Some of us keep a garage full of tools, some extremely task specific like wood working or plumbing or such. Those of us crafting barbecue, using the flame and smoke to make delicious food, need to have the proper tools, accoutrements and big kid toys to do it right. Our goal here is to look at the usable, the effective, and the essential tools to keep in the game or even up your game.
We start with how to get your fire going and how to manage the heat when you are up and running. Moving on it is all about the tools to safely move your food around in the hot environment. After that are a few choices that will help you determine if you have been successful in getting to the right temperature for your desired outcome. Working with different types and sizes of food to be cooked can present challenges, so we’ve included input on devices that will make your barbecuing life easier. Helping you serve it up and then clean it up, is how we finish up for you.
If your cooking style in any way uses charcoal then you need the means to get it going. The most effective way to do that chemical free and easy is with a chimney starter. Not all manufacturers make good accessories outside of their primary product. This is not one of those cases, Weber delivers a sturdy effective unit that gets the job done.
A ball of paper under the chimney full of coals and in 15 minutes or so you are off to the races and cooking with fire. Filled to the top you get almost 100 standard size coals ready to go. It has a solid handle and a heat shield to make it safer handling when you have created your own private inferno.
Manage Your Flame
Probably the most common cooking device in the backyard is a kettle grill. They allow for a variety of styles from low and slow smoking to surface of the sun heat for searing. This is a device that will add to whichever style of cooking is on your plate for the day.
Slow N’ Sear allows you to build a deeper level of coal while keeping it contained. For indirect cooking you can manage the device for more smoke or more heat. For grilling you can concentrate your fire to get a rock solid sear and good crust on your food.
Flipping moving and grabbing
We love the set and forget aspect of a long term smoking barbecue project. Even still, you have to get the food on the rack, often flip it over or move it in some fashion. These are your best bet for implements to accomplish all you barbecuing goals. This isn’t a set that has double a digit assortment of tools that you may never use. Instead this is a rock solid heavy duty set of tools that cover the basics, and the bulk of what you need; tongs, fork, spatula and basting brush.
Sure the spatula has a nice sharp edge, built in bottle opener, and thin tip for sliding under food, but like the rest of the set it is heavy gauge stainless steel, and has well sized loops to hang on the hooks in an outdoor kitchen. These are a no frills set that are job ready, made to work tools.
Hands on work
Some folks consider a good pair of gloves around the heat the most important accessory. And when you need them gloves are essential. This line of gloves is extremely versatile. They offer different sizes, different lengths, and different layers of insulation. Fewer layers equals better articulation but less heat resistance. This variety lets you choose how they will fit in to your cooking activities.
Best of all these meet the heat resistance you need, along with water and oil proofing. You can get hands on moving a brisket around or even shredding your pork. You can also move hot grates, pull scorching cast iron off the heat or take your time moving coals around without losing the hair on the back of your hands. Or your forearms for that matter because they offer excellent arm coverage in the longest lengths.
Temperature part 1
Are we there yet? The best way to know is with an accurate thermometer; Thermoworks is one of the best manufacturers in the segment and the Thermopop is a great compact device. It offers super-fast reads with unparalleled precision.
This little unit is also splash proof with user replaceable batteries, if you ever run them down. The actual sensor probe is very thin which makes it fine for grilling use too, and the display is easy to read in all light, with backlighting for evening use.
Temperature part II
So much of what we do is low and slow cooking. It is worth every minute…but our personal time has value as well. That is where the Inkbird Bluetooth Thermometer comes in to play, by letting you know what is happening form a distance. It offers five probes that can be used to monitor multiple items on your cooking racks. The sixth probe is an ambient temperature sensor to be sure that you’re creating the right cooking conditions for great food.
This device offers a great range, 150 feet, high and low temperature alerts for each probe, a great display and a rechargeable battery with 40 hours of run time. This is all managed by you through the user friendly app that you install on your phone. As close to cooking by remote as you are likely to get.
Temperature part III
The next level of smoking meat adventures is right here. Fireboard allows you to monitor the internal temperature of your food, and the ambient temperature of the cooking environment. It goes another leap forward when you add a blower that will kick in at the low temperature and get the heat flowing as needed to get back to your desired cooking temp.
These folks are a classic story of success since their Kickstarter inception in 2015. Solid products that will meet your expectation are what they deliver. They do all that while making your cooking life so much easier. Instead of hovering over your food you can actually mingle with the friends and family that will enjoy the tasty result of your efforts.
More Usable Space
When it comes to doing barbecue, ribs are right up there as a costar of the show. Sometimes it can be hard to get enough ribs in the smoker, along with that brisket or pork shoulder, to be able to feed your crew. Enter the rib rack, bringing you space to spare for your food.
This rack is long enough that a full rack of ribs so they will not hang over the ends. Its stainless steel for ease of cleaning and has handles that make it easy to move around as needed even when fully loaded. The size is also right to fit in a number of home smoking and barbecuing devices.
Accommodating Different Meats
Not all food stays in one place as easily as brisket or ribs. This versatile device will let you barbecue things that may be odd shaped or difficult to manage with a couple different options. Most straightforward is for chicken. You get a base that has two different vertical skewer options. Both allow the chicken to sit upright, either setting on the grill or hanging from the included hooks in a pit smoker environment.
It also can allow you to expand your cooking horizons. Stack slabs of seasoned pork alternating with pineapple for some Al Pastor meat, or build big Kebabs, Shawarma, Gyros or Brazilian Churrasco. In short, it brings a level of diversity and flexibility to your barbecue game for incredible flavors and combinations.
Cooking Small Items
Not all of our barbecue comes in large pieces. Some of the best choices – wings – are smaller and require a lot of work to keep track of individually. This is where a basket comes in to make your life easier. More delicate foods like vegetables, shrimp, scallops, fish – wings – and such are much easier to cook when you can contain them and turn them easily all at once.
This item has a handle for open fire cooking, but it is removable for smoking – wings – and enclosed heat. Stainless steel makes for easy clean up, heat resistance, and heat conductivity so that you can still get nice grill marks on the smaller items you barbecue. This unit will do a great job on a batch of brats or dogs, and did we mention that we love it for cooking wings?
Slicing it right
The time has come to serve your wonderful barbecued food, let’s say brisket! You got a great bark from hours of slow smoke along with a delicate texture that you want to show off in slices without shredding. Bring in a Granton Edge Slicer knife made of high carbon steel. The extra length and indents in the blade allow for a smoother draw across the meat and slices that fall easily off the knife.
Mercer is a manufacturer that has deep roots in commercial kitchens with a name for quality, durability and value. While there are knives with nicer aesthetics and fancy handles, this is a workhorse knife with a Santoprene based handle that grips well when wet or oily, and cleans up to a high standard.
That’s a wrap, time to clean
It seems no matter the style of barbecuing, smoking or searing you favor, it always involves cleaning up grills or racks. That means a grill cleaner and scraper; not that much imagination needed. Alpha Grillers did come up with a new twist on the classic twisted bundle of wire that you run across the racks. Their trio of brushes run parallel to the handle so that you are pushing them the most effective direction along the grill racks.
That difference is a surprising game changer in making clean up easier, and it really lets the bristles dig in the slots for deeper cleaning. It has full stainless steel construction for a rust free life, and a long enough handle that you can actually use it over a hot grill for more effective results without getting scorched yourself.