Turn average items from around the house into indispensable grilling tools.
Here at Food & Wine, we’re always on the lookout for exciting new cooking equipment and technology. However, when it comes to summer grilling, we’re all about ease and convenience. No one needs that fancy grill basket or hot dog roller – what do you do with these gadgets the other 9 months of the year? We’ve found that a few unexpected items that you already have around the house can be your most valuable grilling tools. Here, 6 of our favorites.
1. Aluminum Foil
Aside from a pair of tongs, aluminum foil might be the most essential grilling tool. This is no surprise—you can use it to keep your food warm, to make packets for grilled vegetables or fish, to wrap around slow cooked ribs, you name it. However, foil also makes for a great impromptu grill brush. Simply crumble a large sheet of foil into a ball, and then using your tongs, use it to scrub your grill grates clean. No messy brush encrusted with burnt BBQ sauce to wash—just toss in the garbage when you’re done.
2. Hair Dryer
When pitmaster John Lewis of Lewis BBQ in Charleston wants to get a serious sear on his meat, he uses an old hairdryer to crank up the heat. “Just before taking your meat off the grill, stoke the coals with a hair dryer for a crisp sear. I have a bright green ‘designated grill dryer’ that I keep in my truck. My buddies always do a double take when they climb in the backseat—it's not everyday you see a barbecue dude with a hair dryer.”
3. Spray Bottles
To prevent any unwanted flare-ups, chef Elias Cairo at Olympia Provisions in Portland, OR always keeps a spray bottle on hand while grilling. “I always have one spray bottle with water to quickly put out flames so that I don't burn my meat and a second one with olive oil to keep my food from sticking to the grill.”
4. Cooling Rack
Hack a grill basket by using a standard cooling rack for grilling small, slippery vegetables. Place a rack directly on your grill grates with the feet facing up and then grill produce like snap peas or asparagus directly on the rack. If you don’t have a latticed rack (pictured above), grab one with parallel bars and place them perpendicular to the grates on the grill.
5. Tube Socks (clean ones)
Whether you’re a BBQ pro or an amateur just learning the ropes, tube socks will quickly become your new secret weapon for basting your meat. “I cook a lot of brisket and ribs in the summer,” says Scott Garrett of The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. “I’ll take (new) tube socks, roll them really tight then tie them with kitchen string. I then make a mixture of Worcestershire, beer, lemons halves, apple cider vinegar and a creole spice blend and soak the socks in it overnight. While grilling I’ll rotate socks to sop the ribs, steaks, brisket. The meat gets super tender and flavorful and then I can toss (or wash, if you wish) the socks when I’m done.”
6. Tupperware Lids
Making a perfect burger patty is a surprisingly difficult task. For a perfect burger every time, take two round, plastic, quart container lids and use them as a mold for your patty. The lids are the perfect size for a burger that’s not too thick and just wide enough to fit on your bun after cooking. Bonus: You don't have to handle the ground beef as much, making for super-tender burgers. Here, F&W’s Mad Genius, Justin Chapple, shows you how it’s done.