3 Pitmaster-Approved Recipes That Take You From Breakfast to Dinner

Six-time world championship-winning pitmaster Tuffy Stone shares his summer grilling favorites.

June 20, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson.

We've partnered with Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork to highlight simple yet uniquely delicious dishes that'll take your summer grilling to the next level.

During the summer months, you can catch me grilling up pork (albeit in my cramped New York City kitchen using a cast-iron pan) at least once or twice during the week—it's quick, satisfying, and with a ton of different cuts to choose from, as versatile as it gets. But lately, I've been stuck in a bit of a recipe rut, unable to break away from the same crispy pork chops I make over and over again.

So to help me mix up my grilling routine this year, I turned to Tuffy Stone, a bona-fide pitmaster, cookbook author, and this year's Grand Champion at the Memphis in May World Barbecue Championship, one of the most prestigious barbecue competitions in the world. He not only gave me three of his favorite recipes (one each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) that go a step beyond the usual grilled fare, but also shared some of his tried-and-true grilling wisdom, like how to pick the best cut of fresh pork and cook it perfectly every time.

Tuffy Stone's Essential Grilling Tips

1. Pre-marinated meat makes a weeknight-friendly shortcut.

If you know you're going to have an especially busy week, you can use pork cuts that have been pre-marinated with spices and seasonings (like roasted garlic and herb or hickory-smoked brown sugar) ahead of time. "It's an easy shortcut to have a really delicious meal," says Tuffy. "A lot of times in my house when we're super busy, we'll grill that pre-marinated meat, make a simple salad, and maybe bake some bread in the oven, and that'll be dinner."

2. Start with a clean grill.

You may have heard people say that a dirty grill adds flavor or seasoning, but Tuffy couldn't disagree more. "I don't buy into that," he explains. "I always cook on a super, super clean smoker or grill." He also makes sure to use good fuel that burns as clean as possible. "Whether it be charcoal or wood, I make sure whatever's going to be my heat source will impart good flavor on the meat," he says.

3. Invest in a good thermometer.

"If you're going to spend money on a nice pork chop, the last thing you want to do is either overcook it or undercook it," Tuffy says. That's where a meat thermometer comes in handy. "I think having a good, accurate thermometer is really helpful in making sure that you can cook your meat just right."

For pork, that means the internal temperature should be at about 145°F for the most optimal, tender texture. But don't forget about carryover cooking, which means that the internal temperature of the meat will rise slightly even after you take it off the heat source. With a pork chop, Tuffy might cook it to 138°F and pull it off the heat; it'll continue to cook as it rests for 5 to 10 minutes, and as a result, you'll get a much juicier pork chop.

4. Pick out a quality cut.

When you're buying any type of meat, but especially pork, you want to find the freshest, highest-quality cut you possibly can. How can you tell? "Look for meat that's well marbled and has striations of fat in there," says Tuffy—that's the best indicator.

5. Spritz your meat for better flavor and texture.

While the meat is cooking on the grill, don't be afraid to spray it with some high-quality apple juice or another liquid (like beer or even pineapple juice) Tuffy says. "The moisture applied to these meats during the cooking process can be really nice—and it's a great way to add some flavor."

Tuffy Stone's Go-To Summer Grilling Recipes

With these pitmaster-approved tips in your pocket, it's time to start grilling. Here are three of Tuffy's go-to recipes—all of which can be adapted for the stovetop and oven—from a new riff on steak and eggs to fall-apart spareribs that taste like they've been smoking all day long.

1. Grilled Pork Chops with Chile Ketchup & Eggs

This easy grilled pork chop recipe with soft scrambled eggs and spicy homemade ketchup is comfort food at its finest, and it makes an excellent breakfast—or dinner. The best part: It comes together just as well on the stovetop as it does on an actual grill; a well-seasoned cast iron skillet can stand in without skipping a beat.

Because these pork chops are already pre-seasoned, you can throw them right on the grill or in the skillet and they won't take longer than four minutes on each side. Once the pork chops are done, "put them on a plate to rest, and then do your soft egg scramble, and it makes for an easy cleanup," Tuffy says. Drizzle the whole plate in the spicy chile ketchup, which you can actually make ahead of time and keep on hand for breakfast and beyond.

2. Grilled & Stuffed Pork Loin Filet

This kale and bacon-stuffed pork loin filet looks fancy enough for a special occasion or Sunday supper, but is simple enough to put together for a hearty lunch (it doesn't hurt that you can prep the stuffing ahead of time).

"It could be something that you butterfly, stuff, roll, and tie, and maybe you just leave it in the refrigerator," Tuffy explains. You can also switch up the stuffing depending on the season and what looks best at the market; spinach or mustard greens would make great substitutes here, he adds.

3. Spareribs with Mustard Sauce

Spareribs might seem like an intimidating dish to make at home, but Tuffy assures me that this recipe is the most approachable out there. One critical step: Let the ribs soak up the seasoning. "I like the seasoning to sit on both sides of the meat for at least one hour," Tuffy explains.

Another key tip: Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil about halfway through the cooking process. Once wrapped, "I'll let it cook for another two to two and a half hours until the meat is tender," he says. This low and slow method might take a bit more time, but it's a fool-proof way to get fall-off-the-bone results every time. Once they're done, dress the spareribs in the tangy mustard sauce and, per Tuffy's recommendation, serve them alongside a punchy coleslaw of cabbage and granny smith apples tossed in a celery seed mayonnaise with fresh herbs. Other easy side options: grilled veggies, Greek yogurt potato salad, or simple baked beans.

What's your favorite summer grilling recipe? Share it with us in the comments below!

We've partnered with Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork to share your new favorite grilling recipes—from quick-cooking pork chops with scrambled eggs to fall-off-the-bone spareribs with tangy mustard sauce—plus expert tips on how to pull them off without a hitch. To make your summer cooking even easier and more convenient, use Smithfield's Marinated Fresh Pork. These fresh pork cuts (think: pork chops, loin filets, tenderloins, roasts, and more) are carefully seasoned and marinated using a variety of different spices and rubs (no artificial ingredients here!) so that all you have to do is throw them on the grill, stovetop, or in the oven.

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Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.