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Santa Maria-Style BBQ Tri-Tip

Total: 5 hr
Active: 30 min
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Level: Intermediate

Santa Maria-Style BBQ Tri-Tip Ingredients

Santa Maria Pinquito Bean Relish:

Tomato Relish:

Grilled French Bread:

Santa Maria-Style BBQ Tri-Tip Directions

Watch how to make this recipe.

Special equipment: 2 cups red oak chips, soaked in water for at least 2 hours, such as Susy Q’s Brand

  1. In a small bowl, mix the granulated garlic, salt and pepper together and rub all over and into the meat. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Prepare a charcoal grill for direct and indirect medium-high heat. Add the chips about 30 minutes before grilling the beef.
  3. Set the tri-tip over direct heat, fat-side up, and sear until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Flip over and sear other side.
  4. Move the tri-tip over the indirect-heat area, cover and grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130 degrees F, 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest at least 15 minutes. Slice the meat across the grain. Serve with Santa Maria Pinquito Bean Relish, Tomato Relish and Grilled French Bread.

Santa Maria Pinquito Bean Relish:

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until golden brown and the fat has rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Add the poblano and onions to the bacon fat in the pan and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beans and bacon and cook until warmed through. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put into a serving bowl and top with cilantro or parsley leaves.

Tomato Relish:

Preheat the grill for high direct heat.

Toss the tomatoes with the canola oil, season with salt and pepper and transfer to a grill basket. Grill, tossing once or twice, until charred on all sides. Remove the tomatoes to another bowl. Add the parsley or cilantro, olive oil, garlic paste, chiles and onions. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Grilled French Bread:

Mash the butter, garlic and some salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle.

Brush the cut side of the bread lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the bread, cut-side down, until golden brown. Flip over and continue cooking for 30 seconds longer. Remove from the grill, slather with the garlic butter and cut each half into 4 pieces. Put the pieces on a platter and scatter parsley leaves over the top.

Pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon

Steak grilling secrets

Steak Grilling Secrets

The GrillJunkie team is happy to share with you a few of our Steak Grilling Secrets! As grilling and BBQ addicts, we’ve had our share of some amazing steaks as well as some epic failures….some of which, admittedly are from our own handiwork! So, learn from our experience and mistakes and read on as we share some Steak Grilling Secrets. Eating a perfectly cooked steak is a transcendent — some would say salacious — experience for carnivores. There’s that unmistakable and memorable first bite — the outside crusty, briny, seared and caramelized; the inside, beefy-tasting, juicy, sanguine, and earthly tender. But let’s face facts: Not even high-end steakhouses get it right all the time. It’s no wonder backyard grillers face raw steak with hesitation. As the great steak-master himself, Stephen Raichlen of states:

“You’d be surprised how many people know their way around brisket and ribs, but can’t consistently grill a good steak.”

And yes, there is a difference between BBQ and Grilling. In a nutshell, BBQ is a ‘low and slow’ method of smoking foods, wherein, grilling is more ‘hot, fast and seared’. Yes, much can go wrong at every stage of the process, from the procurement to the plating. But armed with the 10 strategies below, you can nail a great steak every time.

Steak Grilling Secrets – Top 10

  1. Choose the right cut of steak: A Porterhouse is the best of both worlds, consisting of a New York Strip and a filet mignon united by a slender T-shaped bone. Other top cuts include rib eyes, T-bones (a smaller version of a Porterhouse), and new cuts, like the flatiron. Don’t overlook tougher, meatier cuts, like sirloin, hanger steak, skirt steak, and flank steak — just be sure to thinly slice across the grain before serving.
  2. Keep it in the refrigerator until grilling. This runs contrary to many theories, but no steakhouse worth its salt leaves meat out at room temperature in a hot kitchen.steak grilling secrets
  3. Build a 3-zone fire: Use the hot zone for searing, the medium zone for cooking, and have a safety zone where you can move the steaks to dodge any flare-ups.
  4. Season Simply: Season generously with coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper right before grilling. (The salt helps form a satisfying crust.) Or for a more complex flavor, sprinkle on your favorite steak rub.
  5. Remember the Stephen Raichlen grill master’s mantra: Keep it hot. Keep it clean. Keep it lubricated. (The grill grate, that is!) A hot, clean, well-oiled grate prevents sticking and
    gives you killer grill marks.
  6. Get good marks: Arrange the steaks on the grill grate all running the same way slightly on the diagonal to the bars of the grate. Rotate 90 degrees after 2 to 3 minutes to lay on a crosshatch of grill marks. To get the best marks, use a cast iron grate.
  7. Turn, don’t stab: Use tongs, not a fork to turn the steaks. The only purpose served by stabbing a steak is to drain out the juices. Enough said. By the way, look for beads of blood that form on the top of the steak a few minutes after it goes on the grill. That tells you it’s time to turn.
  8. Poke your food: Use your index finger to poke the steak. If it’s soft and squishy, it’s rare; gently yielding, medium-rare; springy and firm indicates well-done. (Not that you’d want to cook steak well-done.) And remember, large steaks continue cooking after they come off the grill.
  9. Give it a rest: Always let steaks rest on a platter or plates for 2 to 3 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute themselves — resting gives you a juicier steak.
  10. Enrich your steak: Enrich it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pat of butter or compound butter, melted beef fat, or even a slather of your favorite steak…unless you are from Texas, where it is forbidden!

Steak Grilling Secrets – Grilled NY Strip Steak Recipes

With the top 10 Steak Grilling Secrets at your disposal, let’s tackle a recipe! New York Strip is one of the GrillJunkie team’s favorite steaks to grill.  Grilling recipes for steak don’t get any simpler, succulent and enjoyable than this!  As with many high end steak cuts, less is more when grilling NY strip steaks.  The best way to grill this kind of steak is over direct high heat.  This method is ideal for NY Strip Steak as it seals in the juices and cooks the steak quickly, not allowing the steak to dry out. We encourage you to read this great article entitled 31 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Steak”. We believe it will fire you up!

Tip 1: Keep the Dry-Aged NY Strip Steaks dry by patting with paper towels before grilling…otherwise any excess moisture steams the meat leaving a tough chew!

Tip 2: Look for meat with the most marbling, i.e., visible grains of fat running through the steak. As the steak is cooking, the fat melts, naturally tenderizing the meat and building in flavor. (Avoid vein steaks — the ones with a half-moon-shaped vein running through the cut — because they’re too tough.)

Click Here for the New York Steak Strip Recipe

Enjoy, pound your chest in pride, smile and cherish these precious times with your family and friends.
What are your thoughts? What Fires You Up? We welcome your comments, healthy
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6 Steps to Smoking Cheese

smoking cheese, smoked cheddar cheese recipes6 Steps to Smoking Cheese on a BBQ

Smoking Cheese? Yes, indeed! One of the GrillJunkie team’s favorite things to prepare on the grill is smoked cheese. This is especially fun during early spring and late fall for some reason. Smoking cheese imparts an incredibly earthy, nutty, smoky flavor that is quite unlike any fresh cheese. Inspired by our BBQ brethren at, we share these 6 Steps to Smoking Cheese to encourage you to “Fire Things Up” a bit. Because cheese can sweat, melt and ooze at temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C), you’ll need to use a “cold smoke” method. You can purchase cold smokers for this purpose, but doing it with available tools can be as easy as adding a pan of ice.

First Up: What is Cold Smoking?

Cold Smoking is basically producing good, clean smoke with little or no heat to infuse and penetrate cheese that produces earthy, nutty, smoky flavor, aroma and texture. The last thing you want is the temperature high enough to melt the cheese. That’s also why we wait until it is a bit cold outside to smoke cheese. Even the ambient air temp can cause influence your grill temperature.

Smoking Cheese – Methods and How to’s

To produce just the right amount of cool smoke, it doesn’t take many coals. We start with 6 coals arranged in a small pile. To make it easy, place the coals in a charcoal chimney or tin can for cold smoking. Since you don’t need a large fire only one of the coals needs to be lit. Simply start another small pile of coals in a separate chimney then use tongs to transfer a hot one to the cold smoking smoking_cheese, cold smokingpile. The target smoker temp for cold smoking cheese is 90 degrees.

Only a small piece of wood is necessary for cold smoking. We find that milder woods like sugar maple, cherry, or apple produce a great taste and nuttier aroma. The stronger wood flavors can overpower cheese very quick. Any type of cheese can be smoked, some favorites are sharp cheddar, Swiss, Colby and pepper jack. You can use the block cheese from the super market but if you have a source for good cheese… go for it!

For the smoking process you’ll need an aluminum pan and a wire cooling rack. Unwrap the cheese and let it come to room temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Fill the aluminum pan with ice cubes and place it on the rack in your smoker. Place the wire cooling rack over the pan and then place the cheese on the rack. The ice acts as an insulator from any heat that is produced from the small fire.

6 Steps to Smoking Cheese

Smoking Cheese Instructions:  How to Smoke Cheese on a BBQ

  1. PURCHASE – Get the cheese. You can smoke about any kind of cheese, including Gouda, Colby, Swiss, cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, cheddar, and muenster. Cheddar is a GrillJunkie team favorite. See the Smoked Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese recipe below from Adrianna Adarme She writes the blog A Cozy Kitchen
  2. CUT – Cut the cheese into blocks about 4” x 4” x 2”. Some people say to use 1” blocks, and some even use large blocks. We think somewhere around 2” thick is the perfect size for a short smoke period and consistency throughout.
  3. ADJUST – Let your cheese adjust to room temperature for at least one hour. This is optional, but putting cold cheese in a warm smoker can attract condensation, and you’ll get the best results if your cheese surface stays dry during the smoke.
  4. Pair Your Cheese with complementary woods. Just as you would pair your meat with complementary wood flavors, you should pair your cheeses with woods that enhance their taste. For soft and mild cheeses, try delicate woods like cherry, pecan, or apple. For hard and strongly flavored cheese, try rich and pungent woods like oak and hickory. You can even mix things up with nutshells or dried tea leaves.
  5. LOAD – Load the grate. Put the cheese on the grate, spaced at least one inch apart.
  6. SMOKE – Smoke the cheese. If you maintain a steady moderate smoke, three hours should do it. You can always adjust it the next time to suit your taste. Keep the smoker under 90 degrees F so the cheese doesn’t melt.

Smoking Cheese: Tips

  • Smoke Your Choice of Cheese for the Right Amount of Time. Cheese tends to absorb smoke flavors quickly and easily, taking on an acrid, overpowering taste when it’s over smoked. The length of the smoke depends on the type of cheese you’re smoking and your taste preference. Cheese can smoke anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours with longer sessions developing stronger flavors. In addition, any moisture on the cheese will cause it to collect a larger amount of smoke particles. It’s recommended that you test out a variety of cheeses with varying smoke times and then determine which you enjoy most. Many pro cheese smokers learn to distinguish smoke times based on the finishing color of the rind. Keep in mind that softer cheeses generally require a shorter smoke.
  • Wait for a cool day. Cheese must be “cold smoked,” to prevent melting. This is easiest to accomplish if the air temperature is no higher than 60 °F (16 °C), even with the methods we’ll use to keep temperatures low.  If you do try this on a warm day, start with a small batch to minimize mess and lost cheese from melting. A store-bought cold smoker method is best for warm days.
  • Cut a cheese of your choice. Any cheese can be smoked, unless it is so soft it will fall through the grate. Gouda, cheddar, and Gruyère are all common options. For fully smoked cheese, use pieces no larger than 4″ x 4″ by 2″ (10cm x 10cm x 5cm), so the smoke can penetrate the entire piece of cheese.  If you prefer cheese with a smoky rind and soft interior, use larger pieces.
  • Dry the cheese and bring to room temperature. Unwrap your cheese and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator the next day and leave it until it reaches room temperature. This will cause some moisture to evaporate, making it easier to develop the smoky rind. Wipe off moisture from the cheese surface using a paper towel.

There’s some disagreement among cheese-smokers over this step. Some people prefer to keep the cheese chilled or even frozen before smoking. Others dislike the texture changes that come with freezing, and may even prefer the convenience of skipping the refrigeration step and just leaving the cheese out at room temperature for one or two hours.

  • Consider buying a cold smoker. You can purchase a “cold smoker” attachment or adapter for your hot smoker, or a standalone cold smoker. These range in cost from about $35 to well over $100. However, once the cold smoker is set up, smoking is simple and risk of melting the cheese is low.


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Grilled Swordfish Recipe – Oh my!

grilled swordfish recipe Grilled Swordfish Recipe: Fire Up Those Grills!

The GrillJunkie team tapped into our Mediterranean roots and our love of grilled fish for inspiration in making our memorable Grilled Swordfish Recipe!

Here’s a few facts about Swordfish from the folks at to whet your appetite:

  • How many types (species) of swordfish are there?
    There is only one species but they are grouped by location, though. There is the Pacific swordfish, the Mediterranean swordfish and the Atlantic swordfish. The Pacific swordfish is the largest of the three.
  • What is the size of a swordfish?
    They grow fast and can reach 14 feet in length and weigh 1,200 pounds. The average size caught is 6 feet and  50-200 pounds.grilled swordfish recipe
  • How long do swordfish live?
    Their lifespan reaches 9 years. They are ready to reproduce at 5 years.
  • What is the habitat of the swordfish?
    They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and sometimes cold waters, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. They are highly migratory, moving to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters in the summer.

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Grilling Product Reviews – FlipKabob

Grilling Product Reviews: FlipKabob – Easy Squeezy?

In the latest of our Grilling Product Reviews, we address if the Flipkabob is an effective evolution to those cumbersome skewer rods. On a consistent basis the team here at GrillJunkie™ sets time aside to communicate our formal rating on either a Grilling, BBQ or Burger related product. We do this via our Grilling Product Reviews process. As you certainly can imagine these products run the gamut from: Gotta Have It!CoolUsefulUtilitarianRidiculous and the, well, Just Plain Asinine! The spectrum of grilling related products is wide.

Today’s Grilling Product Reviews candidate:

Flipkabob – $19.95

grilling product reviews of Flipkabob

The GrillJunkie™ Grilling Product Reviews (GPR) Scale

Based on our extensive field research, the GrillJunkie Product Review team assigns a formal rating to every product that we test. This rating is based on a 1-5 Firepot structure depicted through our Grilling Product Review (GPR) scale as illustrated below. Them number of Firepots given to the grilling product indicates its final rating. The higher the number of Firepots, the more positive the review.  

GrillJunkie Grilling Product Review GPR Firepot key with logo

  GrillJunkie GPR Four FirePot ratingQuick Product Reviews Rating: For the more impatient reader who needs to get the rating right away, we gave the FlipKabob a 4.3 out of 5 GrillJunkie™ GPR Firepots. This rating equates to a Hot product.

The FlipKabob solidly addresses and solves the three main problems of utilitarian kebab skewers: they are cumbersome, dangerous to handle and are prone to allowing their contents to slip leading to grilling product reviewsunevenly grilled food. The simple, fun to use and well constructed FlipKabob provides the user with a convenient skewer channel to easily and safely grab, squeeze and flip the kebab skewer. Combined with an attractive, well balanced and easy to use hardwood and stainless steel design and you’re looking at a highly effective grill tool that will up your kabob grilling mastery and enjoyment.

For more detail on this Product Review, including The Secrets to Perfect Kabobs as well as the many upcoming Grilling Product Reviews on our schedule, read on!

First Up: What is a Kebab?

Grilled tuna kebabsKebab, also spelled kebap, kabob, or kabap, is a Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterranean, and South Asian dish of pieces of meat, fish, or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer, stick or spit. Despite some misgivings, kebabs have been popular for a long, long time. Archaeologists in Greece have unearthed firedogs dating back to the 17th century BC that had notches carved in them, possibly to support skewers over an open fire. The term kabap comes much later though, traced back to at least the 17th century (some stories claim the word was originally used in Turkey to describe how soldiers fire-roasted meats that they’d skewered on swords).

The term kebab, originated in the Eastern Mediterranean, where it is mentioned by Homer, or the Middle East, and later adopted in Central Asia and by the regions of the former Mongol Empire and later Ottoman Empire, before spreading worldwide.

In American English, kebab with no qualification refers to shish kebab (Turkish: şiş kebap) cooked on a skewer, whereas in Europe it refers to doner kebab, sliced meat served in a pita. In the Middle East, however, kebab refers to meat that is cooked over or next to flames; large or small cuts of meat, or even ground meat; it may be served on plates, in sandwiches, or in bowls.

The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes and religious prohibitions, other meats may Grilled tuna kebabsinclude beef, goat, chicken, pork or heartier fish and seafood such a tuna or shrimp. Like other ethnic foods brought by travelers, the kebab has remained a part of everyday cuisine in most of the Eastern Mediterranean and South Asia.

In theory, meat on a stick is an incredible idea—fast to cook, easy to eat, and completely open to great flavor possibilities. But far too many kebabs fall flat, coming out dry, tasteless, and nowhere near their full potential. After many years of grilling and lots of trial and error, though, the GrillJunkie team has found ways to make consistently delicious kebabs. Follow these methods and there’s no risk of making your guests suffer through subpar kebabs at your next backyard barbecue.

Does the FlipKabob evolve the utilitarian, cumbersome and dangerous kabab skewer to the next level by successfully combining durability, effectiveness and user safety into an “Easy, Squeezy Kebab Flipper?” Let’s see!

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