Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

November 13, 2014

Tools of the Trade: Some Perfect Christmas Gifts

There will be some new posts coming soon. This is the first. So now we're past the days of summer and for many, BBQ season is about to end.  For me, not so much. At first, I was going to write this as an end of summer post. I also had a tailgating thought was well but it didn't work as well as I hoped. The thing is time got away from me. Then it dawned on me. We're headed into the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years. What does it take to make good BBQ? Apart from patience and some proper techniques, one thing makes life MUCH easier. Tools!!! You need good tools in the kitchen, right? So why not for your BBQ grill (especially if you do or plan to do a great deal of BBQ-ing)? So if you're looking for some gift ideas, consider getting something on the lines of what I'm sharing here. I think your loved ones (specifically those who BBQ and cook a great deal) will appreciate and may not see it coming.

You have tools for indoor so why not have some for the grill? The following are tools I've used over the years. Most of what you see here are what either my parents have or what I bought for them (replacing older items). I think you'll find this interesting and may inspire some of you to rethink how to BBQ. These tools have made my BBQ life (as well as my parents)  MUCH easier. I would recommend all of these. Get them when you can. Now some may debate about using these items but I can say first hand that they've made life easier. So do you want to think outside the box for Christmas gifts this year? Well here are some suggestions I think your BBQ fan will enjoy.

Lets start with the first picture. Now at first glance, you might focus on the coal in the middle. That's not the focus. As you can see, there are 2 empty baskets next to the pan in the middle. These coal baskets are very handy. My Dad started using them a few years back. It's very easy to control the fire (especially for those grilling with indirect heat. We were doing direct grilling on this day.

The coal baskets are nice since they not only help with controlling the fire, but it makes life easier in two key ways. The first is that the baskets represent a pile. The coals are placed in each basket so if you need to play with the coals, it's a bit easier to do. You won't have to worry about the coals sliding all over creation either. If you need to stoke the fire, no problem. Just move the basket in question, add the coals and let it catch fire. You also won't be tampering with the risk of killing the fire altogether. Now these baskets work best in a kettle style grill. On that day, Dad was cooking some meat by the direct grilling method. Otherwise, that middle pan is filled with water. 

These are grilling baskets (above and below). These are best used a few different ways I use them mostly for vegetables. It seems to work nicely. I like to do bigger vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, onions and garlic with the top basket. In other words, the food is easily contained and less mess for the cook. The grill grate below is great for a few things. You can cook meat on them (making the need to clear the grill easier). I also use the grill grate to do cook things like asparagus. 

Below is a chimney charcoal starter. Make sure it's strong enough not to melt. 

If you use charcoal, you should consider getting one of these chimney starters. 

Now this is where things can get interesting and seeing how I think. On the left is a grill scraper brush. That pretty much speaks for itself. Use that to clean and scrap the grill. That speaks for itself but notice the blade on the top of it? Having that helps break some of the bigger pieces. As a reminder, it's best to scrape the grill while it's still hot. Now look at the picture opposite the brush (above right). Now on the surface you see the charcoal chimney, tongs and a broken shovel. Now what would I use tongs and a broken shovel for when BBQ-ing. Well, the tongs are old and I used them to manipulate the coals. I use them to either move them around or if I want to move a couple hot coals, I use the tongs the same way I would use them for meat. The shovel? I have a feeling you're VERY curious about what I do with that (especially a broken one at that). If I have to move around coals (more than a couple) or remove them from the fire, I use a shovel and an grill glove (which you will see below). 

OK. So the "beer car chicken" phase had taken a life of its own. Now on one hand, you can use what you have on hand. On the other, you could be losing some good juices where you can make a great gravy or sauce. Now you can use one of these chicken stands. This one can hold a very large chicken. Now if you want to slip a beer can underneath the rack. I prefer to eat the chicken flavor myself but to each their own. This particular stand is pretty large (about 10-12") so there will be plenty of room for the bird to cook properly. In other words, this style of rack, unlike a beer can, will also help cook the chicken internally.  The  lower base fans outward where the bird can also rest more naturally. Not to mention eliminating any issues or concerns with the beer can's ink (aka, dye used on the can cross contaminating the chicken). Not to mention possibly inconsistent cooking temperatures (one part of the can being warmer than the other). Heat also can penetrate the interior of the chicken better without something blocking the chicken's cavity. This stand doesn't do that. 

Remember the BBQ glove I mentioned? Well below is where you will see it. If you go this route, make sure they are HEAVY and insulated. The one my Dad & I use is made of suede and is more of a mitten-type. The next gloves I will buy will be finger/glove type. I think you'll be fine regardless of which direction you go. It's all a matter of preference. What style fits you best? Only you would know that. 

                              Now anyone who doesn't have at least one of these, you are making your effort to BBQ ribs harder than need be. What a shame!!! If you're debating on getting a rib rack, I would say you really should get one (at least depending on how much you want to do.My parents had a rib rack but it had served its time. It was time to replace it. I actually bought this for them cor Christmas. It was what they needed and the price was right. They LOVED it.                                                                                                                                                                    

There are several types of racks. This is one that is more common but now, you will see the racks where they can be stacked vertically 2-3 high. The style I just mentioned probably work better in a larger smoker box versus a kettle grill. 

If I get a little ambitious, I  might get between 6-8 ribs on this rack (4 in the actual slots, 1 on each side and MAYBE put 2 in one slot). It helps keep even cooking while grilling with indirect heat. The rib rack you see here is 5 years old as of now. 

These paraffin starters are the absolute best!! There are also sticks that help start fires. Regardless, do not use lighter fluid in your charcoal grill. I HOPE I don't need to tell any of you that. 

Most of the tools shown here will work well not only in the grill, but in the oven as well. You can get use of these items 365 days a year. So while this post focused more on BBQ tools, many of these items can be used inside as well. Most of the tools I have mentioned here are HEAVY steel. You're MUCH BETTER OFF buying a more expensive rack or grade than something cheaper. In other words if you can bend it, don't buy it. It won't last at all and you're be sorry you did. Most of them are 18/10 steel  (18% chromium, 10% nickle). The result along with durability, is easier to maintain, rust and stain resistant as well. 

Most of the tools here are at least 5 years old. Just like a good pot or knife, these tools will serve you well as long as you take care of it. Most people have purchased at least one cheap pot or knife. I have not. I learned from many (such as my Mom) that if you get something like this, get the best you can afford. Something you won't throw away in under 5 years. Think of these tools as a similar investment. Remember, quality is key. If you buy a rack, stand or anything like I shared here, get good product. What's the old saying? You get what you pay for. I would also ask this of anyone who sees this. If you do take mu suggestions, let me know how it turned out. Tell me if they liked it and if they did, how soon did they get to use it? Seriously. I would like to know. 

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