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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.

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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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cognac on the rocks with smoked iceSmoked Ice Amps Up Your Drinks!

This may be one of the coolest and, at the same time, one of the goofiest ideas I've ever had. But it's not too surprising if you've read my bio and remember that I used to drink for a living. Regardless, you absolutely must try this.

The brainstorm hit me after reading the research by Dr. Blonder on thermophoresis (how smoke is attracted to cold objects). I was working on perfecting my Bloody Mary recipe, and I wondered if I could amp it up with smoked ice.

So I put some ice in a pan on my MAK 2 Star pellet smoker because it burns only wood. After it melted I dipped in a finger and tasted it. Eureka! Not an overpoweringly strong smoke, elegant, delicate, very much like the scent of smoke from the smoker itself.

For comparison, I added a few drops of grocery store liquid smoke to water and tasted it. Liquid smoke is made by burning hardwood, condensing the smoke in a still, and then dissolving it in water or alcohol. It was authentic tasting in that it tasted like wood smoke, but it was a bit harsh, more like sucking on a piece of smoking wood. It's the same taste as cheap ham.

smoking gunFinally, I tried using The Smoking Gun, a gizmo that looks like a hash pipe (remember, I went to college in the '60s). There's a thimble sized mesh bowl in which you place sawdust, a motor that pulls air across the smoldering powdered wood, and a tube that blows it into whatever you want. Chefs use it to blow smoke into a covered pan of food, like raw salmon. It's pretty clever, but just don't leave it on the seat of your car if you get pulled over.

Alas, it does not blow very hard and it could not displace the water in the jar if the hose was submerged more than 1/2". It just stopped bubbling. Worse, the smoked water tasted stale and bitter like bong water (I told you, I went to college in the '60s).

smoked waterI then put all three smoked waters in ice cube trays and froze them. As you can see, the melted ice had a slight coloration. After they froze, I tasted all three. The ice cubes created in the smoker were by far the best.

It was not long before I had the cubes in Bourbon, Cognac, and Bloody Marys. It worked beautifully in all cases, and without a question made the best Bloody Mary I've ever tasted.

When I mentioned smoked ice on Greg Rempe's podcast, The Barbecue Central Show during my monthly appearance, a listener sent me a link to an article in the New York Times on the subject. It described how bartenders are adding smoke to their drinks by other means, but none of them had discovered this simple technique.

At at Mistral Kitchen in Seattle, Amber Johannson makes and Old-Fashioned by filling a decanter with smoke from the Smoking Gun, then pours in the drink, and then pours it over the rocks.

At Mr. Brown's Columbia Room in Washington, a drink called Ghost Dance is made by lighting aromatic sweetgrass and a star anise pod under an upside down rocks glass which is then filled with the drink.

Zohn and Ethan Terry at AQ in San Francisco lit a bay leaf with a torch (a match won't do?) and quickly pour ice over the burning shrubbery. In goes the cocktail.

I think you'll like my method better. And it's easier.

Method
1) Make a bunch of ice cubes the normal way. You can smoke water, but ice has more surface area and smoke clings to sold surfaces.

2) Dump them into a shallow pan. High side will block the flow of smoky air. But the ice will melt, so make sure the sides are high enough to hold the water.

3) Set up your smoker, gas grill or charcoal grill for 2-zone indirect cooking with smoke. Keep the temp low, about 225°F, and smoke for about an hour. The ice will melt.

4) Freeze the smoked water in ice cube trays, or pour the smoked water into a zipper bag, freeze it, then pound it with a hammer or sauce pan.

5) Keep the cubes in the freezer until needed. Add them to drinks in the normal fashion, and let me know what creative things you find to do with them.

This page was revised 4/16/2013


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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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