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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


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

beans for barbecue

The Science of Beans

By Meathead Goldwyn

Beans play an important part in American culture and especially barbecue culture. Hard to find a pit stop that doesn't serve some sort of beans.

Canned beans are quick and easy, and safer

Open the can, drain the salty liquid, rinse, heat for 30 to 60 minutes, and canned beans are ready to eat. They are also safer. I'll discuss this below.

Once upon a time I felt it was a philosophical requirement for me to cook only dried beans. I now prefer canned.

Dried beans are cheaper and some folks like the taste better, but they take a lot of time, and there is a minor health risk

Dried beans take a lot more time and a bit more effort than canned. You can find dried beans in any grocery, and a large selection in Mexican groceries. You can find hierloom and unusual varieties online. Try those grown by Steve Santo of Rancho Gordo.

Raw or dried beans, especially red kidney beans, must be handled properly. They might have a naturally toxic protein called Phytohaemagglutin (a.k.a. kidney bean lectin). It is present in many plants and animals in small quantities, but kidney beans and a few others might have a lot of this compound. Proper cooking denatures the protein and destroys the toxins. Research suggests the best method below is the safest. It is infinitely preferable to vomiting, diarrhea, and severe abdominal pain for 3 to 4 hours, all of which can be triggered by as few as 4 to 5 beans that have not been prepped properly.

To do this right, you should start the soaking process at least 24 hours before serving time.

1) Dump dried beans on the counter and make sure there are no pebbles or other foreign matter mixed in.

2) Give them a quick rinse in cold water.

3) Measure the volume of beans. Calculate three times the volume of the beans and add that much water to a bowl or pot. Add 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water. Older books say not to salt the beans, but modern cooks have busted that myth. Add the beans and soak at least five hours. You can soak them up to 12 hours if you wish, and you should. It takes a loooonnnnnggg time for them to absorb liquid. The longer that dried beans soak, the less time they need to cook.

4) Drain the beans and discard the soaking liquid. I know a lot of beanbrains say to save the liquid, but it can be laden with lectin. Play it safe and throw out the soaking liquid. Cover them again with at least 1" more water than the level of the beans and bring to a boil for 30 minutes. Use a deep pot because once they start to boil they make a lot of foam. Stir occasionally to make sure they don't stick to the bottom. After 30 minutes, discard the water. The beans can then be added to a recipe and cooked in the recipe. But they will not cook as quickly as canned beans.

5) After the beans have been added to the recipe let them simmer until they get soft enough to pierce easily with a fork. At first they will rattle around like marbles and when you get experienced you can gtell a lot just by stirring them. Try chewing some as a test. They may need up to 12 hours of simmering. Exact cooking time will vary depending on the type of bean, their size, their freshness, how long they soaked, and how long they boiled. Cooking time will also depend on the cooking method. Beans cook faster in a pot on the stovetop than in a pot in the oven, and longer still on a smoker underneath the meat at 225°F.

If you live at altitude, bean cookery can be consterning. Water boils at a lower temp at altitude because the column of air pressing down on the water surface is shorter and that lowers the air pressure, so vapor escapes the water at a lower temp. As a result it takes longer to cook beans at altitude. A rule of thumb is add 10% for each 1,000 feet above sea level.

The bottom line for dried beans is this: If you prefer to use them, then be patient. Give them plenty of soaking time. Buy the same type and brand of beans several times, and make note of the optimum soak and cook times for you. Once you get the hang of things, they're easy, and safe.

Pressure cooking option. Dried beans cook much faster in a pressure cooker. Rinse, soak, boil, and cook 20 minutes in the pressure cooker. Then open the lid and cook another 20 minutes or more until they bean soup is the right consistency.

Click here for Meathead's classic beans recipes.

This page was revised 11/30/2012

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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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