Gift Guide: For the Pitmaster
The pitmaster requires his or her own special tools for manning a smoker cooking low and slow, getting those toughs cuts of meat to tender and delicious perfection. There's no limit to the gear designed for the pitmaster, but this list has some of the items that are truly useful and will set your little smoker's heat aflame.
Cooking meats to upwards of 200°F and beyond require proper handling protection. These insulated gloves are great for working with those pipping hot meats fresh off the smoker.
No matter how many ribs you cook, it never seems like enough. A simple rib rack doubles rib-cooking capacity, making sure there's always enough smoky, sweet, and spicy ribs for all—especially you *wink*.
A good barbecue rub goes a long way in making the tastiest smoked meats possible, and Magic Dust from 17th Street Barbecue is a barbecue rub by which to measure all other rubs. Salty, spicy, sweet, earthy...this classic, all-purpose barbecue spice mix delivers the layers of flavors that makes happy eaters.
Franklin Barbecue T-Shirt
Love or hate all the attention given to Franklin Barbecue in Austin, there's no denying Aaron Franklin makes some of the best smoked meats around. Turns out they're also pretty good at shirt design. I got my Franklin shirt with a side of brisket, ribs, pork, turkey, beans, and potato salad after waiting two hours in line, but they can easily be ordered online for the pitmaster who'd appreciate receiving one as a gift.
The seasoned pitmaster is well-acquainted with the overnight cook—how else are you going to have a 16-hour smoked pork butt ready for lunch the next day? There's nothing like a good, bright headlamp for working in the dark of night, and this model from Petzl stood by me for years.
Southside Market Sausages
Some pitmasters will tell you that brisket is the hardest meat to master, but I'd put my money on it actually being sausage. The day I make a sausage as good as Southside Market's is the day I can retire. Perfectly smoky, spicy, and beefy, these Elgin links are some of the best in their class and won't disappoint the pitmaster in your life.
Haven't made the jump from grill to smoker yet? The Smokenator bridges that gap by letting you convert your charcoal kettle grill into a smoker to get you cooking low and slow. Comes in sizes to fit 18.5", 22.5", and 26.75" kettles.
Monitoring pit and meat temperatures are important to pitmasters, and this two-channel Thermacouple, from the dependable Thermoworks, is a great tool to accomplish both at once. With two inputs and a variety of probe choices, you can keep track of two temperatures at the same time along with a few other handy features.
The pitmaster knows the importance of having the proper knife for each job that needs to be accomplished. To easily slice large cuts of meat, a great carving knife is a must. This 10-inch hollow edge carving knife from Wusthöf is a trusty companion for slicing briskets, ribs, and other smoked meats.
I never thought I needed an electronic temperature control for my smoker, but after struggling through a long night of rain and wind, causing erratic temperature fluctuations, and seeing my neighbors' pit run a steady 225°F using the BBQ Guru, I've had a change of heart. The BBQ Guru sells a set of electronic temperature and fan controls for a variety of popular smoker models that bring a set-it-and-forget-it ease to charcoal- and wood-fire cooking.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment every other Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every other Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.