There are a number of places on the internet where you can go to get answers to your questions. These forums are discussion groups that are chock-full of recipes, tips, and solutions to problems. You can graze 'til you're gorged.
The best part is that there is usually a moderator or member or three who are really knowledgeable. Get to know these gurus, sit at their feet, and learn.
To ask a question or leave a comment (called posting) you are usually required to register with your email address and a password. They come in three flavors, "message boards", "email lists" (a.k.a. "listservs"), and hybrids.
Forums (a.k.a. Message boards). These are websites where you can browse the posts and jump in once you register. They are organized by topic, and you can often search for past posts that might answer your question.
Email lists. You register and you get emails that contain the posts. When you sign up you can choose to get them immediately as they are posted, or you can get them all in one daily "digest". I love the daily digests because they are so convenient. On the downside, they can cover a wide range of topics and there is usually no convenient way to search them.
Hybrids. Some of them, notably those hosted by Yahoo!, are both message boards and mailing lists. These hybrids have a web site where you can browse the posts and you can set it up so you get new posts emailed to you.
There are also some laughs. After a heated debate on whether one should insulate the Great Old Smoky Mountain (GOSM) gas smoker, Tom Kaiser from PA, a lurker (a subscriber who reads the posts but rarely adds to them), piped up with this summary of the debate:
"First: I'm going to look through the Martha Stewart collection of tile for something beautiful that I can peel off the back and stick on the inside of my GOSM.
"Second: I'm going to move my smoker inside the house, sit it in a grease pan. I think the dogs will clean my grease pan.
"Third: Then I'm going to connect it to the chimney. This way I don't have to worry about the cold temps and making wind blockers. The greatest part is, I will have the best smelling house around and it will help heat the house, and I can walk around in my shorts and [make] Q, watch TV and have a beer all at the same time.
"Fourth: I'm not going to add any kind of self watering system, as I like to look in every 2-3 hours to see that beautiful meat as I add a little water."
Fun and educational. Join one.
Addicted to BBQ. This intimate group is active, well informed, and helpful. The moderator is especially knowledgeable about the ceramic cookers. As with many boards, you can browse and read as much as you like, but to post a message or a question, you need to register. When you register, there are additional features and functions available to you.
Ask a Butcher. Not a very active board, but the moderator seems to know his stuff and, best of all, he's posted photos and videos of how to cut meats at home. You know he'll be getting my questions, now that my favorite neighborhood butcher shop has been killed by the big grocery chains and Sam's Club.
alt.food.barbecue. Google has organized Usenet discussions into an easy to use system with email notifications and browser access. There are numerous food and cooking related message boards. There is another board, alt.food.barbeque (notice the spelling diff). Let's hope they get these two together. Anyone can post and anyone can start a new topic. A bit chaotic, but some knowledgeable people are there. And the management tools are getting better.
BBQ Central. Hosted by Greg Rempe in Cleveland, OH, this is one of the largest and most active message boards around. You can browse all you want, but must register to post, and you should, because when you register several hidden categories appear. The main categories are focused on cooking: Pork, Meat/Beef, Poultry, Seafood, Sauces and Rubs, Appetizers and Sides, Deep Frying, Grilling. The board is pretty easy to use and it has a good search function. You can upload a picture of yourself (or an avatar, as most people have done), and the board will notify you via email when a reply is posted. You can easily upload pictures with your posts, too, a nice feature. People often upload pix of their recipes or step-by-step guides. Also, when you respond to a message, it is easy to quote the message you are replying to. This is a really good message board. Rempe also hosts a fine audio podcast. His informative interviews usually run about 20 minutes and include a wide range of experts from Steve Raichlen to welders who make cookers. Available from iTunes.
BBQ Bible Board. This active message board is hosted by Steven Raichlen, cookbook author ("BBQ Bible!") and TV host ("BBQU" on PBS). The board is reasonably well organized and easy to use.
BBQ Brethren. A very large, active message board with a cool logo. Easy to use, with lotsa knowledgeable folks, especially experience competitors. Because of spam problems they don't make their recipe files available unless you register. LOng after I launched my email newsletter named Smoke Signals, they launched one too, so I'm pretty unhappy with them.
BBQ Forum. Founded in 1995, this is one of the oldest and most active message boards. Hosted by Ray Basso, the BBQ Forum is no frills. There are no topics and categories. All the messages are in a long line down the page, with replies indented. You do not need to be a member to post. My biggest complaint is that the software they use shows only the subject line of each post, and finding tips on, say, brining, can be difficult, although it is made easier by a search feature. You can also upload pictures with your messages. Highly recommended. BBQ Forum Podcasts. Also hosted by Basso, these are interviews with people who are regulars on the BBQ Forum message board. Many of them are also regulars on the competition circuit. Interviews are of various length and run from 11-46 minutes.
BBQ Source Forums. An nice little forum with a unique feature: Discussion sections on different smoker manufacturers and their products.
BBQ Talk. This new board has a Canadian accent.
Cookshack Barbecue Forum. Most users of this forum own a Cookshack electric smoker, but much of the discussion is broader than that. There is section for recipes and it contains everything from ribs to Chex mix! This is a very lively and active board with many knowledgeable and friendly users. Cookshack employees drop in to solve problems if needed. You can also search on keywords if you want. There is even a section for chefs, restaurant owners, and caterers. Best of all, when you sign up, the system allows you to set it up so that new posts will be mailed to you individually or in a daily digest, so it has the best features of a mailing list and a message board.
The Egg Club. A message board similar to the BBQ Forum in design and structure. Aimed at owners of The Big Green Egg smoker, but discussions range from favorite restaurants to sauces.
The Grill Forum. Similar to the BBQ Forum.
Home BBQ Forums. Founded in 2001, this is one of the older message boards out there.
New Braunfels Bandera Forum. This email list is tailored to owners of this popular smoker, but discussion is wide ranging. Not very active.
Pelletheads.com is where people who have pellet cookers hang out.
Smoked-Meats.com is a lively group, with strengths in some areas others lack, cold smoking, sausages, and cast iron cooking.
Smoke Ring Forums. Garry Howard runs The Smoke Ring, a loose affiliation of hundreds of websites connected to barbecue. This forum has a number of really knowledgeable people visiting it regularly and it's a great place to get rapid answers to your questions. There are sections for recipes, competitions, catering, cookbooks, and much more. Howard also runs the Smoke Ring BBQ List (below).
Smoke Ring List. This is an email list. You sign up and the list sends you emails from members of the list who send in questions and comments. You can have them sent one at a time, or get them compiled into one email with 20 or so emails in it, called the "digest" format (recommended). I get the digest, and I still get 3-4 digests every day. Some really talented and smart folks participate in this list. The most annoying part is that people tend to copy the entire email to which they are replying, rather than just a sentence or two, so there's a lot of scrolling through mail you've already read while you're looking for new info. Also, members tend to stray off topic a lot, but the camaraderie and obvious friendship they have permeates every aspect. Many of these folks get together offline to cook and drink and swap lies. Then again, there are some feisty types and lame wars erupt occasionally. But even these are fun because the wit and sarcasm is high level.
Smokey Mountain Smokers Forum. Most of the members own a Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain gas smoker, but there is a lot of good general advice. The ever cranky and crotchety Bill Martin in Hawaii is one of the best gurus on any board, and he is there almost every day.
Smokin' and Grillin' Barbecue Board. Founded in 2005, this Yahoo! group has enthusiasm and promise, if not a lot of members.
Smoking Meat Forums. Hosted by Jeff Phillips of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the board is accompanied by a website with lots of good info. Among the better features is a lively section on different cookers.
Texas BBQ Forum. A nice new forum that's easy to use and has a growing list of real friendly folks partial to Texas.
Some Great BBQ Websites: No Such Thing As Too Much Barbecue
"There Is No Such Thing as Too Much Barbecue" is a wonderful, poetic ode, a short essay, by Jason Sheehan. It was broadcast by National Public Radio's All Things Considered on Memorial Day, May 29, 2006 as part of their "This I Believe" series. You can read it or listen to it by clicking here.
Immediately below are the best barbecue websites. and at right are links to the best barbecue forums, message boards, discussion groups, and mailing lists. Click here to see links to the barbecue associations, clubs, and competitions.
Of course, this is alphabetic, and since people have been known to copy and paste my pages, I need to include AmazingRibs.com in my list. Some guy named Meathead writes mostly about the Zen of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, but there's a lot of good info about food, ingredients, and techniques. Even has some vegetable recipes.
Barbecue Master. Based in NC barbecue country, Cyndi Allison has been writing about barbecue and teaching it for more than a decade. Check out the links to her other websites and blogs.
Barbecues & Grilling at about.com. Derrick Riches is a self taught cook who has learned a lot and he passes it along in this large and deep reference.
Barbecuen. Articles and ideas on everything from grills to cooking elk.
BBQ General. Wiley and Janet share recipes, pix, and news from the barbecue competition circuit.
BBQ FAQ. An astonishing compilation of wisdom from scores of serious cue'ers. The only problem is that the mailing list of participants has been dissolved so you can no longer sign up. Also, a lot of the links are broken. Still, the knowledge there is timeless.
BBQ Sauce Reviews. He likes sauce. Some better than others. See if you fave is on his 5-star list.
Braai 4 Heritage. In South Africa they call it braai, and everyone barbecues. They even have a National Braai Day!
Cooking Outdoors. Gary House is fearless as he cooks everything on his grills, even pies and bread. There are sections on barbecue, cast iron cooking, Dutch oven, fire pit, and foil cooking. Lots of recipes well illustrated with photos.
Gamecock Central. Jim Streeter has compiled an impressive list of his favorite barbecue joints in the south.
GrateTV. This frequent video show stars Jack Waiboer, a talented BBQ cook and competitor based in SC, and co-host Bill West (above). They teach tips, technique, tools, toys, secret ingredients, beer drinking, and answer viewer email questions. They know their stuff, and teach it with a smile. That's them above, and one of the gadgets they feature.
Grill Adventures. Recipes, stories, and product recommendations from the authors and readers.
GrillGrrrl. Robyn Medlin Lindars knows how to cook, and she can do it outdoors. She blogs about her adventures, her recipes, and she teaches classes in her home base of South Florida and around the nation. Fun stuff!
A Hamburger Today. Gently patted together by Robyn Lee, this site is made of prime restaurant commentary, stuffed with burger lore, topped with good humor, and held together with beautiful drippy photographs. She is aided by a handful of burgerphiles who know their stuff.
Home BBQ. Message boards that discuss just about anything barbecue.
The Ingredient Store.com. Home of the FAB injections and marinades. FAB is the stuff most of the brisket champs inject (into the meat, not themselves).
Live Fire Online. Curt McAdams can cook and takes nice pix in Ohio. He focuses on barbecuing and grilling, but often digresses on local foods, markets, baking, and dining.
Mark Stevens. I met Mark in one of the online message boards and have learned a thing or two from him and his tips. You can too. His home made website has great links, and some good recipes and tips.
Naked Whiz. This may be the most inaccurate and inappropriate name for a website on the net, but don't let it deter you. This is the go-to site if you have any questions about charcoal, how it is made, and what is the best.
Nibble Me This. Chris Grove is in Knoxville and he works hard his Big Green Egg and other cookers.
Patio Daddio BBQ. John Dawson brings his analytical IT mind to the patio and tests new techniques, equipment, and recipes with an unusual thoroughness and sense of humor. He also competes. This is one of my faves.
Postcards from Scotsylvania. Scot Murphy is a very smart, witty, fella, and a pretty good cook too. His blog covers barbecue, gardening, politics, comics, and "ruminations about the universe, occasional whining, snarkiness, stuff like that."
Real Truck. Accessories and gear for your truck.
Ron Shewchuk. By day, Ron Shewchuk is a mild mannered corporate communications consultant. In the evening and weekends, you can find "Rockin' Ronnie" slinging meat. The head of Alberta's feared cooking team "Butt Shredders", he is also the author of Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips and Tricks from a Barbecue Champion and his website has some good tips and recipes.
She Smoke. Julie Reinhardt is the author of the book She-Smoke, a Backyard Barbecue Book, and co-owner of Smokin' Pete's BBQ in Seattle. This blog is an extension of the book, the restaurant, and how she rolls with two kids in tow.
Sizzle on the Grill. This blog by Char-Broil has some very good tips and recipes.
The SmokeRing is an informal conglomeration of almost 1,000 websites devoted to barbecue. They include sites with recipes, tips on technique, cookers, supplies, sauce for sale (a lot of them have sauce for sale), and more. Best of all, there is a search engine so you can search on keywords such as "ribs."
Something Different Country Store & Deli. This is the website of a real old-fashioned country store that happens to be world famous because it is owned by folks that know a lot about barbecue, not to mention food and farming in general. Dad, Dan Gill, is the writer in the family, and his musings, called Dan's Blurbs, are well thought out and researched. Definitely something different.
Southern Foodways Alliance. Southern cuisine is this nation's most interesting and these guys know ALL about it. All about it. The oral history videos are priceless.
Sports Tailgaters. All tailgating items including locations, bars, apparel, games, and accessories. Share your stories, pictures, and bar locations with fellow sports fans. They also have a full suite of Fantasy Sports Leagues.
Tropic Als BBQ Review. Are you a Parrot Head or a wanna be back yard beach bum? Check out Tropic-Al's BBQ Review: a back yard banana republic in the Catskills.
Virtual Weber Bullet. Chris Allingham's site is dedicated to the use of the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker (a.k.a. "The Bullet"). There is an amazing amount of really helpful info on barbecue from theory to recipes that can be applied to cookers other than The Bullet. The message boards are visited regularly by lots of knowledgeable people, and I have even seen notices of meat sales at butchers near my house posted there. It is not affiliated with Weber grills.
White Trash BBQ. The story of a BBQ obsessed Brooklyn guy who dreams of producing award winning barbeque. He competes around the nation in the KCBS barbecue competition circuit, documents his cooks and those of others he meets, and has even been known to post while he is cooking! Fun stuff, especially if you are thinking of getting on the circuit.
...more to come (to be notified when new recipes and other articles come online, be sure to subscribe to my free, spam free, email newsletter).
This page was revised on 6/14/2010
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AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes and tips on technique. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, and accessories, all edited by Meathead.
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