The Meat Lover

Delicious cuts and the tools you need to cook them right.

The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when you're roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or carrying out any other task where precise temperature control is needed. It's got a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds—you won't find a better, easier-to-use thermometer out there.

Winter is all about slow-cooked braised dishes, and Molly Stevens's text is the bible on the subject. Stevens first devotes dozens of pages to discussing the equipment and technique behind braising in incredible detail. Then she provides unfussy but impressive-sounding recipes to make the most of your newfound braising skills. A little hint: The vegetable recipes are some of the best.

This Serious Eats-curated gift bag features a one-stop shop for your (or your giftee's) next holiday party. The theme here is just hot enough to handle—think a fresh and punchy aji pepper salsa, some crunchy white corn tortilla, and a dill and horseradish-packed Bloody Mary Mix. Plus, of course, some vodka to top it off, along with a package of sweet, crunchy toffee to cut the heat. Bonus: your giftee will also get a handy tote bag from our friends at Mouth to commemorate their feast.

In this book, Meathead Goldwyn, the founder of AmazingRibs.com, distills decades of research on the art and science of barbecue and grilling into a single volume that shows not just the best ways to take food to live fire, but why the techniques work. Far more than a recipe book alone (though there are tons of bulletproof recipes), this text will teach your favorite barbecue lover the hard-tested fundamentals of outdoor cooking, giving them the confidence to cook anything, even without a recipe. The myth-busting and equipment tips alone were enough to get me hooked.

Brisket is Texas's best-known contribution to barbecue culture, and, though you can now get slow-smoked brisket in just about every major American city, you still need to go to the source to get brisket so good it will make you cry. But if you can't make it to Texas, ordering Louie Mueller's brisket is the next best thing. The Muellers have been smoking brisket since 1949. The key here? They ship the whole brisket, which means you get plenty of the critically important fatty half. Why is it critically important? Because we all know that fat is flavor. Phone orders only: 512-352-6206.

A good steak knife should cut steak well, and it should look good while doing it. French-made Laguiole knives are the gold standard in performance, with extra-sharp edges for easy cutting, a long life, and gorgeous handles with distinctive bee-shaped bolsters. (Beware inexpensive knockoffs!)

Ruhlman and Polcyn do a great job of demystifying one of the more abstruse cooking arts, and, while charcuterie may seem daunting, it can be gratifyingly easy. Start simple, with the pancetta, confit, rillettes, and duck prosciutto, and you'll find yourself with a mold-inoculated curing chamber in no time.

In the inexpensive-thermometer department, the ThermoPop comes in an impressive package. An easy-to-read display rotates at the touch of a button, so you don't have to twist your head to read it. It takes a few seconds longer to read temperatures than its big brother, the Thermapen, but it's every bit as accurate.

Native to Cincinnati, Ohio, goetta (pronounced "get-a") is a sublime beef and pork sausage made with steel-cut oats (as opposed to the cornmeal used in its close cousin, scrapple). Glier's is one of the biggest and best producers of the German-style pork product. Just slice it, fry it, and serve it with eggs and toast.

Race relations, religion, the New South versus the Old: These are just a smattering of the heavy issues Rien Fertel writes about through the lens of—well—smoked meat, in this new book. And, while you might be thinking, "Oh, man, another book about barbecue?", this one stands out from the crowd thanks to Fertel's superb writing and storytelling skills. In a book that's part culinary history, part personal narrative, and part tale of an American road trip, Fertel travels throughout the South, documenting the men who have long stood behind the fires practicing the time-consuming pursuit of whole hog barbecue—the ones who have been keeping alive the embers of what once seemed like a dying art, and the ones who are inspiring a new generation of pitmasters today.

Old cast iron has a perfectly smooth nonstick surface that's surprisingly easy to maintain. You can sear, bake, roast, braise, stew, and deep-fry in it, and there's nothing more thoughtful than a gift that you have to expend a bit of effort to find (check out eBay, yard sales, and flea markets). Of course, these modern Lodge pans will do in a pinch if vintage isn't in the cards.

Sous vide cooking—cooking foods in vacuum-sealed pouches in precisely controlled water baths—is no longer the exclusive preserve of fancy restaurant kitchens. The Anova Precision Cooker is the best home water bath controller on the market, with an easy-to-use interface, Bluetooth support, rock-solid construction, a sleek look, and an affordable price tag to boot.

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