Summertime BBQs—almost all of us have been at one, whether it’s in someone’s backyard, on an urban rooftop, or at a nearby park. Of course, the setting and crowd always differs a little depending on variables; however, in essence, the atmosphere is usually always the same. Friends convene when the weather is nice to imbibe on relaxing alcoholic beverages, talk about everything and nothing at the same time, and nibble on an assortment of grilled vegetables and meats (or meat alternatives, if being carnivorous isn’t your thing). This may all sound fairly lax and enjoyable, but beneath the exterior of this façade, there’s almost always an intense battle for social hierarchy at play—the battle for the title of grill master. Without fail, there are always a select few individuals who either deem themselves worthy to man the grill or who have this chore, willingly or unwillingly, bestowed upon them. And this isn’t a chore for the faint of heart. Grilling isn’t rocket science, but it does require almost constant attention to detail and it assumes some basic prior knowledge—as well as the right tools, of course. Accepting this responsibility does also come with the risk of either being lauded for your efforts or having to take criticism from your mates. If you find yourself in such a situation, fret not, for the following tips will help you stay as cool as a cucumber in even the direst grilling scenarios.
The Grill: Charcoal or Gas?
This question has, does, and will continue to divide grill enthusiasts into two vastly different camps. It’s tantamount to asking people if they prefer beer or wine, or dogs and cats. Rarely is there a middle ground. There are some very sound arguments for charcoal grills, which you can find elucidated in more depth here, as well as equally convincing arguments for gas grills here.
However, in a nut shell, here are the major differences:
Charcoal: More than anything, grilling with charcoal is so popular among some grillers because it imparts whatever you’re grilling with a beautiful, smoky flavor (provided you take the right approach). Charcoal grills can also reach very high temperatures, which is helpful if you want a steak with a crispy, caramelized exterior. They’re also more portable and a bit cheaper than gas grills. Also, there’s nothing quite like being outdoors, enjoying beautiful weather, drinking an ice cold beer, and catching a waft of charcoal briquettes coming off the grill.
One of the most trusted names when it comes to grills is Weber. Their products are dependable and always get the job done. We’re a big fan of this 22-inch/55-cm charcoal grill. It’s simple and sturdy enough to meet your everyday grilling needs—no fuss and no frills. Get it here.
Gas: When it comes to gas grills, there’s one word that basically sums up their merit—convenience. They don’t take nearly as long as charcoal grills do to reach the proper grilling temperature and the amount of time you save as a result can be invaluable during busy weekday nights. It’s also significantly easier to control the temperature of a gas grill, so there’s less room for error. However, they’re usually more expensive in terms of initial purchase price, as well as repairs.
As mentioned, gas grills are a bit more expensive than charcoal grills. But, as they saying goes: if you buy cheap, you buy twice. Investing in quality grilling equipment pays off in the long run. You can find a great, compact, 2-burner propane grill from Weber here.
If you decide to go the route of grilling with good ole fashioned charcoal, there is one piece of equipment that you should own, without a doubt—a charcoal chimney. First of all, if you care at all about what you put in your body or how your food tastes, you should never light your charcoal with lighter fluid. It’s unnecessary and makes your food taste like a grilled Zippo lighter. Perhaps you’ve had bad luck in the past trying to light charcoal with ripped up newspaper and matches or an undersized lighter. Few things in life are as frustrating. But such occurrences can easily be avoided with a charcoal chimney. They work without fail, every time. Simply fill up the top part with charcoal, place newspaper or some other fire starter underneath, light up said fire starter, and then wait just a short time before you can continue with grillin’ and chillin’.
Get one here.
The grate on your grill will end up becoming a near and dear friend to you. It will serve as the mediator between flame and food, and dependably assist you, time and time again, in your grilling endeavors. To ensure that this relationship is always mutually beneficial, be sure to keep your grate clean. There are a few ways to do so, which you can read about in more detail here, but all of them will require a sturdy grill brush.
Be sure to select one with strong, stainless steel bristles, like the one you can purchase here.
Spatula and Tongs
Of course, you’ll need a spatula and tongs when grilling. There are several kits on the market that look like they were produced more for the needs of a surgeon instead of a hobby griller. You don’t need to go over the top with your accessories. Taking the stripped down, simple approach is always best. For a spatula, you’ll want one that’s thin at the end so that you can easily get beneath more delicate items, such as fish, without struggling and potentially ruining your food. When choosing tongs, it’s just important to ensure that they close tightly at the end. Loosely locking, sloppy tongs are often to blame when food is dropped through the grate—a painful blunder for any griller.
Pick up a trustworthy set here.
There are several useful tricks for determining whether meat and fish are done without a thermometer, but having one on hand is never a bad idea. They are usually pretty cheap and help to ensure that you’re cooking your proteins to the safe and proper internal temperature every time.
Find one here.
There you have it. All you have to do is equip yourself with a few basic tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little self-assurance, and you’ll be able to grill with confidence, no matter what the occasion.
And be sure to check out our collection of delicious, easy-to-make BBQ recipes this summer! You’ll find them easily by using the filter in our app and selecting BBQ.
Published on May 17, 2016