Whether you are a seasoned Traeger veteran ot the new kid in town, we are here to give you a few tips, pointers, and guidelines to make sure you get the very most out of your machine. Your Traeger is much more than just a smoker or even a grill. It is a versatile cooking tool in a class all its own. Below, we will be looking at 6 different cooking techniques that your Traeger has mastered. So brush up on your skills or branch out into some new flavor territory and try a recipe or two that you haven't attempted yet.
GRILLING As most people know, grilling is a cooking method where food is placed on a grill grate and exposed to dry radiant heat. There are two forms: direct and indirect. An example of direct grilling is holding a marshmallow on a stick over an open fire. A Traeger, on the other hand, is designed primarily for indirect grilling, which meaans food is not exposed directly to a fire. Instead, the heatis evenly dispersed throughout the Traeger’s cooking chamber, eliminating flare ups and reducing the potential for charring and moisture loss. Grilling works best on foods that are fairly small and not much thicker than the palm of your hand: hamburgers, hot dogs, fish fillets, shrimp, chicken breasts, pork chops, peppers, summer squash, pizza, etc. Use the highest heat your Traeger is capable of.
Check out this recipe for Grilled Lemon Chicken Breast and enjoy a fast weeknight meal on your Traeger.
BARBECUE In North America, the term “barbecue” has become both verb and noun, variously meaning an appliance (i.e., barbecue grill), a cookout (join us for a barbecue Sunday), meat (we’ll be serving barbecue at the party), and a verb (food cooked for a relatively long time over low heat). Low and slow cooking is one of the things a Traeger does best. It is capable of maintaining low, evenly distributed heat for hours and can render even the toughest cuts of meat (brisket, pork shoulder, ribs) tender and juicy. It is often combined with smoking.
If you have a lot of time to cook low and slow try this recipe for a Midnight Brisket that cooks on a low temperature for 14 hours.
ROASTING This term refers to cooking meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables using dry heat without the addition of liquids. Whole birds such as chicken, turkey, duck, or game hens are good candidates, as are larger whole fish, pork loin roasts, trimmed beef tenderloin roasts, prime rib, and leg of lamb. Dense vegetables such as potatoes, beets, turnips, yams, whole onions, carrots, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are also excellent when roasted.
We love roasting vegetables on the Traeger. The heat from roasting brings out the natural sweetness of pretty much anything, especially these Sherry Roasted Root Vegetables.
BAKING We never say we’re going to bake a prime rib or roast chocolate chip cookies. But technically, roasting and baking are parallel cooking methods; both use dry heat to cook food. But Traeger’s unique ability to bake is one reason women love their pellet grills! Imagine having the equivalent of a second kitchen when producing that all-important Thanksgiving dinner. (With the turkey on the Traeger, you can stop choreographing the dance of side dishes through your crowded indoor oven. Or bake the smokiest, tastiest pumpkin pie your guests have ever had on your Traeger.) Think about those hot summer days when you hate to heat up the kitchen, but the kids want to bake a cake and the husband’s craving meatloaf or lasagna. Try making those things on a gas grill!
We are very open about the fact that since becoming proud owners of a Traeger, we have not used our oven. We bake everything on the Traeger. Branch out and try a sweet dessert like this Blueberry Bread Pudding.
BRAISING Braising is similar to roasting, but with the addition of liquid or the capture in a covered roasting pan or foil pouch of steam and natural cooking juices. It is typically done at lower temperatures than roasting—usually around 300 degrees F. It is the preferred cooking method for drier, tougher meats like beef eye of round roasts, hams, brisket (which can be smoked first, then braised), lamb shoulder or leg, pork shoulder or Boston butt, beef short ribs, pheasant, or turkey breasts or legs. The addition of liquid impedes browning, so sometimes, foods are seared on High first before being transferred to a covered roasting pan with liquid or enclosed with foil.
If you are looking to really tenderize and flavor infuse a piece of tough meat, give this Pot Roasted Beef Brisket a try. It is a hearty and delicious meal that feeds a crowd.
SMOKING Although deeply rooted in America’s grilling culture, smoking was once impractical for most men and women because it involved building pits, chopping wood, and tending nighttime fires. Then Traeger invented pellet grills, and a whole new world opened up to backyard grillers. Most smoking is done at temperatures between 180 and 250 degrees F, easy to maintain on a Traeger. Smoking is both a method of low-temperature cooking as well as a flavor enhancer, and is suitable for most proteins, especially larger, tougher cuts of beef and pork: Use it for meat, poultry, seafood, cheese, tofu, nuts, and even hard-cooked eggs. You can combine smoking with other cooking methods, too. For example, we smoke brisket and pulled pork for 3 to 4 hours, then foil the meat for the remainder of the cook. Even burgers benefit from 30 minutes of smoke before being finished on higher heat.
If you never use your Traeger for anything else, it will have been worth the purchase if you take the time to smoke your own jerky. Follow this step by step recipe guide for Coffee Break Jerky and never buy that expensive stuff from the store again. (Yours will taste better, too!)