For me, grilling is a year-round affair. Whether it's a blizzardy, 0-degree night in January or a warm, humid afternoon in June, dinner (and lunch) tastes better when served sizzling and smoking off the grill. There may be no better time than the early fall, though. Mid-summer may be the most popular grill season, but cool sunny days, Saturday and Sunday afternoons filled with football games, and exploding colors make autumn an ideal time to be hover over searing meat with a spatula. Since we're on the cusp of that very time frame, we thought it appropriate to help you get your grill kit in order. From loyal, tried-and-true standbies to newer, flashier gadgets, here are a few grill essentials.
There's nothing particularly fancy about a chimney starter, but if you grill on charcoal, it will be the single best grilling upgrade that you ever make. For some reason, there are still people out there that aren't aware of this simple, inexpensive piece of grill genius, people that insist upon using lighter fluid. You can pick up a charcoal starter for 10 or 20 bucks and forever eliminate any possiblity of butane vapor permeating the steaks/burgers/brats that you've been drooling over all day. And it's really not any more time consuming or difficult to use than a bottle of lighter fluid. That's a good investment if ever I've heard one. Here's a link to a Weber model, but you can find one locally at hardware stores, big box retailers and other shops that have a BBQ section.
Stake 3-in-1 BBQ Tool
I'm sure I'm not the only one that's done it: drop that juicy burger that your eyes can almost taste straight onto the patio because you tried flipping it with the big fork when you couldn't find the spatula. The Stake 3-in-1 keeps all three grill utensils - tongs, fork, spatula - in one place...which is hopefully on or near your grill.
Sure, the shortest days of the year are still a few months off, but that doesn't mean you won't invest all the rays of the day in hiking a favorite trail or enjoying a beer (or three) in front of the sunset. Sometimes you need to grill in the dark. A headlamp or patio light are two of your best options, but if you don't have one of those handy, consider getting an LED designed to attach to your grill. Unlike a headlamp, a grill light stays where you need it rather than getting buried in a pile of camping gear. Here's a whole section of Amazon full of 'em. I like the look of the pictured Weber handle light because it's low profile and looks like it locks securely around the handle (I've had trouble with the clamps on larger lights coming undone at the most inopportune times).
Bear Paw Meat Handler Forks
I'm not sure how well these work, but what's tougher than carrying a steaming pork shoulder or game bird to the table with your bear hands...er clawed hand extensions? Not much, except maybe shredding that pork shoulder with said claws. Bear Paw Meat Handler Forks let you do both in minutes.
Maverick Wireless BBQ Thermometer
If you're cooking a burger, steak or fish, you'll want to stick around a while, but if you're going bigger - think whole chicken, roast or ham - you may not want to hover around the grill like a moth. Instead, hook your meat up to the Maverick Wireless Thermometer and you can keep track of its temperature from up to 300 feet away. The receiver beeps to let you know it's done.
Grill Daddy Pro Grill Brush
Even with all that heat and stiff wire bristles, cleaning all the char and crust off the grates can be a daunting load. The Grill Daddy Pro adds a little steam to your elbow grease to make cleaning faster and surer. Its multi-grip handle should give you a little extra scraping power, too.
Williams Sonoma Stainless Steel Sliding Skewers
Kabobs are one of the most flavorful dishes that you can grill, seamlessly melding the earthy flavors of vegetables with your meat(s) of choice. However, they can be difficult to get off the grill and difficult to empty. Williams Sonoma skewers have handles for easy removal and a sliding disc that pushes food off in one sure motion.