Outdoor grilling is a rather peculiar endeavor. Even if only yards away, we’re still somewhat detached from the conveniences of our home kitchen, and that requires a little extra planning and perhaps a few additional tools that cooking inside on a traditional stove top doesn’t really require.
First, a disclaimer:
For me, there’s always been this fine line between a kitchen tool and a kitchen gadget. Tools are practical and necessary. Gadgets fall into the I don’t really need them, I don’t take them seriously, but they can be fun toys category.
Having the right tools comes first. When I have the right tools, I might splurge on a gadget. Tools are serious business; gadgets make you smile.
That’s just kind of how it works. With that in mind, I stopped by one of my very favorite cookware shops and one of my favorite places to be, Sur la Table, to see just what they think we need for this summer’s grilling season.
Like usual, it was both serious and silly. Here a few of the highlights: Starting with the serious stuff, I think there are a few must-haves in any serious griller’s arsenal, and there were a few good examples on display.
Mitts and Tongs
One thing is certain, you can’t predict the weather, especially which way the wind will blow. For as sure as a great burger needs a bun, wherever you stand, the smoke, fire and heat will be blowing right at you. Your BEST defense is a pair of long, sturdy tongs and a trusted pair of grilling mitts.
I really like Steven Raichlen’s Suede Grilling Gloves. They have long sleeves. They’re super heavy duty but not so much that when you wear them, you lose your grip on things. And speaking of grips, the grips on Sur la Table’s own Soft Grip tongs are terrific, and their paddle ends are just right for turning over steaks, kabobs or burgers.
But grilling isn’t always about larger cuts of meat, burgers or kabobs. Sometimes, the small stuff falls between the cracks, so another MUST is a perforated grilling pan, cage or grate, and Sur la Table has a number to choose from.
I particularly liked their 3 Compartment Grill Basket, which allows you to keep asparagus, potatoes, peppers or whatever smaller items you choose to grill separate from one another as you cook them. Very convenient!
Along those same lines, a Grill Comb is a VERY practical and convenient way to skewer items like shrimp and strips of chicken, beef and vegetables for, let’s say, fajitas.
No more worries of vegetables spinning around on a stick. Grill on one side, then the other. Done! Love it! The stainless steel Grill Clips work much the same way.
Grilling Isn’t All Work
Somewhere along the way, refreshments are in order, and I personally like my outdoor beverage containers to look and feel like their glass cousins rather than something from the dollar store’s discount rack. They have some that are quite nice.
And even though the summer days are longer, you’ll inevitably end up–somewhere along the line–grilling in the dark. The solution? Sur la Table’s very own grill light. Just clamp it onto your grill’s handle, and its 15 LED lights brightly illuminate your masterpieces.
On the silly side, well, I just can’t resist the smell and subtle flavors of smoke on the grill. If you want to do it right, soak some wood chips, wrap them loosely in foil, poke some holes in the pouch and throw it in the coals or over some hot part of the grill. If you want to cheat, load a gun and shoot. That’s Poly Science’s answer, with its Smoking Gun Handheld Food Smoker. Don’t worry. Batteries are included.
And I know, I know. Just the THOUGHT of trying to pull the needle-like leaves off a branch of rosemary has you trembling and full of anxiety. To alleviate your fears, Chef,n ZipStrip has invented a Rosemary leaf stripper, so you can truly enjoy cooking once again. How did we manage before?
There you have it! These are just a few of this year’s grilling tools and gadgets. There’s certainly something for everyone…and perhaps no one.