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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


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 imprimatur. Click for more info.

wet curing hamWet Curing A Ham

"The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep." W. C. Fields

By Meathead Goldwyn

If you cure and smoke a ham and serve it fresh it will taste better than the best commercial ham you've ever tasted.

There are two methods of curing, dry or wet. To dry cure, you mix up your salt and spice mix and coat the meat and hang it in a temperature and humidity controlled space. If you don't do everything right, the meat will spoil. Wet curing is more even, thorough, reliable, and easy.

Before you get started, I recommend you read my article on the Zen of hams, my article on cooking ham on the grill, and my article on the Zen of salt for background.

You will need a five gallon food grade bucket. It must be food grade if it is plastic, and if it is metal in cannot be aluminum. If it is not food grade, you can use five gallon food grade bucket liners if your bucket is not food grade. A very clean beer cooler will also work.

Makes. 1 whole ham
Takes. 10 to 14 days to cure

Required ingredients
1 whole fresh ham, 15 to 20 pounds with skin and most of the fat cap removed
3 gallons cold clean water
20 ounces by weight of salt
3 tablespoons pink curing salt #1

Optional ingredients
4 large onions, skinned, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, cleaned and coarsely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
6 tablespoons pickling spices

Optional add-ins. Three or four stalks of lemongrass is nice. So is dill.

About the pink curing salt #1. Do not skip the pink curing salt, do not make substitutions, do not increase or decrease the quantity. It adds vital protection against pathogenic microbes and without it you risk death. No kidding.

About the other salt. When curing meats, you cannot trust volumetric measurements of salt. You must weigh the salt. Click this link to read more about salts and why weight is the only way to go when it comes to curing meats.

1) If your ham had skin, remove it and the fat cap. You can use the skin to make cracklins. Skin and fat just impede the flow of salt into the meat.

2) Put 1 gallon of the water in a pot and add all the ingredients except the ham. You can skip the optional ingredients if you wish. Their impact on flavor is small, especially if you use a sweet glaze. Boil for 2 minutes or until the salts and sugar dissolve. This also pasteurizes the ingredients. Chill.

3) Get your 5 gallon bucket and add the remaining 2 gallons of cold clean water and the brine you boiled. Stir.

4) When the brine is chilled, inject the meat in multiple locations with the liquid part of the brine and put it back in the bucket and submerge it. Click here for more on injecting and injectors. If necessary, weight the meat down under a tupperware container filled with water. Put the bucket in the refrigerator and let the meat cure for 10 to 14 days. It must remain cold. It may get a little cloudy as the salt pulls protein liquids from the meat. But it should not smell funny or drevelop a scum.

5) If you don't plan to use it immediately, smoke it at 325°F until it is 165°F in the deepest part. You can glaze it in the last hour if you wish, but I wait until I am ready to cook and serve it to glaze it. My favorite glazes are Chris Lilly's Spicy Apricot Glaze or Danny Gaulden's Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze. Make sure it doesn't burn. You can refrigerate it for up to two weeks. If you vacuum seal it it will keep longer. Cooking will take 6 hours or more depending on how thick the meat is. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so, or frozen. You can cut slices and grill ham steaks, or just warm it in the oven. The reason we cook at 325°F is to prevent the stall which will happen at lower temperatures.

If you want to serve it immediately, smoke the ham at 325°F until it is 145°F in the deepest part of the center. This will take up to 5 hours depending on the meat's thickness. During the last hour, paint it with a glaze. Make sure it doesn't burn.

This page was revised 4/12/2014

Please read this before posting a comment or question

Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help. Then please post your question on the appropriate page. Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F! If you are not using a good digital thermometer we can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers, then buy a good digital, and then, if the problem persists, hit us with your questions.

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About this website. 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, rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, and accessories, edited by Meathead.

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