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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
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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:
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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.

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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).

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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

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skillet cornbread

Crumbly Cornbread

By Meathead Goldwyn

Cornbread is a classic sidekick for barbecue with good reason. The corn flavor and texture is a perfect foil for sweet barbecue sauce and Southern Sweet Tea. In the South, cornbread is not sweet. In the Northeast, cornbread is sweeter and more cake like. I like a compromise, with just a touch of sweetness. Cornbread is great as a side dish, but also makes a fabulous breakfast, warm, with a dab of butter, honey, or syrup.

You can eat it straight, or you can butter it. A compound butter with herbs or molasses is great on cornbread. Some folks in the south serve it warm topped with honey and in New England it is often served with maple syrup. Some say it is better if you cover with foil and and set it aside for at least 24 hours.

The classic Southern cornbread was baked in a cast iron skillet greased with bacon fat, lard, or other meat grease. The hot black metal creates a brown crunchy crust that really amps up the flavor and texture. This recipe is designed for a 12" cast iron skillet, but if you don't have one, you can use a 10" cast iron skillet, or any other skillet, or an 8 x 8 x 2" oven safe glass baking dish. You can even use a metal baking pan if that's all you have, but it won't brown as well as a black pan. If you use anything except the 12" skillet, the cooking time will be different, so use the toothpick test described below. In a narrower pan the mass of batter is thicker and will take longer.

Cornbread Recipe

Servings. 8 nice sized wedges
Prep time.
20 minutes
Cooking time. 25 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted (it doesn't matter if it is salted or unsalted)
1/4 cup sweet corn kernels (optional)
1/4 cup sweet bell pepper, chopped into 1/4" chunks
1 more tablespoon of butter to grease the pan

About the corn. This ingredient is optional, but I really like it. Fresh corn's the best. If not, use frozen corn, thawed by letting it sit for about 15 minutes at room temp. You can use canned corn, but drain it thoroughly. If you wish, you can amp the corn up a bit by pan or grill roasting until it browns slightly.

About the sour cream. Many cornbread recipes call for buttermilk, but this recipe has been formulated for sour cream so resist the temptation to substitute.

About baking powder and baking soda. They seem mysterious, but they work magic. It's chemistry. Click here to learn how they work.

Optional mix-ins. If you wish you can add 4 strips crumbled cooked bacon or some chunks of cooked sausage, cracklins are a Southern tradition, too. Or try 1/2 cup chopped scallions or onions, 6 ounces grated cheddar cheese, 1 minced jalapeño pepper or 1/2 teaspoon of hot pepper sauce (it is barely noticeable but gives the mix a spice of life). I tried chopped sun-dried tomatoes and didn't like them in there. Don't go crazy with the add-ins. Use just 2 to 3 max.

Optional. If you wish, you can grease the pan with bacon fat or lard instead of the butter, as was common in the old south.

Method
1) Pre-heat the oven or grill to 400°F and put the skillet on the rack to preheat it.

2) In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: Cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

3) In another bowl, whisk the eggs lightly. Then add the honey and whisk for about 30 seconds. Then add the the sour cream, whisk, melted butter, and whisk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently stir until everything is mixed, only about 30 seconds. The batter will be lumpy. That's what you want. Now add the corn, red pepper, any other add-ins, and stir gently until they are evenly distributed. It is important that you do not overmix.

4) Take the skillet out of the oven and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Roll the butter around as it melts coating the inside of the pan, including the sides. Yes, I know that's a lot of butter. You will thank me later. You'll be tempted, but you won't need more. Work quickly so the pan doesn't cool.

5) Pour in the batter, level it more or less. Place in the hot oven. Work quickly.

6) Cook until the top is golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure the edges don't burn.

7) Cool for about 10 minutes and serve.

Here are some good videos of some other cornbread recipes

This page was modified on 8/17/2010


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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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