Friday Find: Should You Buy a Pellet Grill and Smoker This Summer?

Monk: In a podcast accompanying the recent post on The 10 Best Pellet Smokers and Grills You Can Buy in 2021 by Gear Patrol’s home and drinks editor Will Price, he discusses the benefits of pellet grills and smokers as well as his picks with Nick Caruso. Though I have to say, I’m a bit skeptical on the grilling/smoking credentials of someone who lives in Brooklyn. Not because of the Brooklyn of it all, but because he won’t have a true backyard for testing out these grills. In any case, take his recommendations with that in mind.

Pellet grills have been around only since the mid-Eighties and feature precision computer controls: a super low-effort alternative to charcoal and gas grills.

Episode Navigation:

01:25 – What Is a Pellet Grill and Smoker, and What Are “Pellets?”
03:40 – The Complex Components That Make Pellet Grills So Simple to Use
07:30 – Why Pellet Grills Are the Most Precise of Grilling Options
09:15 – Pellets Aren’t a Big Hassle, and These Are Set-It-and-Forget-It Devices
13:00 – Why Pellet Grills Are Also Smokers, and What They Cook Best
20:00 – Comparing Pellet Grills to Other Types
21:50 – Traeger, and the Genesis of Pellet Grills
23:15 – The Ecological Impact of Pellet Cooking
26:40 – The Surprisingly Low Prices of Pellet Grills
29:30 – A Rundown of Our Top Three Pellet Grill Picks
44:05 – What Is Will Grilling With This Summer?

Recap: BBQ Brawl S2E7 – “Seafood Showdown”

Monk: In a bit of a change of pace, I’m going to try my hand at TV recapping for the second season of BBQ Brawl, which airs for *checks notes* 10 episodes *gulp* on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. 10 episodes? Well let’s see how this goes…

Note: I’ve corrected the episode numbers on this and all other recaps after getting tripped up whether the super-sized premiere was considered one or two episodes. Nonetheless, we should be good to go now.

After a bit of trash talk between the team captains, we are reminded that Team Eddie is down to one contestant and now gets to steal a competitor from either Team Bobby or Team Michael to join Christopher. Eddie chooses Brittani from Team Michael, who he says “has been on fire” the past few weeks. Michael bemoans losing such a strong competitor.

Eddie then chooses the next Advantage Challenge: grilled oysters. He is a Houston resident and thus is feeling confident going in for this captains challenge, but Bobby also feels comfortable with grilled oysters. Michael perhaps less so.

Eddie’s New Orleans-style chargrilled oysters with lump crab meat beats out Michael’s Asian-influenced oysters with Cleveland caviar (pickled mustard seeds) and Bobby’s grilled oyster with smoked shrimp and compound butter. So his confidence going in works out for him, and he gets his team an advantage in the seafood challenge of having the ability to steal mystery ingredients from other teams Dirty Santa-style. He takes the king crab legs from Team Michael, leaving them with the octopus. Team Bobby gets to keep their salmon.

Each team has to use their ingredient in each of their dishes in the “Seafood Showdown,” which is an abbreviated 90 minutes long. Turns out the octopus doesn’t bother Michael or this team at all and each of the contestants seem to have a background with it. The other teams look comfortable with their ingredient, so this week it will all come down to execution.

In order of judging:

Team Eddie goes with a crab theme for their platter. Eddie himself grills crab legs and tops with a gremolata. This was a big hit with the judges. Christopher’s plantain tostone with crab guisado (crab and tomato stew) is not as crab forward as judges would have hoped so looks like he won’t be in the running for top dish. Brittani’s grilled crab with sambal and spicy corn is good once the judges are able to combine all ingredients onto a forkful but her beer battered crab nuggets get dinged for not being grilled or smoked. Kind of important when it comes to a barbecue show, notes Rodney Scott.

Team Michael deals with the octopus in a Texas-meets-Mediterranean themed meal. Michael’s burnt flour and squid ink pasta with octopus sauce gets praise from judges for his technique in getting smoke into pasta. Ara’s braised octopus with lardons is on the chewy side, and David’s Spanish octopus stew gets dinged for using some of the same octopus from Ara which results in two different octopus textures in the dish.

Team Bobby’s “salmon three ways on the grill” starts with Bobby’s charred green curry salmon with crispy cowboy rice gets rave reviews from the judges. Bobby clearly was at ease cooking salmon in this challenge. Taylor’s salmon pinwheel with gochujang sauce and stuffed shishito is “very rich” which is “overwhelming” to Brook; never a good thing. Erica’s seafood gumbo lacks flavor and salt even after she got some tips from Bobby mid-cook but Erica hopes that the crispy salmon chicharrons will help save her.

After all meals are judged, there doesn’t seem to be a clear favorite since each team had issues in execution. Team Michael apparently gets graded on a curve for the difficulty of cooking the octopus and is the first safe team. Team Eddie is also safe, and Eddie avoids going back down to one contestant yet again.

That means Team Bobby will lose a teammate, and Taylor makes it two weeks in a row that a contestant goes home for a cream cheese dish (after Lu last week). Erica gets emotional in losing her best friend in the competition but will also have a new teammate soon enough. We’ll find out who Bobby steals next week for an international barbecue challenge.

Bells for Taylor, the Georgian pastry chef.

Christopher Prieto Watch

Not Christopher’s best showing this week, especially on a dish that is so near and dear to his heart. I believe this is the second time he has done plantain tostones, and I don’t think either has gone particularly well. Nevertheless, he moves on to the next week. Christopher and Brittani seemingly get along well enough this week and should continue to be a strong team in the competition.

What was your favorite part of episode 7 of BBQ Brawl season 2? Leave your response in the comments and be sure to check back next week for a recap of episode 8.

Randy’s Bar-B-Q – Savannah, GA

Name: Randy’s Bar-B-Q
Date: 6/25/21
Address: 750 Wheaton St, Savannah, GA 31401
Order: Large ribs
Pricing: $

Monk: The Monk family had occasion to spend a few nights in Savannah recently and ahead of that trip, I performed my customary barbecue research and pickings seemed to be a little slim.

B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue closed their location there late last year as Bryan Furman plans his next move in Atlanta’s westside.

Wiley’s Championship BBQ placed #2 by Southern Living readers in the 2020 poll, but its competition lineage gave me slight pause.

Unfortunately, Savannah hasn’t had a barbecue renaissance like Charleston, a city 2 hours north on Highway 17 that it so often gets compared to.

Finally, I settled upon Randy’s Bar-B-Q via True Cue’s Georgia list and despite their having no real social media presence I dropped off the wife and kids in downtown Savannah and made the short trek a few blocks outside of the eastern edge of historic downtown.

Randy’s is a black-owned barbecue joint run by Randolph Frazier, and they have quite the local following. I arrived to a line of 20-25 people which is apparently not unusual for a lunch crowd.

Unfortunately, they were out of chicken so all I went with a half track of ribs, which came drenched in their bright orangey/yellow sauce and placed on slices of wheat bread (surely they must have been out of white).

Randy’s Bar-B-Q smokes their meat in smokers just outside of the small cubic brick building that was painted once upon a time by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) students. This building is rather small and Randy’s is takeout only.

The ribs were well smoked and while the tangy sauce wasn’t my favorite, I recognized that Randy wasn’t catering to my taste but instead that of the community in which Randy’s serves.

Randy’s Bar-B-Q is worth a stop not only because of their smoked meats but also to step outside of your barbecue comfort zone.

Atmosphere/Ambiance – N/A
Ribs – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Recap: BBQ Brawl S2E6 – “BBQ Brunch Battle”

Monk: In a bit of a change of pace, I’m going to try my hand at TV recapping for the second season of BBQ Brawl, which airs for *checks notes* 10 episodes *gulp* on Monday nights at 9pm ET on Food Network. 10 episodes? Well let’s see how this goes…

Well barbe-cuties, while we may have hit the halfway mark of the 10 episodes a couple weeks back, this is the true halfway mark in terms of remaining contestants. Team Bobby lost once again and this week he has a hankering for brunch. So the advantage challenge – with the advantage being a prize for an individual as opposed to a team – is a barbecue-inspired eggs benedict.

A traditional eggs benedict is an English muffin, Canadian bacon, poached egg, and Hollandaise sauce. Not something that I’ve ever eaten or made myself. The judges agree that it must have the poached egg and Hollandaise sauce, so contestants deviate from that at their peril.

Off the bat, a few appear ready to do so; Erica announces her intent to do shaksuka, a North African poached egg dish. Lu doesn’t want to make a Hollandaise sauce so she goes with a barbecue sauce to go over her immaculately poached eggs. Ara goes with a rolled omelet instead of a poached egg. None of the risks of these folks pay off into a win.

That ends up being Brittani on Team Michael, who wins with her sweet and savory French toast eggs benedict and wins a big $5,000 prize pack from BBQ Brawl sponsor BBQ Guys.

The team challenge is a BBQ Brunch Battle expanding upon the advantage challenge. Each team gets 2 hours for a full barbecue-influenced brunch experience.

I’m convinced Team Michael wins somewhat based on volume, but their “Balanced Brunch” does get some praise in Michael’s salmon and watermelon salad as well as David’s eggs in hell as well as Erica’s smoked fried chicken. They win pretty comfortably.

For Team Bobby, Erica brings some South American flavor to the challenge and impresses the judges with a lomo al trapo (Colombian-style cloth-wrapped grilled beef tenderloin). While Erica gets dinged for her smoked chicken pot pie, they are safe this week. Erica sprints off the set, lest anyone changes their mind.

Team Eddie loses due to execution issues on dishes from both Christopher and Lu. Christopher’s Puerto Rican steak and eggs needed more acid from the chimichurri sauce and Lu’s frittata didn’t have the right egg texture. Her crepe dessert was more successful but even still, it still had some issues. In the end, between not giving a proper eggs benedict and then a lacking frittata, Lu goes home.

Bells for Lu, the Midwestern sauce queen.

Christopher Prieto Watch

Christopher’s team ends up on the bottom this week but Lu goes home. Even she agrees that it’s the right decision. Christopher is the last contestant standing on Team Eddie but will get a new teammate next week as Eddie now gets a chance to steal a teammate from another team. Who will it be? Will they be put off by Christopher’s confidence? We’ll find out next in what looks to be a seafood challenge.

What was your favorite part of episode 6 of BBQ Brawl season 2? Leave your response in the comments and be sure to check back next week for a recap of episode 7.