Archive for ‘Griddling’

The New Blackstone Pizza Oven for the 22″ Griddle

The brand new Blackstone Products Pizza Oven Conversion Kit
The brand new Blackstone Outdoor Pizza Oven Add-On for the 22″ Blackstone Griddle

About a month ago, Blackstone Products announced the release of a new outdoor pizza oven. Technically, it is called the Blackstone pizza oven conversion kit, or the Blackstone pizza oven add on. It is a Wal-Mart exclusive, website only, and it is for the 22″ tabletop models.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on one. In the last couple of years, I have become a pizza-making fiend. Prior to 2020, the thought of making homemade pizza left me in trepidation. Pan pizza is easy to throw together, but hand-tossed? It was always an exercise in failure. Being stuck at home more often during the pandemic afforded me the time and patience to delve into the world of pizza, and over time I have learned how to make a halfway decent pie.

My better half surprised me with an outdoor pizza oven (a Bertello) for Christmas last year. It heats up to over 900 degrees, and it is perfect for making 10-to-12 inch Neapolitan style pizzas. That pizza oven works great, but given the small opening of the door and the extreme heat, there isn’t a lot of options to do other styles than just a Neapolitan pie.

Enter the Blackstone Pizza Oven Add-On

I was skeptical.

When I watched the first couple of videos of the Blackstone pizza oven conversion kit in action, I noticed a difference between it and other outdoor pizza ovens, like Ooni and my Bertello oven.

Unlike most outdoor pizza ovens, the heat source isn’t coming from the back. That is the case with my Bertello: the fire source roars from the back of the oven with flames rolling over top of the pizza. The pizza sits on a pre-heated, piping hot stone and the bottom cooks up while the residual heat of the flames kiss the top of the pizza to finish it in about 90 seconds.

In the style of the new Blackstone pizza oven, the heat source is coming from the bottom-sides. This product features not one, but two pizza stones: a round stone that sits on the floor of the oven and a square stone that sits above the pizza. There are two mechanisms of cooking at play here. When you pre-heat the oven, both of the pizza stones heat up, so when you load your pizza, the heat coming off the top stone provides aid in cooking the top of the pizza along with the bottom stone. It is like a tag-team in action.

The pizza oven add-on itself is heavy. It is about 50-lbs. Installation is fairly simple. You remove the griddle-top from the 22″ Blackstone base, remove the ‘leg’ stubs on the bottom, add your heat shield, re-add the legs, sit the pizza oven accessory kit directly onto the base and — using a screw-driver — install the handles to the sides, door and the little base on top.

With the door of the oven closed, you can heat the oven up to 600 to 700 degrees in about 20 minutes, based on my anecdotal experiences. Within 30 minutes, you will be tapping it up to a surplus of 800 degrees.

One of the things I love about this pizza oven is that it is quite large. The round pizza stone that you cook on is a 15″ stone, so you can cook a large family style pizza. In addition to that, the opening is big enough to accompany pans. I love making bar style, Chicago style and Detroit style pizzas. With the adjustments of the two temperature control knobs, and a little practice, you can subjectively dial in the temperature to cook pan pies to personal perfection.

My First Pizza on the Blackstone Pizza Oven

14" pan pizza on the new Blackstone Pizza Oven Add-On
14″ pan pizza on the new Blackstone Pizza Oven Add-On
Right out of the Blackstone Pizza Oven
A slice of the pie

I was eager to test out the new Blackstone pizza oven, but I didn’t have any homemade dough, so I ran out to the grocery store and bought a pound of dough.

After letting the dough sit out for about an hour, I stretched the dough out in an oiled 14″ pan. I made a pizza that I can only call the ‘House Divided’ pizza with Rao’s marinara sauce, a blend of mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano and provolone cheeses, half pepperoni, green peppers, diced onion; half Italian sausage, pepperoni, jalapeños, banana peppers. This pie finished in only seven minutes and I capped it off with a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey.

I turned the burners down, because I wanted the dough to cook without burning the bottom crust.

Neapolitan and New York Style Pizza on the Blackstone Pizza Oven

As soon as I was afforded the time, I whipped up a Neapolitan style pizza dough: a 24-hour room temperature ferment with minimal yeast, bulk proofed for 24 hours and balled up four hours prior to cooking.

A pepperoni Neapolitan-style pie on the Blackstone Pizza Oven
A pepperoni Neapolitan-style pie on the Blackstone Pizza Oven

Boar’s Head pepperoni, a mix of white cheddar, mozzarella and Colby Jack cheese and a homemade sauce (San Marzano style tomatoes, salt, fresh basil, garlic and a pinch of oregano) was the ticket to a wonderful pizza.

With this style of pizza, I left the burners on high, with the door closed, rotating it every 45 seconds. It finished in about two minutes and thirty seconds. Yes, it took a little longer than a traditional Neapolitan pizza, but the results were still fantastic.

A New York style pizza in action on the Blackstone Pizza Oven
A slice of New York style pie on the Blackstone Pizza Oven
A slice of New York style pie on the Blackstone Pizza Oven
Bottom crust of a New York style pizza on the Blackstone Pizza Oven
A perfect under-carriage

I subsequently tried my hand at a New York style pizza. Once again, similar to the Neapolitan style pie, since NY-style is actually a derivative of Neapolitan pizza, I cooked it up with the burners turned on high, door closed. The only differences are that I was more rough when I stretched the dough, so the cornicione (rim of the pizza) was less poofy, and this dough was only about 55-56% hydration compared to the 60% hydration in the above Neapolitan pie.

Detroit Style Pizza in the Blackstone Pizza Oven

A Detroit style pizza in the Blackstone Pizza Oven
A Detroit Style Pizza in the Blackstone Pizza Oven
Detroit style pizza cooking away in the Blackstone Pizza Oven Conversion Kit
Hot & fresh Detroit style pizza cooking away in the Blackstone Pizza Oven

Detroit style pizza might just be my favorite style of pizza in the world, so I am biased in everything I write in this realm of things. I have been making this style of pizza in my home oven for about a year and a half. Typically, it takes 16 to 18 minutes to cook one in the said home oven, and I never have been able to acquire a perfectly browned, crispy crust no matter what. There are many reasons for this, and I think it is due to the fact that my home oven is old and inferior compared to many other ovens out there.

The Blackstone Pizza Oven Add-On perfectly accommodated the 10×14 pan I used for the Detroit style pie. With the burners turned down, I still managed to finish this pizza in nine minutes. Not only that, but the bottom of the crust was perfectly crispy. Again, it is something I have never experienced from my home oven, and the Blackstone pizza oven conversion kit finished it in roughly half the time.

Is the Blackstone Pizza Oven Add-On Worth It?

Considering that most outdoor pizza ovens are over $300 to $400 pending on what you are wanting to buy, my answer is a resounding yes.

The Blackstone pizza oven add-on sells for $227 on Wal-Mart’s website. If you already have a 22″ Blackstone griddle, that is an incredible price for what is a capable, heavy duty, thick and well-made pizza oven. Even if you don’t have a 22″ griddle, the price of the griddle and pizza oven add-on is significantly less than other stand-alone pizza ovens on the market, especially when you factor in the potential for large pizzas and the ability to cook pan pizzas. As I said earlier, many outdoor pizza ovens only give you one option of pizza: Neapolitan, since the heat source is usually incredibly hot. You can do multiple styles in the Blackstone pizza oven.

One might ask, “Well, I have a home oven that I can cook pizza in, even New York style at 550-600 degrees.” Sure, go ahead and use your home oven if it fits the bill for you, but what about during the summer months when it is far too hot to heat up your home? Enter this pizza oven.

I have been having a blast with this new oven. I am in no way, shape or form affiliated with Blackstone Products. I am merely an advocate. I only tout and endorse products I truly believe in and personally use. I will never post about something that does not live up to the hype.

I am not sure how long the new pizza oven accessory kit will be available, so get it while you can. I will be posting pizza recipes in the near future that will go along with the use of this pizza oven.

Chipotle Chicken Fajitas on the Blackstone Griddle

Chipotle Chicken Fajitas on the Blackstone Griddle



Believe it or not, this was my first time making chicken fajitas on the Blackstone griddle. I do have an excuse for that, which is one of my family members not being a fan of chicken, but still! After nearly three years of use, this was my first go-’round with them on the flat top.

One of the many great things about having an outdoor griddle, whether it is a Blackstone or a Camp Chef or a Blue Rhino or Royal Gourmet, is the versatility of it, and when it comes to versatility in cooking, fajitas — much like stir-fry — are something you can do anything with.

Traditionally, when you go to a Tex-Mex restaurant and order fajitas, what you are likely to receive is your choice of meat mixed together in a blend with cooked sliced bell peppers and onions, served with warmed flour tortillas, refried beans, rice and a little bit of greenery in the form of a tiny salad with tomatoes and a dollop of guacamole. However, at home, you can use whatever the heck you want. You can even make vegetarian fajitas with sliced portobello mushrooms if you would like. (A vegetarian dish being suggested on Grizzly BBQ? You don’t see that too often.)

At the same typical Tex-Mex restaurant, the fajitas comes out while sizzling on an oval cast iron skillet that is sitting on a wooden trivet. Truthfully, that is just for show, but you can’t deny the hunger augmenting effects it has on you and the others around when the dish is brought to the table, especially if your appetite is voracious and you are waiting to satiate it. At home, you could do the same for your guests by sitting a cast iron on the flat top until it heats up, adding your cooked meat and vegetables afterwards, and ensuingly walk into your home like a boss, but maybe I’m just boring, because I added these fajitas to a large bowl.

There are no rules when it comes to fajitas. Do what you want. If a culinary elitist tries to jump down your throat over the technicalities of fajitas, pay them no mind while you stuff your face with incomparable deliciousness. Let’s roll onto the recipe.

Chipotle Chicken Fajitas on the Blackstone Griddle

How to Make Chipotle Chicken Fajitas on the Blackstone Griddle

Do keep in mind that you can make these in a grilling basket (or cast iron skillet) on a gas or charcoal grill, or you can make them indoors in a cast iron skillet (I recommend cast iron for a proper sear of the meat). I enjoyed cooking them on my 36″ Blackstone griddle due to the overall cooking space.

As stated above, you can change up any ingredients you would like. One thing I would recommend, that I did not do, is cooking a combination of both chicken tenderloins (or butterflied chicken breasts) and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The reason for this is that you will feature the best of both worlds: the lean white meat chicken from the breast along with the juicy flavor from the fat content in the dark meat from the boneless, skinless thighs. I had chicken tenderloins on hand. Keep in mind that if you cook with chicken breasts, you should butterfly them so that they are thin enough to cook so that the internal temperature of the breasts reach 165 degrees without burning the outside of them, which can happen if the breasts are too thick.

Furthermore, if you want to, you can slice and dice up the chicken prior to cooking, but in the past when I have cooked meals similar to this, what happens is that the meat does not brown as well. I cooked the chicken tenderloins first, and then I sliced/shredded them up before mixing them together with the sauce.

I used raw flour tortillas that I bought from Kroger and cooked on the griddle. I believe they taste better, with a higher quality texture, than precooked tortillas, but you can use whichever you would like. Whatever you have at your disposal is a solid general rule if I had to make one for these.

Ingredients Used

  • A couple lbs. of chicken tenderloins
  • 1 stick of salted butter (cut in half)
  • 1 diced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 habanero pepper, chopped and de-seeded (optional)
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper sliced
  • 1 can of Embasa chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • Sazon (I used La Preferida)

Step-by-Step Instructions

1.) After slicing and dicing up the vegetables, fire up two of the burners on the griddle to medium-high heat
2.) Once thoroughly heated (about seven or eight minutes), add one of the halves from the stick of butter and spread it around around before placing each piece of chicken onto the flat top cooking surface
3.) Cook the chicken for around five or six minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature of the respective chicken pieces reach 165 degrees, and place it on a cutting board.
4.) Lower heat to low, add the other half of the stick of butter (spread around, again) and the peppers and diced onions to the cooking surface, occasionally stirring.
5.) Slice up the chicken during this sequence
6.) Turn the heat back up to medium high and add the minced garlic, stirring frequently for about a minute
7.) Re-add the chicken to the mix and liberally season with Sazon
8.) Add the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
9.) Mix together for about two or three minutes
10.) Add to a serving plate for a bowl. Cover with foil or whatever you have on hand to keep warm
11.) Scrape the griddle surface from anything that was potentially stuck to it
12.) Cook the raw tortillas for about a minute or so on each side
13.) You are ready to eat. Enjoy! Serve with sour cream, guacamole, refried beans and rice, or whatever you would like.

Cooked chipotle chicken fajitas on the Blackstone Griddle

If you decide to give this recipe a shot, and I highly recommend it, let me know what you think in the comments.

Enchilada Tacos with Smoked Beef

Enchilada tacos with smoked beef on the Blackstone Griddle

Over the last year on social media, I keep seeing videos from food trucks pop up featuring tacos, made from corn tortillas, being dipped in an enchilada-like sauce and cooked on a screaming hot griddle surface prior to being topped with a variety of toppings, folded over, crisped and served to customers. This intrigued me, so I figured I would whip up my own recipe in an experiment by making tacos in this manner on my 36″ Blackstone griddle.

I haven’t been able to find a conclusive name for this type of taco. In my Googling research, I have found a specialty dish that was founded in Jalisco in Mexico, called ‘Birria’, which is a spicy stew. However, this isn’t birria or close to it. So I can only refer to these as ‘enchilada’ tacos.

If you have been following Grizzly BBQ, you will find that I recently posted about smoking chuck roast in the last week. As an alternative to brisket, I highly recommend giving it a go, because generally it is going to be cheaper than brisket — not per pound, but by being a smaller ration of meat. When cooked correctly, it stands almost next to brisket in terms of flavor. Don’t get me wrong: that sounds like a touch of hyperbole in that sentence, but hear me out; a properly smoked chuck roast can achieve a level of a smoky beef flavor that will impart a delicious level of smoke in whatever dish you feature it in. That is what I used in these tacos, and if you decide to make these for yourself, you won’t be kicking yourself at the end of the day. You will be happy you have given this a try.

First things first, buy a pack of corn tortillas from your local grocery store. I used Chi-Chi’s white corn taco style tortillas. They come in a pack of 18. For the enchilada sauce, I picked up the store brand — Food Lion — of the sauce. You could make your own, which would likely wind up better tasting than what you would find in a can, or you can pick up a premium brand, but the store brand worked out well for me, because all you are doing with the sauce is dipping the tortillas in it prior to cooking. Keep in mind that you don’t need a Blackstone griddle to cook this recipe, but I love griddling outdoors so I rolled with that particular method. You can use a hot cast iron skillet to make these as well in your kitchen.

Overall, you are going to want these base ingredients:

— Corn tortillas
— Cooking oil
— Enchilada sauce
— Your choice of toppings

I stuck with the basics in making these: the above, smoked chuck roast that I had chopped up into bite size pieces of optimal tenderness, Great Value Fiesta blend cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, queso quesadilla and asadero cheese) from Wal-Mart, chopped cilantro and diced caramelized onions. You may prefer different ingredients, from a cut of pork or some kind of chicken. These were incredible with the smoked chuck roast that I cooked in my drum smoker, the Barrel House Cooker 18C, so I can’t help but recommend my method rather than others.

My preparation involved dipping the corn tortillas in some warmed cooking oil in a cast iron skillet. I had made chicken and cheese taquitos the day prior to cooking this, so I still had about a half inch of oil in my cast iron pan. I heated it up on medium for about ten minutes and dipped the corn tortillas — one by one — in the oil for about two or three seconds on both sides before adding them to a bowl. I find this step to be crucial, because you aren’t cooking the tortillas this way, but you are making them more pliable by adding them to the hot oil for just a moment. This does not make the final product greasy, but it will help allow the corn tortillas to crisp up enough after it is dipped in the enchilada sauce and subsequently cooked.

In another bowl, I dumped two cans of Food Lion brand enchilada sauce in, which is what you are going to want to dip your corn tortillas into before cooking them.

I fired up the burners on my Blackstone griddle to medium and quickly cooked up the diced onions in order to caramelize them. Different strokes for different folks: you might prefer diced raw onions, but I prefer the flavor of caramelized onions on my tacos. One of my guests that I was cooking for has difficulties eating raw onions due to digestion issues, so cooked onions are more palatable to them, and hey, caramelized onions are delicious, so there is no problem with that. I turned off one of my side burners and moved the caramelized onions over to the far side of the griddle where the burner was turned off. If you are making these inside your home, just remove the onions and place into a bowl or plate.

Afterwards, I added some oil to the hot griddle surface, dipped the corn tortillas — one by one — into the enchilada sauce and added them to the cooking surface. As they cooked away, I topped each tortilla with the aforementioned Fiesta blend cheese, added the smoked beef, spooned out some of the diced onions onto each tortilla and followed that up by topping each tortilla with a smidgen of chopped cilantro, which added a level of freshness in each bite of the finished product.

At this point, I bumped the heat of the burners to high and folded the tortillas over to crisp them up for about one minute on each side before removing them. Now it is time to eat.

18 enchilada tacos with smoked beef

Step-by-Step Instructions

1.) In a cast iron pan, add half an inch of cooking oil, heat for 10 minutes before dipping the corn tortillas, one by one, in the oil for three to five seconds on each side. Remove and add to a bowl.
2.) Dump your enchilada sauce into a separate bowl.
3.) Fire up your griddle or cast iron to medium heat, add a bit of oil and cook the diced onions for a couple of minutes. Remove the onions from the heat source.
4.) Dip the corn tortillas in the enchilada sauce and add to the cooking surface.
5.) Add your toppings.
6.) Bump up the heat and fold the corn tortillas over into tacos. Cook for about a minute on each side in order to achieve a substantial level of crispiness
7.) Remove and eat!

Blueberry Pancakes on the Blackstone Griddle

I used to watch UFC pay-per-views with my friends at a local movie theater on Saturday nights whenever the aforementioned movie theater still hosted the showings of the MMA events for a discounted price. Afterwards, we would often find ourselves heading over to IHOP and I typically wound up ordering the Cinn-a-Stack pancakes every single time, asides from the occasional internal battle I would have with myself in my mind over whether or not I wanted to roll with the Double Blueberry pancakes. Decisions, decisions.

Pancakes are delicious, and if you are a carb fiend like I am, you get it. It is no surprise that, even in the 13 colonies during the eighteenth century, pancakes were being chowed down with gusto (source). Nowadays, there are so many ways to throw down pancakes, so many options and variations as for what you can add to them to spruce them up. As of the time of writing this post, there are over 234 million pancake recipes that show up under the search results on Google. That is a horde of pancakes, my friends.

Blueberry pancakes fresh off the Blackstone Griddle
I like pancakes in all different kinds of ways. I have to watch myself when I eat them, because I usually like a big ol’ stack of them on my plate, topped with a pat of butter, and that is something that simply foretells a certain nap in my life’s destiny shortly afterwards. However, it is more than worth it, especially when you make your own homemade pancakes the way you like them rather than spending money for mediocre pancakes at a restaurant.

I woke up one day and it was an unusual day. I was hungry. It is not the ‘I was hungry’ part that I am referring to; I rarely eat during the mornings despite my love for breakfast foods. I’m an intermittent fasting kind of guy, if we are talking lifestyle habits. However, on this day, I knew what I wanted: pancakes. Not just any pancakes, but blueberry pancakes. I had an 18oz. package of blueberries sitting in my fridge. Sure, I could have made the decision to be moderately healthy and eat them alone, but no, I wanted breakfast — pancakes for breakfast at that — and I wanted to cook up some blueberry pancakes on my Blackstone griddle.

I used about 90% of that package of blueberries. Listen, IHOP’s Double Blueberry pancakes have nothing on these. I accidentally made bigger pancakes than I intended with this big ol’ batch, so the recipe for this stack is a big one. Adjust to your liking. I am virtually always cooking for a group of people.

August 2020 will mark three years of owning a Blackstone griddle, and this is only my third time making pancakes on it, which is a sad truth. Nonetheless, I stand by this recipe and it is well worth a shot if you want to knock it out of the park with these for your friends and family.

Ingredients/Recipe
— 3 cups of flour
— 6 tablespoons of sugar (you can use less if you want them to be less sweet)
— 5 teaspoons of baking powder
— 3 teaspoons of salt (I used kosher salt)
— 3 eggs
— 3 cups of milk
— 6 tablespoons of oil

Whisk it together into a nice mix. Don’t overmix. You just want a nice slightly thick consistency. If it is too thick, add a smidgen of water.

The above recipe is supposed to make 12 ‘normal’ sized pancakes, but instead I made about seven or eight large pancakes (my mistake). They were still excellent, just bigger. Everything is bigger in Texas, but as for southwest Virginia? I don’t know. Virginia is for lovers. I love pancakes. Big pancakes included.

For a smaller batch of pancakes:

— 1 cup of flour
— 2 tablespoons of sugar
— 2 teaspoons of baking powder
— 1 teaspoon of salt
— 1 egg
— 1 cup of milk
— 2 tablespoons of oil

Blueberry pancakes cooking away on the Blackstone Griddle

Basic instructions
1.) Using the 36″ Blackstone Griddle*, set three of the burners to medium and added a thin coat of olive oil to the flat top cooking surface once the griddle was heated up.

*NOTE: You can use any size of griddle, of course. Whether you are using a 17″ or 22″ tabletop griddle or even the 28″ griddle, adjust the heat accordingly.

2.) Add the pancake batter to a bowl that has a little spout or ‘lip’ for pouring. Blackstone Products sells a breakfast kit that features a batter dispenser that holds four cups of batter, but I do not own it (yet), so I can’t add any kind of personal testimonial here. Using my method of pouring from the bowl may have been the source of my issues of making bigger pancakes, but nonetheless it all still worked out just fine, and they were delicious as ever.

2.) Add the batter onto the griddle. As you drop the batter onto the hot cooking surface, pay more attention than what I did and watch how big you make them. Use a ladle, if you have one, to carefully pour the batter onto the surface.

3.) After you have added the batter to the griddle surface, top with blueberries. Now, I realize this may have been a mistake on my behalf, because you could just mix the berries into the batter when you are whisking it up prior to the cook, but I loved how these turned out with the blueberries meeting the heat source more than they would have otherwise.

4.) After a minute or two, you will notice bubbles appearing on top of the batter. Slide your spatula underneath the pancakes to see if the bottom side has cooked, as usually this is a sign that it has. Proceed to carefully flip the pancakes over in one fell swoop. In a couple of the flips, blueberries fell out onto the surface of the griddle, but that was fine, because I topped he finished pancakes with them.

5.) After another minute or so, your pancakes will be ready to go. Plate them up and enjoy.

Serve the pancakes with your favorite syrup or whatever topping(s) you would like. I used the Wondershop-at-Target Vermont Maple Syrup Infused With Habanero, which is delicious.

Vermont Maple Syrup Infused With Habanero

This is a simple recipe you can whip up in a cinch using your outdoor griddle, or even in a cooking pan inside the house. I centered this post around cooking them on the Blackstone griddle because food tastes better when cooked outdoors. Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you decide to give these blueberry pancakes a try.

Cooking Burgers Using 73/27 Ground Beef

73/27 burgers on the Blackstone Griddle with caramelized onions and mushrooms

Here are 16 burgers, made out of 73/27 ground beef, that I cooked on my Blackstone Griddle for a birthday party, along with caramelized onions and mushrooms. Notice how none of them puffed up. Note: these are smash burgers.

Whenever I read about cooking up the best burgers one can concoct, it seems that most people use 80% lean/20% fat ground beef for optimal the optimal lean:fat ratio. Just enough fat to keep the patties moist and juicy, but lean enough for the burger to stand on its own. But what about 73% lean/27% fat ground beef?

Burgers are one of my favorite foods, unabashedly so. My family and friends love them, so when they are visiting, I find myself making them quite often. While I agree that 80/20 is a fantastic ratio of ground beef in a patty to cook up, more often than not I’m buying 73/27 ground beef from my local grocery store (Grant’s Supermarket, in southwest Virginia, if you are wondering) — they often feature it on sale for $1.99/lb. in 5-lb. family packs, so the prospect of having that much meat to throw down for the whole family for just $10 is a game changer. Even more mind-blowing is that sometimes this grocery store will price it, on certain days, at $.99 cents/lb., which is crazy to even think about.

A lot of people will shun that style of ground beef and pay a little extra for 80/20 ground beef, because they’ll consider the fat/overall collective ‘weight’ loss (in the mass of the meat) resulting from during the cooking of the 73/27 ground beef as throwing money down the drain, but here’s the kicker: any time you are cooking burgers with high fat content it is fine, because the best burgers in the world that you can create come from not only the finished product being juicy, but also when the burger is cooking in its own fat. There is nothing like eating a burger with a crust formed thanks to the glorious Maillard reaction (caused by overall contact from the exterior of the burger on a scorching hot cooking surface) that is juicy and oh-so melt in your mouth good internally.

Yes, with 73/27 you will experience substantial fat running out of the meat and running wild in the process, but you should never fear this becoming an issue. Again, the best burgers in the world cook in their own rendered fat.

I will offer this one caveat, though: if you are cooking burgers that feature a high fat content like this in a skillet, particularly a scorching hot cast iron that is properly preheated for maximum crust formation, be wary of how many burgers you are playing into the pan. What happens is, say, if you are cooking four medium-to-large burgers in one skillet, there is going to be a ton of fat that will pool out, and when you flip the burgers, there is potential for the crust to not be the best. This is why I recommend buying an outdoor griddle, as they (Blackstone, Camp Chef, Royal Gourmet, Blue Rhino, etc.) feature grease drains that will remove the excessive amount of grease that covers the cooking surface. However, if you are limited to a cast iron skillet, two burgers at a time with some grease poured out between each cook of the batch of burgers you plan on making will help aid you in your quest for making the best burgers possible.

There are, basically, two burger cooking methods, and one I consider superior than the others, but let’s go through both:

1.) The classic, standard patted-out burger: this is the type of burger you shape into a patty yourself. It is great, nonetheless, but here is what can lead to disaster and ultimately a burger that will be smaller than the bun you place it onto: when you form the patty, no matter how much you flatten it out into a perfect circular shape, it is going to puff up as the fat renders and the proteins contract. You can counteract this by making a shallow indention (the ‘dimple’ method) in the middle of the burger before placing it onto a hot cooking surface, about an inch or so wide. When making burgers this way, especially if I’m going to be cooking them on my charcoal grills, I have also experimented with making small slits in the burger patties with a knife along with the indention, and it has never failed me.

2.) Smash burgers (the best burger method, in my humble opinion): this is by far and away the superior method when it comes to making burgers. I wrote about it here. What you do is, instead of patting the ground beef into a patty, you make a meatball out of it, and the size of the meatball is up to you, and I don’t recommend making it too big (you can always make thin double-burgers on a bun). But you lightly pack the ground beef into a meatball, not forming it too tightly and leaving it slightly loose, and afterwards when you place it onto the screaming hot cooking surface, take a burger press or a cast iron press and smash it down. This does not force out any of the juices that you want to remain in your burger, as the internal meat has not began cooking yet. What this does do, however, is flatten the burger out to achieve maximum surface contact with the burger against the surface of the material you are cooking with, which will yield not only the best crust ever but also keep the meat moist and juicy on the inside. Since the burger is flattened properly, it won’t take but just a few minutes to be ready to flip for a sear on the other side of the meat. The finished product is a juicy inside with a delectable crust on the outside.

While 80/20 may be ‘superior’ in a sense, because it is widely viewed as the standard for the optimal lean-to-fat content of a burger, you shouldn’t sleep on 73/27 just because of the 7% higher fat content. When I’ve made burgers, whether it is using the indention method on pre-patted patties or smashburgers, I have little to no issues with the meat puffing up during the cooking process. It may thicken up a little bit, but your worries should be far and few between.

As always, though, the temperature of your cooking surface will determine the quality of your burger. If your heat isn’t high enough, it will be lackluster because you aren’t going to create the crust that you want in every satisfying bite you take. Use these tips in this post and I promise you that it will change the game of your burgers.

How to Cook Chicken Wings on the Blackstone Griddle

It seems like you can almost cook anything on the Blackstone Griddle, or any outdoor griddle you can think of that is currently sold in most markets (Camp Chef, Royal Gourmet, etc…), but there are limits. I mean, you can’t smoke a brisket or a pork butt on the Blackstone, nor can you cook Snickers bars on it (on second thought… about the Snickers bars… maybe? Well… nah). However, you can be creative and think outside the box with some recipes you have in mind. Chicken wings, for instance.

Ah. Chicken wings. They might just be my all-time favorite food, but that is a discussion up for debate with myself for another time. When I was a child, a picky child at that, whenever I would go to any restaurant with my family, I always ordered chicken wings. To this day, I still love wings. My favorite wing concocting method is deep frying them. Smoking chicken wings is fine and all, but deep frying them until they are crunchy and crispy on the outside is unrivaled.

Deep-fried wings being unrivaled or not in my heart, I’m a natural born experimenter and enjoy trying an odd cooking method from time to time. Enter my Blackstone Griddle. When I purchased the 36″ model in August 2017, the idea of cooking wings on the flat top surface seemed out of the question for me. They wouldn’t be submerged in cooking oil, and given the thickness of wings, I felt that something like wings would take far too long to cook due to having to constantly turn them while trying not to burn them.

Blackstone Betty AKA Desiree Ruberti Dukes, a quasi-Blackstone legend/aficionado and home chef, posted griddle-cooked wings on social media one day, back in 2018 if I remember correctly. I was astounded, but not without skepticism. They looked great, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the prospect of griddle-cooked wings being anywhere close to the exceptional finish of deep-fried wings.

It wasn’t until June 2019 when I finally put chicken wings on the Blackstone Griddle up to the test. Long story short: it was a success.

Crazy Cajun chicken wings on the 36″ Blackstone Griddle.

Should you try cooking chicken wings on your griddle? Yes. An emphatic yes, at that. But preparation is key. There are a couple of culinary tools, tips and tricks that you should be aware of if you are going to given griddle-wings a try.

My personal essentials for griddling chicken wings:
— Paper towels
— Duck fat spray
— Your seasoning/rub of choice
— Baking powder
— Patience (comically optional)
— Basting cover
— Spatula/tongs — you choose; I use a griddle spatula for wings for quick flipping/transitioning
— Instead-read meat thermometer

I did not mention paper towels, baking powder or, er, patience in the post that I linked a couple of paragraphs up. But they are essential if you want to produce the best, crispiest wings possible on your griddle.

Paper towels — you will want to pat the chicken wings dry to remove any moisture from the skin. This will help you obtain a crispy crust during the cooking since minimal water will be playing into the possibilities of a soft wing skin being produced in the final product.

Duck fat spray — You don’t have to use duck fat spray, as it can be a little on the pricey side ($8.86 at my local Wal-Mart is the cheapest I have found it). I presume you could also use coconut oil spray, but I haven’t tested that presumption out, so I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, if you decide to go that route. I recommend duck fat spray because it aids in crisping up the skin when the chicken wings are cooking, as it sticks to the meat well enough and the duck fat itself stands up to higher temperatures than most other fat (coconut oil is great for higher heat cooking as well, if we are talking smoke points). The spray will also help act as a binder for your rub/seasoning to stick to the skin of the meat. If the rub/seasoning contains salt, it will help draw out more moisture as well, which will also deliver — once again — a crispy, crusty skin.

Baking powder — This is a trick I learned when I tried grilling chicken wings. I’m not a scientist in any way shape or form, but there is something about baking powder where, if applied to the skin of the wings, it is another crispy skin assist. Again, I’m not sure how, but it does the trick. What I like to do is, after patting the wings with paper towels, I’ll toss them into a bowl, spray them with duck fat spray, mix them up with a large spoon or spatula, shake my rub/seasoning of choice onto the wings, give them another mix-up before adding a tablespoon or so of baking powder (pending on how many wings you are cooking) and giving it another mix. Usually, I’ll just use my hands to press the rub/seasoning and baking powder into the meat. It is insignificantly messy, but it helps everything stick together. If I had a general albeit adjustable rule, I would say about a tablespoon or so of baking powder per 3 lbs. of chicken wings.

Patience — I didn’t do this the first go-’round, but in the times I’ve cooked chicken wings on the griddle afterwards, after completing the final mix-up of the rub/seasoning and baking powder, and ensuingly washing my hands (hey, I know this is common sense, but cross-contamination and the potential for salmonella poisoning is not a fun thing to think about), I’ll place the bowl of wings in the fridge the day/night before so that the rub/seasoning and baking powder can settle on the meat. This is optional if you don’t want to wait and would rather get straight to cooking (I feel you, homie, if that is the case), but it helps, significantly or minimally pending on your point of view.

I’m not including the basting cover, spatula/tongs or instant-read meat thermometer in these explanations/steps, because that will come into play during the cooking process.

For a quick recap of the above:
— Pat the chicken wings dry with a paper towel
— Spray them with duck fat (or coconut oil) spray
— Rub/mix with your choice of rub/seasoning and baking powder onto the wings
— Let ’em rest (again: optional)

So, you are ready to cook ’em up. Now it is time to make the magic happen.

On cooking the chicken wings:
Fire up your griddle on high. This is another general rule, but I feel like the high heat to start the wings is essential for the Maillard reaction to set. Maybe I’m full of it, but the high heat will virtually ‘shock’ the skin of the wings at first. When the griddle is hot’n’ready, add some cooking oil to the surface. I go back and forth between using olive oil and canola oil, but I reckon peanut oil may be optimal, although I haven’t tried it with wings on the griddle.

Add your wings onto the scorching hot griddle surface. Spread them out so that all the wings have an equal chance at meeting that sizzling sear, coming into contact with the oil.

An adjustable rule as well, and keep in mind this is just my recommendation (as you might prefer a different method of time here — it isn’t a hard-and-fast rule), but while the wings are initially cooking, I’ll wait about two minutes and then I’ll give them all a flip and stir to sear the other side.

After that initial flip and when another two or so minutes have eclipsed, I’ll lower the heat to medium/medium-low and cover the wings with a round basting cover. What this does is allow the internal temperatures of the meat to catch up to the external temperature of the wings. This also speeds up the cook in a significant way as the fat renders. You may express fear that the steam that results in covering the wings will soften the skin, but in my subjective experiences that has never been the case, so kill those fears off and let it ride.

As far as times to leave the basting cover on the wings, I’ll wait 3-4 minutes, remove the cover, give them a stir-around and flip and re-add the cover for an additional 3-4 minutes. How often you do this is up to you. Usually after doing this a few times, the wings are rising in internal temperatures rapidly.

This is where the instant-read thermometer comes in handy. Most of my griddle-cooked wings finish in as little as 18 to 22 minutes. I’ll check a multitude of wings in their thickest, meatiest sections — especially the ones that might be bigger than the others — and look out for a temperature of 160-165. I prefer finishing wings at around 170-175 degrees, because I feel like the meat pulls from the bone the best that way. My personal, subjective opinion coming out to play once again. You might disagree, and that is completely fine.

At this point, when the internal temperatures of the wings is reaching that 160-165 mark, I like to remove the basting cover from use completely and crank the heat up back to high to finish, giving the skin a slight touch of char. At this point I’m frequently turning the wings every 15 to 25 seconds so that they don’t overcook on the outside. This may also mitigate your concerns of the skin of the wings becoming soft from the use of the basting cover, but never fear, high heat on the griddle is here. You gotta give them that Mike Tyson knockout to finish them.

I failed to mention this at any point, but what about the sauce, you might ask! What are crispy wings without sauce?! I know, you are right. Forgive me. Use your favorite sauce and toss it into an empty bowl. When the wings are done, immediately add the wings to the bowl that has the sauce in it and toss and shake them up. Afterwards, what can I say? Dig in and enjoy!

My favorite wing sauce in the world is a tie between melted butter’n’Frank’s Red hot and mango habanero sauce. You can do whatever you want, though. Have fun with it.

So, how do griddle-cooked wings compare to deep-fried wings? Hey, I can’t emphasize my bias when it comes to deep-fried wings. I love them. However, there is something veritably fun and enjoyable in a hands-on way about cooking wings on the griddle. Sure, it is ‘easier’ to cook wings in a deep fryer because you are simply submerging them into oil and removing them when they are done, but cooking them on the griddle adds a different flavor, and with me, I like different methods and flavors when I cook.

Note: I have read that some people have taken an aluminum foil pan, filled it with oil, sat it on the griddle and deep-fried wings that way. I’ve never tried this method. I have a deep-fryer in my home that I use for, well, deep frying. However, just for the sake of experimenting, I may try this soon. If anything, such a method removes the smell of oil in your home, which is always a plus since it lingers until the cows come home sometimes. Also, not to sound too much like a Blackstone Products sycophant even though I know I inevitably do sometimes, as I’m a big time advocate/supporter of their griddles and products, they feature a couple of griddle models that have a deep fryer attached to them. I don’t have one, but that is also an option for those looking to deep-fry wings outdoors.

The bottom line: It sounds like a lot of work to cook chicken wings on the griddle, but it really isn’t. These are just my personal, subjective steps that I follow to get the job done. They are easier to cook using this method than how I may have made it sound. If you give them a try using this method, please do not hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments.

My Advice for Making The Best Smash Burgers Ever

Blackstone Griddles and smash burgers are synonymous with each other, and it’s no surprise as to why: a smoking hot griddle and a sizzling ball of ground beef being smashed into a burger patty, influencing the maximum amount of surface contact for the Maillard reaction to occur, when the amino acids in the meat come into contact with the heat of the griddle, creating the beautiful brown crust and the delicious flavor we all enjoy out of a burger.

I’ve taken better burger photos in my time, so I apologize for how lackluster it is, but take a look at how thin the patty is, with the caramelized crust. I topped this one with cheddar cheese, bacon and caramelized onions & jalapenos.

Big ol’ fat burgers are nice (and I say that because I have a genuine penchant for burgers in general), but in my humble opinion, smash burgers are the best way to prepare a hamburger. When you smash the meatball, you flatten out the created-by-action patty to allow more surface area for the Maillard reaction to build a crust. The outside is given its color and flavor, and the inside stays juicy if not cooked for too long.

While making smash burgers on my Blackstone griddle is my favorite method for preparation, you can make them in a cast iron skillet as well. When I cook them on the griddle, I use high heat during the entire cook, but if I’m making them in a cast iron skillet, while I may preheat on high I will modify the heat to being between medium high to medium. The griddle, to me, is more forgiving than the cast iron on my indoor glass top stove, and maybe it is because the glass top stove, and perhaps that can be attributed to electric glass top stoves not being optimal for the very best cooking methods (debatable, but that is my limited anecdotal $.02 cents for you), so your mileage may vary pending on the equipment used.

When selecting your ground beef for smash burgers, choose a higher fat beef. An 80/20 protein to fat ground beef is the most commonly agreed on superior ratio for burgers, because there is enough fat to deliver premiere flavor in a burger, but not too fatty that a great deal of fat will render out during the cooking process. I go a little extreme, oftentimes, I suppose, because my local grocery store features amazingly cheap prices for 73/27 protein to fat ground beef, as I can usually buy 5 lbs. for $10 — there was even a special one day where it was $.99 cents a lb. and I scored 5 lbs. for $5. Even if you think 73/27 ground beef is too fatty, that was an amazing bargain. With this high fat content, I typically make larger meatballs to account for the rendered fat loss during cooking. However, 3 to 4 ounces of ground beef for smashburgers is typically recommended for 80/20 or 85/20 ground beef, though I must now admit my laziness when it comes to bothering with weighing out the meat when I prepare them. I just measure it by feel and by the judgment of my eyes.

When you have preheated your stovetop or griddle and the meatballs have been placed onto the skillet or griddle, use a heavy duty cast iron press to smash the meatball flat. I use the Blackstone stainless steel press-and-sear burger press. One tip that I recommend for this: use parchment paper under the press to smash the meatball flat in order to prevent sticking. You don’t have to, but it saves a moment of aggravation if some of the cold meat from the top of the beef sticks to the press. You may be wondering if you can use your spatula to smash the meatballs into burgers. Well, you can, I suppose, if you have a spatula that can handle the task, but most spatulas don’t have the weight to properly smash the meatballs, and in my one experience using a flimsy kitchen spatula, it created an absolute mess. Just buy yourself a press and thank me later.

Here’s a better look of the same burger from the first photo. Just admire the crust that was formed on this smash burger.

As for when to season the burgers, I’m typically known for being a guy who loves bold flavors with seasoning on both sides of the meat, but my method involves a bare meatball to begin, and after I smash it into a patty I will liberally season the upfaced side with my choice of seasoning (salt/pepper/garlic sometimes, Caribeque Big & Bold Beef, Reload Rub Fully Loaded, Blackstone All Purpose — just my four favorite methods that I switch up from time to time), and that is the only side I season. I feel that there is no need to season the other side once flipped, because by making the burger patty thin and by generously seasoning the one side, you give it enough flavor that you can taste throughout the patty versus overpowering it.

You may be wondering, “What about adding seasoning into the ground beef and mixing it up before forming the meatballs?” Salt has the potential to dry out meat by drawing out moisture. You want the inside of the patty to be juicy while the outside is properly browned. I will make a loosely packed meatball, because according to the food scientists, that is the way to go, and to my unscientifically inclined taste buds, they agree with said food scientists.

Typically, with my smash burgers, I will flip them after four to five minutes once I see the top of the burgers becoming wet from the rendered fat, as well as observing the edges browning nicely. Three to five minutes once flipped, and you are ready to go.

Brown/toast your buns for even more flavor, and add your favorite toppings. You are good to go from there. Create it however you want it. Plain? With cheese? Loaded with toppings? It is your burger — do how you please.

For my burgers, I like: American cheese or cheddar cheese, bacon, sauteed mushrooms & onions & jalapenos (or habaneros if I can easily find them here). Sometimes I like mixing up mayonnaise with a little ketchup, mustard and dill relish. Occasionally I add hot sauce.

“Troy, you just spent a thousand words writing about how to make a burger, which is one of the most simple things a person can concoct.” Hey, smash burgers are a delicacy in my book and should be considered to be their own food group due to how delicious they are. Homemade smash burgers are way better than any burger you will buy from a restaurant. Methods and techniques are important. Utilizing the right amount of heat is the most crucial variable of the cooking process in churning out the best burger you can potentially make. I’m just adding my personal method, because I want you — the readers — to give it a go and let me know what you think, because I think it will become your favorite burger concocting method.