For most people, coals are not what you want to find in your holiday stocking. Unless you belong to the grill-obsessed Barbecue! Bible community, and the coals in question are pieces of costly bincho-tan charcoal from Japan. Which brings us to gift shopping for that special barbecuer or griller in your circle. Don’t worry. We smoke and fire fanatics are an easy crowd to shop for, and we derive almost as much pleasure from giving as receiving. (Notice I said “almost”.)
Here to give you guidance is the Barbecue! Bible Dream Barbecue Holiday Gift Guide. We have 11 items listed in this newsletter and more in the 2013 Barbecuers’ Holiday Gift Guide on BarbecueBible.com. Use these lists to help you shop. Or print them out and leave them where friends or family members will find them before they go shopping for you. Call any one of these items the gift that keeps on giving, because once the recipient fires up the grill, you’ll benefit from your largesse. All of us at Barbecue! Bible wish all of you Happy Holidays and a healthy, smoke-scented New Year.
The Smoking Gun: Do not be deceived by appearances. This resembles a tricked-out blow dryer with a rubber hose attached—not normally a good look in barbecue circles. But The Smoking Gun is no toy: In 30 seconds, it will infuse meat, seafood, poultry, cheese, vegetables, and even cocktails (like a classic Manhattan) with fragrant wood smoke. It has a good pedigree, too. It’s the least expensive product of PolyScience, a U.S. company that builds industrial temperature control devices. Way too fun. $99.95.
Best of Barbecue Lumatong and Suede Grilling Gloves: The darkest days of the year fall in December, but that’s no excuse not to see what you’re doing on the grill. Let there be light in the form of the perennially popular Lumatong, a sturdy, multi-tasking set of locking tongs with a halogen-bulb flashlight mounted on one side. (Yes, the light detaches, making the tongs dishwasher safe.) An illuminating idea. $17.09. And for an even more generous gift, pair it with our Best of Barbecue Suede Grilling Gloves—ranked by Cook’s Illustrated magazine as the top protection for handling hot chimney starters and grills. $18.99.
Primal Grill DVD: Seasons 1 – 3: Want more of Primal Grill even when your local PBS station is airing its winter programming, not grilling shows? Check out our Primal Grill greatest hits DVD, featuring 16 hours of some of the best grilling from Steven’s popular PBS show. Three seasons, 150-plus recipes, and countless tips and techniques for grillers and barbecuers of all skill levels. And for amusement, some caught-’em-on-camera bloopers. Every episode educates and inspires. $69.99.
Charcoal Companion Nonstick Herb Grilling Grid: Sandwich fresh herbs, whole spices, or wood chips in this ingenious hinged grilling grid prior to placing it and the food on the grill. Imagine salmon fillets perfumed with fresh dill or fennel fronds, for example, or turkey breast blasted with flame-seared sage, rosemary, and marjoram. $12.99.
Smokenator 1000: Turn your Weber kettle grill into a water smoker, thanks to the simple but ingenious Smokenator 1000. Invented by the late barbecue enthusiast Don Thompson, the Smokenator 1000 consists of an 18-gauge stainless steel baffle that fits securely into one side of a kettle grill. It corrals approximately 60 charcoal briquettes (enough for six hours of low and slow cooking) and accommodates a water pan (included) to keep the kettle environment and the food moist. The Smokenator is accompanied by thorough instructions for maintaining temperatures between 180 and 240 degrees. $59.95.
Barbecue University: The ultimate gift for anyone who loves to cook barbecue, eat barbecue, or wants to take his/her grilling and smoking skills to the next level. This intense hands-on 3-day class, taught by yours truly and hosted by the luxurious Forbes 5-Star Broadmoor resort in Colorado, attracts people from all over the world—fitting, as this year’s theme is “Adventures on Planet Barbecue”. A global menu will be prepared daily on BBQ U’s stunning collection of grills representing the world’s most passionate grilling cultures. Food, fun, and fire make for an unforgettable experience. (I was going to say “once-in-a-lifetime” but remembered how many students return year after year.) But hurry. Spaces sell out fast. Packages start at $2100.
The BBQ All-Stars CD: Forget about “Jingle Bells”. I want to hear “My Baby Loves Barbecue” or “High on the Hog.” Last spring I introduced you to Chris Cassone, a musician, composer, and recording engineer with a serious barbecue obsession. Chris assembled a band with formidable credentials—Ace Frehley (KISS), John Regan (the Stones, Frampton), Rob Sabino (Jagger, Madonna), Clifford Carter (James Taylor), and John Platania (Van Morrison)—and recorded a CD dedicated to all things barbecue. From the studio sessions came the above songs as well as “Never Too Hot” and “A Chicken Ain’t Nothin’ But a Bird”. Download all 10 tracks on iTunes or BandCamp … or for a very special gift, hire Chris and his band for a barbecue in your giftee’s honor. $9.90 on iTunes.
White Bincho-tan Charcoal: This super-premium oak charcoal from Japan’s Miyazaki prefecture is simply the world’s most prestigious (and expensive) cooking fuel. So when I tell you that we found a 20-pound bag for only $149.90, first recover from sticker shock—then thank me. Bincho-tan burns exceedingly slowly (one batch can last for 4 to 5 hours) and extremely hot (in excess of 900 degrees). It’s also chemical-free, and nearly smoke-free, which is why it’s so highly prized by Japanese yakitori masters. Your hibachi will thank you and so will your guests.
Rib rack: Full racks of baby backs or spare ribs can take up a lot of real estate on your grill grate. Enter the Best of Barbecue Rib Rack—think of it as a condo for ribs. Barbecue up to four racks at a time in the same space it normally takes for one or two. Other benefits? When roasted vertically, the ribs are self-basting, making them tender and succulent. Plus, you melt out excess fat. $18.99
Zingerman’s Camp Bacon Gift Box: Zingerman’s, named one of 25 of the world’s best food markets by Food and Wine, is known to foodies all over Planet Barbecue. Which is why “Camp Bacon,” the festival this Ann Arbor institution started hosting five years ago, was an immediate hit. Delight the bacon-lover on your list with Zingerman’s drool-worthy, bacon-centric gift box. It contains applewood-smoked bacon from Nueske’s (one of my favorite smokehouses), peppered bacon from an Arkansas smokehouse, and Broadbent’s hickory-smoked bacon from Kentucky. Rounding out the package is an apple and bacon coffeecake, a bacon and chocolate pig from haute chocolatier Vosge, and a porcine-themed (what else?) magnet. If you’re feeling generous, add tickets to the next “Camp Bacon”, happening May 29 to June 1, 2014. $125 (not including tickets).
Do you still need more great gift ideas? Find them in the Barbecue Bible store. You’ll find:
Win some of the items on this list by entering our Barbecue! Bible Best BBQ Photo Contest. Like our page on Facebook and post your best barbecue photo on our timeline through Dec. 10th. In the post, make sure to tell us what the photo depicts. And if the picture is of a Steven Raichlen recipe or technique, mention it. The grand prize winner will get a Planet Barbecue gift set with five spice rubs, three spice pastes, Lumatongs, Ultimate Suede Grilling Gloves, and of course, a copy of Planet Barbecue!.
Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen's official newsletter, Up in Smoke, is available exclusively on barbecuebible.com. Culled from experiences on the barbecue trail and beyond, Steven brings you reviews you can use, recipes, answers to your questions, special BBQ store discounts, and more. The newsletter is FREE and comes out every month. It is available first only to subscribers to the newsletter and then posted a month later in the newsletter archives. Sign up today!