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Live Fire Feasts: December’s Best Recipes for the Grill and Smoker

December is a glorious month for food lovers. And we hope you haven’t stored your grill(s) with your golf clubs, as the grilling and smoking season is never over for those of us who love live fire cooking. Below are hand-picked recipes we think you and your family and friends will enjoy. Here are some amazing recipes for December.

Recipes for December

Smoked Shrimp Cocktail with Chipotle Orange Sauce

No matter how many aromatics you add to the water, boiled shrimp is—well—boiled shrimp. Rather bland. And so predictable when served with commercial cocktail sauce. But seasoned with garlic and cilantro, smoked over mesquite, and paired with a fiery sauce inspired by the Yucatan—that’s a shrimp cocktail we can get behind. Again, it’s spicy, so reduce the chipotles in adobo sauce if serving more timid palates.

Shrimp cocktail

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Smoked Pecans

Why should you smoke your own nutmeats? The fact is, commercial smoked nuts usually don’t see the inside of a smokehouse. When you smoke that at home, you can customize the nuts, the spicing, and the smoking wood. This simple sweet-salty appetizer features pecans (though you can use other nuts, like cashews, peanuts, or almonds) smoked with cumin, cinnamon, and paprika. Smoked nuts are an easy appetizer or snack you can make with a stovetop smoker or outdoor smoker.

Smoked Pecans - Recipes for December

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Beet Salad with Smoky Raisin Vinaigrette

This is one of our favorite winter salads, developed by our colleague Steve Nestor and featuring beets, bacon, raisins, dried cranberries, feta, and walnuts. Beets are an under-appreciated winter vegetable, one you’ll add to your repertoire once you taste this satisfying and visually-appealing seasonal salad.

Smoked Beet Salad with Smoky Raisin Vinaigrette

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Christmas Ribs (Baby Backs with Cranberry Barbecue Sauce)

Baby back ribs get the holiday treatment! Pork baby backs are smoked until pull-apart-tender, then glazed with an all-American barbecue sauce featuring—surprise!—jellied cranberry sauce. The same cranberry sauce you maybe enjoyed as a kid. This sweet but tangy barbecue sauce is also great with pork loin, pork chops, and chicken. (Just FYI, one of the first mentions of cranberries in print occurred in a Pilgrim cookbook written in the mid-1600s. The U.S., Canada, and Chile produce 97 percent of the world’s cranberries.)

Christmas Ribs (Baby Backs with Cranberry Barbecue Sauce)

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Smoke-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Three Hots Horseradish Sauce

Yes, it’s relatively expensive, but it’s quick and easy to prepare, and it brings most beef addicts to immediate intoxication. The sauce is a perfect complement to the meat. (Use freshly grated horseradish if you want some punch. But if you don’t want to go to the trouble, we found a commercial product that’s pretty amazing—Atomic Horseradish. Find it at some markets or on amazon.com. (Mix with a little mayo—we prefer Hellmann’s, Duke’s, or Best’s, for a quick sauce.)

How to Smoke a Whole Beef Tenderloin - Recipes for December

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Grilled Tuna with Red Wine, Caper, and Olive Sauce

This is an impressive dish, one you’d be proud to serve guests. According to local lore, the red wine, olive, and caper sauce known as raïto originated in Greece and was brought to Massilia (as Marseilles, France, was known in ancient times) by Phoenician sailors. Provence is the only place in France where you find it, and it’s rooted deeply enough to have several names, including rayte and raïte. Whatever its origins, it’s a sauce richly rooted in the Mediterranean, with a deep flavor that goes exceedingly well with grilled tuna.

Grilled Tuna

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Baked Apple Stuffed with Sausage and Sage

This is a stuffed apple that could get the MVP award at your next cookout. Serve it like Steven does, garnished with a cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Here’s a side dish you’ll want to serve again and again.

apples stuffed - Recipes for December

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Smoke-Roasted Pears

Try a fruity, sweet and spicy dessert made on the grill with this Smoke-Roasted Pears recipe from episode 201 of Steven Raichlen’s show, Project Smoke.

Smoke-Roasted Pears

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