As anyone who has substituted the thin side of a dime for a proper screwdriver knows, the proper tools make all the difference. Here are five I consider essential for grilling and smoking.
Grill brush or scraper: It’s something you do every time you light your grill and get it ready for grilling. And every time when you’re finished. Scour the grate with a stiff wire brush or scraper. When selecting a grill brush, choose one whose bristles are firmly anchored into a twisted wire armature, so they can’t pull loose and wind up in your food. For example, the Ultimate Grill Brush. Alternatively, pick up one of the wooden grill scrapers now available in grill stores these days. Avoid cheap brushes whose bristles fall out when they get wet.
Chimney starter: Owners of charcoal and wood-burning grills can be ready to cook in just 15 to 20 minutes—about the same amount of time it takes to fire up a gas grill. Position a petroleum-based fire starter or crumpled newspaper underneath the unit, light, and the chimney starter does the rest. For a righteous, wood-enhanced fire, I like to fill the chimney starter with hardwood chunks.
Suede grill gloves: Grilling involves handling hot chimney starters, hot coals, and reaching across a hot grill grate. So you want a pair of sturdy insulated suede grill gloves. That are supple enough to preserve your dexterity. With sleeves that reach up to your elbows to protect your arms from the heat.
Tongs: “Turn, don’t stab” is one of my grilling mantras. And for that, the best tool is a set of long handled, spring-loaded grill tongs. A BBQ fork pokes holes in the meat–best avoided when you can. I’m partial to tongs I invented called Lumatongs, which, have a two bright LED lights on one arm (removable) to illuminate the grill grate during an evening cook session.
Insulated gloves: The trick to perfect pulled pork or beef is to cook it to an internal temperature of 200 degrees, then shred it while it’s still uncomfortably hot. Insulated for comfort and coated with rubber, these gloves will help you maintain your dexterity while protecting your hands from the heat. Wear them when you handle beer can chicken.
See 5 more items on the full BarbecueBible.com list here.
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Steven Raichlen is the author of the Barbecue! Bible cookbook series and the host of Project Smoke on public television. His website is BarbecueBible.com.