Mushrooms are earthy and rustic yet also surprisingly delicate little fungi. Or perhaps we should call them "sensitive". They act like little sponges that take so easily to the infusion of flavors like marinades and particularly smoke. One of the best features is that they have a meaty texture that makes them marvelous to use both as an accompanying side or even the main part of the meal - as a meat substitute, if you will. Now don't get angry quite yet. We're not preaching vegetarianism. We're just saying they make for some pretty darn delicious smoked eats!
Here are a few simple, but essential tips to ensure that you end up with tender mushrooms with that perfect woodsy kiss of smoke.
1. CLEAN YOUR FUNGI
Nobody wants to encounter a mouthful of grit when you take that first bite of mushroom. Wash your mushrooms just before you're going to use them, but don't rush to stick them under water. Use a wet paper towel or cloth to gently wipe off the mushrooms. However, the tiny mushrooms are too delicate to wipe clean, so feel free to rinse those under water.
2. REMOVE THE STEMS
For most mushrooms, except the smaller varieties like straw mushrooms, you should remove the stems and use them for a broth or something else like that. The stems have a harder, denser texture.
3. MARINATE? SURE, WHY NOT?
The smoke flavor is definitely delicious by itself but mushrooms so effortlessly absorb the flavors imparted by marinating. Just be careful not to marinate them for too long. Mushrooms are little yummy sponges and only need 4 to 6 hours for the larger ones, like portobello, and 1 or 2 hours for the smaller button and shiitake-sized mushrooms. And because you aren't working with any bacteria-ridden raw meat, you can even use the marinade later to brush on the mushrooms for that extra kick of bold freshness after they've been smoked.
4. SMOKE ON THE GRILL GRATE OR ON A PAN
The large mushrooms like portobellos can be smoked directly the grate. For smaller mushrooms that will fall through the grate or fall apart during the transfer you'll need to either smoke them on skewers, use a baking pan or even better, use a grilling basket. The more surface area directly exposed to the smoke, the better.
5. DON'T OVERSMOKE THE MUSHROOMS
Mushrooms don't take very long to smoke. The biggest mushrooms, portobellos, will be perfectly smoked in about 30 to 45 minutes. Medium-sized mushrooms like porcini, oyster or larger button mushrooms need 15 to 20 minutes. The smaller kinds like cremini and baby bellas will be done after about 10 minutes of smoking time. Of course, don't just take our word for it. Test it for yourself! Taste one after it has smoked for the recommended time and go from there.
6. ENJOY THEM WARM
Like everything else, food tastes different, and in more cases better, when it's warm. It's as simple as that. So snatch them up while they're still steaming.
Asian-inspired side dishes can be hard to come by, but with Traeger's Asian BBQ Rub you can make pretty much any veggie a delectable treat with an Eastern influence. We love the smoky, earthy flavor that brussel sprouts take on when they are roasted over our Traeger's wood fire, top them with a sweet Thai chili glaze and you've got a side dish you might prefer over the main course.
Spicy Asian Brussel Sprouts with a Sweet Chili Glaze
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Recommended Pellets: Oak, Hickory, Pecan
2 cups brussel sprouts, halved
2 Tablespoons Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Traeger's Asian BBQ Rub
1/4 cup Thai Chili Sauce
Start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open for 4-5 minutes to establish the fire. Close the lid and turn the temperature setting up to 350 degrees, allow the grill to preheat for 10-15 minutes.
Spread the halved brussel sprouts in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with the oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle the brussle sprouts evenly with Traeger's Asian BBQ Rub and put the cookie sheet on the grill. Close the lid and cook for 7-8 minutes.
Toss the brussel sprouts in the Thai Chili Sauce and return to the grill for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until the sprouts are crisp-tender.
Click below for a printable version of this recipe:
Spicy Asian Brussel Sprouts with a Sweet Chili Glaze.docx (11.85 kb)
Pork on the Traeger is amazing, and it's no different with these citrus pork chops. When coming up with this recipe we were looking for a clean fresh taste, and we think we accomplished just that. Whether you're having a summer bbq, or just a weeknight meal this recipe is quick, easy, and full of flavor.
If you can find them, make this dish with the spectacularly thick (about 1-1/2 inch) “Iowa” pork chops: Their architecture is similar to a T-bone steak. Be sure to cook them to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
Grilled Pork Chops With Citrus Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- 6 pork chops, each at least 1/2-inch thick
- Traeger Pork and Poultry Rub, or salt and pepper
Make the vinaigrette: In a small mixing bowl, combine the lime juice, orange juice, honey, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Whisk in the olive oil until an emulsion forms. Stir in the parsley. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Season the pork chops on both sides with the Traeger Pork and Poultry Rub.
Arrange the pork chops on the grill grate and smoke for 30 minutes. Increase the heat to 300 degrees F (Medium) and continue to cook the chops until they reach an internal temperature of 145 to 160 degrees F, about 30 minutes. Arrange the chops on a platter or plates and pour some of the vinaigrette over the chops. Serve the remaining vinaigrette on the side.
Arrange the chops on a platter or plates and pour some of the vinaigrette over the chops. Serve the remaining vinaigrette on the side. These pork chops have a great clean citrus flavor, and are perfect for that summer bbq. Serve with a light salad, and you have yourself an amazing meal right at home.
Not many can resist the scent and tempting allure of a smoke ring-crusted wedge of cheese. You probably saw our earlier post about the cold smoker attachment and all of the wonderful creations you can make with it. The door to endless possibilities has been opened. That was just the salivating start of your magnificent journey of cheese smoking.
We'd like to help you continue further by giving you some key tips and tricks that you can use to smoke some incredible cheese with or without a cold smoker. This will be much much easier if you have Traeger's Cold Smoker, but if you don't you can still do it.
TIPS & TRICKS to SMOKING CHEESE
- Smoke your cheese in the fall or the winter. Any outside temperature warmer than 60 degrees is probably too warm for cheese smoking (even with a cold smoker). If you don't have a cold smoker you want it as cold as possible outside. If there are icicles on your window, it's a great day to smoke some cheese! You want to maintain the lowest temperature possible to prevent the cheese from melting.
- Cut the cheese into 2-inch by 4-inch chunks to help the smoke penetrate through the cheese faster.
- Make sure the cheese is well-chilled or even frozen before beginning to smoke.
- In the absence of a cold smoker attachment, fill a metal colander with ice and set it over a rimmed pan or baking sheet to catch the drips. Place the cheese on a piece of foil or grate on top of the ice to protect the cheese from the water.
- Try using Pecan or Apple pellets for softer/more delicate-flavored cheeses and using Hickory or Oak for harder/stronger-flavored cheeses.
- Turn the cheese every 15 or 30 minutes (depending on total smoke time) to expose all surfaces to the smoke, replacing the ice as needed.
- When beads of sweat start to develop on the outside of the cheese it's getting too warm.
- Do not over-smoke! Cheese absorbs flavors easily and quickly. The softer the cheese, the shorter the smoking time.
- If desired, refrigerate the cheese, uncovered, for several hours or overnight so it can develop a smoke-receptive "skin". The smoke flavor will intensify after a day or two.
- Avoid wrapping cheese in plastic wrap. Wrap in parchment paper or waxed paper, then, if you're concerned about it drying out, slip it into an UNSEALED plastic bag. Plastic should never come in direct contact with the cheese. (Yes, we know: Most cheese shops or departments do it wrong.)
- When serving smoked cheese, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up slightly before enjoying it.
TESTER CHEESE SMOKING
We tried out the cheese smoking tips ourselves, without using a cold smoker. We smoked three different kinds of cheese with three different densities: soft fresh mozzarella, gouda and hard sharp cheddar.
We cut the cheese into a few chunks (about 2-inch by 4-inch) and then froze them. (removing the rind from the gouda, as well)
We kept the cheeses cold while smoking by filling a tray with ice and placing the cheese chunks on top of a cooling rack to keep the cheese dry, rotating the cheese every 10 to 15 minutes.
Here are the final smoking times for each of the cheeses:
MOZZARELLA: 30 minutes
GOUDA: 45 to 60 minutes
CHEDDAR: 45 to 60 minutes (up to 90 minutes if you want more smokiness)
You'll notice the color darken on the cheeses as they develop that tell-tale smoke crust.
The verdict? Overall the cheeses smoked so quickly and were just irresistible with the addition of that sweet, smoky note.
There are so many cheeses out there just waiting to be smoked. Try it out for yourself and let us know what tips and tricks you've discovered!
Potatoes are incredible, transformative vehicles. They can take on any flavor and almost any cuisine. In the south they love 'em buttered or fried up. In the west you'll find them often mixed with some meat and a little spice. What we did here, was a little mix of both. Imagine a buttery baked potato, but instead of bacon we swapped in tender, smoky grilled chicken smothered with barbecue sauce as hot or as sweet as you like it.
BONUS - with the addition of a vegetable or two, your dinner is made in about an hour.
GRILLED BBQ CHICKEN BAKED POTATOES
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Mesquite or Hickory
4 large potatoes (such as Russets)
2 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
Traeger Pork & Poultry Rub
Butter, sour cream, cheese, chives or whatever your favorite baked potato toppings are
Salt and pepper to taste
Traeger Honey Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce
Start with the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Preheat to High for 10 to 15 minutes, lid closed.
Wash the potatoes and poke several holes in each with a fork or skewer. Place on the grill and cook for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until they are squeezably soft.
Meanwhile, prepare the chicken by rubbing it with the minced garlic, drizzling with the olive oil and Worchestershire sauce and seasoning with the Traeger Pork & Poultry Rub.
After the potatoes have been cooking for about 30 minutes, throw the chicken onto the grill. (If you would like to makes this a complete meal, you could also throw on some asparagus or brussel sprouts when you put on the chicken and they'll be done about the same time.)
Let the chicken cook 20 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Pull the chicken off when it's done and set aside to allow the juices to redistribute before cutting. Check on the potatoes and pull them off when they are done.
Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. (You could also pull the chicken, if you like.) Mix in a generous amount of the Traeger Honey Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, or your favorite bbq sauce.
Time to assemble. Slice open the baked potatoes and fill them with your favorite toppings and season liberally with salt and pepper. We love a good amount of butter and a drizzle of ranch dressing.
Top each potato with a heap of the chopped barbecue chicken and finish with a sprinkle of chives for garnish.
GRILLED BBQ CHICKEN BAKED POTATOES.docx (12.83 kb)
A layer of crispy, browned potatoes seemed like the perfect shell for a silky piece of fresh salmon. And boy, were we ever right! We wanted to keep the recipe quick and simple but also stay far away from potato flakes. Hash browns fit the bill perfectly, after adding in a few fresh herbal and full-flavored tweaks.
POTATO-CRUSTED with LEMON BUTTER SAUCE
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 9 minutes
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Alder
4 cups frozen shredded potatoes (hash browns), thawed and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Four 8-ounce salmon fillets
Traeger Salmon Shake
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Lemon Butter Sauce:
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tablespoons diced butter
In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with the chives and flour and season with salt and pepper. Lay the salmon fillets on a work surface and season with Traeger Salmon Shake.
Spread a thin layer of mustard on each of the fillets.
Evenly pat the shredded potatoes onto the top of each fillet.
Start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Place a 10 to 12-inch cast iron pan on the grill grate and preheat to 450 degrees F, High, with lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes.
After the grill has heated, pour the oil into the pan and allow it to heat for about 5 minutes. Carefully add the salmon fillets to the oil, potato side down.
Cook, undisturbed, until browned, about 8 minutes. Carefully flip the salmon and cook for 1 minute longer.
Using a slotted spatula, transfer the salmon to plates. Blot off any excess oil.
Make the lemon butter sauce by adding white wine, lemon juice, cream, garlic, salt and pepper into a small pan. Heat on high heat and reduce by half its original volume. Remove from heat and swirl in butter.
Serve salmon warm with the lemon butter sauce and perhaps some grilled asparagus.
Potato-Crusted Salmon Recipe.docx (12.34 kb)
Italians created the classic combination of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil with a little splash of tangy balsamic vinegar and smooth olive oil to complete the happy union. It's also known as a caprese salad. True, the salad by itself is marvelously scrumptious, but it's even better when stuffed inside a grilled, glazed hunk of chicken.
Sounds delicious, right? It's quick and easy and if you throw it on some soft focaccia bread or even toasted bruschetta, this mouthful of flavor becomes a complete meal.
Check out the recipe in our Guilt Free - Love, Laugh, Grill Cookbook. (That's right, folks. Don't tell anyone, but it's also pretty good for you.)
MOZZARELLA-STUFFED BALSAMIC CHICKEN
PREP TIME: 10 Min.
COOK TIME: 25 Min.
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Any
4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (you could also make smaller portions and use chicken thighs)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, (1 cup quartered, 1 cup left whole)
½ cup fresh basil – chopped
½ cup fresh part- skim mozzarella – cubed
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp bottled balsamic glaze
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves – to garnish
Start Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Preheat grill to 350 degrees F with the lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes.
Rinse and pat dry chicken. Create a deep pocket in each chicken breast with sharp knife.
Combine quartered tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, basil, salt, pepper and lemon juice and gently toss together
Here's a great basil-cutting tip: instead of struggling to figure out how to cut it into even-sized pieces, roll the leaves up and cut the leaves into ribbons, or chiffonade the basil (if you want to sound fancy).
Stuff each chicken breast equally with the tomato mixture.
Transfer chicken to a foil-lined baking sheet (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray). Drizzle chicken lightly with olive oil and balsamic glaze and season generously with salt and pepper.
Distribute 1 cup of whole cherry tomatoes around chicken.
Place the baking sheet on the grill grate and cook for 25 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked (internal temperature should read 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
Garnish chicken with more fresh basil and serve.
Mozzarella Balsamic Chicken Recipe.docx (12.34 kb)
Aside from drinking and any never-again-to-be-mentioned bead earning, Mardi Gras is about the FOOD. Delicious Creole or Cajun Louisiana food. A little bit of seafood, a little bit of sausage, a little bit of chicken and a lotta spice, at least when we make it. On Mardi Gras, jambalaya is calling your name. It fits the bill perfectly and completes any Fat Tuesday feast.
SMOKED CREOLE JAMBALAYA
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour 5 minutes, including smoke time
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Hickory or Mesquite
20 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
4 ounces chicken boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
5 ounces Andouille sausage
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, or more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
3/4 cup short grain rice
3 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
Start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).
Spread the chopped shrimp and the diced chicken out on a large baking sheet. On a separate baking sheet spread out the chopped tomatoes. Place both baking sheets along with the andouille sausage on the Traeger and smoke for 30 minutes.
Remove the meats and the tomatoes from the Traeger and turn the heat up to High. Put a dutch oven or large pan on the grill grate and let preheat for 10 to 15 minutes with the lid closed.
After the meat has smoked slice the Andouille sausage and toss it along with the chicken and shrimp with the Creole seasoning.
Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into the pan on the Traeger and add in the chopped onion, pepper and celery, and let them sautee for about 5 minutes.
Add in the minced garlic, smoked tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces.
Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
When rice is just tender (dip in the spoon and have a taste) add in shrimp, chicken and sausage.
Cook until meat is done, about 10 to 20 minutes more.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning.
Smoked Jambalaya Recipe.docx (12.08 kb)
We love using our Traeger grills to make easy and quick weeknight meals that taste ten times better than any take-out. This recipe for Garlic BBQ Salmon is ridiculously easy, has only a few ingredients you are likely to have in your pantry, and tastes like it took you a really long time when it only takes a few minutes. With all of that going for it, this Garlic BBQ Salmon will likely become a regular in your weekly meal rotations.
Garlic BBQ Grilled Salmon
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6-8 depending on the size of your filet
Recommended Pellets: Hickory, Mesquite, or Maple
1 salmon filet, skin on, pinbones removed
1 bottle of Traeger's Regular BBQ Sauce
2 tbs of fresh garlic, minced
4 sprigs of green onion, chopped on a diagonal. (2 sprigs for the sauce, and 2 for garnish)
Traeger's Salmon Shake
Season the top of your filet with Traeger's salmon shake. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, 2 sprigs of chopped green onion and BBQ sauce. Set aside.
When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke for 4-5 minutes to establish the fire. Close the lid, turn the temperature setting to High and allow the grill to preheat for 10-15 minutes.
Before grilling, brush the salmon with the BBQ sauce mixture. Place directly on the grill, skin side down and grill for approximately 5 minutes on each side until fish is firm, flaky, and opaque.
Sprinkle with additional sliced green onions and serve.
Cheese. Can you really go wrong with cheese? Everyone will think that this is one of those fancy, complicated appetizers, or amuse bouche - if you will, but the truth is that it can't get much easier than this. We love a good appetizer that appears deceivingly complicated. Nobody needs to know how much of your time was spent feet-up in a chair with a glass of something bubbly while you waited for this to cook.
BAKED BRIE WITH TUPELO HONEY
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8
Pellet recommendation: Hickory or Pecan
One 16-ounce wheel of brie
1/3 cup Tupelo honey, or other honey, slightly warmed
1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish (optional)
Crackers and sliced apple or pear wedges, for serving
Start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 350 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment or aluminum foil. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the top—the white rind—off the brie. (Leave the rind on the sides and bottom intact.)
Put the brie , cut side up, on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with the honey. Sprinkle the nuts on top.
Bake the brie until it is soft and oozing, but not melting, 8 to 10 minutes.
Let it cool for a couple of minutes (or else it will completely ooze apart) and then transfer to a serving plate or platter and serve with crackers and sliced apple wedges. Drizzle with more honey, if you like.
Brie & Honey Recipe.docx (11.55 kb)