With pandemic restrictions eased, this weekend many Americans will gather around an outdoor grill to celebrate July 4th and use an arsenal of grilling tools to grill burgers, steaks, and vegetables.
But which tools are actually indispensable?
"It's really trial and error trying to understand what it takes to be successful," says Derek Wolf, an open fire enthusiast in Nashville and author of Food by Fire.
"You can spend hundreds – or thousands – of dollars on equipment to get yourself set up," said Mr. Wolf, but most people don't need an elaborate collection of paraphernalia.
His catalog of requirements includes good tongs, a grill brush and a thermometer – and perhaps a pair of welding gloves for the practical pit master.
"At the end of the day, you can't cook with anything but charcoal and your hand if you're not afraid to turn a steak," said Mr. Wolf. "And I have a lot of friends who do that."
How long should tool handles be? Although some grilling tools are long enough to resemble scales, Mr. Wolf said, “Personally, I like medium sized ones” – about 16 inches long – “mainly because the closer I get to the meat, the more control I have over them. ”
Do you really need a thermometer? “If you don't cook at high temperature, you always run the risk of either overcooking or undercooking your food,” he said, which can be disappointing and even dangerous.
Which grill brush is the best? Mr. Wolf likes metal brushes, but loose bristles can be a hazard. To knock broken bristles off the grill, sweep it down with a crumpled piece of aluminum foil after brushing, he suggested, or use a bristle-free brush.
Quad Spring Safety double helix bristle-free grill brush
Bristle-free metal grill cleaning brush
About $ 19 at Brushtech: 518-563-2401 or brushtechbrushes.com
Three-part tailgate grill set with bag
Stainless steel tools with walnut handles and brass rivets
About $ 65 at Lamson: 413-642-8135 or lamsonproducts.com
BBQ crocodile tongs
Aluminum pliers with coated handles
From $ 16.50 in Lee Valley: 800-871-8158 or leevalley.com
Four-piece ash grill set
Stainless steel tools with pakka wood handles and storage box
About $ 100 at Schmidt Brothers: 201-666-3717 or schmidtbrothers.com
Thermometer with smartphone app
About $ 100 at Weber: 800-446-1071 or weber.com
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