memorial day weekend history

Memorial Day Weekend History

Memorial Day is a holiday close to the hearts of Americans, showing our appreciation to the women and men who sacrificed their lives while serving in the U.S. military. It was originally called Decoration Day started shortly after the Civil War, becoming an official holiday in 1971. It is not really clear where we first started to celebrate Memorial Day, there are many communities that have records of initiating the memorial gatherings. But, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
Many of us observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries, participating in parades and having family Barbecues.


Memorial Day BBQ Menu Ideas

Memorial is also considered the unofficial start of summer. One of the best ways Americans celebrate Memorial day is by having a barbecue with family and friends. So what to have at this barbecue, the popular items are hot dogs and hamburgers, corn on the cob and fresh salads. Those are great choices but we’re going to go big and have a slow smoked brisket (beef brisket to be exact). And, along with that some appetizers Memorial Day BBQ style and a couple of side dishes, so let’s get going.  The best way to smoke brisket is slow and long at about 225 degrees.  First, you have to buy the beef brisket, so let go over the five things to consider when purchasing your brisket.

Quality – All meat is inspected by USDA and they grade the meat based on the age of the animal and the degree of marbling in the meat. You have three choices when picking your brisket, prime – choice – select cuts. These are the categories that USDA assign to all cuts of meat. Prime brisket will be the pricey cut, which has the most marbling throughout the brisket. Then the choice cut has little less marbling. The select cut has the least marbling and is what you find in most of your grocery stores. Prime and Choice you will find in a butcher shop or in places like Sam’s and Costco’s. I prefer the prime cut it is worth every penny. If you can afford it, prime or choice is best when you want a succulent beef brisket for your family and friends on Memorial Day barbecues.

Weight Factor In Choosing Your Brisket – To me, there are two important things to factor in : (1) the fat and collagen to muscle ratio; and (2) the number of people you’ll be feeding. Because you’re going to be smoking slow and long, there will be losing weight as the fat starts to render away, which helps with flavor and tenderizes the meat. You have to figure you’re going to yield 60 % of the original weight of the brisket. So I follow the guideline of a pound of meat per person you’re planning to serve.

Flexibility Of The Brisket A brisket is a meat that you have to be careful when cooking, so you should be looking at a few things when making your selection. As we said above not too fatty, yet a good ratio of marbling. Another thing to look for when choosing your brisket is that when held in middle both ends flex down. If it is stiff it means there is too much hard fat and collagen which would not render away during cooking.

Select A Whole, Untrimmed Cut – There are butchers that offer Flat or point cut of brisket. I have to tell you that the best way to go is the whole – untrimmed cut, yes it is a big piece of meat. Whether you are a pitmaster or a novice it will be well worth it with the end results of a delicious succulent brisket. My family always looks forward to leftovers the next day, so it never goes to wast.

Make Sure The Flat Section Has An Even Thickness – This is important for the piece you choose to have an even thickness to ensure an even cooking of the brisket. If the edges are to thin they will become overcooked.

best way smoke brisket

LIVE at Traeger HQ with Matt Pittman || Meat Church BBQ

We are LIVE at Traeger HQ with Matt Pittman from @MeatChurchBBQ. Join our discussion about trimming and injecting brisket, and talking about brisket's close cousin, Corned Beef & Cabbage. Follow @TraegerBBQ on Instagram from more behind the scenes from Matt’s visit to Traeger HQ.

Posted by Traeger Grills on Wednesday, March 8, 2017



Now your half-way to having a perfect brisket. Take your brisket and trim excess fat, best to be about a quarter inch thick ( If you buy it at a butcher he will trim it so it is ready to be smoked). When you get it home dry it off with paper towels and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 to 6 hours. You want it to be dry to the touch all the way around, this will ensure that when you apply your rub it will create a perfect crust on your brisket.

There are many rubs you can make from scratch. I for a brisket like to first spread a thin layer of spicy mustard ( I use Gulden’s mustard), then a layer of Kosher salt. Then I use a Coffee Rub made by Traeger, putting a nice thick coating on. Then let it sit for about three hours to let the brisket to reach room temperature, this helps the meat to cook evenly. Oh if you like to go Texas-style brisket you can still base the meat with mustard, then good layer of kosher salt and coerce pepper.

memorial day bbq menu ideas

Forgot to say this brisket is about 12 pounds after it is trimmed. So I am going to use a combination of hickory, oak, and little cherry pellets gives the end result a great flavor. Fire up the smoker to 225 F., this brisket will cook for a good 8-10 hours or longer. You want the internal temperature to reach 190 F for maximum tenderness. Do not rush this it could take 10 hours, try not to open the smoker too much. I use a temperature probe to monitor the internal temperature of the meat as it cooks, which help to not keep opening the smoker. All meat will come to a “stalling time” where you will see the internal temperature will stay at around 145 10 165 degrees and you will think there is something wrong. Be patient this is normal. DO NOT OPEN THE SMOKER TO CHECK!! I like to make a wet mop of two cups of beef broth,1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, mix it and put in a spray bottle. Then every hour apply it to the meat. Another trick I do is I place an aluminum bowl with some apple juice in it and place in the drip pan under the grill grate, both of these things help keep the meat moist and tasty.

In the original post, I left out the placing of your brisket on the grill. You always want to put the fatty side down and meaty side up. Yes, I did say that the fat will add taste and help tenderize the meat. But, I was talking about the marbling of fat that runs through the meat. The fatty layer that you trim to about a 1/4 inch in thickness, if you put it facing up would wash away your seasoning.

When the internal temperature hits the 165F, take the brisket off and wrap it in two layers of aluminum foil. Then, place it back on the smoker until the internal temperature hits 204 f.  Even then I use a handheld prob and prob the meat with it, if there is resistance then the meat is not ready, so let it cook another ten minutes until prob goes in with no resistance. Once it is ready to take it off leave it wrapped and let it rest to allow all the juices to evenly return to the meat ( let it rest for 1 hour).

memorial day barbeques

While Brisket Rests Time For the Appetizers And Side Dishes

I love to cook on my smoker, so when the brisket is resting, wast no time and start making your appetizers and side dishes.

Everyone like the munchies we put out dips and chips and veggies, but their always waiting to see what I am smoking up for them. This Memorial Day it will be Spicy Shrimp on skewers. First I use wood skewers so I let them soak in water for about hour, so they do not burn.

appetizers memorial day bbq

Okay so what are we going to need :

  • 2 lbs. of med. Size shrimp – please deveined and remove the shell, of course, leave the tails
  • 6 oz. Thai Chilies – we get them at Trader Joe’s
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 TBSP Chicken Rub – I am a Traeger person so I use their rubs
  • 11/2 TSP Sugar
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil

Now put those great looking shrimp to the side. Take the ingredients put in a blender and hit the pulse button few times. You look for it to be a bit more than chopped, kinda like pasty. Place that delicious mixture of chili and garlic in a bowl with the shrimp mix it all up and cover it and put in the refrigerator. I do this the night before, but you can get away with an hour.

Now start the smoker set it for 450 degrees let it heat up for 8 minutes. Take shrimp out and thread them onto the skewers, about 5 to 6 per skewer. Now place them on the grill shut lid and let them cook 2-3 minutes on each side until the shrimp are nice pink color. Now serve and watch the smiles and listen for ” Wow they are so delicious !”.

memorial day bbq menu ideas

Of course, you’re going to have all the salads for usual sides for a BBQ. I have to have something off the smoker, or it wouldn’t be a real Chris BBQ. This is a good one but very easy. Depending on how many wonderful people you have use as many tomatoes that you think you will need. Cut them in half, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle them with kosher salt. Have the smoker at about 180 to 200 for some really good smoke and heat, place the tomatoes cut side facing down. Close the lid and let them cook for 45 minutes. You want the skin of the tomatoes to be easy to peel off.

Ring The Bell It Is time To Eat !!!!!

The meat has been resting for about two hours. So carefully remove the foil. It is time to slice the brisket and take the tomatoes off the grill. At this point at our house, everyone is sitting at the table ready to eat. So serve your guest and enjoy your Memorial Day barbecue.

Memorial Day Barbecues

Memorial Day is a day to appreciate the women and men that gave their lives to serve and protect us a no better way to celebrate than a parade in their honor and barbecue with family and friend.

Like always hope you found this informative and give you a way to enjoy your next family barbecue. For other ideas of what to serve click here.

Thank you


Comments or questions are always appreciated.






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What To Grill As Side Dish And Flavor It With Little Smoke

When I am doing my favorite thing cooking on my Pellet Smoker for my family and friends. I like to make something different as a side dish or desert on the smoker, because smoke will give things you never considered putting on a grill a whole other flavor.

Smoke And The Wood Used To Create It !

There are so many types of wood to use for smoking that creates a whole different taste to the things you are grilling on the smoker. It will really add a real twist for the meal that you are preparing for people you love. Here I will touch on only a few because there are too many to review here today.

Alder wood is seen in Northwest, it adds a sweet musky flavor, not overpowering. Goes great with small game birds, poultry, beef, and fish. Can also work well with fruits.

Applewood a bit denser sweet, fruity flavor smoke. This complements beef, poultry and pork ( really good with ham), use it is one of the strongest flavorings of the fruit trees.

Cherry wood gives a hint of sweetness. Great with poultry, will give a turkey a rose tint real nice. Also, great with veggies and fruits.

Hickory wood gives a sweet strong flavor used when smoking bacon. Will work great with beef, pork ribs, ham, and poultry. If using best to soak in water for hour lessons chance of bitter taste.

There are so many other woods to use when smoking, we will talk about them at a later time.

When using chips or chunks of wood many people feel best to soak them in water to enhance the smoke. I tend to have a problem with this because it takes a long time for wood to get really soaked. It is common belief to soak the chips or chunks for an hour. My back round is water restoration, due to the density of wood, only a few millimeters of the wood surface will really retain water. But again I am not a Pitmaster, just a Dad likes to smoke and grill for family and friends and why I use a Pellet Smoker.

Let’s get into What to grill as a side dish.

Side Dishes That You May Not Of Thought To Smoke

Another key component in creating a good smoke is temperature, it best to keep it between 180f and 225f. Also, find having a perforated pan is a big help, here two that are good.What to grill as side dish

Grill on smoker

Something good to add to a summer salad. Take a nice Georgia Peaches cut them into halves and pit them. Now use a combination of Hickory and Applewood chips or pellets, bring the smoker up to 200F to 215. Place the peach halves cut side up for 15 – 20 minutes, flip them cut side down for 10 minutes. You will have heavenly sweet smokey peaches, slice them and mix it in with the salad. I have used a raspberry salad dressing delicious. If you have any left over put them on a dish of vanilla ice cream and drizzle warm caramel over it. Hmm, sinful!!

What to grill as side dish






Another thing to add to a salad. Take those tiny tomatoes Place them in one of the above pans and brush a little olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and garlic powder on those red jewels. Lite the smoker with apple and cherry wood chips or pellets and bring the temperature to 180F, Place the pan on grill and cook for five minutes. Add them to a Caesar salad.

When I am thinking of what to grill as a side dish this is one of my favorites. This is one that my daughter’s boyfriend made, it was a crowd pleaser. Bacon wrapped figs the First time made 24 but you should double that, ran out of them in 20 minutes. Okay, for 24 figs need 8 slices of hickory bacon and cut them into 1/4 pieces and wrap the figs use toothpicks to secure them ( soak toothpicks in water for an hour). Then is a bowl combine 1/2 cup soy sauce,2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a half teaspoon of smoked paprika. Whisk them until the brown sugar dissolves and them brush it over the wrapped figs. Turn of the smoker to 180F and use hickory chips and get it smoking, once have a good smoke place the Bacon wrapped Figs on the grill for ten minutes, then turn it up to 450F. When bacon is crisp take them off and serve.

What to grill as a side dish
This is another family pleaser, Take hard-boiled eggs peeled and leave them hole. Lightly coat with smokey paprika seasoning. Then use maple wood chips and fire up the smoker to 200F to 215 and get a good smoke going and then place the eggs on the grill for 15 to 20 minutes. Great for Cob salad or egg salad.

My Favorite Dessert (Well one of them)

What to grill as side dish-Peach and Raspberry crisp

This wonderful dish is called Peach and Raspberry Crisp
You will need

  • 6 cups diced peaches ( which I smoke like in prior passage Use about 5-6 peaches)
  • Juice of a fresh lemon
  • 2 cups of wash raspberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour divided use)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 ounces shortbread sugar cookies, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • vanilla ice cream for serving

Now grease a 10-inch pie pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the peaches and the lemon juice. Add the raspberries, the granulated sugar,1/4 cup of the flour, and the cinnamon. Whisk to combine ingredients. Then pour into the pie pan.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cookies, brown sugar, butter, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Pulse until the cookies are crumbly and the butter has been broken down into pea-sized bits. Spoon the topping evenly over the fruit in the pie pan.

Now set up the smoker with either Cherry or Applewood, could combine them. Set it for 350F.

Bake the crisp for about 45 minutes, the crisp filling should be bubbling around the edges and the topping is browned.

Call everyone to the table and serve it over vanilla ice cream and watch the smiles appear.

What To Grill As A Side Dish?

So we see that side dishes do not have to be boring. And they do not have to be just corn or string beans. Which I could have told you how to change corn and string beans into something different. You also see why the temperature is important in creating smoke. And that the taste that smoke gives the food changes with the different type of woods you can use. We found out our smoker grills are not just for meats. So let the imagination go and try different things to change the next family BBQ into a memorable experience.

As always thank you for visiting Smokeypelletsbychris. I encourage you to please leave comment or suggestions.







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Perfectly Grilled Steak

tips for perfectly grilled steaksIt is my belief like many other steak lovers that a Perfectly Grilled Steak is rare to medium rare. If someone asks for steak well done, give them chicken. I have another trick if you do not want to be rude, which will be disclosed later in this article.

Where To Purchase Your Steak And Grades Of Beef

Now if you are not really a steak lover like myself, you can go to you local Grocery store and purchase an okay steak. Grocery store steaks are not usually the best quality meat, they are usually USDA Select

So you have many choices to find quality meat, but here we are going to talk about two. One is you local Butcher, a good butcher will be very friendly and happy to explain to you about the different types of steaks, to help you find what you should be looking for. They tend to carry USDA Prime or USDA Choice and Aged Prime or Choice. These cuts are expensive to very expensive. But worth of every Penney if you are true steak lover looking for perfect steak to serve your family and friends.

Second place that you can purchase very good steak is at Costco. They carry both USDA Prime or USDA Choice. The difference is that you lose the care of you local butcher. But gain great meat at a considerable savings. This Christmas we purchased our prime rib their. It was out of this world. This is how it looked before cooking it.

Below is a description of the different grades of meat.

How To Prepare Your Steak To Be Come The Perfectly Grilled Steak

Fist of all you must remove it from the package and pat it dry. Place it in the refrigerator overnight. You do both of these steps to insure the best char on your steak. Some people think you should season it at this time too. I prefer to season it after the 24 hours in the refrigerator. Either way before grilling it you need to leave it out on the counter for 4 hours to get to room temperature, to insure an even cook of the whole steak. You will find many ways people say to season s steak. I prefer to coat it with butter a good coat of salt ( do not skip on the salt) and garlic and onion powder. Then let it sit for an hour. Then I fire up my smoker to 450 degrees and Place my cast iron pan in it for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the steak in pan for 3-4 minutes to sear it and flip it to sear the other side. This helps to start to create the crust you want and lock in the juices and flavor of the meat. Then turn down the heat to 350 degrees.

Meat Thermometers Very Important

They say a real good Pitmaster can judge the steak by pushing down on it to see if it is rare, medium rare or well done. Well I am not a Pitmaster or a well-trained Chef in restaurant. I am a weekend Dad that like to grill on my smoker in my back yard for my family and friends. And can’t afford to mess up a USDA Prime steak that I paid 12 dollars a pound for at Costco. My wife would kill me.

So I use a meat thermometer their are two types, their purpose is to give you the internal temperature of the meat to archive you desired cooking of the meat, rare, medium rare and well done see chart below:

First type you insert a prob into the meat and on a remote device that you can carry while entertaining your family and friends. It can be set to tell you when it has reach you desired way you like it cooked. For me that is rare!! I prefer this type because you do not have to keep puncturing the meat, which I feel lets out the juices of the steak.

The second meat thermometer is the Instant thermometer, which give you the internal temperature each time you insert it into the meat.

What To Do After You Have A Perfectly Grilled Steak ?

Okay you want your steak to be rare or any other desired result, I suggest removing it from the smoker or grill at about 10 to 15 degree shy of the targeted temperature because it will keep cooking and will reach the targeted temperature as it rests for about 5 minutes, before carving it. This also allows the steak to retain the juices and flavor We are looking for the Perfectly Grilled Steak correct? While the steak resting, is good time to open a good bottle of Burgundy wine and let it breathe, That’s my preference, not a must.

If you want to do something different with a baked potato. You will have to start this about hour and a half before starting your steak. Take an apple corer going the length of the potato core out one or two holes. Keep the ends of the cored out potato. Then stuff the potato with some cook broccoli, bacon, shredded cheese and butter. Place the plug end of the potato back in on both ends of the potato and you can take some slightly cooked strips bacon and wrap it around the potato, then wrap them in aluminum foil. Bake them for 1 hour 15 minutes at 350 degrees .

After the steak has rested, carve it against the grain. It’s not just the cut of meat that determines how tender it is, it’s also how you cut the meat. First, find the direction of the grain (which way the muscle fibers are aligned), then slice across the grain rather than parallel with it.Perfectly grilled steak

What Have We Learned About The Perfectly Grilled Steak?

First we found out where to go to purchase you steak. And that their are difference in a great to poor quality steak, which is defined by USDA grade of the steak, best being Prime USDA to okay Select USDA. Then the importance of how you prepare the steak you chose.

The importance of watching the internal temperature was brought to light, so you grill it to you desired level of cook (rare, Med. Rare). At the beginning of this article I made my feeling known about someone that wants their steak well done. I cringe at that specially if the steak that I am serving is prime USDA, that I spent a bit of money on.

So I will have a Select USDA or grocery cut of steak on hand for those special people that like it well done. And if you prepare it as follows it will taste almost as good as prime cut.

Place you (cheap) steak on a baking sheet or in a pan and coat its entire top surface with salt. Yes, you heard that right—bury the entire slab of meat in salt. Make sure you’re using a coarse grain, such as coarse sea salt or kosher salt. Table salt cannot be substituted; due to its fine grain size, it dissolves and is absorbed too quickly into the meat and over-salts the steak.

Now it’s time to let the meat marinate. Leave the salted steak untouched and at room temperature, basing the length of you marinade on the thickness of you cut. Each inch in thickness equates to one hour of letting it sit: if you steak is two inches thick, you’ll want it to marinate for two hours, and so on.

When time is up, rinse you steak very thoroughly, washing off all the visible salt on the surface. As the salt sloughs off, you should see and feel tenderness in the meat. Additionally, the color of the meat will be slightly darker than before—very similar to an aged cut.

After rinsing, pat you steak dry with paper towels. Don’t skip this step: if the surface of the steak isn’t dry, you’ll be steaming you meat instead of heating the steak surface directly.
Lastly, grill or cook you steak to the doneness you desire—of course, skip the salting step you would normally incorporate in you cooking method. The resulting steak will be tender, flavorful, and oh-so-juicy.
As always hope this was informative, please leave me you comment below.






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