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Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

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Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

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GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

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Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

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Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $289 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

Amp Up The Smoke

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Gold BBQ AwardMo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived more than 50 cooks. Click for more info.

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The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.


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Texas Barbecue Juice

By Meathead Goldwyn

Brisket with Texas barbecue sauceTexas barbecue ranges from ribs to goat to sausage, but beef brisket is king. A dark clod of beef breast, brisket, when it is cooked, is usually sliced about 1/4" thick across the grain, and served on brown butcher paper or in white bread sandwich.

Old timey Texans take their brisket nekked. They don't don't cotton to sloppy, sticky, ketchup-based sauces like they make up north in Kansas City. That's because cattle don't need sweetened ketchup any more than they need wolves. Some pitstops have relented to public demand and now serve sauces. Some serve gloppy red sauces, but the best serve a thin brown sauce, almost a gravy that works both as a mop during the cook, and as a simple finishing sauce.

These mop-sauces feature local flavors: American chili powder, ancho powder, hot sauce, cumin, beer, onion, beef drippings, and maybe even coffee grounds. Thin as it is, it adds a richness and depth to the meat because it doesn't just sit on the surface, it penetrates. The cooks make up a batch and use it on everything: Brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, pulled pork, sausage (a.k.a. hot links), mutton, goat, and even chicken.

Barbecue sauce in a vat at Cooper's in Llano TexasThey are used as mops during the cook because in Texas commercial pits often cook the meat two to three feet directly above coals. They can run hot, and they are opened often to add and remove meat. So a mop splashed on the meat during cooking replenishes moisture and cools the meat. But if you are cooking at home you are better served by keeping the lid closed, keeping the temp and humidity constant in your cooker, and skipping the mop.

Still, many folks like a sauce, especially if the meat is dry, and that can happen with brisket. So here's a very tasty formula inspired by the sauce at legendary Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, TX, pictured here. They have a dozen pits to cook in, and one pit that is a holding pit. It has hunks of each of their meats and a big bucket of sauce. Customers come up and point at the meat they want and if they want sauce, the meat is dunked in the bucket, flavoring both. Trimmings and leftovers are also tossed in the bucket. So if you go to Cooper's, and if you want sauce, don't tell the pitmaster you'll use the bottled sauce on the picnic tables inside. Tell him to dip it.

Recipe

Makes. About 5 cups. Click here to calculate how much you need and for tips on saucing strategies.
Preparation time. About 30 minutes.
Keeps. Because it has a high acid content, it can keep for months in the refrigerator.

Customers at Cooper's select their meatIngredients
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons American chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon of butter *
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup Lone Star beer (or any other lager). Drink any that is left over.
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons steak sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Hot sauce to taste (start with 2 teaspoons of Tabasco sauce for mild heat)
2 cups beef, veal, or chicken stock

Note about the oil. Butter or margarine work fine, but to make it authentic, use rendered beef fat from the fatback of a brisket or use bacon fat.

Do this
1) Mix the paprika, black pepper, American chili powder, and cumin in a small bowl.

2) In a one quart saucepan, melt the butter or bacon fat and gently cook the onion over medium heat until translucent.

3) Add the garlic, bell pepper, and the spice mix you made in step (1). Stir, and cook for two minutes to extract the flavors.

4) Add the stock and the rest of the ingredients. Stir until well blended. Simmer on medium for 15 minutes. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a month or so.

This page was revised 5/18/2008


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About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. 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, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, edited by Meathead.

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