been following Sean for most of this year and have been really impressed by some of Sean’s creations.  He shows them regularly on Facebook and they all look very tasty.  I had the pleasure of talking to Sean about his recent activities while he was doing a practice cook for an upcoming contest last week.  Sean has big plans for the future and a game plan to get there.

Sean was raised on BBQ.  His best childhood memories were being with his father cooking on an old Weber kettle grill.  BBQ was a treat.  Sean spent summers in Arkansas with grandparents who also fed his BBQ cravings.  To this day, BBQ reminds him of his childhood.  Currently, Sean is kitchen manager of a chain restaurant called Smokey Bones in York, Pennsylvania and has held this position for 4 years. He started as a line cook and has worked his way up the ladder.  Sean wants to own his own BBQ restaurant one day and is working very hard to achieve that goal.  His goal for the next year is to get a food truck to be used for a catering business and to take on the competition circuit.

Sean has many BBQ idols.  He attended the NBBQA Convention in South Carolina last year and got to meet the likes of Ray Lampe, Chris Lilly and the person Sean states he owes the most to, Danielle Dimovski of DivaQ BBQ.  He stays in touch with Danielle via twitter and says she gives him a lot of advice.  He also credits ,Prince of Q, Jay Prince and Stephen Hartsock of Sock’s Love Rub with inspiring him as well.  At the MBBQA Convention, everyone told Sean that if he wants to open a restaurant he needs to first compete and get your name out there.  This inspired Sean and his Tattoos N Que BBQ team to enter the New Holland Summerfest BBQ contest last weekend.  Tattoos n Que competed against 72 other BBQ teams.  Tattoos N Que did not win any awards at New Holland but they did not finish last in any category they entered and met Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone.  Sean considers this a success.

Sean also has a variety of rubs for sale on his website, sbque.com  His rubs come in Original flavor which is an all purpose rub, Savory which is used a lot on poultry, Sweet for ribs and pork and is developing one called Tattoos N Que which is a competition style rub.  All the ingredients used in Sean’s rubs are also smoked before they are combined.  This gives Sean’s food layers of smoke flavor.  I found this to be very interesting and I cant wait for the sample Sean is going to send me.  Sean also makes his competition sauce from scratch using all smoked ingredients.  He joked that he can never do anything simple.

If all of this was not enough, Sean has published his very own e-cookbook.  It contains 17 original recipes all created by Sean Bardwell.  It is a free cookbook so feel free to download it here  http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/296973-sbque-recipes .  When you get done with the cookbook you will ask yourself, ” Is there any food Sean won’t smoke?”

Sean has a passion for BBQ.  He shows this in all that he does.  From rub creator, cookbook author, competition cook and his daily job they are all examples of how dedicated Sean is to perfecting his craft.  Sean is a very goal driven individual and I have no doubt that he will leave his mark on the BBQ world.  Check out his website, order some rub and get that cookbook.  You will be glad you did.

 

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DBQ at the Ky State BBQ Festival

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 Hot off the presses from last night’s Getting’ Sauced with Draper’s BBQ and the Kentucky State BBQ Festival (so dubbed KSBF from here forward because that is a lot to read) webpage, I have been asked to do the cooking demonstrations for the 2nd Ever Kentucky State BBQ Festival.  I am both honored and humbled by being asked to do this by Brad Simmon’s and the organizers of the event.

For those that were not able to attend last year’s event and missed Brad and I talking about it last night on the radio show let me attempt to describe just what this festival is all about.  The KSBF is loosely based on the Big Apple Block Party.  The organizers invite the best of the best in the world of barbecue out to cook for thousands of new friends.  In short, Joe Consumer can come out and eat the barbecue of world class pitmasters.  The list of pitmasters for this event is impressive to say the least, a definite who’s who of Q.  To get to share an event with the likes of Carey Bringle (Peg Leg Porker BBQ), Moe Cason (Ponderosa BBQ), Pete and Melissa Cookston (Yazoo’s Delta Q), Shelly Hunt (Desperados Barbecue) and Craig Kimmel (Firehouse BBQ) is an honor.

Add to that being asked to sit in for none other than Dr. BBQ, mister Ray Lampe is humbling to say the least.  Ray did amazing cooking demonstrations last year and to say one could ever replace him would be a mistake.  Ray is one of my personal bbq heroes, I got to tell him that at last years KSBF when were vending barbeque sauce and rub.  Ray was such a great guy he even used our products during his demonstrations.  The first barbecue related book I ever read was Ray’s Big Time Barbecue.  Ray has had a great influence on not only me, but a whole generation of barbecue pitmasters and I will forever be in his debt.  I can only do my best to live up to the excepti”onal standard that Ray set at last year’s KSBF.

So what can you expect from the demos this year?  Great competition tips adapted for the backyard and awesome samples cooked on a pit that anyone can use.  That’s right we will have a limited amount of samples during each class.  Mike and I have been working on a curriculum for our classes that is based on our Salt, Smoke, Meat concept.  I took this simplified concept and compressed it even further to work in a 30min demonstration.

On Saturday, September 8th I will be doing the following demos:

  • 12:30pm – Chicken – I will show you how to make competition lollipop chicken legs and let you taste them.  You will also get recipes and instruction for whole and spatchcocked chicken as well.
  • 2:30pm – Ribs – We will discuss baby backs vs spare ribs, go over how to properly trim ribs and I will give you instructions on how to cook 4hr ribs.
  • 4:45pm – Pulled Pork – We will coverBoston butts vs whole shoulders, proper trimming, proper injection and how to cook including our competition timeline.
  • 5:30pm – Brisket – I will cover picking a proper brisket, how to trim correctly, injection recommendations and of course how to cook a great brisket.

On Sunday, Sept 9th I will be doing these:

  • 11:15am – Tailgating – It’s all about easy and great entertaining with this demo.  Moink balls, wings, bacon explosion I got it all covered.
  • 1:30pm – Holiday on the Pit – Give the oven a break, I will show you how to great turkey and ham on your smoker.

We will be cooking all of this on Green Mountain Grill’s pellet grills.  We are proud to be featuring the GMG as part of the cooking process because they are a very affordable, highly capable and easy to use barbecue pit.  These pits with just a little bit of know how and anyone can be a super star in their backyard.

In addition to the demo’s we will also have our booth set up selling our sauce and rub. Danvillewas great to Draper’s BBQ last year and we sold out of sauce and rub.  We are coming prepared this year and look forward to meeting even more new friends and visiting with the fans we made last year.

As you can see this year’s Kentucky State BBQ Festival is a big event for Draper’s BBQ and we have gone “all in” on it.  We can’t wait to get there and are proud to be apart of this event!  See you there!

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Houston We Have Ribs

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Picture provided by Chile Pepper Magazine
Photographer – Rick McMillen

Many of you have been asking when you can find the issue of Chile Pepper magazine featuring us.  I got confirmation today that is hitting newsstands as we speak.  So check it out and let us know what you think.

Up until this point we have been a bit tight lipped about the details of the article and the ensuing rib competition.  We can now talk about it a bit more and share some of our experiences.  The article is of course about our competition team, experiences and what we bring to the table as a competitor in the Quest for the Perfect Ribs.  It also features our rib recipe, my favorite broccoli salad recipe and Mike’s sweet potato pie with pig candy recipe.  All in all, the editor of Chile Pepper magazine, Rick McMillen did an awesome job capturing who we are and what we are about as a competition team.  His photography skills are amazing and he was exceptionally easy to work with.  We are pleased to now count Rick as a personal friend and barbecue fanatic.

I want to also remember to thank Hoyt Liggins for the use of his amazing house down in Millington,TN for the photoshoot.  The location was nothing short of perfect and for those of you that know Hoyt you know his hospitality is second to none.  Hoyt remains one of the best people I have come across and we are blessed to call him a friend.

We begin the next leg of our journey to compete in the Quest for the Perfect Ribs on September 13th, driving to Houston,Texas.  The activity starts the next day where we attend a Meet n’ Greet hosted by McAby Media owners of Chile Pepper magazine.  This will be the first time we get to meet the rest of the CPM team as well as our competitors.

Our competitors for this challenge include:  Bill & Barbara Milroy (Texas Rib Rangers, Denton,Tx), Dann & Dianne Boland (2 Skinny Cooks, St. Charles, Il), Pete & Melissa Cookston (Yazoo’s Delta Q, Memphis, Tn), Harvey Gebhard (Lone Star BBQ Society,  Burnet, Tx) and Vince Carrocci & Alexa Fairbairn (Rhythm ‘n Que, Phoenix, Az).

As you can see for yourself, a laundry list of world class talent makes up the field and we are just proud to be included in an event that includes these amazing pitmasters.

On Saturday, September 15th the gloves come off and the competition takes place center stage at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival.  There are 3 turn-ins that take place.  The first is the main blind box turn-in to the judges.  An hour later we complete a second turn-in for people’s choice.  Finally, three hours after the people’s choice we serve ribs to the attendee’s for dinner.  The official awards ceremony takes place at 7:00pm and the Grand Champion is crowned.

The awards for this challenge are as follows:

Grand Champion – $2,000, 4 page feature story in Chile Pepper magazine, interview with editor in chief recorded and aired for 30 days on chilepepper.com, 2 ¼ page ads and 1 free booth space at the Chile Pepper Extravaganza to be held in New Orleans, La Sept 2013.

1st Place – $500, feature story in Chile Pepper magazine, interview with editor in chief recorded and aired for 15 days on chilepepper.com.

2nd Place – $250, feature story in Chile Pepper magazine.

This will mark the first live competition for Draper’s BBQ using Green Mountain Grills.  Green Mountain Grills has been a great partner and sponsor.  They are instrumental in Draper’s BBQ being able to attend this awesome event.

The test cooks we have done on the GMG’s for this event have been excellent and we expect nothing but a great cook on these cookers.  The GMG’s are easy to control the temp on, easy to maneuver, take up very little space and produce excellent barbecue.  These are essential when you are competing at a high level.

All in all this is shaping up to be one amazing opportunity and we plan to chronicle and document every part of our trip and our experiences.  So be on the look out for updates as we get ready to begin the Quest for the Perfect Rib.

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Draper’s BBQ and GMG

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Some of you may have heard the rumors, so here is the confirmation.  Draper’s BBQ is now officially sponsored by Green Mountain Grills.  This cooperative agreement is a culmination of several projects where we got to work side-by-side with members of the GMG team.  It became obvious to both us and the GMG leadership that working together on a more formal basis would greatly benefit both companies.

Draper’s up to this point has never accepted an endorsement deal or sponsorship of any kind for our competition team.  We have and will continue to help all companies whose products we believe in and use but our competition focus, for the remainder of 2012 and beyond, will now reside primarily with GMG and the pellet grill market place.

As a part of this partnership we are now also a full GMG dealer and will become an active part of driving GMG to the forefront of the pellet grilling market.  We will do everything we can as a company to support our partners in this endeavor and look forward to becoming West Kentucky’s premier full service pellet grill dealership.  We are fully committed to GMG’s policy of service excellence before, during and after the sale and we will be bringing you a line of barbecue products and classes designed to help all barbecue enthusiast get the most out of their culinary adventures.

If you have any questions about Green Mountain Grills please contact Shane or Mike via email and they would both love to help you in making the right choice for your barbecue and grilling adventures.

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Product Review: Green Mountain Grill Daniel Boone Pellet Grill

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As a writer for Drapersbbq.com, it is my job to find interesting things to blog about.  Often I have to cold call different companies and arrange for samples to be sent to me to try out and review.  Small things like sauces or rubs are very easy to ship via what ever postal carrier you choose.  Grills and smokers on the other hand, those are a whole different story.  So right off the bat, I would like to thank Jason from Green Mountain Grills  (GMG) and Bob from BBQ Bonanza in Kansas City, KS for providing me this GMG Daniel Boone model to try out and review for our readers.  Jason made all the arrangements and Bob had the GMG delivered right to my front door, unpacked it and even loaded it with a few pellets.  They could not be nicer folks to work with.

The GMG brand is no stranger to us here at Draper’s BBQ.  Mike has owned a GMG for sometime now and I have a next door neighbor that has one as well.  Our intent is to give you a review through the eyes of a first time user (me) and a longtime owner (Mike).  We hope this will give you some helpful information if you are in the market for a new pellet grill.  You can read Mike’s long term review here.

Lets talk about the features of the GMG Daniel Boone model I cooked on.  The Daniel Boone features a 27×16 inch stainless steel grate for 432 sq inches of cook space.  Team that with a 13.5 inch clearance and you have a very large cook space.  The Daniel Boone weighs 152 pounds which makes it very portable.  Some pellet cookers can weigh over 300 lbs.  GMG gave this machine a digital control for easy use, a meat probe, utility hooks to hang your tools on and a thermal sensor to measure ambient temperature.  This thermal sensor tells the GMG to kick it into high gear if it is cold outside so you don’t have to wait for you grill to heat up in cold weather. GMG also equipped the Daniel Boone with a positive pressure hopper fan to prevent burn-back and a “fan only” mode with auto shut off to blow ash out of the firebox when you finished.  All of this for less than $800, making the GMG Daniel Boone one of if not the most affordable pellet grills on the market.  You can also purchase extras like a stainless steel (no warp) lid, a form fitting cover, a dome thermometer (to measure temps at the top of the grill) and a remote.  Bob was nice enough to include the remote with my Daniel Boone.  I was really excited to try that feature out.  Green Mountain Grills also includes an instruction/recipe book and an instructional DVD to help new owners.

Start up would have been easy if I would have read the instruction book that was given to me.  Being a man,  I did not read it until I became frustrated.  To start up the grill you must turn on the power switch then hold the increase temperature button.  I assume this is a safety feature so the grill does not accidentally get turned on by a child or accidental bump.  This is a very nice safety feature.  Once started, the grill begins to go through the motions of starting up and getting to temp.  The grill is automatically set to get to 320 degrees F, then you must set your cooking temp.  I lowered mine to 230 degrees F and opened the lid to help the temperature decrease.  This entire process took about 15-20 min.

Once I reached my desired temperature I put my brisket on and inserted the food probe so the Daniel Boone could keep track of the meat.  I turned on the remote control and headed inside to relax and watch the BBQ Pitmasters marathon on Destination America.  The remote worked flawlessly.  I could check the temp of my cooker and the meat with just the push of a button.  I waited until the meat’s temperature was 145 then I put it in a foil pan with some beef broth and covered it until it was time to take it off.  Total cook time for a 4.67 lb brisket flat was about 7 hrs and 45 min. This is a picture of the finished product. 

The next day, I wanted to test the Daniel Boone out as a grill.  I cooked a flank steak for fajitas.  I took the grill up to 500 degrees F (its maximum) for this.  The GMG took about 15 to 20 minutes to get to this temp.  I placed the steak on and heard the sizzle.  I could not wait to have those fajitas.  I took about 40 minutes to cook the flank steak to 155 degrees F.  This was longer than it would have taken me on my propane grill but the Daniel Boone cooked an incredible steak.  It was very juicy and flavorful and I did not have to worry about flare-ups with the GMG.  With the fan circulating the heat all around the food, I would almost call this smoke roasting vs grilling.  It takes a little longer to grill on the GMG but the result was just as good.  I did have substantial pellet usage while grilling at that high of temp so the cost to use the Daniel Boone as a grill is higher than a propane or charcoal grill but the products put out on the GMG were very tasty.

My overall impression of the GMG Daniel Boone model was excellent.  Start up was easy (once I read the instructions),  the cook was good, and the temp of the GMG only fluctuated a degree or 2 all day.  This was a very hot day in KC (high 101 degree F) and I did not use a lot of pellets.  My estimate was less than 5 lbs of pellets for the almost 8 hour smoke.  This pellet grill has a lot of high end features that you do not find on higher priced pellet grills.  I love the meat probe and the remote control.  I only left my recliner 3 times all day to check on the grill.  A few concerns I have about the GMG Daniel Boone are the thickness of the metal used in construction.  Will it insulate well enough in the cold weather months?  Will it warp and bend over time with the high heat of grilling?  Mike can probably address these questions in his review as a long time owner.  For the price,  I do not think you can beat this pellet grill.  It performs well under normal conditions, has some high end features that you wont find on higher priced pellet grills and the company has been very accommodating and easy to work with.

One footnote to my article:  The GMG Daniel Boone that I tested was an older model and may differ in specs from the current model.  Sorry for any confusion.

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