All posts by davidkessler

Things for your BBQ - 01

Things for your BBQ That You Didn’t Even Know You Needed

Best BBQ Gadgets and Accessories of 2017

Some of the products reviewed here are country specific and may not be available in the Amazon US store

Okay, so we all know about grills and tools and gas tanks or charcoal. But there are all sorts of extras and accessories for your barbecue that you probably haven’t even thought about.

This could be anything from something simple like a meat thermometer to a fan for blowing air around your charcoal to speed up the lead time before you can start cooking. Or anything from a meat injector, for putting a sauce or marinade into the meat, to a robot to clean your grill afterwards

Yes, you read that right: a robotic grill cleaner!

We have decided to review some of the best BBQ gadgets and accessories of 2017.

AGPtek Ultra Bright Barbecue Grill Light

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AGPtek Ultra Bright

Grilling Fully Adjustable - Never Burn & Undercook Any Meat Again - Easy to Install - Touch Sensitive Switch - Battery Operated - No Tools Required

If you barbecue in the evening, then you know all about the problem of not being able to see what you are cooking and the fear that you might either undercook it or overcook it. Even if you have lighting in your garden, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have enough light where you need it: i.e. over the barbecue grill.

That’s where this device comes in. It’s a double LED light (two sets of five) that can be clamped on to the bar on the lid of your barbecue, aiming its light at the grill. Running off three AA batteries, this heat-resistant device has a 180-degree swivel head that can be adjusted to suit your grill arrangement. Made of weather-resistant, heat resistant ABS plastic, it is safe to use and convenient.

Simple it may be, but it is a very effective way to ensure that you have enough light to do an evening barbecue. It also adds to the ambience of the occasion.

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AGPtek Ultra Bright

Amir Food Thermometer

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Amir Food Thermometer

Foldable, Fast & Auto On/ Off, Battery Not Included [Energy Class A++]

You can never really tell if food is cooked through just by looking at the outside. This is probably even more true with a barbecue or outdoor grill than when cooking indoors. The reason for this is that with a gas or charcoal grill, food tends to char on the outside. That can give you the false impression that it is done on the inside.

The usual, low-tech way to check if the food is done, is to find the thickest piece and cut open. You can then look at the insides of the meat and see if the juices run clear. But this doesn’t always help. Firstly, what if the thickest piece was also the first one on the grill? Even if it is done through that doesn’t mean that all the other pieces that were added later are done too!

Other than cutting every piece open, the best solution to this problem is a meat thermometer. This one has a 4-7 second digital readout on an easy-to-read Liquid Crystal display. It has an on/off button, a hold button and a button to flip between readouts in Celsius or Fahrenheit. The thermometer has a range of -50ºC to 300ºC (-58ºF to 572ºF), but according to the makers, it is only accurate (to ±1ºF) between -4ºF to 392ºF.

It is made of stainless steel and is easy to use. Although the readout doesn’t tell you directly whether the meat is done, it has a printed guide for the different types of meat at the different degrees of “doneness” that go with the different internal temperatures.

The probe is hinged, a bit like a pocket knife, and when folded flat against the side of the readout section, it automatically switches the device off. The thermometer also switches itself off if it is left unused for ten minutes. It runs off a single AAA battery, which must be bought separately. It comes with a 60-day money back seller warranty, a 12-month replacement warranty, 24/7 online customer service and a lifetime support guarantee.

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Amir Food Thermometer

FiAir Blower for Wood and Charcoal Fires

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FiAir Blower

There are a number of air blowers for feeding wood and charcoal fires on the market. This was one of best - as well as one of the cheapest. It is an easy-to-use, hand-held device, based on the point and shoot principle.

But it has a few clever tweaks to show that a bit of thought went into designing it. For example, although it is round, it has a small but solid plastic “foot” to stop it rolling when it is put down. Also, it has a safety mechanism that shuts it off if it is dropped. And the fan blasts out the heat far enough to enable it to be used in stand-off mode, so the user doesn’t have to get too close to the heat when using it to stoke the coals.

The good thing about this device is that not only does it get the fire roaring like a lion when you first ignite it (you still need some kindling obviously) but it can also be used to breathe life into a dying fire, if the unconsumed fuel is still there. And that means also than you can add more charcoal to the remaining smoldering embers and spread the fire to it, giving you more cooking time.

It runs off three AAA batteries and the battery life is good. I haven’t used it long enough to say how good, but one user reported that it is still going strong after a year.

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FiAir Blower

ShineDesign 304 Stainless Steel Seasoning Meat Injector Kit

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ShineDesign 304

Professional Marinade Flavor Food Juices Minced Ingredients Infuse Syringe Kit

Okay we all know about sauces and dips, that you put on when the meat is cooked. We also know about the brush-ons and basting that you add while cooking. We even know about the marinades and rubs that you put on beforehand that permeate the outer layer of the meat. But what about adding some juices, etc. to the inside of large joints?

Marinades don’t work at that level. Of course, you can cook for hours in a South African Potjie Pot, or overnight in the oven. But that won’t give you the smoky flavor will it. So how do you combine the juiciness of a stew with the smokiness of a barbecue?

Well one answer is to inject the meat with the marinade either before cooking or while it is cooking. Indeed, it could be a combination of both before and during.

That’s what this meat injector is for. Made of 304 stainless steel, with a large 2 oz capacity and an easy grip handle, this injector has three needles (2mm, 3mm, 4mm). One small, one with a single large hole at the end for extra thick marinades or minced herbs or powdered seasoning and spices and one with 12 side holes to distribute a liquid marinade thoroughly.

All the needles are sharp enough to push through even the toughest of meat. And because the whole thing is made of stainless steel, it is also dishwasher safe. It is also easy to dismantle and can be washed in the sink. As an added plus, it comes with 4 spare O-rings. The good thing about this device is that unlike with a marinade bath which takes ages and barely permeates the surface, you can deliver the marinade to the inside of even the largest of joints in a couple of minutes!

Then you just bung it into the barbecue or smoker and let it cook. You can also baste from the outside and inject more every 20 minutes or half an hour. You’ll get some amazing results with this injector. But remember, using it is also a learning experience.

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ShineDesign 304

BBQ Grill Brush

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Grill Brush

Stainless Steel Brushing Cleaner with Power of Steam for Spotless Clean Grill and Healthier Tastier Barbeque

Okay, so we’ve made it very clear at that we’re not great fans of steel brushes for cleaning grills. (See TIPS AND TRICKS: How to clean your grill rack.) But this one combines the abrasiveness of steel with the power of steam.

We would still advise caution - as in: take the grates off and rinse them under powerful jets of running water after cleaning them with this device. (No that doesn’t defeat the purpose. The steam and brush do the heavy-duty cleaning. The running water is to remove the food and fat that the steel and steam have loosened, and also to ensure that there are no traces of steel fibers left on the food grate.

This is important because a lot of people forget that the steel brush doesn’t actually absorb much, if indeed anything. It might push off the solidified fat and stale food remnants from the grate into the brazier below, but it also might just loosen it, only for it to re-solidify. It’s a bit like running a washing machine through the wash cycle and then switching it off before the clothes have been rinsed.

It’s important to make clear, at this point, that this device does not actually produce steam in the way that an indoor steam cleaner does. Rather, it releases water, which turns into steam in the heat of the grill. This means that you do have to heat the grill up first, before you use this cleaning brush. And this in turn means that you might find it difficult to remove the grate and wash it. You would obviously have to wear heat protection gloves and be careful not to hold it close to your chest! Nevertheless, we recommend this extra measure after using the brush, for the reasons already stated - i.e. the danger of getting bits of wire lodged in your throat or stomach.

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Grill Brush

Bekith Silicone Basting Pastry and BBQ Brushes

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Bekith Silicone Basting Pastry and BBQ Brushes

Durable, Heat Resistant Kitchen Utensils - Dishwasher Safe- Soft and Flexible- Essential Cooking Gadget, Bakeware Tool and Culinary Equipment

This is a set of four silicone brushes, each of a different color, that can be used for BBQ basting or for other things like egg-glazing pastry, etc. They are flexible, non-stick, and dishwasher safe. The makers claim that they are also freezer safe, microwave safe and even oven safe However, we’re not sure why anyone would want to put these brushes in the freezer - let alone the oven or microwave!

At eight inches long, you may find the brushes a little short. That could leave your hand hovering a little too near the heat when basting food on the grill. The brushes themselves can take it, but you might like to wear some heat protection gloves - ideally of a type that protects your wrists and lower forearms too.

The silicone is food-grade (FDA-approved), flexible and can stand a temperature range from -40 to 446 Fahrenheit - far more than they would ever need in practice. The fact that there are four of them and that each will last a long time, means that they are excellent value for money. The brush heads are even detachable for easy cleaning.

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Bekith Silicone Basting Pastry and BBQ Brushes

And if you’re still worried, they also come with a hassle-free, money-back guarantee.

Heat Resistant Oven Gloves QGSTAR

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Heat Resistant Oven Gloves

Extreme Heat Resistant Kevlar & Silicone Insulated Protection Mitts For BBQ, Cooking, Grilling, Baking or Pot Holders 1 Pair

There are quite a few heat-resistant gloves on the market for barbecue and oven use, but make no mistake, these are the king of the range. Made of Kevlar and silicone (with a comfortable cotton lining) they are guaranteed to withstand temperatures of up to 500 Celsius (932 Fahrenheit).

But, more important than that, they are extra-long, with a 5-inch sleeve that protects the wrists and the lower forearm. Indeed, on an average sized person, it reaches halfway up the forearm. That means that if you have to reach across a grill - or into a barbecue, smoker or pizza oven - you will be protected by these gloves.

Unlike some heat protection gloves, these are extremely flexible, enabling you to handle barbecue tools while wearing them. Whether it’s picking up a hot dog with tongs, or carrying a plate of cooked food, fresh off the grill, you’ll be able to do it with these gloves on.

Size-wise, it’s one size fits most. Men and women can both wear these gloves with ease.

Even at the maximum temperature, the threshold time is 13 seconds. At 352 Celsius, this increases to 17. However, these gloves are permeable by fluids and offer no protection against steam or spillages of hot liquid.

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Heat Resistant Oven Gloves

Amir Digital Meat Thermometer

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Amir Digital Meat Thermometer

Instant Reading with Oven Probe Kitchen Cooking Thermometer, In-Oven Roasts and Meat Smoker, for Easter, for BBQ, Poultry, Grill, Battery Not Included

This meat thermometer is an interesting little device. Designed mainly with oven cooking in mind, it can also be used with an outdoor barbecue or grill.

It is designed in two parts. There is the probe which can be left inside the meat while it is being cooked and the box that contains the circuitry and display, which must be left outside and away from the heat. The probe is attached to a thin protected cable which can also go into the oven and be left there without preventing the door from closing. The probe can take temperatures up to 450 C (842 F), while the cord can take up to 250 C (482 F).

The way this cleverly designed device works is that you set it for what you are cooking and how well done you want it. When the food reaches the interior temperature that matches those settings, a loud, audible alarm sounds. It has nine pre-set cooking settings: beef, burger, chicken, fish, lamb, pork, turkey, veal and program. (Program lets you create your own customized settings.) In addition to this you can choose between rare, medium rare, medium well and well done). It also has a timer and a temperature display.

At under £10, this device is well worth having. You can use it in your kitchen as well as on a barbecue.

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Amir Digital Meat Thermometer

The Woody Paddle - New All Natural BBQ Grill Scraper

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Woody Paddle

You wouldn’t think - to look at this paddle - that it was really designed for cleaning a grill. But the amazing thing is not that it is designed for that purpose but that it actually works! Obviously your first thought is that because it is flat, it may scrape some of the caked-on food residue from the surface but it won’t do anything to dislodge the burnt-in bits of food and fat at the side of the slats of the grate.

But that is where the real genius of this invention comes in. Because the idea is that you heat up the grill and when it is hot you scrape away, thereby burning tracks of wood off the paddle! This creates grooves in the paddle that MATCH the spacing between the slats on your grill grate! And once you have created these grooves, you continue to line them up with the slats on the food grate as you move it along, cleaning the entire surface.

And that’s really all there is to it! There are many different grill grates and it would be logistically impossible for the manufacturers to create customized paddles for each of them. So instead, they have made this one-size-fits all paddle that customizes itself when used for the first time (provided it is used properly, that is).

The wood is coated with butcher block oil and is therefore completely safe. The best thing about this cleaning paddle is that it enables you to avoid that dreadful alternative of using a wire cleaning brush, which can leave behind bits of wire that then get into the food and into your throat or intestine - horrible!

The neck of the paddle is strong, so you can safely apply a good amount of pressure, not only to break it in on first usage, but also on cleaning the grill thereafter. Of course, you need to put a bit of strength into applying that pressure. This method of cleaning the grill is not an easy option. But then again, “singing” for one’s supper is hardly a new idea.

The only downside is the UK price! At £111.99 it won’t win any prizes in the Bargain of the Year sweepstakes - or maybe that should be... sweep steaks, LOL! In the US, it costs less than a quarter of this price. And a rip-off imitation (also in the US only), costs half the price of that. But here in the UK, there appears to be only one supplier and they have chosen to price it at over £100. Even allowing for VAT and shipping costs, this price hardly seems justified. It may be that they are going for margin over volume.

But who in their right mind would pay that much for what is essentially just a wooden paddle? Even allowing for the horror stories about steel wire cleaning brushes (which are better known in the USA than in the UK) it’s hard to see a British customer shelling out a tad under £112 for this piece of wood, however useful and well-made it may be.

Hopefully, the sellers will reconsider their pricing policy. Or maybe some other vendors will enter the market. In the meantime, it remains a useful novelty for those who have a lot of money and wish to indulge themselves.

Best Utensils Stainless Steel Turkey Baster

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Stainless Steel Turkey Baster

Commercial Grade Quality LFGB Silicone Bulb Including Marinade Injector Needle and Brush For Easy Clean Up

Unlike most cheap, plastic basters, this one doesn’t leak or drip. It even has an angled band on the bulb at the top, to stop it rolling, if you place it on a countertop. It also has a cleaning brush. And in addition to being durable and easy to clean, it can also take temperatures up to 230 C (450 F) without suffering any damage.

And of course, you’re not limited to a prepared marinade. If you are roasting or smoking a joint in a pan or tray, you can use the baster to collect the run-off juices and put them back onto the joint.

Although this stainless-steel baster includes an injector needle, you should think of it as complementing rather than competing with the meat injector reviewed above. Thus, if the Shine Design meat injector kit above is the perfect tool for putting marinade deep into the meat, this baster can do that too, but is also ideal for adding liquid and preventing the meat from drying out from the outside

There is of course some duplication and overlap between the Shine Design injector kit and this baster kit. For example, if you want to inject juices or marinade into the joint, you can do that with this device by using the injector needle attachment. But as an injector, this one is not as versatile as the Shine Design injector kit, which has several injector attachments. We would advise you to get both.

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Stainless Steel Turkey Baster

Looftlighter - Electric Barbeque & Stove Lighter

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Looftlighter Electric Barbeque & Stove Lighter

This device combines the initial lighting of the coals with feeding the fire until it catches. It works by blowing a small jet of extremely hot air towards the wood, charcoal or coal. You start by putting the end of the Looftlighter into contact with the fuel and hold it there (switched on) for 10 to 20 seconds. Then you pull back a few inches and hold it there, blowing hot at the fire for at least 60 seconds. (It could be twice that in some cases.)

And that’s really all there is to it. You don’t need firelighter liquid, solids, gel or even paper kindling. It comes with a 9-foot power cord and works with a UK power supply. There were some early problems with the UK power supply (a few years ago - reflected in some of the customer comments), but they have now been fixed.

The lighter has a stainless-steel inner, an aluminum cover and a stay-cool ABS handle. For some reason, the device also includes a free, built-in bottle opener. We’re not sure why. They probably figure that after such a hard time (NOT!) struggling to start the fire, you’ll want to cool off or chill out with an ice-cold beer. CLASSY TOUCH GUYS!

Grillbot Grill Cleaning Robot

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Grillbot Grill Cleaning Robot

Applies the annoying and time-consuming cleaning of the cooking grill for you | Removes even stubborn deposits and encrustations effortlessly | Begins a button automatically with the cleaning, simple one-button operation | Suitable for gas and charcoal grills | Battery powered

Okay you’ve bought the coals, lit the fire, struggled to get the fire going, stood over a grill full of hot coals doing the cooking for a dozen hungry people, watched everyone else stuff their faces while you were doing the cooking for them. You finally got to sit down and snatch a bite and a cold drink, but your clothes stink of smoke.

And now… NOW… there’s that infernal grill to clean. Of course, you could fall back on the old “I did the cooking so someone else should do the cleaning” routine. But everyone knows that cleaning is - dare I say it - man’s work. And you’re the man of the house. Right?

So when all the guests have gone and you just want to have a cold shower or flop down on a comfortable chair, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and clean that grill. Unless you want all that burnt food and grimy fat to get caked in and be even harder to clean off the next time around.

Well now there’s a solution. Let a machine do the work! Robots don’t yet have human rights. They’re non-unionized and they don’t need luxuries, clothes or even food. Just give ‘em a few watts of electricity they need to do the job, and they’ll be happy.

And they’re even specialized! This one exists to do one job and one job only - and that’s to clean your grill. Whether it’s a charcoal grill or a gas one, this robot is up for it. At the touch of a button, this battery-powered robot will thoroughly clean your grill with its three powerful rotating brushes. It just moves around until it has covered every inch

The one caveat is that it needs a barrier on the side to stop it falling off. If you have a closed grill, this is no problem. You just close it while the robot does its work. But if you have an open grill, it must be one with raised edges or it will fall off. If you can vary the height of the food grate, set it low. That might work.

The brushes themselves can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Replacement brushes are also available. There are in fact three types of brushes: stainless steel (which we don’t recommend for obvious reasons) brass and nylon. The nylon is the softest of the three and possibly the least effective. But it does last the longest.

The battery capacity is mAh Li-PO1400. This is less than half the energy storage of many mobile (cell) phones today. But it nevertheless is enough for 90 minutes of use. The Grillbot comes with some clever features such as a sensor and alarm that will warn you if you have placed it on a hot grill.

If you barbecue often and can afford this indulgence, we highly recommend it.

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Grillbot Grill Cleaning Robot

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9-TIPS AND TRICKS - Getting that smoky flavor_1

Getting That Smoky Flavor From A Gas Barbecue

Everyone knows the old cliché that you can’t get that authentic smoky flavor if you cook the food on a gas grill or barbecue. The makers of gas BBQs have been trying for ages to dispel that belief (or “myth” they would call it), but with only limited success.

The truth of the matter is that with flame tamers and lava rocks (see below) one can get some semblance of a smoky flavor. But even the makers of outdoor gas grills and barbecues don’t truly buy it. That’s why they try to square the circle, offering extras such as steel boxes in which one can place wood chips (reviewed in this site: Flavor from the Fire I - wood chips and wood chunks) that are supposed to heat up and create the smoke.

But there is an old Indian trick for infusing gas-grilled food with that smoky flavor. I say Indian, because I first learned it from an Indian I got talking to when we discovered that we had a common interest in barbecues. I subsequently did some internet research and found several variations of the same idea. And the one common theme was that they were all sites concerned with Indian cooking. So, the idea did indeed originate in Indian cuisine.

Now, let’s start with this method and then look at some of the others.

The Dhungar Method

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The Dhungar Method

For this method, you need the following “ingredients”:

● 1 onion

● 1 small piece (max 2 inches each dimension) of lump wood charcoal

● 1 teaspoon of butter, clarified butter or ghee

● Spices (optional)

Before starting, please note that the charcoal should be natural and not easy-lighting. The easy-lighting charcoals have chemicals on them and you do not want to infuse your food with chemicals - only smoke.

1. Light the barbecue and set the gas on maximum, ideally closing the lid to make it heat up more quickly.

2. Meanwhile, hollow out the onion, so that it forms a "cup" big enough to accommodate the charcoal.

3. When the barbecue is hot, place the piece of charcoal in the center of the food grate, directly over the flames, turning it around with tongs to make sure that all sides heat up.

4. When the charcoal is glowing hot, put the food onto the food grate.

5. Then place the hollowed-out onion on the food grate, next to the charcoal

6. Immediately, transfer the hot charcoal into the hollowed-out onion, using charcoal tongs or some other safe method that does not involve burning your hands.

7. Add a teaspoon full of butter, clarified butter or ghee (optionally mixed with spices) to the hot coal inside the hollowed-out onion.

8. The coal will start emitting a dense white smoke.

9. Close the lid.

10. At the same time as the gas is cooking the food, the trapped smoke from the vaporizing butter and charcoal will infuse the meat with that wonderful smoky flavor that they told you could only be obtained from a charcoal barbecue!

And that’s it. The longer you leave the food there, the smokier the flavor. So, if you like it smoky, it’s better to turn the gas down and let it cook for longer - but obviously it depends on what you’re cooking.

Don’t forget to remove the onion and coal when it cools down, after you finish cooking. And don’t be tempted to eat the onion. Like the onion you use to clean the food grate (see TIPS AND TRICKS: How to clean your food grate) throw it away when finished.

Try this method and let us know how it works out for you.

Flame Tamers and Lava Rocks


Flame Thrower

If your gas BBQ has a flame tamer, the juices from the food ooze out in the heat and fall onto the flame tamer. When they hit the hot flame tamer, they vaporize into smoke and rise up into the food.

Lava rocks (also reviewed on this site: Flavor from the Fire II - smoker boxes, lava rocks and charcoal) work in a similar way, but have certain advantages. Because lava rock is porous, it captures more of the dripping fat and juices. This in turn produces more smoke, adding to the smoky flavor of the food.

Also, lava rock can be spread over the entire surface, unlike flame tamers which leave some parts uncovered. Lava rocks are also better at containing any flare-ups to a local region. With flame tamers, flare-ups tend to spread, when they occur.

Lava rocks are generic and you can buy them in many places. Flame tamers are specific to the appliance. If you need a replacement, you might have to order it separately from the manufacturer.

Wood chips - so soak or not to soak?

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Wood chips

The most widely advised way of getting a smoky flavor from a gas grill or BBQ is to use wood chips. The idea is to get them hot and smoldering.

There is an ongoing debate among BBQ aficionados about whether or not to soak wood chips in water (or beer) before putting them in a steel box with holes (or wrapping them in aluminum foil with holes) and putting them in the closed gas barbecue in an effort to get some smoke out of them. Soaking them means that initially you will get steam rather than smoke. And if you soak them in beer (or whisky), you will certainly get an interesting flavor

But the question is whether soaking actually does any good. Some say it merely cools the barbecue down and slows the cooking process. Others say it stops the woodchips all burning up at once. They dry out at an uneven rate - or so the theory goes - and thus the soaking helps maintain an even consistent smoke over time, without having to add more chips. Others say that the water only penetrates a couple of millimeters (similar to the debate on marinades - See TIPS AND TRICKS: The BEST Marinade in the World). This means that once the water evaporates, it is as if the chips have never been soaked in the first place.

Rather than enter the fray of this debate, we are going to throw this open to you - our wonderful community of BBQ enthusiasts. Tell us your experiences and let us know what you think at the subject.

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