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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.

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GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

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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.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

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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.

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 $289 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.

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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.


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carrover cooking

Carryover Cooking: A Problem Or Much Ado About Nothing?

"Plan ahead. Like saving your brakes by taking your foot off the gas when nearing a red light, you can coast dinner to a perfect state of doneness if you remove from the heat early enough. There is no substitute for experience with your own cookers and own recipes." Dr. Greg Blonder

By Meathead Goldwyn

Just because you have taken food off the heat, doesn't necessarily mean you are done cooking. Cooking can continue for 20 minutes or more, even at room temp, and take a perfect medium rare steak and ruin it by raising its temp to medium well. This phenomenon is called carryover cooking. Here's how it works: Hot air cooks the outside of the food. The outside of the food cooks the inside of the food by conduction. When we remove the meat from the heat, it continues to cook because the heat built up in the outer layers of the meat continues to be passed towards the center. A beef roast, for example, is about 75% water and perhaps 15% fat. Both are good insulators. As a result, meat collects heat slowly, and it transfers it slowly.

1) In the oven. In the left image we see a cross section of a piece of a hypothetical beef roast while it is being cooked, absorbing heat from hot air on all sides. The hot air warms the surface of the meat, and the molecules start vibrating rapidly. These throbbing molecules get their neighbors pumped up, they pass along the vibe, and the party continues slowly and gradually towards the center by conduction, like a wave at a football game, until all the molecules are doing an end zone dance.

When it hits 130°F in the center, medium rare, we remove it from the heat. The exterior has a nice dark brown crust beneath which is a band of brown meat, then tan, then pink, and finally a cylinder of beautiful rosy medium rare. The exterior cannot rise more than a few degrees beyond 212°F even when it dries and forms a crust or bark.

2) 10 minute rest. In the center image the meat has been removed from the oven or grill or smoker. Yet heat continues to be passed towards the center, slowly cooking it even though it is sitting at room temp. But because the surrounding air is now cooler than the meat, some of the heat escapes into the room and the outside cools as energy moves away in two directions. The exterior remains dark brown and crusty on most sides, but gets soft on the bottom. The cylinder of medium rare has moved into the medium range.

3) 20 minute rest. On the right, the meat has come close to an even temp throughout and now more heat is escaping than moving inside. The crust has cooled while the center has warmed and the two are pretty much the same temperature, medium well. Meanwhile moisture from the inner layers has moved into the drier outer layers, softening the crust. The roast has approached equilibrium, and is approaching the point at which you have to start apologizing.

Factors impacting carryover

Cooking temperature. The hotter we cook, the more energy we are packing into the outer layers, so the carryover will be greater than if we cook at a lower temp. At lower temps cooking takes longer and more heat migrates to the center. If we are cooking a roast at high temps, say 400°F, carryover can be up to 20°F. If we are cooking at low temps, say 225°F, carryover might only be 5°F. Carry over is one reason why you should start roasts at a much lower temps than most cookbooks say, why you should not put roasts in roasting pans but hover them above the pan, and why you should not rest meat after cooking, but carryover is one of several reason.

Thickness of the meat. Really thin cuts like skirt steak for fajitas don't have time to build a large heat reservoir unless they are cooked scorching hot, so there is little carryover. But the carryover on a 1 1/2" steak with a good dark allover sear can be significant because the center is closer to two heat reservoirs. If we cook a steak to 130°F, medium rare, and then let it sit on a plate for 10 minutes, especially if we tent it with foil as some recipes tell us to, the center of the meat can easily work its way up to 145°F, and the crust will get soft. So get your steaks off at lower temps than you want to serve them at, and move them to table immediately and start carving roasts and poultry soon after you bring them in, the heat rapidly dissipates from the increased surface area and carryover comes to a screeching halt. Thick pieces of meat are like batteries, holding more energy than thin pieces of meat.

The AmazingRibs.com science advisor Dr. Greg Blonder has done some fascinating experiments with carryover. Click here to read about them and see his charts and graphs.

This page was revised 10/21/2013

 


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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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