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Grilling Good Eats: Grilling with wood

Wood: You can really add a whole other dimension of flavor by using wood in your grilling. Fruit woods are excellent for adding some sweetness to meats, and all woods suitable for grilling give you that nice smoke ring of flavor that is craved by grill masters, weekend grillers and food enthusiasts alike. Some woods are better with certain meats than others, experiment with different woods and have fun with it. Below is a list of the more commonly used woods. You can use logs to grill or smoke with exclusively, or mix them with charcoal briquettes or lump coal. I like to use a combination of charcoal briquettes and wood logs when grilling low and slow for bigger cuts of meat, and a combination of charcoal and wood pellets when grilling thinner cuts over direct heat, lid-on preparations.


Grilling Good Eats: Arranging your coals matters

Arranging your coals matters
This may sound trivial to somebody new to grilling and even to some ‘experienced‘ grillers…… How you stack your coals, matters! Do NOT spread your charcoal out evenly. That’s right, you read that correctly, do NOT lay the coals out evenly. Doing so kills the life span of the heat. Your fire simply won’t last as long. Another reason not to spread your charcoal out evenly is flare ups. If you get flare ups - and you will - especially if you’re doing burgers, you’ll have no ‘cool spot’ on the grill for the meat to escape to. Flare ups with no escape often lead to burnt food, or food that’s crispy on the outside and not done on the inside.


Grilling Good Eats: Ch. 1 - Grill Setup

Chapter 1 - The Grill Setup

Grilling Good Eats

by Mike Thayer

How much charcoal should I use? How long does charcoal stay hot? What kind of grill should I buy? Which is better, gas or charcoal? Do I put the lid on or leave it off? Are those wood pellets any good?

These are all great questions. Whether you’re new to grilling or are looking to expand on your grilling expertise, you’re reading the right book. The answers are here.


Grilling Good Eats: Mike's Sweet Heat Rub

Mike's Sweet Heat Rub

Excellent on beef!  It's good on chicken and pork too, but excellent on beef!


  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt


Mix all ingredients to incorporate.  Best when rubbed on the meat at least four hours before grilling, good for 4 serving portions.


Grilling Good Eats

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Grilling Good EatsSome people call it grilling, others call it BBQ (I’ll talk about the difference later), but to borrow a snippet from the United States Postal Service creed, rain or shine, snow or sleet… you can deliver great grilled eats on any given day! It’s true, sunny days are optional. Anytime is grilling season, even if there’s a foot of snow on the ground where you live! Any day is a great day to light the charcoal, fire up the gas grill, load up the smoker, take the lid off the portable Weber, heck, rub two sticks together - it doesn’t matter how - put some meat on the fire!

Don’t forget the tongs…..




Grilling Good Eats: Chapter 13 - Accessories & Gadgets

Mike ThayerGrilling Good Eats

by Mike Thayer

I already covered 'must have' essential tools in Chapter 2, but let's do a quick recap of the basics needed for cranking out a great meal from the grill before we get into accessories and gadgets.  

The charcoal chimney: For me, there’s really no better way to light charcoal.  They’re easy to use and there's no foul lighter fluid smell or residue. 

Grill gloves: Get a good glove for working with charcoal chimneys, re-positioning a grill grate, lifting a hot lid or even pulling some hot baked potatoes off the grill. 

Tongs: NO grill master is without a good pair of metal tongs. For added control and gripping power, be sure to buy a pair with some kind of scalloped edge in the tip end. 

A good spatula: A metal spatula for the grill is a MUST have. Pay the extra buck or two for quality, a metal spatula with a rubber or silicone grip. Stay away from wood handles!

A basting brush:  Get the newest brushes made out of dishwasher safe silicone. They don’t grab as much sauce like the traditional brushes do but they last longer, the brush ‘hairs’ don’t fall out and they clean up much easier. You’ll have to do a little more dipping, but that’s OK.

Meat thermometer: An instant-read meat thermometer is a good thing to have, especially if you want reassurance that what you've prepared for family or guests has hit the right temperature. Safe eats are good eats.

A good quality wire brush: It’s simply the best tool for keeping your grilling surface clean.

A good quality cast iron skillet: It can take the heat, they’re versatile and a well seasoned skillet, like charcoal, delivers another layer of flavor.

Grill Accessories & Gadgets ~ going beyond the basic tools

Skewers:  There are two types, metal and wood (usually bamboo).  I have both, as they each have a unique purpose. 



Grilling Good Eats: Chapter 12 - Sauces, Marinades, Seasoning, Pantry Items

Mike ThayerGrilling Good Eats

by Mike Thayer

Even if you aren't an experienced griller, there's no excuse for food that's underseasoned.  That's why I'm starting off this chapter with what to stock in your pantry.  You might wonder what a pantry has to do with grilling.....  FLAVOR!  Remember, we're talking creating layers of flavor, cooking over a fire is one layer, a type of wood is another layer, and sauces, marinades and seasonings enhance and add to those great grilled layers!  With a well stocked pantry, you can create virtually any kind of sauce, marinade or dry rub you can think of. 

The whole key here is to stock a grill pantry and fridge/freezer with items you really like.  Don't buy things that are "good for you" or items that are "OK" but you really don't eat that often.  If you're not a cayenne pepper kind of person, there's no sense in having a lot of that in your pantry, buy a larger amount of something you really like instead.  When it comes to dried herbs and spices, they can get pricey, so don't buy a large variety just because it might impress somebody or you think you'll try it..... but it just ends up getting old.  Buy what you know you like and if you want to experiment, great, but go small.

A pantry set up for the grill

Basics for the Grill Pantry ~ Items you need for just about whatever you're grilling or smoking



Free Chick-fil-A for 'Cow Appreciation Day'

Chick-fil-A is giving away tons of free food Tuesday for its annual "Cow Appreciation Day."

The fried-chicken chain is offering a free entrée — which includes chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and more — to anyone dressed in "cow attire," which can include a full costume or simply a cow-themed accessory like a handbag.

The promotion applies to breakfast, lunch, and dinner items for adults from the time that Chick-fil-A's restaurants open to 7 p.m. 


Grilling Good Eats: Mike's Skirt Steak

Have you seen the price of beef these days? If you're craving a good steak and don't want to shell out the big bucks for a T-bone, try a skirt steak. It's a much cheaper cut of meat but packs a lot of flavor. It is a tougher cut of meat, so it needs a good marinade.

Here's a fantastic marinate for about two pounds of skirt steak:

Marinade ingredients

  • Half cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • The juice from half a lime
  • Tablespoon of dried, minced onion
  • teaspoon of garlic powder
  • One packet of artificial sweetener
  • Couple dashes of cardamom

Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a bowl or big measuring cup, set aside. Cut your skirt steak into four equal pieces (optional), place in a Tupperware bowl or a big zip lock bag, pour in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least one hour, four hours is much better, overnight is best. Skirt steak is great for the grill, remember to take the steaks out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes prior to placing over the coals. You’re doing this to inspect the meat, make sure it‘s well covered in the marinade. It’s not about letting the meat come up to room temperature like you hear some of the cooking show talking heads say, that’s just yada, yada talk to kill air time. The truth is, refrigerated meat won’t come up to room temperature in just 30 minutes, not even close. OK, back to the skirt steaks…..

Putting the steaks over medium high heat, let them sizzle for about five minutes, do NOT cover. This is a thin cut of steak so keep an eye on it and any possible flare ups. Flip after five minutes to a cooler spot on the grill and now you can put a lid on it, for about another five minutes (this is for a medium rare). Remove from the grill and let them rest. This recipe is a real crowd pleaser.

TIP: Never pour remaining marinade over meats or veggies you’ve just placed on the grill. It may sound like a good idea but it’s not. The spillage will cause flare ups - gas and charcoal grills alike - resulting in a blackened meat look and taste you weren’t going for. Spillage can also stir up the ashes down below on a charcoal grill, getting ash on your food. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of flavor in that meat, don’t pour.

Download Mike's Skirt Steak Recipe


Bachelor on the Cheap: Elevating leftovers into a whole new great meal experience

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

So I've got some leftover grilled potatoes and onion from last night's dinner and some bacon from breakfast......  

What to do......

Make some great leftover eats of course!

When you've got a well stocked pantry and fridge/freezer, you can turn any kind of leftover into a whole new great meal experience.

20170708_210811So the foundation is bacon, potatoes, onion.....  Does that sound like a great start or what?  After all, everything goes better with bacon right?

With almost everything I needed for dinner already pre-cooked, this dish only took minutes to prepare, reheat and serve, thanks to my pantry, fridge and freezer.

Heating up a frying pan over medium heat, I warmed up some olive oil, then added the potato, onions and bacon.  I then pulled some frozen peas from the freezer (gotta have some green veggies right?) and tossed those in, along with some Parmesan cheese and a pinch of Kosher salt.  After a couple minutes of warming things up I seasoned things up with black pepper, red pepper flake and minced garlic.   Stirring things up until everything was heated through (another couple minutes) I plated all that great leftover deliciousness with those new flavors of minced garlic, red pepper flake and peas.  I topped everything off with another healthy dose of Parmesan cheese.

What just happened in minutes?  I created an elevated meal using leftovers, my pantry, my freezer and fridge!  It's a whole new great meal experience and another dose of YUM!