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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.

Pimento Cheese: Carolina Caviar

pimento cheese spreadWhen asked what his death row last meal be, Bon Appétit magazine's restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton replied "I'm from the South, so to me it would be pimento cheese."

You can buy it in plastic tubs at the grocery, but get a look at all the stuff in there besides pimento, cheese, and mayo? So learn how to make it yourself. Nothing could be easier.

Pimento Cheese has many nicknames: PC, Carolina Caviar, Atlanta Paté, and Menta Cheese. In the South, particularly the Carolinas and Georgia, you cannot have a church social, family picnic, card game, wedding, or any social gathering without Pimento Cheese sandwiches. Kids ask for it with the same frequency as they ask for peanut butter up north. Traditionally it is spread on white bread and that's all. At the country club events the crusts are removed, it is cut into four triangles, and served on silver platters. At the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, GA, they serve PC sandwiches wrapped in green wax paper (hold your pinkies out, please). Even in such classy settings, they spell it pimento, not pimiento, the technically correct spelling.

When I was at the University of Florida in the 1960s, our favorite late nite stoner munchie was Ritz Crackers with PC. On road trips to away games and New Orleans we'd pack a loaf of Wonder Bread and a tub of storebought PC. Any trip through Atlanta would take us to The Varsity where, when we approached the counter they'd shout "What'll ya have!" and we'd joyfully shout back "Pimento Cheeseburger!" Occasionally we'd go wild and order their chili cheesedog with pimento cheese, or their decadent grilled cheese sandwich with pimento cheese.

commercial pimento chees spreadPC's also really good on rye or whole wheat. Serve it on toast points, sliced French bread, and even garlic bread. Make grilled cheese sammies with it all by itself or add lettuce, tomato, and/or fresh basil. Don't forget the bacon. Use it to stuff cherry tomatoes as a snack, or a whole tomato as an appetizer. Can you see it melting into a baked potato? Stuff celery with it. Dip carrots into it. Add it to grits, chili, omelets, or scrambled eggs. Slather it on top of chili dogs or on burgers instead of sliced cheese as they do in many restaurants in the South (oh my!). How about a schmear on toasted bagels? I've even seen it on pulled pork in a joint in Mississippi, but I'm not ready for that myself.

Whadaya waitin' for? The game's about to start.


pimento cheese crackerClassic Carolina Caviar

The traditional recipe is simple: Sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, salt and pepper. You can adjust the ingredients up and down as you wish. In the dorms they use Velveeta, but that stuff is one electron from being plastic, so I recommend real cheese. You can buy pimento in jars or you can make your own simply by roasting your own sweet bell peppers. It is cheaper to make your own, and you can amp it up a notch by grilling or smoking the peppers. Click here to learn how to make your own pimento. The classic PC is chunky. But you can make is easier to spread and stuff into tomatoes or deviled eggs by whupping it in the food processor. You have a bit more cleanup, but it's worth it.

Makes. 8 sandwiches
Production time. 15 minutes

Ingredients
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) bottle pimentos, drained and chopped into 1/4" bits
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 pinches table black pepper
1 pinch table salt

Mix-ins. Many cooks have found ways to personalize their recipe. Common additives are chunks of roasted pecans, grated onions or chopped scallions, Worcestershire, hot sauce or powder, and black pepper. I like to add jalapeños or other hot chiles.

Aging PC. Although PC is quick and easy to throw together, it needs a few hours, overnight is best, for the pimento flavor to migrate into the cheese and mayo so every bite has optimal flavor. But don't let it sit around for days. It tends to get watery.

Method
1) Grate the cheese on the big holes of a box grater into a bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors marry.

Optional. Throw the whole thang into the food processor and whup it up until it is fairly smooth as shown in the stuffed tomato above. There will be some fine granular texture. That's OK.

2) Before serving, let it sit at room temp for about 15 minutes so it is easier to work with.


Fancified Smoked Pimiento Cheese

pimento cheese sandwichThis recipe is Meathead gone Mad. Back home my neighbors would say I was puttin' on airs by fancifying the recipe. It's a bit more work, but I think it's worth it. But don't think this is heresy. Many Southerners "doctor" the original recipe to show their creativity and one up their neighbors. Nothing is more coveted than hearing someone across the room ask "Who made the PC?"

Makes. 10 sandwiches
Production time. 25 minutes

Ingredients
4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces smoked roasted red bell pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

About the red peppers. Pimentos are simply roasted red peppers. I think they taste best when roasted on the grill. But if you want a thrill, smoke the peppers first. You can use pimentos from a jar if you wish. Use about 8 ounces and drain the jar.

About the cheddar. You can substitute Mild Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Colby for up to half the cheese if you wish.

About the cream cheese. You can use cream cheese in the brick form, or better still, use the spreadable version in a tub. It's easier to blend.

Optional mix-ins. Add a few tablespoons minced fresh onion, a chopped green jalapeño, a scoop of sweet pickle relish or minced dill peppers, finely chopped olives, chopped toasted pecans, herbs, curry powder, or celery seed. I like to add 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar reduced by half that I keep in a bottle for drizzling.

Method
1) Mix the mayo and cream cheese together in a bowl with a fork until thoroughly blended.

2) Grate the cheddar with the large holes of a box grater or put it into a food processor or blender and whack them into pea size bits. Add to the bowl and mix in.

3) Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Taste and adjust as you see fit. Chill for a few hours to let the flavors marry. Set out about 15 minutes before serving so it will soften a bit.


Yankee Pimento Cheese Spread

Mix up a batch of my Louisiana Bayou Bite Sauce and keep it on hand. Lotsa stuff you can do with it. This one's quick and dirty and delicious.

Makes. 8 ounces
Production time. 2 minutes

Ingredients
1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese
4 tablespoons Louisiana Bayou Bite Sauce

Method
Mix the two ingredients in a bowl with a fork. You can leave it lumpy, or blend it smooth. Your choice. I like it lumpy. Serve on crusty bread or crackers.

This page was revised 11/15/2010


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

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