Get Your Grill On with These Indispensable Tools
May is National Barbecue Month. Founded in 1963 to encourage outdoor cooking, this month culminates in Memorial Day, the time-honored start, for many Americans, of the summer grilling season.
This year, the holiday will be celebrated on Monday, May 25. In preparation, give your grill or smoker a thorough cleaning if you haven’t done so already (see here for tips), and inventory your collection of tools and accessories. Even if you’ve been on financial lock-down lately, you’ll want to invest in quality equipment that makes your barbecue sessions more successful and more enjoyable. Jettison anything that detracts from your experience—a spatula with a wobbly blade, a meat thermometer that can’t be trusted, tongs from your local dollar store, and especially—this is important—a poorly made grill brush that could potentially shed wire on your grill grate.
As Steven’s assistant for more than 15 years, I’m especially partial to his Best of Barbecue line. Below are tools I can’t/don’t want to live without. Each is accompanied by a tried-and-true recipe that highlights the usefulness of each.
By the way, we recently received word that Create TV will reprise its popular Steven Raichlen marathon beginning May 22. You won’t want to miss your favorite episodes of Project Fire and Project Smoke. Check your local American Public Television station for listings.
Barbecue Tools I Don’t Want to Live Without
Its unusual shape (square) maximizes the volume of the Best of Barbecue Ultimate Chimney Starter. It holds up to 80 briquettes. (Yes, I’ve counted them.) You can even place a grill grate or wire rack over the top and use it as a searing station for steaks. Or substitute wood chunks for charcoal if you’d prefer to grill over wood. In any case, do try the grilled sangria, a popular libation at Barbecue University.
Use This Chimney Starter to Make: Grilled Sangria.
These ingenious smoking pucks can be used alone to smoke quick-cooking foods like shrimp, or add incomparable flavors to cheese, whipped cream, or even mayonnaise. Can also be used in tandem with your grill or smoker. I personally use them to boost the flavors on my pellet smoker.
Use These Smoking Pucks to Make: Smoky Bourbon Peach Cobbler.
An illuminating idea, indeed! Steven’s 20″ Lumatongs have two LED bulbs cleverly attached to the handle. A bright beam of light lights up the food on the grill wherever you point the tongs. Tongs with a good grip (like these) are invaluable when frequent turning is required, as it is with chicken wings.
Use These Tongs to Make: Sesame Soy Chicken Wings.
I consider Steven’s Ultimate Rib Rack one of the most valuable tools in my arsenal. It saw me through weeks of recipe testing for Best Ribs Ever, enabling my kettle grill to accommodate four racks of ribs in the space normally occupied by one.
Use This Rib Rack to Make: St. Louis Ribs With Vanilla-Brown Sugar Glaze.
While the occasional sacrifice to the grilling gods—bits that fall into the fire between the rungs of the grill grate—is obligatory, this Best of Barbecue mesh grilling basket will prevent shrimp, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, nuts, and other smaller foods from disappearing into the maw of your firebox or smoker.
Use This Wire Mesh Grilling Basket to Make: Smoked Pecans.
Use this sturdy cast iron Tuscan grill to cook in your fireplace, produce a great meal over an open fire in the great outdoors, or rest it on your stainless steel or enamel grill grates (preheat when you fire up the grill) and achieve killer grill marks. I often use it (legs unscrewed) on my pellet grill for incomparable searing.
Use This Tuscan Grill to Make: Grilled Swordfish Steaks With Golden Raisin Chimichurri.