Guys, Grills, and Some Go-To Summertime Recipes

From Jamaican to Bacon…Meals You’ll Wanna Be Makin’!

Les Brack - Grill of Choice - Smokin Brothers Pellet Grill

If you’re looking for some sure-fire summer grilling ideas, look no further than your neighbor’s backyard. We tapped a couple of your fellow Topekans for their favorite grub on the grill and came up with these tantalizing taste bud teasers. 

First, we visited with Les Brack who has been barbecuing for as long as he can remember. He’s tried everything from Big Green Eggs to charcoal grills and finds that each one has unique characteristics. His most recent choice was a Smokin Brothers pellet grill he found at Patio, Pool & Fireside in Topeka last fall. “I’ve bought several grills there over the years and Jeff (owner) and Cathi have never steered me wrong,” Brack said. “They recommended this one, and I’ve been very happy with it so far.”

Because he grills year round, Brack said he has already had the opportunity to try a number of different recipes on the new grill from chicken to pork to some crappie he caught himself. He added that his son and daughter-in-law raise cattle, so beef makes regular appearances on the menu. Brack shared one of his favorite beef recipes with us Brack’s Bacon Burgers.

“With these burgers, you can use lean hamburger because the bacon adds the fat and keeps the burger from getting dry and the sauce holds it all together,” he said. “It’s one of our go-to meals all summer long. We pair it with organic carrots. Just rub them with olive oil and a little kosher salt and grill them up.”

“Grilling adds amazing flavor to everything,” Brack shared. “Vegetables are delicious grilled.” From carrots to asparagus to red peppers, nothing is off limits when it comes to summer grilling. And if you’re looking for a sweet treat, look into grilled fruit like peaches, pears, and bananas. 

“The fun is in trying new things. So don’t be afraid,” Brack added. “Just throw it on there and see what happens!” 

Brack’s Bacon Burgers 


1 lb. hamburger

1/3 cup peppers

1 tsp. Everything Rub (Seattle Rhythm & Spice)

1 tbsp. Bear-B-Cue Sauce (Walton)



Add diced peppers, seasoning, and sauce to hamburger. Patty burgers out. Wrap with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Tip: Press bacon strips between two pieces of wax paper and roll with a rolling pin to flatten. Set grill temperature to 350-400 degrees. Place burgers on the grill and flip when bacon starts to crisp on the bottom. Cook until bacon on the opposite side looks golden or an internal temperature probe reads 135-140 degrees (depending on how you like your burgers). Remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  

Roger Byler - Grill of Choice: Big Green Egg

Topekan Roger Byler has been grilling for over 40 years. His grill of choice is the Big Green Egg. “I prefer to use charcoal over gas or pellets,” he said. “There’s something about that flavor lump charcoal brings to cooking.” He likes to use oak hardwoods when smoking meats to add a bit of Texas style flavor and fruitwoods for pork or fish.

Byler said the thing he likes the most about the Big Green Egg is the versatility. “These grills are extremely flexible in what they can cook. I’ve smoked meat and fish. I’ve made a rotisserie turkey and a prime rib roast,” he said. “And I have a carbon steel flat top attachment I use for smash burgers and veggies like sweet potatoes. It’s even great for baking pizza.” 

Byler shared what he called “one of his standby easy meals” with us - Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs (opposite page). Not surprisingly, Byler is also a fan of gilling vegetables. He suggests pairing the chicken with corn on the cob. “Leave it in the husk, peel it back a little to remove the silk, then soak it in water for 20-30 minutes,” he explained. “Place it on the edge of the grill for about 30-40 minutes. It steams in the husk and it’s delicious.”  

Byler purchased his Big Green Egg from Patio Pool and Fireside over 20 years ago and it’s still going strong. “They never wear out,” he shared. “They’re not inexpensive, but people will find out that they last forever, so they’re worth the investment,” he explained. “Plus, you can cook so many different ways - grilling, rotisserie, flat top - you really get your money’s worth there too.”

So there you have it - two guys, two grills, and some great recipes to try tonight. No matter what you grill, get outside and enjoy this great weather and say hello to the neighbors while you’re at it. Ahh, summertime in Topeka, ya gotta love it!

Byler’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken Thighs


Chicken thighs (Byler prefers Smart Chicken) 

Dwyer's Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (Dwyer’s is a Topeka company)


Pat chicken thighs dry and spray lightly with olive oil. Season with Dwyer’s Jamaican Jerk seasoning (go heavy or light depending on how spicy you like it). Bring the grill up to around 350 degrees for direct cooking. Tip: Byler seasons the hot grill with a piece of raw bacon which helps to keep the meat from sticking.  Place the thighs on the grill and cook for 20-25 minutes until browned. Flip and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes till the other side is browned. Use a meat thermometer and remove when the internal temperature reaches a minimum temperature of 165 degrees.

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