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By Tim O’Dell, Chili Dawg’s Foods of Fire

May is National Barbeque Month so what are the various ways to cook meat, fish and vegetables? In the past we have covered wood smoking and propane or gas grilling. There is true joy in smoking various foods like pork, brisket or vegetables. However, not everyone enjoys traditional smoking as it can take a long time and it is more technical than what folks want to tackle in today’s rushed society.

I was once asked to address grilling as an alternative cooking option. Whether it is with a fast start charcoal grill or a gas/propane grill, this approach can deliver a great result and not eat up a boatload of time.

Pellet grilling is just as rewarding as the first two options and pellet grill manufacturers are getting very sophisticated with the options they provide for the expert and the novice.

What I truly love about pellet grilling is that, once you become proficient and know the proper temperatures with which to cook and the proper time frame to cook your product in, you can free up so much time to do other things while you barbecue.

If I am cooking ribs, I can set my cook time to approximately two hours to two hours and fifteen minutes before I remove my ribs to wrap and replace them on the grill to finish. This gives me two hours to mow, tend to the garden, run quick errands or any other time consuming project.

Additionally, if you are cooking meat that takes hours and hours like a brisket or port butt on your pellet grill, you can put it on early in the morning and have it done for dinner time once you figure out the time required to produce a great product.

Pellet grills have great features like temperature probes to increase the accuracy of your cook, they have alarms that will tell you that you are low on pellets and the cook temperatures stay steady and even throughout your entire cook. And many of them will allow you to sear your meat as they reach temperatures up to 500 degrees. Some pellet grill manufacturers have additional accessories to aid in the searing process or adding additional smoke to your food product.

And, the various pellet flavors are great to experiment with as you gain proficiency in pellet smoking. Cherry, peach, apple, pecan are great to combine with hickory, oak or even mesquite. Many manufacturers provide a mixed bag of pellets to eliminate your own need to blend.

If you are new to the barbecue world, where do you go to get some help in picking the right grill for your experience level? Though you can buy these products at big box stores and chain stores, specialty stores offer a great alternative. The personnel at these specialty stores can give great advice on rubs to use, charcoal, sauces and methods. They can provide you with a jump start as this is their field of expertise. These stores and their personnel should be used as a resource for the barbecue novice and the experts.

Pellet grilling is so much fun. Try it, you’ll love it . . . and you may even get hooked!

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