As the summer gets underway and we head outside into our yards, our thoughts turn to what we can cook outside. But if you are just starting out building up your outdoor cooking equipment, you might need some inspiration. So, here are the gadgets that I regularly use at home to get slow-cooked barbecue loveliness and grilled food done to perfection.
I reviewed the SmartFire BBQ controller in 2019 and have been using it for every slow cook I do. It is the ultimate hands-off control for perfect temperature management. No more fiddling around with the temperature, lid, or worrying about the meat stalling. No matter how long you cook, this controller will give you the temperature you asked for, hour after hour.
The Weber Rapidfire makes it quick and easy to light your grill. As the coals are stocked vertically, with air holes for good updraft, they light the fire much quicker than just lighting the grill directly. Also, if your fire starts to die down, you can prepare another set of coals to pep things up without ruining the food already cooking on the grill.
I have played around with lots of different briquettes, lump wood, and other charcoal, and I keep on returning to the Weber brand. Easy to light, low ash, and a long burn time make these my favorite type of fuel for my grill and smoker. I stock up whenever I see them offered at a discount.
If I want to add a smoky flavour to my barbecued food, I add the wood chips or dust (sawdust) to the Cameron smoke box and place the box on top of the grill. Sometimes I wet the chips, other times, I smoke from dry. I can then control which flavour I impart to my food.
You might find it difficult to get my favorite BBQ hardware — the ProQ bbq — but grab one if you can find it in the US. I think that the ProQ is more modular than its competitor, the Weber Smoky Mountain. You can use it in three different ways depending on how many centerpieces you use, and add water or fuel to the BBQ without opening the lid. My Smartfire controller sits at the bottom, controlling the airflow, and keeping the meat at a controlled temperature for hours until the bark and the meat is perfect.
I like the ThermoPro TP20, as it gives good temperature information. I use two probes to set both the temperature in the pit and monitor the temperature of the meat. Wireless connectivity means that I do not have to stand over the meat to find out what the cooking temperature is.
I was skeptical about using a silicone mat on the grill, as I was convinced that it would reduce the flavor somehow. However, I tried it, and am now a convert. It means I do not need to burn off all the food residue after finishing the grill and guarantees that I do not inadvertently eat any fragments of metal that might have detached from my cleaning brush. I have also cooked an awesome version of smoked pancakes with maple sauce on the mat, which you must try.
After cooking, I like to rest my slow-cooked brisket to make sure that the flesh relaxes and the juices keep the meat moist. Previously, I would wrap the meat in foil, and cover it with three or four towels to rest for 20 minutes. Now I just pop the meat into the insulated box. It is made from a material similar to compressed polystyrene and it keeps everything warm for hours. It is wipe-clean and sturdy and definitely worth the money.
I use the Vortex occasionally when I want a super hot grill. The vortex channels the heat and quickly increases the temperature for a superfast hot flame cook. I can also position it for indirect heat.
I like these KitchenAid silicone tipped tongs, as they are easy to keep clean and grip food snugly without tearing delicate items such as fish and eggplant slices on the grill. I also find that these tongs do not pinch my hands when I use them.
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