Ma always used to say that a ‘tradesman is only as good as his tools’. She was right in the sense that if a tradesman (or woman) does not have the right tools for the job then the job will likely not get done properly. The same goes for grilling or cooking on the barbecue. So here are the seven essential tools that every backyard griller should own.
If you buy just one specialist grilling tool, make it a pair of tongs. You can of course use a spatula but that is more awkward and makes it a little more difficult for a visual examination of the meat when checking if it is cooked. Many inexperienced grillers will just use a fork. Each time you turn your meat, the fork pokes holes in it and allows the juices to flow out. This makes the meat dry and reduces its flavor. A good quality pair of tongs are best, cheap ones will distort and make food handling all the more difficult.
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 skewered food, this type just rotate within the food, it then needs turning individually which is time consuming.
Thermometer - get yourself a decent 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 you buy one that it is large enough to get under a fillet of fish, which will avoid any problems 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.
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.
With the right tools for the job, your talents as a backyard grilling chef will improve.
If you don't want your friends to have to lie to you about your grilling skills , then head over to the grilling coach for the best grilling tips and advice .