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How do I instruct a butcher how to cut pork ribs?

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  • Lost in China
    Charter Member
    • Mar 2015
    • 409
    • Wenzhou, China
    • 22" Weber kettle
      Slow 'N Sear
      Hovergrill
      Maverick 732
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    How do I instruct a butcher how to cut pork ribs?

    As I explained in my self-introduction, I live in a place where American style cuts of meat don't exist. I have searched near and far looking for pork ribs. I have ordered from all three online Taobao stores that list frozen ribs for sale, and all of them never shipped anything and refunded my money. It has been a long, wearisome quest.

    Just yesterday I went into a local grocery store I had never visited, not expecting it to be good, and sure enough it had a terrible selection of everything. Didn't even have butter. Just for the sake of completeness, I went to the small butcher's counter and asked if he had ribs. He pointed to the gigantic ribs that were sitting open with no refrigeration in the counter in front of him. These were individually cut and were all one piece, baby back + spare ribs together. No thanks. I showed him my reference photo of ribs I took the last time I was in the States (a picture is worth a thousand words) and he nodded and went into the back room. "He has ribs? Well, we'll see what comes out," I think to myself. I had been in this kind of situation before, and you never know what they'll come up with. Probably something unsuitable, like a bag of ribs chopped into bits. We'll see shortly.

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    (the reference photo I showed him of good, American ribs)

    The guy comes out from the back room and he's holding HALF A PIG. He drops it on the counter, BLAM. It is six feet long from snout to tail. He unfolds it with a big smile, and is like, "what part ya want, buddy? you name it, I'll carve it straight off this carcass." I pause for a moment and consider the difficulty of translating "St. Louis cut" into Chinese. It is always at these times when I reflect on the yawning gulf between East and West. Even if I could say St. Louis in Chinese, which I can't, he wouldn't understand it. St. Louis is something like the 55th largest US city. Who in China has ever heard of it? The 55th largest Chinese city is called Hohhot, nobody's ever heard of there either. And cut? How do you say that? Meaning the stroke of a blade? But in this case it means carving a piece of meat in a very specific way. I am at a loss.

    Like a mute, I just turn on the photo in my phone and point to it again. He nods and starts carving the pig. He has a large, extra-heavy Chinese cleaver, almost like Jason from Friday the 13th. He is going through bone like butter. When he was finished, he handed me this piece of meat which was 3.2 pounds and cost $3.66/lb.

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    So, what is this piece of meat? It's too wide and too short. Did he shave it too thin? It looked like he was leaving an awful lot of meat on the carcass when he was carving it. It's a good start, though. I bet it will cook up all the same.

    My question to the group: Having at last found a butcher who will cut the kind of meat I want, how can I teach him to cut ribs the way that I want? I am delighted to have at last found ribs. In fact, it inspired me to join this site as a paying member. But now that I've found my dream butcher, I want great ribs, not just good ones. Are there step by step instructions, or better yet a video, that I can show him on my phone? Something that shows him how to take half a pig carcass and carve out ribs just like the ones in my reference photo?
    Attached Files
  • David Parrish
    Founding Member - Pit Boss Emeritus
    • May 2014
    • 5049
    • Charlotte, NC

    #2
    You've got a willing butcher. That's huge! Tell him to carve close to the bone without exposing the bones. That's my advice. Hopefully others chime in too.

    Comment

    • Lost in China
      Charter Member
      • Mar 2015
      • 409
      • Wenzhou, China
      • 22" Weber kettle
        Slow 'N Sear
        Hovergrill
        Maverick 732
        Thermopop

      #3
      Originally posted by Pit Boss View Post
      You've got a willing butcher. That's huge! Tell him to carve close to the bone without exposing the bones. That's my advice. Hopefully others chime in too.
      So, from the photos it does look too thin? Sorry, I'm a real novice at butchery (but am fast learning).

      Yeah, that is huge. You don't know how many butcher counters I've been to where they just shrug or say they don't have any. I really didn't expect to run into this guy. It just goes to show you you should check everywhere. He can turn into a real goldmine if I can just get him trained right.
      Last edited by Lost in China; March 8, 2015, 05:59 PM.

      Comment

      • David Parrish
        Founding Member - Pit Boss Emeritus
        • May 2014
        • 5049
        • Charlotte, NC

        #4
        As long as you don't see bones when looking at the rack from above they aren't too thin.

        Comment

        • Meathead
          Administrator
          • May 2014
          • 1464
          • Chicago area
          • Remember, no rules in the bedroom or kitchen
            Meathead

          #5
          This page has photos and illustrations that show exactly what you want. http://amazingribs.com/recipes/porkn...pork_cuts.html

          Comment

          • Lost in China
            Charter Member
            • Mar 2015
            • 409
            • Wenzhou, China
            • 22" Weber kettle
              Slow 'N Sear
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            #6
            Thanks for the link! It's kind of hard to find information on this site sometimes. I couldn't find the recipe for ordinary ribs earlier (turned out it was under "porknography"). But this is something I can show to the butcher that will hopefully get him to understand. Although he doesn't have a bandsaw.

            I just finished cooking the ribs above in the oven, and they didn't really come out well. I left them in for 90 minutes at 225, and when I checked, they didn't pass the crack test. I sawed off one of the ribs from the end and ate it, and the meat still stuck to the bone. I put them back in to cook for another 30 minutes, and when I checked again, the rub had burned. However, the meat still didn't pull cleanly off the bone. So it's either underdone or overdone...how can it be both?

            Comment

            • Huskee
              Administrator
              • May 2014
              • 15578
              • central MI, USA
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                About me
                Real name: Aaron
                Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

                Occupation:
                • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

              #7
              Lost in China you'll want several hours at 225, 2hrs just wont cut it. typically 4-6hrs is a good timeframe, but I regularly have them take 6, 7 or even 8 if they're thick. Bend test will never let you down, IF you're doing the test on a full length rack. If you trim the racks in half there wont be enough weight for the bend test to work right, so keep that in mind. If a full rack doens't pass the bend test, it is either not done, or it is EXTREMELY thick and will just break in two if it's done.

              Your rub may have burnt due to being over direct heat. You want to setup an indirect environment. If you must use an indoor oven, place a water pan between the meat and the oven element, then proceed as the recipe states.

              Comment

              • eugenek
                Former Member
                • Oct 2014
                • 214
                • SoCal

                #8
                I don't really have butchering advice… but make friends with that butcher! Maybe drop off some American treats or samples of your cook, if you can. I've only done pork ribs a couple times but I'm taking that whole cut as is, baby backs and spares together, and throwing the whole darn thing into the smoker. Do you have a porch area or yard? Maybe you can make yourself a homemade barrel cooker.

                BTW, great meat knowledge as always from meathead on that AR link.

                Comment

                • Lost in China
                  Charter Member
                  • Mar 2015
                  • 409
                  • Wenzhou, China
                  • 22" Weber kettle
                    Slow 'N Sear
                    Hovergrill
                    Maverick 732
                    Thermopop

                  #9
                  OK, there was no water pan. I noticed the ribs drying out towards the end, and put one in, but I'm sure that was too late. Two hours was enough, the meat was overdone I'm pretty sure. I obviously screwed up something somewhere. Oh well, at least I can try again. That's why I made this, as an experiment before I fed any people. I also screwed up the rub and made it way too salty.

                  It also seemed like there was very little meat on these bones, or maybe that was because they weren't cooked right. I really want them shaved close to the bone?

                  Click image for larger version

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                  Comment

                  • Huskee
                    Administrator
                    • May 2014
                    • 15578
                    • central MI, USA
                    • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

                      Smokers / Grills
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                      • Pittsburgh Digital Moisture Meter

                      Beverages
                      • Favorite summer beer: Leinenkugels Summer & Grapefruit Shandy, Hamm's, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
                      • Fav other beer: DAB, Sam Adams regular, Third Shift amber or Coors Batch 19, Stella Artois
                      • Fav cheap beers: Pabst, High Life, Hamm's & Stroh's
                      • Most favorite beer: The one in your fridge
                      • Wine: Red- big, bold, tannic & peppery- Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauv, Sangiovese, Syrah, etc
                      • Whiskey: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, Blanton's, Old Forester 1870, Elijah Craig, Basil Hayden's. Neat please.
                      • Scotch: Current favorite- The Arran (anything by them), Glenmorangie 12yr Lasanta, sherry cask finished. The Balvenie Double Wood, also like Oban 18yr, and The Glenlivet Nadurra (Oloroso sherry cask finished) among others. Neat please.

                      About me
                      Real name: Aaron
                      Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

                      Occupation:
                      • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Lost in China View Post
                    OK, there was no water pan. I noticed the ribs drying out towards the end, and put one in, but I'm sure that was too late. Two hours was enough, the meat was overdone I'm pretty sure. I obviously screwed up something somewhere. Oh well, at least I can try again. That's why I made this, as an experiment before I fed any people. I also screwed up the rub and made it way too salty.

                    It also seemed like there was very little meat on these bones, or maybe that was because they weren't cooked right. I really want them shaved close to the bone?
                    Yeah they look overdone. Cooking with direct heat, it appears you basically sort of grilled them. The first time I ever did ribs I grilled them, but on an actual grill, and I had similar results as you.

                    Low & slow, indirect heat, water pan. You'll get there! We'll help!

                    Comment


                    • David Parrish
                      David Parrish commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I agree with Huskee. Also, those ribs look like they were cooked at a higher temp than 225F. Did you broil them? My guess is radiant heat was somehow involved. Check out Meathead's article on the thermodynamics of cooking.
                  • eugenek
                    Former Member
                    • Oct 2014
                    • 214
                    • SoCal

                    #11
                    Originally posted by Huskee View Post
                    Low & slow, indirect heat, water pan. You'll get there! We'll help!
                    Hi-five, that's why I love this place.

                    Comment


                    • Huskee
                      Huskee commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Hi five bro!
                  • Huskee
                    Administrator
                    • May 2014
                    • 15578
                    • central MI, USA
                    • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

                      Smokers / Grills
                      • Yoder loaded Wichita offset smoker
                      • PBC
                      • Grilla Silverbac pellet grill
                      • Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado (SnSK)
                      • Masterbuilt Gravity 560
                      • Weber 22" Original Kettle Premium (copper)
                      • Weber 26" Original Kettle Premium (black)
                      • Weber 26" Original Kettle Premium (light blue)
                      • Weber Jumbo Joe Gold (18.5")
                      • Weber Smokey Joe Silver (14.5")
                      • Brinkmann cabinet charcoal smoker (repurposed)

                      Thermometers
                      • (3) Maverick XR-50: 4-probe Wireless Thermometers
                      • (7) Maverick ET-732s
                      • (1) Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth (in box)
                      • (1) Smoke X4 by ThermoWorks
                      • Thermapen MkII, orange
                      • ThermoPop, yellow
                      • ThermoWorks ChefAlarm
                      • Morpilot 6-probe wireless
                      • ThermoWorks Infrared IRK2
                      • ThermoWorks fridge & freezer therms as well

                      Accessories
                      • Instant Pot 6qt
                      • Anova Bluetooth SV
                      • Kitchen Aide mixer & meat grinder attachment
                      • Kindling Cracker King (XL)
                      • BBQ Dragon
                      • Weber full & half chimneys, Char-Broil Half Time chimney
                      • Weber grill topper
                      • Slow 'N Sear Original, XL, and SnS Charcoal Basket (for Jumbo Joe)
                      • Drip 'N Griddle Pan, 22' Easy Spin Grate, and Elevated Cooking grate, by ABCbarbecue
                      • Pittsburgh Digital Moisture Meter

                      Beverages
                      • Favorite summer beer: Leinenkugels Summer & Grapefruit Shandy, Hamm's, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
                      • Fav other beer: DAB, Sam Adams regular, Third Shift amber or Coors Batch 19, Stella Artois
                      • Fav cheap beers: Pabst, High Life, Hamm's & Stroh's
                      • Most favorite beer: The one in your fridge
                      • Wine: Red- big, bold, tannic & peppery- Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauv, Sangiovese, Syrah, etc
                      • Whiskey: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, Blanton's, Old Forester 1870, Elijah Craig, Basil Hayden's. Neat please.
                      • Scotch: Current favorite- The Arran (anything by them), Glenmorangie 12yr Lasanta, sherry cask finished. The Balvenie Double Wood, also like Oban 18yr, and The Glenlivet Nadurra (Oloroso sherry cask finished) among others. Neat please.

                      About me
                      Real name: Aaron
                      Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

                      Occupation:
                      • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

                    #12
                    Lost in China Another point of concern- did you use your oven's thermostat to attain 225? Or did you happen to use a good digital thermometer to verify your actual temp? Many times oven t-stats are off by quite a bit, or they'll attain an "average" temp of what they're set at. Mine in my kitchen will cycle on until it gets to the set temp, then it dwindles down 10*, then back to the set temp, etc. So mine averages 5 degrees under. Other oven may do the reverse- they may heat up above your set temp, then dwindle down to the set temp. If this happens, and especially if your meat is right over that burner or that element, this could also contribute to the rapid overcooking you experienced.

                    If you do not have a good digital thermometer, check out ome of the Gold Medal winners in the searchable thermometer database on the main amazingribs.com pages. Many of us love the Maverick ET 732 or 733. They are great accurate and affordable little thermometers. They will help you lots whether you're grilling outdoors or cooking in your oven. After all, cooking w/o a reliable thermometer is like driving w/o a speedometer, or telling time by the sun. Basically, it's not good enough and will get you into trouble!

                    Comment

                    • Lost in China
                      Charter Member
                      • Mar 2015
                      • 409
                      • Wenzhou, China
                      • 22" Weber kettle
                        Slow 'N Sear
                        Hovergrill
                        Maverick 732
                        Thermopop

                      #13
                      Originally posted by Huskee View Post
                      Yeah they look overdone. Cooking with direct heat, it appears you basically sort of grilled them. The first time I ever did ribs I grilled them, but on an actual grill, and I had similar results as you.

                      Low & slow, indirect heat, water pan. You'll get there! We'll help!
                      Thanks for the encouragement! I'm not even that mad about ruining my first rack of ribs because I know I can just buy more of them now.

                      Yeah, it's probably my wonky oven. I'm lucky to even have one (see a pattern developing here?) and it's not a fixed appliance bolted into the kitchen. It's more like a large toaster oven, with top and bottom elements. It fits a 9x13 baking pan...barely.

                      I think I may have found the culprit. It seems even with the knob (bottom right) set to just below 110C (107=225F), the oven's temp is a bit above 250F. I should have tested this before I cooked. I even bought the grill thermometer on a recommendation from this site!

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                      my oversized toaster oven with top and bottom heating elements

                      Comment

                      • Huskee
                        Administrator
                        • May 2014
                        • 15578
                        • central MI, USA
                        • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

                          Smokers / Grills
                          • Yoder loaded Wichita offset smoker
                          • PBC
                          • Grilla Silverbac pellet grill
                          • Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado (SnSK)
                          • Masterbuilt Gravity 560
                          • Weber 22" Original Kettle Premium (copper)
                          • Weber 26" Original Kettle Premium (black)
                          • Weber 26" Original Kettle Premium (light blue)
                          • Weber Jumbo Joe Gold (18.5")
                          • Weber Smokey Joe Silver (14.5")
                          • Brinkmann cabinet charcoal smoker (repurposed)

                          Thermometers
                          • (3) Maverick XR-50: 4-probe Wireless Thermometers
                          • (7) Maverick ET-732s
                          • (1) Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth (in box)
                          • (1) Smoke X4 by ThermoWorks
                          • Thermapen MkII, orange
                          • ThermoPop, yellow
                          • ThermoWorks ChefAlarm
                          • Morpilot 6-probe wireless
                          • ThermoWorks Infrared IRK2
                          • ThermoWorks fridge & freezer therms as well

                          Accessories
                          • Instant Pot 6qt
                          • Anova Bluetooth SV
                          • Kitchen Aide mixer & meat grinder attachment
                          • Kindling Cracker King (XL)
                          • BBQ Dragon
                          • Weber full & half chimneys, Char-Broil Half Time chimney
                          • Weber grill topper
                          • Slow 'N Sear Original, XL, and SnS Charcoal Basket (for Jumbo Joe)
                          • Drip 'N Griddle Pan, 22' Easy Spin Grate, and Elevated Cooking grate, by ABCbarbecue
                          • Pittsburgh Digital Moisture Meter

                          Beverages
                          • Favorite summer beer: Leinenkugels Summer & Grapefruit Shandy, Hamm's, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
                          • Fav other beer: DAB, Sam Adams regular, Third Shift amber or Coors Batch 19, Stella Artois
                          • Fav cheap beers: Pabst, High Life, Hamm's & Stroh's
                          • Most favorite beer: The one in your fridge
                          • Wine: Red- big, bold, tannic & peppery- Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauv, Sangiovese, Syrah, etc
                          • Whiskey: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, Blanton's, Old Forester 1870, Elijah Craig, Basil Hayden's. Neat please.
                          • Scotch: Current favorite- The Arran (anything by them), Glenmorangie 12yr Lasanta, sherry cask finished. The Balvenie Double Wood, also like Oban 18yr, and The Glenlivet Nadurra (Oloroso sherry cask finished) among others. Neat please.

                          About me
                          Real name: Aaron
                          Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

                          Occupation:
                          • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

                        #14
                        Oh yeah. Thanks for the pics. There is really no way to set up much of an indirect cooking zone in that oven, you're doing direct all the way my friend. Does it have a second & third rack? If so you can try to sandwich it between two water pans to protect it from the top & bottom heating elements. Narrow pans like pie pans perhaps, or you could fold one up out of aluminum foil perhaps.

                        Comment

                        • Lost in China
                          Charter Member
                          • Mar 2015
                          • 409
                          • Wenzhou, China
                          • 22" Weber kettle
                            Slow 'N Sear
                            Hovergrill
                            Maverick 732
                            Thermopop

                          #15
                          It came with two pans that fit into the slats, and the grill comes out. There are separate controls for the top and bottom heating elements. I can just use the bottom one, which is what I did (but without a water pan). Or is that not what you meant by indirect? Like so:

                          Click image for larger version

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                          Is there an article on oven cooking? Yeah, I found it. Had to use Google, though.

                          Comment

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                          Griddle And Deep Fryer In One

                          Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker
                          The flat top does the burgers and the fryer does the fries. Use the griddle for bacon, eggs, and home fries. Or pancakes, fajitas, grilled cheese, you name it. Why stink up the house deep frying and spatter all over? Do your fried chicken and calamari outside. Blackstone's Rangetop Combo With Deep Fryer does it all!

                          Click here to read our detailed review and to order


                          The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy

                          Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker
                          The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.

                          Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them


                          The Undisputed Champion!

                          thermapen
                          The Thermoworks Thermapen MK4 is considered by the pros, and our team, to be the single best instant read thermometer. The MK4 includes features that are common on high-end instruments: automatic backlight and rotating display. Don't accept cheap substitutes.

                          Click here to read our comprehensive Platinum Medal review


                          Grilla Pellet Smoker proves good things come in small packages

                          Grilla pellet smoker
                          We always liked Grilla. The small 31.5" x 29.5" footprint makes it ideal for use where BBQ space is limited, as on a condo patio.

                          Click here for our review on this unique smoker


                          Delta by Nuke,
                          Stylish and Affordable
                          Gaucho Grill

                          Weber Genesis Grill
                          Delta by Nuke burns wood or charcoal and comes with an adjustable height grill grate. This Argentinian grill will get your flame on!

                          Click here to read our complete review


                          Genesis II E-335
                          A Versatile Gasser That Does It All!

                          Weber Genesis Grill
                          Webers? Genesis line has long been one of the most popular choices for gas grillers. The new Genesis II E-335 offers solid performance, a sear burner for sizzling heat and an excellent warranty.

                          Click here to read our complete review


                          GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone

                          grill grates
                          GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily rmoved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.

                          Click here for more about what makes these grates so special


                          Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?

                          PK 360 grill
                          The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it's easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is beautifully designed, completely portable, and much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado.

                          Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

                          Click here to order directly and get an exclusive AmazingRibs.com deal


                          Our Favorite Backyard Smoker

                          kareubequ bbq smoker

                          The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period.

                          Click here for our review of this superb smoker


                          Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker

                          masterbuilt gas smoker
                          This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp's dial from 175? to 350?F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin'.

                          Click here to read our detailed review


                          Digital Thermometers Are Your Most Valuable Tool And Here's A Great Buy!

                          maverick PT55 thermometer
                          A good digital thermometer keeps you from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. They are much faster and much more accurate than dial thermometers. YOU NEED ONE!

                          Click here to read our complete review


                          Track Up To Six Temperatures At Once

                          Grilla pellet smoker
                          FireBoard Drive 2 is an updated version of a well-received product that sets the standard for performance and functionality in the wireless food thermometer/thermostatic controller class.

                          Click here for our review of this unique device


                          The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted

                          NK-22-Ck Grill
                          Napoleon's NK22CK-C Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It's hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the NK22CK-C a viable alternative.

                          Click here for more about what makes this grill special


                          Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker

                          Green Mountain Davey Crockett Grill
                          Green Mountain's portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it's also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

                          Click here to read our detailed review and to order