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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 $289 delivered to your door!

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

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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

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 mor 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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Brew for Cue, Wine for Swine, and Booze Too

"I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported." Mae West

By Meathead Goldwyn

Pig with wine glassA meal of barbecue begs for libation to wash it down, and a meal without barbecue and a drink is called breakfast.

The key in selecting the right drink to accompany barbecue is to focus on your choice of sauce because barbecue sauces are so aggressive and tend to dominate the flavor profile.

Likewise, a strong drink can easily overwhelm the subtlety of well made food. I was once the wine critic of the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, so I have no problem matching wine with food, and, although I love a wide range of beer and spirits, I am by no means an expert. So I have called in rfeinforcements. I asked Jonas Halpren of DrinkOfTheWeek.com for tips on spirits and cocktails and Marty Nachel, author of Beer Across America, Beer for Dummies, and Homebrewing for Dummies for brew recommendations.

For more on the subject, click here for websites that have good buying guides for wine, beer, and spirits.

For hot sauces

Matching drinks with hot spicey capsaicin laden food is very difficult. The best thing for putting out a capsaicin fire is lipids. Fats. A drink with fats? Milk. The next best thing to put out the fire is sweetness. The traditional choices are sweet tea, lemonade, or soft drinks, like Coke or Dr. Pepper. In any case, go low alcohol. It only flames the fire.

Brew. If the sauce is hot, reach for a beer that has a noticeable sweetness and does not have a lot of hops and its attendant bitterness. That's often a standard boring old American lager. Nachel says to "Try a Munich helles, a Marzenbier/Oktoberfest, a Vienna style beer, or an English brown ale. If you appreciate dark beers, give bock, doppelbock, or Belgian dubbel a look."

Wine. You want a chilled wine with low alcohol, light body, and a hint of sweetness, say 2 to 4%, to help cool the fire. Try a rose, blush, a New York Riesling, or a German Kabinett. German red wines are hard to find but work great with these sauces because they are fresh and fruity and have that hint of sweetness. Champagne is a good choice.

Spirits. Halpren says "Keep the booze to a minimum and think dairy. The fat in dairy is absolutely the best way to neutralize the capsaicin from hot peppers. I love Kahlua Milkshakes, Pink Squirrels, Grasshoppers, and Brandy Alexanders. It isn't often that I get to recommend them with food. Yet, here they work. Acid also works, so break out those drinks with Champagne and citrus. Orange is especially good with hot sauces, so try a Fuzzy Navel or a Harvey Wallbanger."

For sweet sauces

Brew. Go dry and hopsy. Nachel says "Consider an English Extra Special Bitter (ESB), German Schwarzbier (black beer), or an Altbier."

Wine. There are two paths to follow: (1) Go for something dry with bubbles such as French Champagne, dry American sparkling wines, or Spanish Cava, or (2) go for a big red such as a zinfandel or syrah from California or a Shiraz from Australia (shiraz and syrah are two names for the same grape).

Spirits. Halpren says "Drink a cocktail that has acidity that cuts the sweetness (lime or lemon juice, ginger beer) or is refreshing (seltzer water, lemonade). I recommend cocktails like Mojitos, Mint Juleps, the Lynchburg Lemonade (substitute any whisky, it's delicious), a Collins drink (Tom, John and Ivan all work), or a Daisy. Also, my Mom's Summertime Slush is a must, and you can make it non-alcoholic."

For hot and sweet sauces

Brew. According to Nachel, "You need the malty sweetness to offset the heat, yet you want something drier to balance the sweetness. A good Czech Pilsner or a Dortmunder will do the job."

Wine. Try sweet sparkling wines like Asti Spumante. Now all you wine snobs out there: Yes, I said Asti. Try it and quit sending me hate mail. You're why I left the wine biz."

Spirits. Go for a good brown whiskey on the rocks with a splash of water.

For vinegary sauces

Brew. Try something with some sweetness like a Belgian ale.

Wine. Riesling, gewurztraminer are good choices to soften the tartness. As above, I like Asti or other moscato based wines with vinegarry sauces. Try a Kir Royale, which is a blend of sparkling wine with creme de cassis.

Spirits. Halpren says "Vinegar is an acid and doesn't play well with others. It likes more acid. Try ginger beer based cocktails like the Dark & Stormy and the Floradora Cocktail. The vinegar will accentuate the drink without overwhelming it. The Hemingway Daiquiri is another great pick. It's not the blended, sweet drink that you think it is.  This is a citrus explosion of lime and grapefruit with rum and maraschino liqueur (also not what you are thinking).  Champagne based cocktails work well with vinegar-based sauces as well."

This page was revised 8/16/2013


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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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