What does it mean when the weather starts to turn? It’s time to bust out the barbeque, of course. Balmy summer days are the ideal occasion for platters of kebabs and juicy burgers. But what if you’re new to the grilling game, and don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you’re a burgeoning barbeque aficionado looking to take your set up to the next level? Either way, you’ve come to the right place. Just in time for summer, the following tips and tools are your ticket to becoming a master of the grill.
A Great Grill
Obviously, you’ll need a grill to get grilling. Before you race off to purchase one, though, there’s a few things to think about. First and foremost, know what type you want. Both gas and charcoal models have their merits. Gas barbecues are easier to clean and disperse heat more evenly, while charcoal varieties achieve more intense temperatures and impart smokier flavors. They each have their shortcomings as well; charcoal models require manual lighting and cook less precisely, but gas grills tend to be pricier and more fragile. Make sure you consider comfort, too. Ideally, your surface should be around waist-height, so you can cook without strain.
Tools of the Trade
Once you’ve got a grill, it’s time to assemble your tools. As a baseline, you’ll want certain utensils for cooking and basic upkeep. A pair of tongs is essential for moving meat without coming too close to the heat. When handling more delicate offerings, such as fish or burgers, a long-handled spatula facilitates safe, easy flipping. Basting brushes make slathering sauces easy, while a thermometer will guarantee the meat reaches your desired internal temperature. For cleaning, use a wire brush to scrape burnt morsels off your grill grates. Finally, have some hand protection on standby, whether it’s grill gloves or oven mitts.
To make BBQ bursting with flavor, you’ll need to invest in some additives. Generally speaking, said additives fall into one of three categories: rubs, marinades, and sauces. Rubs are mixtures of salt, sugar, and various ground spices. Adding one to raw meat vastly enhances the flavor profile of the finished product. Marinating is a similar procedure, wherein meat is coated with or submerged in a marinade—a liquid seasoned with herbs and spices—to imbue it with additional flavor. Many marinades include vinegar or citrus juice to add an acidic bite. As for sauces, they can be added before, during, or after cooking. A perfect rack of ribs, for instance, will be continuously brushed with sauce throughout the cooking process. These additives come in many forms, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you’ve got a selection that suits your palate.
With a couple accessories, the grill can be a surprisingly versatile device. Naturally, there’s plenty of add-ons to improve the barbeque experience. Want to ensure even cooking on your ribs? Sit them upright in a roasting rack. Got some sides to prepare? Throw them in a grill basket, or fit a griddle over your grates. Or maybe you want a radical addition – one that’ll completely change the way you use your barbeque. With the right kit, you can turn your grill into a rotisserie, a smoker, even a personal pizza oven. The possibilities are endless, provided you’ve got the necessary equipment.
Beat the Heat
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Grilling is thirsty work, and the tag team of summer sun and sizzling meat can be dizzying. Luckily, such problems have simple solutions. A cooler by the barbeque can not only hold cold drinks, keeping you and your company hydrated, but doubles as storage for ingredients best kept chilled. Setting up an umbrella helps you stay in the shade when the sun is beating down. And while you’re waiting for that brisket to cook through, why not fish out a folding chair and have yourself a seat? Even grill masters need to rest their legs once in a while.