Char & Away: Essentials for Open-Fire Cooking
Early man first tamed fire a half million summers ago, give or take. And every season since we've celebrated the release of new and ingenious tools to help us better handle, monitor and enjoy the elemental ritual of flame-burning big hunks of protein in our backyard grills.
From bourbon-soaked barrel wood to an instant-read thermometer that pings your iPad when the internal temperature of your rib eye translates to medium-rare, here's what you should be cooking with right now.
Bear Paws ($30)
Grab that unwieldy pork shoulder from the grill. Now shred that meat for pulled pork sandwiches. Want to serve a salad or scoop up pasta too without dealing with tongs? You can do all this and more because you are an agile grilling master with the hands of a bear!
Maker's Mark Barrel Grilling Chips ($20 for 2 pounds)
You can marinate your chicken parts in a boozy BBQ sauce. You can marinate yourself with refreshing tumblers of bourbon and lemonade as you grill. But how to put the taste of bourbon directly into the fire? With these wood blocks cut from the barrel staves used to age Maker's Mark. It's like cooking over a burning distillery.
Outset Leather Grill Mitt ($18)
These heat-deflecting gloves are big, cheap and durable--and look like well-worn baseball mitts made for catching things on fire. What more do you need? Nothing.
Taming the Feast: Ben Ford's Field Guide to Adventurous Cooking ($35)
If we told you that there was a book with a picture of Harrison Ford's ruggedly handsome chef son Ben wearing a T-shirt with an octopus on it and building a big wooden box to roast a whole lamb in, what would you say? You would say, "I need to read that book and learn how to make wood-fired paella and 12-hour grilled brisket," and you would be right.
Range by Supermechanical ($70)
Range is the silicone-padded instant-read thermometer that hooks up to your iPhone or iPad and can send temperature alerts over Wi-Fi. It also comes wrapped up like a package of supermarket meat.
Steve Raichlen Steel Kabob Rack ($37)
These kebabs are as fat and as wide as the blade of a sword, holding food safely in place. And the rack allows all your skewered stuff to hover above the grill so there's never any sticking or black grill marks on delicate vegetables.
Lillie's Q ($8)
Charlie McKenna of the Chicago barbecue instant-classic Lillie's Q restaurant offers several styles of sauces that pay tribute to regional American barbecue. Our favorite, the Carolina Gold, has a mustard base that's slightly tangy and silky in texture.
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