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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.

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. 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

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 $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.

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.

tailgater magazine
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hamburgers in a meat grinderGrinding Your Own Hamburgers

"I'm not telling you, 'Never eat a hamburger'. Just eat the good ones with real beef, you know, like the ones from that Mom-and-Pop diner down the street, and it's so good that when you take a bite out of that burger, you just know somewhere in the world a vegan is crying." Homer Simpson

By Meathead Goldwyn

When you grind your own hamburgers you are assured of the freshest meat, just the right fat to lean ratio, and you know that the meat hasn't been contaminated by an improperly cleaned grinder, and if you cook it promptly, there is less time for microbial growth.

Click here to read my article on the Science of Hamburgers. It has a discussion of the best cuts for grinding, minimizing health risks, forming proper patties, tricks of the masters, mix-ins, cooking techniques, and much more.

Regardless of the tool, begin by removing any silverskin, cartilage, and bones. Then cut the meat and fat into 1 to 1" to 1.5" cubes. Chill the meat after cutting to make it stiffer. I've been known to put the cubes on a cookie tray in the freezer for up to 30 minutes. Just don't freeze it or the ice crystals will begin to tear open the cell walls and make the meat mushy.

food processorThere are three good tools for grinding your own:

1) Food processors. Cuisinarts and other food processors will make fine burgers. In fact I think they are better than real grinders when it comes to tough cuts like skirt and short rib meat. The Hamilton Beach 10 cup Chef Prep 525-Watt Food Processor is a good deal. There are bigger fancier better models, but if you are watching your budget, start here.

Cut and partially freeze the meat as described above. Work in small batches, just enough to cover the blades, and pulse the processor for about one second 15 to 20 times until properly chopped evenly, just a bit coarser than what you used to buy. If necessary, lift the top and move the meat around in the bowl to make sure all chunks get chopped. Better too coarse than too mushy. If you have several batches, keep the unprocessed meat in the freezer. Dump the ground meat onto a plate or tray and remove any gristle.

2) Hand operated meat grinders. These are what grandma used, they are inexpensive, and last forever. Same process. Cut and partially freeze the meat. Do not double grind. Once is enough.

3) Stand Mixers. These mix wet ingredients at a range of speeds, can knead bread or pizza dough, and themeat grinder attachment is an inexpensive way to amp your burgers up to 11. The process is the same as above. Cut the meat into chunks about 1", partially freeze, and grind.

Makes. 2 Steakhouse Steakburgers at 8 ounces each or 4 Diner Burgers at 4 ounces each

Option A
16 ounces choice grade chuck or boneless short ribs
Usually about 20% fat right out of the package

Option B
12 ounces choice lean beef such as brisket flat, skirt steak, flank steak, or sirloin trimmed of all fat
4 ounces beef fat. Butchers will usually give you this for free. Ask for more than you need and wrap it tighly and freeze it.
Equals 25% fat

Option C
13 ounces chuck, about 20% fat
3 ounces raw fatty bacon, chopped. Grind it with the beef.
Equals 25% fat

Cleanup

When you are done grinding, gather the meat on a tray or in a bowl and handle it as little as possible. Clean the grinder thoroughly with soap and hot water before you load into the dishwasher. If you don't have a dishwasher, it's a good idea to submerge the parts in boiling water for a minute. Dirty grinders are a major source of food-borne illness.

This page was revised on 7/4/2011


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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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