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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 is 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.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

BBQ_grill_grates

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. 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

smokenator bbq system

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 $269 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.

steak knives for bbq

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.

red beans and rice

New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

"Me, sexy? I'm just plain ol' beans and rice." Pam Grier

By Meathead Goldwyn

In New Orleans (pronounced NOR-lins), Sunday is traditionally ham night, and on Monday, wash day, the leftover ham and the ham bone are used to make Red Beans and Rice, a traditional Creole stew that can be prepped quickly and, if cooked with dried beans, needs several hours to simmer. It has been thus forever. Even the estimable Louis Armstrong signed his autograph "Red beans and ricely yours".

Among the traditional ingredients are andouille sausage, a ham bone, and pickled pork or ham. Andouille (pronounced on-DWEE) sausage is the spicy local Cajun classic made of coarsely ground pork, chopped onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt, cracked black pepper, natural casing, and then it is smoked. The marrow in the ham bone adds flavor and richness. Pickled pork is common in New Orleans, but a little harder to find elsewhere. It is made by boiling cubes of fresh pork in vinegar, spices, and pink curing salt #1 (a source of sodium nitrite, a preservative). I have done what most of the locals now do, substituted chopped ham and for the fun of it, tossed in some bacon in my recipe.

When I was a student at the University of Florida, subsisting on hot dogs mixed in a can of baked beans, we would often do weekend road trips to New Orleans, and that's where I had my first taste of the local stew. I can still taste "the world's best Beanie Wienies" as I described it to my friends. It was an early awakening that you could riff on a recipe and make something special.

New Orleans Red Beans & Rice Recipe

Preparation time: About 40 minutes to prepare and 1 to 2 hours to cook
Makes: Enough to serve 4 people about 2 cups each.
Serve with: A green salad, baguette, and Abita beer from New Orleans.

Ingredients
2 (15 ounce) cans of red (kidney) beans
4 strips of bacon
1 cup chopped cured ham
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2" disks
1 smoked ham hock
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery, about 4 stalks
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cups low salt chicken broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice

Nontraditional garnishes
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 jalapenos, seeds removed, chopped fine
2 roma tomatoes, chopped into 1/2" chunks

About the beans. If you plan to use dried beans, as the do in NOLA, follow the instructions in my article The Zen of Beans for prep instructions.

About the meats. None of these quantities is set in concrete. You can add more of any, or leave something out. But don't skip the ham bone.

About the bacon. Although it adds flavor, it is here mainly for the oil needed to brown the meats and cook the trinity. You can skip it and just use 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. If you do skip the bacon, try to use a ham hock instead of the ham bone so you can get that smoky flavor.

About the sausage. There is no exact substitute for good andouille, so make a serious effort to find some. If you can't use a smoked sausage such as kielbasa and add a little more hot sauce.

About the cured ham. You can buy a cured ham steak and chop it up or just use leftover ham from Easter.

Optional seasonings. Some folks like to add cumin an/or chile powder, parsley is common, and cilantro is often used. Worcestershire is occasionally added too.

Do this
1) In a 4 quart pot, cook the bacon over medium high heat. When some fat renders, add the sausage and ham, and brown them. If the bottom looks like it might burn, add an ounce or two of water to loosen the meat bits and scrub them off with a wooden spoon. When the water is gone, add the onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and black pepper and stir occasionally until the vegetables are limp, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add 2 cups of water, the tomatoes, chicken broth, vinegar, hot sauce, bacon, beans, and the smoked ham hock. Crank up the heat, bring everything to a boil and back it down to a simmer. Let it simmer, uncovered, about 1 to 2 hours. If it gets too thick, add some water or broth. If it is too runny, continue simmering to thicken it or add more beans.

2) With a ladle or a large spoon, mash about 20% of the beans against the bottom or side of the pot. Remove the bay leaves and hock. Peel any meat you can get off the hock and toss it back in, discard the bone and bay leaf. Taste and adjust the salt, vinegar, and hot sauce to your preference. Turn to low. If you're going to brighten it with fresh chopped peppers, now's the time to add them.

3) Prepare the rice as described in my article The Zen of Rice.

4) Spoon the rice in the center of a plate, top with the stew, and garnish.

Nontraditional, but...

Red Beans & Rice is a classic stew, so most of the flavors melt together and only the andouille stands out. To give it a bit of brightness, I like to chop in some sweet bell pepper, red or green, about 30 minutes before serving. I then like to sprinkle green onions, jalapenos, and tomatoes just before serving. They really give things a nice freshness and a bit of texture. If you want crunch, croutons or oyster crackers are nice. I like to sprinkle Frank's Hot Sauce on it at tableside.

Leftovers

If there is any left over, you can just dump the beans and rice together in the fridge. When it is time to reheat you can refry with a little oil in a pan, and add a little water. I like to brighten the flavors with fresh peppers, tomato, onion, and maybe a splash of lemon juice.

Here are some good videos of rice dishes

This page was revised 4/27/2009


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