They dry brined, tri-tipped, baby-backed, and nacho-ed their way into the Meat Madness Wood-Fired Final Four, but what inspired them to enter the competition? Read on to get to know the ‘cue competitors that have survived the Bracket by garnering the most public support for their mean protein. Our chefs Traeger’ed all four recipes, and each of them brings something special to the table. The Championship is almost here. Make sure to get your final votes in at traegergrills.com/meat-madness before April 4th at 7pm EST so that your favorite recipe makes the cut.
MIDWEST: MARY CRESSLER AND SEAN MARTIN
A BBQ and wine pairing duo, Mary Cressler, a wine writer and sommelier, and Sean Martin, insurance exec by day, pitmaster by night, joined forces to create a dish that showcases their long history of Traeger’ing: Smoked Beef Brisket Nachos with Brisket Chili. They submit their Meat Madness recipe in honor of their hard work perfecting brisket…and they did it on a Traeger. Our Traeger chefs reproduced their tasty submission. The meaty chunks of wood-fired brisket over a bed of brisket chili, cheesy tortilla chips, and traditional nacho toppings elevate this snack to a whole new level of delicious. They document all of their BBQ and wine-pairing adventures on vindulgeblog.com
SMOKED BEEF BRISKET NACHOS WITH BRISKET CHILI
For the Chili:
1 small Red Onion, diced
3 cups leftover smoked Beef Brisket, roughly chopped into small cubes
1 medium Jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, finely minced
1 cup Beer (we used a mild IPA)
¼ cup Coffee (whatever may be left over in the pot from your morning brew).
1, 15 oz. can Tomato Sauce
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
2 small Chipotle Peppers in Adobo from a can, finely diced. (you can use 1 if you’re sensitive to heat. These can be very spicy).
1, 15 oz. can Pinto Beans, drained
1 Tbsp. Chili Seasoning
1 Tbsp. Cumin
½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp. Smoked Paprika
½ tsp. Salt
For the Nachos:
Thick Corn Chips (they need to be sturdy enough to handle the weight of the toppings).
1 medium Tomato, diced
¼ cup Onion, finely chopped (more of less, depending on how much onion you like)
1 thinly sliced Jalapeno, shredded
Smoked Cheddar Cheese, or mixed Cheddar blend
Tip: Adjust the Post-Smoke Cooking Time of your turkey using Jeffrey’s handy guide found at the end of the recipe.
For the Chili:
- In a large saucepan, over medium heat, pour approximately 1 Tbsp. olive oil and add your onions. Cook about 3-4 minutes, and then add the chopped, leftover brisket and the jalapeno. Cook 1-2 minutes until warmed up.
- Add the beer and let it come to a simmer (about 1-2 minutes to let the alcohol reduce). Then add the coffee, tomato sauce, tomato paste, pinto beans, peppers, all the spices, and mix well.
- Bring to a simmer for a few minutes and then reduce to low heat, for about 20-30 minutes, until the chili thickens, the flavors are well combined, and you’re happy with the flavor. Adjust seasonings to your preference. This is all about finding a richness and flavor you like.
To make the Nachos:
- Take your plate and create one layer with corn tortilla chips. Make sure they are thick chips so they hold the weight of the chili! Layer the chips with the chili and a layer of shredded cheese. Create another layer.
- If you are using an oven-safe platter, you can place in the oven under broil. Broil until the cheese is melted (this won’t take long, just a couple minutes). Alternatively, you can microwave the plate in 30 second increments until the cheese is melted well. The risk when using a microwave is the chips can get soggy easily!
- When the cheese is nice and melted, remove from oven or microwave and top with your favorite toppings (sliced jalapeno, tomatoes, diced onion, cilantro) and have you favorite dips to serve alongside: salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. The guac and sour cream also help tame the heat from the chili.
Notes: **Depending on how many nachos you plan to make, the chili will yield leftovers. Nothing wrong with that! Just use how much chili you are comfortable with on your nachos. BONUS, this also pairs well with a crisp rose wine from Spain! Drink away with your tasty nachos!
WEST: JEFFREY POTTS
Jeffrey Potts, a BBQ enthusiast from Spanish Fork, Utah, has always loved to cook, especially great meat on the grill. His Meat Madness submission, Dry Brine Traeger Turkey, combines his passion for cooking with his love of Traeger’ing. Dry brining a turkey for over 24 hours gives the aromatic mixture the time it needs to truly penetrate the meat. Dry brining also cures the skin, so it crisps while you roast it. We cooked up Jeffrey’s recipe in the Traeger kitchen, and the result was a juicy, flavorful bird with robust smokiness from the extended smoke session. Jeffrey was definitely not exaggerating when he said: “Eating out at nice restaurants has been ruined for us thanks to our Traeger grill. Everything tastes better on a Traeger.”
DRY BRINE TRAEGER TURKEY
1 Organic Farm Fresh Turkey (Never Frozen)
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt per/lb. of Turkey
Extra Large zip-lock bag or plastic wrap
- Combine desired amounts of thyme, rosemary, sage, and/or parsley with kosher salt.
- Rub kosher salt and spice mixture over entire surface of the turkey, including the cavity. Place turkey in the bag or plastic wrap and seal tight. Place turkey in the fridge for 2 days.
- On day 3, take the turkey out of the bag or unwrap plastic wrap. Place the turkey back in the fridge, uncovered for 24 hours.
- On day 4, start your Traeger grill on Smoke with lid open until fire is established (4-5 minutes). Place the turkey on Traeger grill, breast up.
- Smoke the turkey for 3 to 4 hours.
- After 3-4 hours, set the temperature to 325°F and preheat, lid closed (10-15 minutes). Cook turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
Post-Smoke Cooking Time:
10-13 lbs. | 1-1/2 to 2 ¼ hours
14-23 lbs. | 2 to 3 hours
24-27 lbs. | 3 to 3 ¼ hours
28-30 lbs. | 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours
Matthew Holopirek recently moved to San Diego from Kansas City, the heart of barbecue country—so he’s no stranger to quality ‘cue. His love of smoking meats began by his dad’s side as a youngster, and has only grown through the years. His Meat Madness submission, Longhorn (Cowboy) Tri-Tip, may seem simple, but our Traeger Chef tried it out, and the end result was a delicious Tri-Tip steak with that signature smoke ring you can only get from a lengthy smoke session. The coffee gives the end product a good bark, and helps seal in the natural juices.
LONGHORN (COWBOY) TRI-TIP
1 2-3 lb. Tri Tip Roast/Steak
1/8 cup Coffee Grounds
1/4 cup Butt Rub
EAST: BILL GASTON
Bill Gaston bought his first Traeger 4 years ago, and spends his free time cookin’ up a storm for his wife and 2 children. As barbecue goes, his tastes are eclectic; he enjoys Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas BBQ styles. His Meat Madness submission, Baby Backs…The Simplest is the Best!, consists of 4 ingredients: Ribs, Cracked Pepper, Kosher Salt, and Hickory Hardwood. His recipe name is more than a title—it’s a challenge. Our Traeger Chefs whipped up a few racks of these simple ribs, and they did not disappoint. There’s something magical about the combination of meat, salt, pepper, and wood smoke that just tastes right.
BABY BACKS...THE SIMPLEST IS THE BEST!
2-3 Baby Back Ribs (thawed)
Cracked Black Pepper
Traeger Hickory Pellets
No sauce is needed…or enjoy with your favorite.
- Peel membrane from backside of the ribs.
- Lightly season with cracked black pepper and Kosher salt.
- When ready to cook, start your Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4-5 minutes). Set the temperature to 225°F and preheat, lid closed (10-15 minutes).
- Cook at 225°F, meaty side up for two hours, then flip the ribs to meaty side down and cook for one more hour. Enjoy!