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Digital Thermometers:
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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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Best. Tongs. Ever.

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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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Make Yer Own Signature American Chili Powder, Pahdna

pasila"You know how to make Mexican chili?" Stosh inquired. "Stick an ice cube up his keister." From the novel I sailed with Magellan by Stuart Dybek

By Meathead Goldwyn

ancho

American chili powder (with an "i") is to Southwestern American cuisine as curry powder is to Indian cuisine. Chili powder is an American spice blend made with ground chile peppers and other herbs and spices, and curry powder is also a blend of spices. Like curry powder, the actual blend can vary significantly from producer to producer. Both carry some heat, but there the resemblance ends. The flavors are very different.

The best American chili powders have multiple layers of heat and complexity that come from different kinds of chiles. It can be used in many recipes, from tacos to barbecue sauces, but it is the core of Chili Con Carne (chili with meat), the classic cowboy chuck wagon trail stew.

This is important, especially to readers in other countries: American chili powder is very differerent than chile powder (with an "e") in Mexico and most other countries.

In most other countries, chile powder is simply ground hot red chiles, usually just one cultivar, but occasionally more, and it is much hotter than American chili powder. In Mexico, if you mix chile powder with other herbs and spices it is called salsa en polvo.

chipotleHere's a simple recipe that beats the snot out of anything you can buy in a jar. It is a great opportunity for you to make your own signature spice blend. Want to add more garlic powder, I won't stop you. Dried chipotle? Scotch bonnets? Why not?

Salt is almost always a large component of commercial American chili powder, but I have left it out. This way you can use it on brined meats without oversalting it. Remember, you can always add salt, but you can't take it away. Click here to learn more about why you should not add salt to spice blends.

As background for this recipe, read my article, The Science of Chiles. Ancho is a dried poblano and is the backbone of most American chili powders because they are mild and have a unique raisiny/pruney/chocolatey flavor. Pasillas are dried chilaca and they area bit hotter that poblano, and chocolatey, but they are harder to find so if you can't locate any, just add more ancho. Sweet paprika is made from very mild red peppers, similar to the bell peppers we use in salads. Alas, most of the paprika in the grocery has little flavor. Look for a high quality fresh Hungarian or Spanish paprika. Feel free to swap out the other chiles for your favorites. Just be careful not to go too hot. If you want more heat, you can always add it by mixing in 1/2 a teaspoon of chipotle powder. Chipotle is a dried smoked jalapeno and it is hotter than pasilla. The secret to award winning Chili Con Carne is a American chili powder that is complex and balanced.

You can buy powdered chiles, but the results are better if you grind them fresh. The size and weight of the average pod can vary significantly from store to store and from season to season. To help you plan, here are some conversions that are sorta average.

  • 1 ancho weighs about 1/4 ounce before stemming and seeding, and makes about 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons
  • 1 pasilla weighs about 1/4 ounce before stemming and seeding, and makes about 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon
  • 1 guajillo weighs about 1/8 ounce before stemming and seeding, and makes about 2 teaspoons
  • 1 chipotle weighs about 1/8 ounce before stemming and seeding, and makes about 2 teaspoons

 

Signature American Chili Powder Recipe

Preparation time. 40 minutes
Makes. About 1/3 cup

Ingredients
2 1/2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon pasilla chile powder
1 teaspoon guajillo chile powder
1 teaspoon sweet American, Hungarian, or Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teapoon cumin powder

Method
1) Cut off the tops of the chiles with scissors and shake out the seeds. Poke around in the chile with a knife to get the rest. With the scissors cut the chilis lengthwise into two halves, and then into chunks about 1" square. Put them into a medium hot frying pan for about 2 minutes, then shake the pan to flip as many as possible and toast them for another 2 minutes. This brings out the flavorful oils, a process called blooming.

2) Grind the chunks in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, blender, or food processor. I usually use my coffee grinder, but if you do, remember to clean it thoroughly when you are done or you'll spend the night on the couch (don't ask me how I learned this). Let the cloud of dust settle in the grinder for several minutes before you remove the top or your cries of pain will be heard blocks away (don't ask me how I learned this).

3) Pour all the powdered ingredients in a bowl or jar and stir them all together. The blend will still be useable for about a year, but the freshness and potency slowly declines.

This page was revised 10/29/2014


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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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