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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 is 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. 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 $269 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.

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.

charoses

Charoses: Delicious Jewish Applesauce is Even Great with Pork!

By Meathead

Charoses (a.k.a. charoset, haroset, haroseth) is a traditional Jewish dish served during the spring feast of Passover. It is one of the world's great applesauces, a fine accompaniment to the traditional Passover lamb or brisket, and, Heaven forgive me, it's a great accompaniment to pork chops. By the way, has anybody else noticed how many great barbecue chefs are Jews?

The original recipe for Charoses was created thousands of years ago as an integral part, I think the best part, of the Passover Seder. The Seder is a ritual evening meal Jews eat in large family groups to celebrate the Old Testament story of Exodus, the liberation of their ancestors from the Egyptians by Moses, the 40 years of wandering in the dessert, and presentation of the 10 Commandments. The meal contains several required dishes meant to symbolize the events in the biblical story:

Charoses, the applesauce, represents the mortar and bricks the slaves used to build Egyptian homes and monuments. It comes from the Hebrew word cheres, which means clay.

Matzo, a cracker that is similar to the unleavened bread Jews ate as they ran from Egypt in the dessert.

Karpas, a green vegetable such as parsley, symbolic of spring, that is dipped in salt water representing tears.

Z'roa, a bone, usually a lamb shank, to remind them of the lamb that was sacrificed and its blood swabbed on the doorways of Jews so the angel of death would pass over (hence, Passover).

Maror, horseradish to remind them of the bitterness of slavery.

Beitzah, a roasted egg which symbolizes, depending on the rabbi you ask, either mourning, or the rebirth of the Jewish people, or the loss of the Temple of Jerusalem, which is a lot of responsibility for one egg.

Kiddush, four glasses of wine are blessed as symbols of blood.

There are numerous recipes for charoses depending on which part of the diaspora your bubbe's (grandmother's) family came from, and not surprisingly, learned rabbis argue about every detail: What must be in it, what must not be in it, how to make it, and how it is to be served. I fully expect complaints that, in my charoses recipe, I have not chopped the apples fine enough to make it look like mortar. Oy!

The main course of the dinner is often brisket, a cheap, tough cut of beef that some peasants could afford for holidays. Most Jews braise it in liquid, but in the Texas, smoke-roasted barbecue beef brisket is the choice of goys (non-Jews) year round. No reason it can't be used for Passover now that barbecue season has begun. Another common Seder dish is potato pancakes, called latkes, and they also go great with barbecue.

Charoses tastes just fine as soon as you make it, but it improves with a day or two of age as the apples and raisins absorb the wine and spice flavors. It is traditionally served on matzo (I'm partial to Streit's Lightly Salted Matzo). If you're not Jewish and you can't find matzo, Carr's Table Water Crackers are very similar and widely available.

Here's my version, inspired by a recipe from my friend Sharon Eisenberg's friend's grandmother-in-law. Really.

Charoses Recipe

Serves. 8
Preparation time. 20 minutes

Ingredients
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped into pieces smaller than a pea
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup red wine
1 pinch of salt
3 large apples

About the apples. Go for crisp, tart, crunchy apples like Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, or Sweet Delicious.

About the wine. In the US it is traditional to use sweet Concord wine. I prefer Manischewitz to Mogen David. If you can't bring yourself to buy sweet Concord wine, I recommend a ruby port or a young grapey Beaujolais with another tablespoon of honey. If you wish, you can even substititute non-alcoholic grape juice. Interestingly, if you tell American Jews that the Concord is native to North American and it is never used in Israel or Europe, they are shocked and will usually not believe you.

Optional mix-ins. There are slight differences in the charoses around the world where the locals take advantage of local ingredients. Some recipes use chopped pitted dates, chopped dried apricots, chopped almonds, pine nuts, orange zest, hazel nuts, and lemon juice.

Method
1) Put the raisins, walnuts, ginger, cin, honey, salt, and wine in a mixing bowl and mix.

2) Peel the apple. Cut it in quarters and remove the core and stems. Chop into bits about the size of a pea and mix them in. To make it more of a paste, you can chop the apples in a food processor or mash them in the bowl, just be careful not to turn them into mush. Add salt to suit your taste. If possible, age for a few hours or overnight. Serve on matzoh or as a side dish.

This page was revised 3/29/2010

 


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