You collect your steak expectantly from the grill chef. It looks great. You add some salad from the salad bowl and drizzle some dressing over the greens. A few onions complete the plate of food that y...
You collect your steak expectantly from the grill chef. It looks great. You add some salad from the salad bowl and drizzle some dressing over the greens. A few onions complete the plate of food that you have been looking forward to all day. You slice into the meat, pick up some salad on the same fork and pop it into your mouth and bite. The beef is beautiful and tender but the main taste is the salad! What has your host done? The meat is bland flavorless and dry. He sidles over, looking for a compliment for his cooking ...
Ma always used to say that a 'workman is only as good as his tools'. To a degree she was right. If a workman (or woman) does not have the right tools for the job then the job will probably not get done properly. The same goes for grilling. So here are the seven essential tools that every backyard griller should have.
Thermometer - get yourself a reliable thermometer. This will enable you to check the internal temperature of the cooking food. This will help you to avoid overcooking and undercooking. If you buy a cheap thermometer, you could end up with one that gives the wrong reading so choose carefully and wisely.
Spatula - there are plenty of these around but as with the thermometer, it is worthwhile getting a good non-stick spatula. Make sure also that it is large enough to get under a big fillet of fish, which will avoid any disasters of the fillet falling apart as you flip it. Having one with a bent handle is also good as it makes it less awkward to use.
Wire brush - this is a case where the price doesn't really matter. The brush is just for cleaning off the grill afterwards. The important thing is that you have one as dried on foods that are re-heated again and again will impart off-flavors to anything you grill.
Brushes - You should get a couple of these at least, ordinary pastry brushes will be fine and can really save time. Keep one for oiling grilling surfaces and maybe 2 or 3 others for basting. Replace them when the flavors of the basting mixture do not wash out fully. You can use a spoon for basting but brushing gives a more even and thorough coverage.
Skewers - There are plenty of these to choose from. Skewers with handles are more convenient but whatever type you buy, get them with a flat blade design. The simple sharpened wire design are a complete pain, when you try to turn the food, this type just rotate within the food, it then needs turning individually which is time consuming.
Mitts - heatproof mitts are a real boon, you can pick up hot stuff without worry. Getting a fireproof pair is always a good idea as there is always the possibility of the mitts coming into contact with a naked flame whilst grilling.
Tongs - if you buy only one specialist grilling tool, make it a pair of tongs. Many inexperienced grillers will just use a fork. So what is wrong with using a fork? Each time you flip your meat, a fork pokes holes in it and allows the juices to flow out. This makes the meat dry and reduces its flavor. You can use a spatula but that is more awkward and makes it a tad more difficult for a visual examination of the meat when checking if it is cooked. A good quality pair of tongs are best, cheap ones will distort, making food handling more difficult.
So, get the right tools for the job and you will get better results from your backyard grill.