The old adage “A fool and his money are soon parted” is never more true than when it comes to grilling gadgets.
When so many people love grilling, it’s almost inevitable that some of them are going to run out of good ideas before they run out of money, so it’s no surprise that there are some astoundingly bad products on the grilling market. Have you seen the S’mores Grilling Basket? Why would you need this? Because getting a sharp stick and putting a marshmallow on it is beyond the capabilities of most people? Or the Long Handle Salt & Pepper Set? Let me get this straight – you wait until your burgers are on the grill to season them and your flames are so life threatening high that you need a long-handled salt shaker? Do us all a favor and find another hobby before you burn down your back deck.
In truth, there are very few essential tools you need to master the grill. I will give you two of mine.
What: A digital probe thermometer.
Why you need it: Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a grill enthusiast more than the possibility of overcooking the meat.
How it works: You put the probe in the meat. If there are bones, don’t put the probe right next to them. You’ll get a false reading. You can see two temperatures on the probe. The one on the right is the internal temperature you want to achieve so the meat is cooked but still juicy. I’m doing boneless chicken breasts here so the temperature I want is 165°F. The temperature on the left is the current internal temperature. When the meat reaches 165°F, an alarm will go off. How easy is that?
The thermometer will come with a guide to the optimum internal temperatures for various types of meat. But here’s the quick low-down:
- Poultry/whole: 165°F breast, 165-175°F thigh
- Poultry/parts: 165°F breast, 165-175°F thigh
- Steak: Rare – 125°F; Medium rare: 135°F; Well done: We’re not going there. Don’t do that.
- Pork: Medium: 150°F; Well done: 160°F (Remember, you don’t have to go to well done anymore. Try it medium. You’ll be happy).
A digital probe thermometer will cost about $20 at a housewares store. Put it on your Christmas list.
What: A good grill brush.
Why you need it: Keeping your grill clean is the easiest thing in the world. Let’s think about it this way: Would you make scrambled eggs in a skillet and then put the pan back in the pantry without cleaning it? If you would, I don’t want to come to your house for supper.
How it works: First, there are two types of grill brushes – steel and brass. If you have a porcelain grill grate, brass is better because it’s softer. If you have a conventional grill grate, steel is just fine but brass works, too. Once you’re done grilling, keep the gas on and close the lid for about 10 minutes. Then run the brush over the grill to remove any remaining food particles. By the way, one of my other essential tools is spray oil. If you lightly spray both sides of the meat you’re grilling with oil, there’s a lot less to clean up and your seasonings will stick to the meat.
So, let’s practice. Here’s recipe for Lemon Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken. Get your probe thermometer ready and have the grill brush at your side for after you’re done. Ready, set, go! You can do this.
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/6 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2/3 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- Spray oil
- Preheat the grill to medium high.
- Combine the oil, lemon juice, salt, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and water in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Place the chicken breasts on a platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spray one side with oil.
- Grill chicken oiled-side down for 4-6 minutes depending on the size of the breasts. Spray the remaining side with oil, flip and insert the probe thermometer set to the desired internal temperature of 165°F.
- Continue grilling while you baste the done side with the glaze. When the internal temperature reaches 165°F, flip and baste the other side with the glaze. Remove the chicken and give both sides one last brush of glaze.