A pitmaster's suggestions
"A key ingredient to creating a great meal on the grill is using the right tools and buying quality ingredients that can hold their flavor under the heat," says award-winning pitmaster and cookbook author Troy Black, who recently teamed up with Sam's Club Chef Brigade as the grill expert. Black's two must-have items are a stainless steel mesh basket and flexible grilling skewers. We tried them both and put them at the top of our grilling essentials list.
Backyard stainless steel mesh basket ($25)
"When cooking vegetables and meats, I like to use the backyard stainless steel mesh basket (available at Sam's Club)," says Black. "It's an easy way to infuse the smoky flavor of the grill into these items while preventing them from slipping through the cracks." The mesh basket can also be used for seafood and smaller pieces of meat that would fall into the fire if placed directly on a grill grate. It also comes with a locking lid so you can toss ingredients in the basket for even cooking.
Fire Wire flexible grilling skewers ($24 for four)
"If you plan to serve kabobs, make sure you have Flexible grilling skewers on hand," suggests Black. "These help maximize the space on the grill and hold twice as much food as conventional skewers." These high-heat-resistant stainless steel skewers aren't just space-efficient, they are fun to use because you twist them into a ring after they are threaded with ingredients. Simply leave the skewers' tip hanging outside the grilling surface and the ingenious stainless steel design stays cool, allowing you to turn or remove food from the grill without tools.
Fiero 5-piece personalized barbecue set ($70)
When you mean business at the grill, it's only natural to have a stainless steel barbecue set personalized with your initials or your grilling motto (up to 25 characters). The Fiero barbecue set features an attractive aluminum carrying case with comfort-grip handle, faux leather interior and elastic-reinforced hook and loop closures to keep tools secure and tools with large eyelets for easy hanging. The set comes with one extra-large spatula with serrated edge and built-in bottle opener, large fork, large knife, stainless steel tongs and a basting brush. Having your tools in a case allows you to take your grilling skills beyond your patio so no matter where you are, you can fire up the grill.
Porter barbecue tray ($40)
Show your pitmistress style with a barbecue tray that not only caddies all of your meats and condiments but also comes with containers to separate raw and cooked foods and a serving tray for guests. Don't worry if you haven't mastered the art of juggling containers and platters, the Porter BBQ Tray features interconnected pieces that keep everything together from kitchen to grill. The tray comes with three containers, condiment holder (that even holds a paper towel roll) and a serving tray.
Sweetwater Spice Company Jerk Pineapple Habanero BBQ Bath Brine Concentrate ($9)
Want to impress your cookout guests with the jerk taste of the Islands? Soak your beef, poultry, pork or seafood in this sweet-hot brine boasting pineapple, 16 herbs and spices, and habanero heat. Brining will keep your grilled goods moist and juicy, and as a bonus, you can strain this brine after soaking and use the solids as a wet rub before grilling.
Teeny Tiny Spice Company West African Curry ($10)
Curry turns any dish into an exotic-flavored treat. This mildly hot curry blend includes many ingredients that you would expect in a curry with the addition of a few spices more typical of African cuisine such as Cubeb, Grains of Paradise and cocoa nibs. This unique blend, which is made in small batches and ground just before packaging, is based on curries used in Senegal for preparing traditional fish dishes. Rub it on seafood, poultry, other meats and veggies before sizzling on the grill. You can also whisk the curry with oil to brush on grilled goods while they are cooking.
Kinnikinnick Gluten-Free Soft Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns ($5)
Gone are the days when gluten-free products had unpalatable tastes and textures. Kinnikinnick has mastered gluten-free baking and will delight your wheat-free tastes with their new line of soft breads and buns. Gluten-, nut- and dairy-free, the hamburger and hot dog buns are high in fiber, lower in sodium than many other gluten-free brands, have less than 1 gram sugar per serving and contain no artificial ingredients. Whether you have gluten-free guests on your dinner invite list or you want to happily convert your family to a gluten-free lifestyle, pick up an assortment of Kinnikinnick's gluten-free baked goods and keep them on hand in the freezer (they freeze well and stay soft even when thawed).
The Gardener and the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill ($13)
Our favorite grilling cookbook comes from the "BBQ queens" Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, The Gardener and the Grill celebrates the delicious combination of garden fresh produce and the usual grilled meats, poultry and seafood. This versatile collection of recipes shows you how to use the grill all year long with whatever ingredients are in season. Get ready to sink your teeth into grilling recipes, such as Planked Butternut Squash with Sage and Brie; Blackened Fish Po'Boy with Grilled Green Onion Mayonnaise, Pizza Primavera, Wood-Grilled Shrimp and Yellow Peppers, Tandoori Turkey Burgers, and Grill-Baked Apples with Cinnamon Nut Stuffing. This paperback book also comes in a Kindle edition.
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