Outdoor Grilling, Gadgets, Gear and Features You Need to Consider

I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at outdoor grilling, I’ve even built my own grilling area just off to the side of my deck, so I’m drawn to everything written as it relates to the summer grilling season in a never ending quest for continued grilling excellence. Since I got “the call” from my wife, and will be doing all the cooking (grilling) for a combination 50th birthday fro my brother, 16th birthday for our daughter family get together this weekend, I have kicked it up a notch in the preparation department.

Extra charcoal, check, lighter fluid, check, clean utensils, check, clean grill brush, check, you get the idea. However, even though I thought I was somewhat a fanatic about my grilling habits and perceived expertise, I am most definitely not alone.

According to Gourmet Magazine, 4 out of 5 U.S. households have a grill in some sort of outdoor area, and use it during the summer grilling season at least 1 to 2 times per week. Taking it one step further, the article went on to say that according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, an industry trade group, Americans spent in 2003 alone $3.2 billion on furnishing their outdoor grilling habits. This being gear, gadgets and other features deemed necessary for the successful grilling experience.

This caught me by surprise, because honestly, I think I have spent $8 on a new grill cover, $6 on grilling utensils and maybe $3 on a new grill brush in the last few years, so either I’m doing something wrong, or I’m missing out on something I should have. Could it be because I don’t have some of the latest and greatest gadgets I am actually less of a grilling aficionado than I think I am? Hah.

Well, all kidding aside, a little digging uncovered what is probably “necessary” for successful grilling, and of course th items that “showoff” grillers have a tendency to purchase to prove their manhood. Things like multi-level braziers that have their own individual heat controls and varied heat zones to grilling tools that pretty much do everything for you but fire up the coals.

So, I have narrowed down as necessary some of the following items, and most importantly why, and have included maybe some things in each category you can go ahead and skip, or do without.

First, when it comes to your actual grilling tools, get longer handle tools primarily for safety’s sake. They will keep you a safe distance from flames and flareups and will also make removing foods easier as you won’t be dealing with flames and smoke. Look for tools well constructed with wood or one-piece fused handles for sturdiness. Grilling tools will rust pretty easily if not made with stainless steel, so check carefully for that that feature as well. I try to avoid buying grilling tools in sets as there is one item I never use and is a waste of money, and that is the “big fork”. Stabbing your meat loses juices and dries out a piece quickly, so the only real good use for this fork is to hold items securely for removal form the grill.

Second, I seemed to go through grill brushes very quickly and couldn’t figure out why until I found that “A”, they can be cleaned in hot soapy water to prolong their lives, and “B”, if you coat them with mineral oil that also prolongs the life of the bristles and makes removed particles less likely to clog up in between the bristles. Also, get the right size brush for you grill. If you have a big cooking surface, and use it when grilling, the small mini-brushes which are handy just won’t hold up for very long and make it impossible to use them while the surface is still warm or hot. Go after a longer handled product, with bristles that will fit between grill grates, and are made of a rust resistant material.

Third, if you don’t have a grill thermometer, get yourself one. The Weber grill that I have currently came with one, and I have to tell you that I never knew just how hot these grills really get, and a good reliable thermometer will not only help you monitor cooking temperatures at various points around your cooking surface, but will also allow you to check for “doneness” by checking a piece of meat’s internal temperature as well. If you have an existing thermometer and aren’t sure if it is registering accurately, simply put it into boiling water and it should show 212 degrees. I highly recommend getting “expert” advice here in selecting the model right for you as getting to understand all the uses of mine would have been very difficult without my owner’s manual, so I would have to imagine simply going into the store and selecting a thermometer without some good advice would be somewhat difficult.

Lastly, invest in a good grill cover, I mean if you’re going to spend a nice chunk of change on the grill, you might as well make sure it is protected against the elements adequately, right? A custom fit cover probably isn’t necessary, but make sure it does have the velcro “snuggers” at the bottom to keep out dust and dirt as well as avoiding the prospect of waking up one morning after a windy evening and finding it in the neighbors yard, uh, not that that has ever happened to me. Anyhow, if the cover doesn’t have velcro fasteners, bungee cords do quite nicely. Bungee cords are my new duct tape, I use them to hold down my pool cover as well.

Well, those are a few of my tips, I hope you find them useful, but visit www.weber.com for many more very helpful tips from actual experts. It’s an easy site to navigate and it makes you want to get right out and either “flame up” the coals or “ignite the gas”, but whichever way you choose to do your grilling, remember to be safe while doing it, as you wouldn’t want to be left out of enjoying the finished product.

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