No matter what type of grill you like best, it’s hard to beat a wood-fired one for pure romance. Shimmering with flames and emanating a sweet smoke that sparks the appetite as well as the imagination, wood grilling is particularly satisfying. While the grill is a favorite summer activity, it shouldn’t be discounted as the season gets colder. Just as during warmer months, winter grilling saves kitchen clean-up and the smell of a smoky kitchen. It also guarantees you can enjoy grilled food any time of the year. Gloves optional!
Our Traeger grills are hugely popular among grill-loving gourmands. Some models have pill-shaped barrels for an extra five inches of vertical cooking space. The professional-grade lid gaskets lock in smoke, and the double-walled insulation provides consistent heat control. Perhaps of all, you can go low and slow (165 degrees) or searing hot (up to 500 on some models), so it’s possible to cook pizza or ribs, depending on what you need.
Then there’s the fact that many of the Traeger grills use wood. Choosing the right pellets to fire them up has gotten a lot simpler thanks to a new product. Rob Mondavi has brought his expert palate to bear on these new wine barrel-inspired pellets. A special blend of different woods, it’s “subtle enough to use with salmon and lighter meats, and rich and heady enough for pork shoulders, brisket, steaks and ribs,” Rob says. “They yield perfect deep smoke rings and flavor.”
If you’ve never infused wood-smoked chicken with Chardonnay, let this be the year you give it a try. Rob loves to prop up a bird on a can of Spellbound Chardonnay, but you can get the same effect by pouring the wine into our vertical chicken roaster (which can handle two birds at once). Rob seasons and cooks his bird at 425 degrees for 1.25 hours, but if you’d prefer a more precise recipe, check out this chimichurri bird or this simple beer can chicken.
*Maybe* there’s a better dish on this planet than a beautifully-grilled ribeye, but we’re stumped at the moment. This recipe employs a ton of peppercorns and bone marrow, and is simply a delight using wood smoke. Rob is partial to a cowboy-cut ribeye, which he grills using the “reverse sear” method: He cooks the inside at lower heat first (about 25 minutes at 185), and then sears the outside at a blazing 500 degrees to get that crackly, smoky finish.
Those who adore pork shoulder know it’s at its succulent best when treated low-and-slow, whether in a Dutch oven or on the grill. Rob’s fourth favorite go-to dish with his signature wood mix is a pork shoulder, cooked at 200 degrees for five hours and then 250 for three. For a precise approach, this brown sugar, paprika and black pepper-rubbed shoulder recipe knocks it out of the park.
There’s something about this heady mix of woods that really complements rich, buttery king salmon, says Rob. His go-to approach is to mix soy, ginger and turmeric together, and use it to glaze the fish, which he cooks at 400 degrees for 17 minutes. (For more precise salmon grilling instructions, check out this yummy soy-ginger marinade and this technique.)
When there’s smoke, and fire, you’re well on your way to tastiness. And don’t be afraid to try something new; many Traegers come with custom cook cycles, so there’s always a path to a fantastic meal.