In partnership with Rocky Mountain Ace Hardware stores
One of the things we love about grilling on our Traeger Grills is that the meals can be as complex or simple as you want. Some nights, simply grilling up a steak or a quick piece of salmon is all we want to do, and it comes out amazing. Other days, we cook low and slow– for hours at a time– to create amazing smoked meats. Both styles of cooking are delicious and fulfilling, and we seem to alternate between simple and complex, which keeps it interesting. Ultimately, though, our favorite thing to do is grill outdoors on our Traegers, and see what amazing meals we can pull together.
As the summer winds down, one thing that we have encountered is leftovers. Sometimes there are limited leftovers and most of what we’ve cooked has been gobbled up. But when cooking a big, long cook like a pork shoulder or whole packer brisket, you’re almost guaranteed to have leftovers that would be insane to throw away.
And just because we have leftovers that we could use doesn’t mean that we’re not also cooking new, incredible things on a regular basis. When we have leftovers like pulled pork or smoked brisket, we use our vacuum sealer and package up smaller portions– good for dinner for two or four– and freeze them. It’s super easy to reheat them later for a quick delicious dinner or a weekly take on fusion tacos.
Did you know that the best way to heat up leftover frozen BBQ is to submerge the frozen vacuum sealed bag of meat in gently boiling water for about 10 minutes? It’s an awesome hack that produces delicious, moist results every time.
As we’ve been reflecting on the great foods we’ve cooked on our Traeger Grills this summer, we realized that there was an opportunity to elevate those leftovers to an epic BBQ sandwich. Piled high with many classic BBQ favorites, this sandwich was decadent and delicious, and tasted like the best of BBQ all on one plate.
Ultimate BBQ Sandwich Ingredients
Our ultimate BBQ sandwich, cooked on the Traeger, began with an assortment of smoked leftovers. Pulled pork and brisket were the stars, which we kept simple and delicious by simply reheating and then frizzling briefly on the Traeger Ranger griddle.
We took a big loaf of ciabatta, sliced it lengthwise and portioned off a piece about 8″ long. Toasting the bread briefly on the hot Traeger Ranger griddle gave it warmth throughout and a perfect golden brown. We used butter on the bread, but you could absolutely use a thin layer of mayo, which makes for an amazing golden toasting.
In addition to the pulled pork and brisket, we cooked up a few links of spicy local sausage. Once they were partially cooked, we split them length wise and finished cooking them cut-side down so the meat got nice and crispy on the surface. And don’t forget the ribs– a rack of St. Louis style spare ribs, seasoned with my Smoke Junkie rub and cooked low and slow until tender.
To make a BBQ sandwich really unique and stand out, we included a heaping scoop of homemade macaroni and cheese to the toasted bread, providing a rich, cheesy and creamy base for the sandwich.
Assembling the Sandwich
Once all the components were identified, heated up and/or cooked, it was time to assemble this behemoth. We did so on a cutting board, which made for a great presentation.
Layer one: toasted golden bread, made on the Ranger griddle
Layer two: a heaping pile of homemade macaroni and cheese
Layer three: a hunk of Traeger slow-smoked ribs, cooked until tender and bones pulled (but allowing the meat to remain in one big piece)
Layer four: a bunch of slices of tender Traeger smoked brisket, griddled on the Ranger
Layer five: two grilled sausages, sliced lengthwise and cooked until just crispy on the edges
Layer six: a huge handful of Traeger smoked pulled pork, reheated and then griddled on the Ranger
Layer seven: a big pile of homemade Garlic Junkie pickled red onions (see recipe at the end of this post)
Final layer: a generous drizzle of Traeger BBQ sauce (we used Traeger’s Sweet & Heat sauce) with more on the side for dipping.
Grills Used for This Recipe
For the brisket, I used the Traeger Pro Series 780, which has Traeger’s unique WiFire technology, allowing the user to control temperature and time from their phone wherever they are. I love this feature because it allows you the chance to spend time with family and friends and not needing to tend the grill for the duration of the cook. For this brisket, I cooked it low and slow for about 12 hours until it was probe tender. My favorite pellet for brisket is the Signature blend.
For the pulled pork, I used my Traeger Ironwood 885, which I got at my local Ace Hardware store. This grill is a workhorse, with Traeger’s signature WiFire technology, an integrated pellet sensor (making sure that long cooks never run out of fuel) and a well-designed barrel that ensures even cooking temperatures and great air/smoke circulation. My pork shoulders usually cook for about 12-14 hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 200-204*. For pellets, I like to use Traeger’s apple or cherry pellets.
For this recipe, I cooked up the ribs on my Traeger Timberline until they were very tender (more tender than my normal cook on ribs) and then I carefully pulled the bones from the slab, keeping the meat in one piece. The ribs were cooked to about 204* internal temperature, using pecan pellets, which imparted a delicious smoky flavor. The Timberline is Traeger’s highest-priced grill, and includes the features mentioned above, along with a heavily-insulated barrel which ensures that the cooking temperatures are maintained regardless of the weather (rain, snow or sleet– I’ve cooked in them all!),
The sausage was cooked on my Traeger Ranger, which is a small but mighty cooking device. Designed to be portable and adaptable to many cooking needs (low and slow or hot and fast girdling or searing), the Ranger is one of my most frequently-used grills. When I cook things like steak, I reverse sear on one of my larger grills and then get an amazing finished crust or grill marks on the super-hot Ranger. The sausage was cooked on the Ranger’s included cast iron insert, and for a grill like the Ranger that generally doesn’t produce a lot of smoke, I use whatever pellets I have on hand.
In assembling the sandwich, everything came together on the Ranger because of its ease of use and high heat. It was perfect for toasting the bread, frizzling the smoked meats and ensuring that everything was hot when it came time to put it together. I even put the BBQ sauce in a cast iron pot on the Ranger, which allowed it to heat up while the rest of the ingredients were prepared.
All of my grills, along with the pellets mentioned, can be purchased at your local Ace Hardware Stores, where their excellent customer service and complimentary assembly and delivery means you’ll be able to cook in your backyard the night you buy your grill! Remember Ace Rewards members and any grill purchase of $399 and up qualifies for assembly and delivery. Don’t forget to stop by as well for all of your pellets and Traeger accessories.
Enjoying the Flavors of BBQ
This is definitely a fork-and-knife type of sandwich. We made one big sandwich and each enjoyed a large slice of the finished product. If you have a big appetite, you could enjoy one yourself, but the way we created it was perfect for a dramatic presentation (who doesn’t love a giant sandwich) and then we all enjoyed a hearty serving of the giant sandwich.
The flavors included in this dish are iconic BBQ classics, all cooked up on the Traeger Grills and made in our backyard. Next time, we might mix up the ingredients to see what other combinations we could come up with. Perhaps we’ll do pulled smoked chicken, candied bacon and smoked jalapeños. I’d love to know what flavor combinations you have in mind– so many options and using leftovers it can be an incredibly easy and impressive dinner.
Garlic Junkie Pickled Red Onions
Pickled red onions are an easy and delicious addition to any BBQ meal. They are very versatile– can be used on tacos, served alongside sliced smoked brisket, or piled high on a sandwich like the one described above. Give yourself about 1/2 an hour to make these– but they can be made a day or two in advance if you have the time.
- 1 red onion, sliced very thinly into rounds (we used a mandoline for even slices)
- 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons Garlic Junkie seasoning
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, water and seasoning. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
Stuff the sliced onions in a mason jar– packing fairly tightly.
Carefully pour the heated vinegar mixture over the onion slices in the jar, filling until submerged.
Close tightly with a lid, then carefully invert the jar once or twice to distribute the seasoning and ensure that the onions all are in the vinegar bath. Be careful as the jar will be hot.
Place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes or up to a few days.
Using a fork, remove the onions from the liquid and use as a topping for your favorite dishes.