Summer is prime time for grilling, but just as you wouldn’t venture into the kitchen without the proper tools, you need the right equipment to do the BBQ job. Whether you prefer to cook with gas or charcoal, on a tiny hibachi or on a grill big enough for the whole neighborhood, here’s the basic toolkit you need to grill like a master.
Brush: Use for basting food with marinade, barbecue sauce or oils. A brush prevents overuse of grilling liquids; excess can cause your grill to overheat or even flame.
Spatula: Really, you need two: A heavy, metal offset spatula for flipping burgers and the like, and a thin fish spatula that can slide under delicate items like fish.
Grill brush: Use a sturdy wire brush to clean your grill after cooking, before food has a chance to dry onto the grate. Don’t skip this step; your grill will last much longer if kept clear of debris.
Meat Thermometer: Handy mini thermometers make for idiot-proof grilling. When you’re checking the temperature, be sure your thermometer isn’t touching any bone–this could give you an incorrect reading. Here’s a helpful guide to figure out if your meat is done enough.
Bamboo skewers: An inexpensive, disposable alternative to metal skewers. Use these to thread shrimp, scallops, vegetables or small pieces of meat. The resulting kabobs are easier to handle, and will cook more evenly, than the same food cooked a piece at a time. (To keep bamboo skewers from burning, soak them in water for at least 1 hour.)
Tongs: Stainless steel tongs allow you to turn food safely, quickly and efficiently. Choose a pair that’s lightweight, pinches together easily, and has a gripping edge that snares food without piercing it. (Piercing meat causes a loss of juice and flavor.) Tongs should be a medium or long length; too short and you’ll burn your hands.