While the quality of your ingredients and recipes is the most important factor in the end results of your cooking, having the right tools and accessories for grilling can make your life a lot easier. These tools can make your cooking more efficient, letting you concentrate more on the food than the intricacies of the practical side of things.
If you own a charcoal grill, one of the most important accessories that you can buy is a charcoal chimney starter. Most charcoal grilling aficionados do not use instant lighting, charcoal briquettes because they feel that they can give the food a chemical taste. Likewise, others shy away from using lighter fluid to start their fires for the same reason. It can be difficult lighting a charcoal fire without the aid of extra chemicals, but by using a charcoal chimney starter, you can avoid the hassle and have a roaring fire going in no time. A chimney starter is a tall, cylindrical, metal contraption in which you place charcoal. Underneath the charcoal is a small compartment where you place a piece of crumpled up newspaper. When you’re ready to start the fire, all you need to do is light the newspaper, which will send flames up through the pipe, lighting the fire. In 20 minutes, the coals will be ready for cooking. You can then dump the coals out into the bed of the grill and proceed with your grilling.
When grilling, you will also need gloves to pick up hot things like a chimney starter. When you go shopping for grilling gloves, you will have several options. One option that you can choose is a silicone grilling glove. Silicone can withstand high temperatures, but can be cumbersome to wear. Often silicone gloves are in the form of mitts, which makes handling things like tongs and forks difficult. Not only this, but they can be slippery. A better option is to select heavy duty, suede gloves with fingers. These can be used to lift off hot grill grates, empty the charcoal chimney starter, pick up food, and more. The individual fingers make it easy to grip tongs, forks, and other tools.
The next accessory that all good grillers need is an accurate thermometer. Cooking your meats to the proper temperature not only ensures succulent and perfectly cooked foods, but also helps to prevent against food borne illnesses. Generally, you will find two kinds of thermometers. One is a manual, instant read thermometer. To use this type of thermometer, you insert the probe end of the thermometer into the meat and wait a few seconds to read the dial on the thermometer. The second kind of thermometer available is digital, instant read thermometers. While they cost more, digital thermometers are more accurate and less prone to user error than manual thermometers.
The ideal tool for basting meats and applying BBQ sauces is a brush. Traditional brushes are made of natural fibers. While they perform adequately, they are difficult to clean and may harbor bacteria between uses. In recent years, companies have started to introduce silicone brushes onto the market. These brushes hold the sauce well and are flexible, making them very useful in basting meats. They are also heat resistant, meaning that they will not burn or get hot from the intense heat of the grill. Silicone brushes are easy to clean, needing little more than a gentle wash.
Another accessory that you may want to invest in is a fish grilling basket. Grilling fish is notoriously difficult because fish will stick to grill grates very easily. Having a fish grilling basket can solve this problem. A fish grilling basket is two grates that are held together with a locking hinge. The fish is placed between the grates and locked into place. When you need to turn your fish, all you need to do is flip the basket over. These baskets are also handy when grilling small vegetables that can fall between the grates of the grill.
Finally, every serious griller needs a good set of tongs. Tongs act as an extension of your hands, letting you manipulate the food on the grill without being burned. Look for tongs that are between 12 and 14 inches long. The best models are spring loaded and have a locking mechanism for easy storage.