Okay, you’ve got the barbecue. You’re ready to fill the air with the delectable scent of smoke. But unless you want your mouth-watering steaks or gooey, drippy ribs to languish on the flames, you’d better outfit yourself with some serious gear so you can flip, baste, and serve up all that grilling goodness.
First of all, you need a good set of tongs. Stabbing sizzling meat with a fork lets all that delectable juiciness escape, so find yourself a basic set of restaurant-style long-armed tongs—the ones with the scalloped grip. Don’t mess around with silicone—although that has its place around the grill (see the section on basting brushes below) their non-stick surface often doesn’t let you get a really good grip on what you’re turning—and letting good barbecued food fall on the coals is nothing less than a tragedy.
These may be a debatable accessory for the truly stoic among us, but if you value your arm hair—especially if your barbecue tends to flare—invest in a pair of barbecue gloves. Ones made from silicone work well, but the really hardcore ones are made from leather. Just make sure they’re nice and long—oven mitts won’t quite cut it.
For perfectly done burgers, nothing beats a flipper. A good one will be wide enough to comfortably hold a generous burger and thin enough to delicately slide under fish and other fragile grill items. Wood is the material of choice, since it absorbs grease without getting slippery, stays cool, and won’t melt. But if you have a good set of gloves, stainless steel might be your best friend for scraping up the fish that sticks to the grill (no matter how much oil you use).
There’s nothing better for getting barbecue sauce into every single solitary rib crevice than a basting brush—but animal hair or plastic ones can get gummy and are harder to clean. Enter silicone—heat resistant and infinitely washable. Get one with a long handle so you can spend all the time you need to get that maple-chipotle glaze everywhere.
Make no mistake—these aren’t just a pair of sissy scissor. Kitchen shears can cut the backbone out of a chicken, separate thinner racks of ribs and, if you’re really desperate, snip the corner off your milk bag. Get a pair with grips large enough to fit your whole hand, and always keep the blades sharp to make cutting faster and injury a lot less likely.
Regular old aluminum foil won’t cut it for grilling—it’s too flimsy to stand up to the high heat, making it more likely to tear and leak. Go to your nearest restaurant supply store and pick up some foil intended for commercial kitchens and foodservice—it’s seriously heavy duty, and will keep your potatoes roasting and your wood chips smoking.
If you don’t keep your grills clean, you’re likely to get flares and food sticking. Look for a wide brass brush to scrape down your grates without damaging their porcelain coating—but avoid brushes with scrapers on the front, which can make it difficult to get all the way to the back of the grill.
Feeling equipped? Then you’re ready to get grilling!
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