The Fourth of July is coming up next week. However, instead of blowing out the candles on a cake, most people like to celebrate America’s birthday by firing up the grill. Before throwing your burgers and dogs on the flames, make sure you have the proper equipment to get the job done right.
The Grill: Gas vs. Charcoal
First things first: in order to grill, you need, well, a grill. You have two options: gas or charcoal. So, which is better? Gas grills are easier to light, use, and clean, and allow for reliable and consistent cooking. Charcoal grills may be a bit more work, but it pays off with smokier, more complex flavors that you simply cannot get with gas. To be honest, great cooking can be done on both types of grills. It comes down to what’s more important for you: convenience or flavor.
Aside from a grill, a good set of tongs is probably the most important tool in a grillmaster’s arsenal. You can do the vast majority of your grilling work with tongs alone. Make sure you pick a pair that’s long enough to keep your hands away from the direct heat of the coals, but short enough to allow for control when moving food around—something about 12-18 inches long should do the trick. Also, opt for tongs made of stainless steel, as they’re more durable than the cheaper aluminum alternatives.
It’s a good idea to have two different brushes when grilling: a silicone one and a paintbrush-style one. Silicone brushes are perfect for basting your meat with thicker sauces, last a long time and are easy to clean. When adding oil or thinner sauces to your meat, a simple paintbrush from the hardware store will do the trick. Just make sure you pick one with natural bristles, because many synthetic options will melt from the heat of the grill.
While I’ve never had to deal with food poisoning myself, my best guess is that it’s no fun. The only way to make sure your meat is fully-cooked is by using a thermometer to check its internal temperature. Go with a classic analog one—they’re more accurate and don’t require batteries.
Now that you have all the gear, you’ll need some food to cook! More info on that to come next week…