Beyond the spatula, grill accessories
There was man. There was heat. There was meat.The beauty of grilling is its simplicity. Cooking over an open flame infuses so much flavor into meat and vegetables, one needs only to reach for a little salt and pepper to complete the job. But just because grilling is easy doesnt mean we have to restrict ourselves to the metal spatula. Chef-inventors have come a long way in tools since the cave man days, and there are plenty of cool gadgets out there to make specific grilling tasks easier and life in general tastier. Stifle your inner purist this summer and try out some of these fun grill accessories.
Vegetarians, your prayers have been answered. Theres nothing more tormenting than watching a perfectly good asparagus roll through the grate onto hot coals and char into ash. Outsets non-stick copper grill wok is the solution to our green fallen soldiers. Its a metal basket that sits directly on the grill. Its flat sides and round holes allow the heat to circulate and the food chars evenly on all sides.Its great for vegetables. It keeps them from falling through the grill, said Amy McDonnell, co-owner of Kitchen Collage in Edwards. I cut veggies into chunks and throw them on there.Tofu, shrimp, scallops and stir-fries also work well, she said.McDonnell also recommends Outsets new and improved fish basket, basically a metal cage to grill your fish in. The problem with fish baskets, McDonnell said, is they often only come in one size, and if it doesnt fit your flounder, meat can still fall through the grate.These new ones are flexible, she said. So it grasps any size fish.
Kitchen Collage also sells steak and poultry buttons, tiny thermometers that will tell you whether your steak is rare, medium or well done, or if your chicken is safely cooked.Some fine dining restaurants have started serving their steaks with these buttons, McDonnell said. So theyre fun for entertaining, too.
Amateur chef Scott Thurston of Gypsum believes in the low and slow method on the grill. He uses a metal smoke box filled with flavored wood chips that sits underneath the grate to give extra flavor to wild game and fish.I smoke six to seven hours, throw the meat on the grills rotisserie, Thurston said. It infuses the meat more with flavor by smoking it longer, than if you were to just grill it.He likes the apple wood chips for fish and cherry wood chips for wild game, which he buys at the Eagle Pharmacy. Kitchen Collage sells the smoke box, as well as cabernet flavored chips.Another way to smoke meat is to grill it on top of a flavored plank of wood. Fire & Flavor sells cedar, maple, oak and alder planks. I put salmon, all seasoned and ready to go, on the cedar planks and in the barbecue, close the lid and roast the salmon, said Scott Rella, who has worked as a professional chef for many years, but now makes his living carving ice with his company Fire and Ice. Its just fun.
Rella admits the wood planks are more of just a novelty for him. He prefers to grill simply using flavored oils he makes from scratch at home. Rella takes leftover rosemary, basil, garlic or chilies, throws them into separate plastic squirt bottles, then fills them with olive oil and waits for the flavors to take hold.You can either squirt the oil directly on the food, or I use a regular paint brush from a hardware store, a pastry brush works too, and brush those oils onto fish and vegetables with a little salt and pepper, Rella said.Oils, rubs and sauces arent exactly grilling accessories, but sometimes its really all you need to complete that open-flame taste. Like the gadgets, theyre just little helpers to expand on flavor. McDonnells favorites are local chef Rick Kangas Million Dollar Steak Rub, Plantation Roast Coffee Rub for beef, pork and duck, and at least once a week she uses Cow Towns BBQ Sauce, from her home state of Kansas, on chicken.
Regardless of whether your kitchen is full of culinary toys or stripped bare to the spatula, one must never forget the basics. Ask any Zen grill master and he will tell you, its simply about a man and his meat.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 748-2938, or firstname.lastname@example.org.