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Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

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 $299 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

mo's smoking pouch

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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hoppin john beans

Hoppin' John Beans & Rice

"My wife is Puerto Rican and Cuban, so I eat rice and beans." Jacques Pepin, famous French chef

By Meathead Goldwyn

Around the world different cultures have their special traditions for welcoming the New Year and to insure good luck. According to Jessica B. Harris in the New York Times, "In Spain, grapes eaten as the clock turns midnight — one for each chime — foretell whether the year will be sweet or sour. In Austria, the New Year’s table is decorated with marzipan pigs to celebrate wealth, progress and prosperity. Germans savor carp and place a few fish scales in their wallets for luck. And for African-Americans and in the Southern United States, it’s all about black-eyed peas."

Black-eyed peas' most popular expression is Hoppin' John, a steaming bowl of beans, rice, and pork especially popular in coastal South Carolina and Georgia. It probably originated with black slaves from the Caribbean brought in through Charleston around which there were large rice plantations. It is still very popular among the Gullah people on the Carolina coastal islands where Hoppin' John is widely served on New Year's Day for good luck. It is believed that eating beans on New Year's Day will bring better eats in the year to come. According to one tradition, a coin is added to the pot and whoever gets the coin will get rich.

There are several poetic explanations for how the dish got its name. One claims that it got its name in the early 1800s when it was peddled on Charleston streets by a one legged black man named John. Likewise there are a number of explanations for why beans symbolize good luck. Some ascribe their magical properties to fables like Jack And the Beanstalk, others call it a symbol of fertility, others say the black-eye saved the South from starvation during the Civil War.

I've kept this recipe simple and traditional, but there are numerous variations, so feel free to riff on it. I've been known to add red pepper and thyme. To modernize it, hold the green peppers until you add the rice to retain their brightness and crunch. In the original recipe the peppers kind of disintegrate. If you hold them til the end they add life.

Recipe

Makes. 10 bowls
Preparation time. 3 hours

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 smoked ham hocks
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, pressed or coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup white rice
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

About the ham hocks. Many grocers sell smoked ham hocks. They add flavor and a rich tactile sensation from the skin and connective tissue and the marrow which dissolve while it cooks. Some of them have very little meat. Select two with meat. If you can't find hocks, you can substitute 1/2 pound smoked ham, bacon, or leftover pulled pork.

Method
1) Click here to read my article, The Science of Beans, for tips on working with beans and equivalents for dry, canned, and cooked beans. If you plan to use dried beans, follow the instructions there for preparing them.

2) Get a large pot hot and add the oil. Add the ham hock, onion, green pepper, garlic, pepper flakes, and the bay leaf. If you can't find a ham hock, you can use bacon, just skip the vegetable oil and start by cooking the bacon in the bottom of the pot and pour off all the bacon grease except 2 tablespoons.

3) When the onions are limp, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the beans, bring back to a boil and dial it back to a simmer quickly. Do not boil for more than a minute or two. Simmer for at least an hour.

4) Remove the bay leaf and if you use ham hocks, cut off the meat, add it to the pot, and discard the bones and skin.

5) Add the rice and simmer with the cover on for about 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Serve with salt and pepper at table. Hoppin John gets a lift from fresh ground pepper at the table.

Here are some good videos of rice dishes

This page was revised 12/30/2010


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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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