BBQ My Way

Outdoor griddles are perfect for making smashburgers because they can be pressed flat and seared.

I’m constantly fighting the urge to add to my outdoor cooking platforms. I currently own a pellet grill / smoker, a charcoal smoker, a kettle grill and now, an outdoor griddle. And just like fighting the urge to buy a pellet grill, I finally gave in. Let me explain why.

The pellet grill / smoker is an awesome set up for smoking things low and slow. But, it’s not all that good for searing things at high heat. You see, you can get the temperature up to 450 to 500 degrees, but if you have any grease build up you run the risk of a fire. I’ve had it happen once when I was trying to crisp up the skin on chicken wings I had smoked. You can use the pizza attachment and a cast iron skillet to sear things, but if you have smoked your steaks as an example, you would need to let the grill cool, convert it to the pizza oven, fire it up again and then pan sear, which is not practical at all.

The other consistent alternative I saw many times was adding an outdoor griddle as a partner to your pellet grill. A griddle is just like it sounds — a large steel griddle surface heated by gas. Those with pellet grills say the best steak you will ever eat is a thick steak smoked at 150 degrees or so until they hit 120 degrees internally, then finish them off on the outdoor griddle to add the color and texture of a restaurant style steak. I finally gave in and bought a griddle, specifically a 30 inch griddle with three burners. Steaks slow-smoked and then seared are now on my list.

The first thing you need to do with an outdoor griddle is to “cure” the griddle surface. This entails heating up the griddle until it’s screaming hot and then applying cooking oil, roughly two tablespoons, to the griddle. With an old cloth rag or paper towel held by metal tongs, quickly and evenly spread the oil around. You can use Crisco, vegetable oil, olive oil, avocado oil, etc. It’s suggested that you not use an animal based oil for curing, especially bacon, as it will flake. After applying the oil you allow it to burn off until all smoking stops, which is five to ten minutes. You do this four to five times. Personally, I did it seven times just to be safe. The smoking of the oil each time is known chemically as polymerization. These polymerized layers are what makes the griddle somewhat nonstick. It also turns the griddle a beautiful black.

So what did I cook first on my griddle? Smashburgers! These are burgers pressed very flat in hot butter and seared until there is caramelization. They are traditionally served with American cheese and a griddle toasted brioche bun. They are meant to remind you of a high-end diner burger. They didn’t fail. Everyone loved them.

One unfortunate downfall to an outdoor griddle is that you can’t cook in the rain unless the griddle is totally protected from all of the elements. Rain, grease and butter of a scorching hot griddle don’t mix well. Just my luck, we had thunderstorms come through the first night I was to use my griddle, so I put up a large tent to cover the griddle. What a guy won’t do to deliver his first meal of authentic smashburgers on his newly cured griddle. Griddle entrees to come will include smoked and seared steaks, tacos and a big breakfast of eggs, bacon and potato hash browns. I’ll be sure to share with you.

If you want my feedback on the brand of pellet grill and/or outdoor griddle I am using, drop me an email at davelobeck@gmail.com. I’m totally transparent about my experiences, both good and bad, and will be happy to share them with you.

Dave Lobeck is an Edward Jones Financial Advisor in Jeffersonville Indiana by day and a BBQ and food enthusiast on nights and weekends. Liz is his wife. You can contact Dave with your BBQ, cooking or grilling questions at davelobeck@gmail.com. You can also visit their YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/BBQMyWay.

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