Walk into a garden centre or BBQ shop and just look at the hundreds of BBQ tools available. Daunting isn’t it ! The message seems to be: you need a lot of tools and spend a lot of money in order to BBQ properly. This is simply untrue. As a BBQ Chef I have been given and used so many tools and I have draws full of stuff, most of it I don’t use and would feel slightly conned if I had bought them.
So this is my list of my essential BBQ tools:
My favourite thermometer is Thermopen by ETI. You can spend hundreds on thermometers – ones with probes, phone apps, digital or analogue. The thermometer on your BBQ measures the temperature in the upper dome, so like the heat control on your oven – it measures the temperature of the oven but not the internal temperature of the food. Many foods, like lamb and beef, can be eaten rare as long as you know the provenance of the meat and it is good quality. However poultry and pork products do need to be thoroughly cooked through and this is where a simply probe thermometer comes in useful.
2. Long arms tongs
A good, sturdy pair of long armed tongs is essential for turning food and if you don’t want to cook your hand. When you get your BBQ to over 200 C, it gets too hot to turn your food comfortable and accurately.
My favourite BBQ tools are from Goodnel in South Africa goodnel.com. Sturdy, strong and long lasting – made for braais.
I think a BBQ glove is necessary for all types of BBQs but especially for ceramics as it allows you to move the heat deflectors and grill plates around whilst you are cooking without burning yourself or setting fire to your tea towels. I have tried various gloves and mitts and managed to melt most of them! Finally, I have found my ideal glove : Bakers Gloves from CCS. These are professional gloves and they really work – you get a pair for about £25 whilst the Pit Mitt BBQ Glove are about £20 for one.
4. Double Skewers
There are so many skewers on the market – wooden, metal, fire-wires – and the best and easiest to use are double pronged skewers. With one easy move ie one turn of the skewer, all your food stays in place and you can cook all your food evenly. Single skewers, the food can spin and you end up cooking your food at different temperatures and times. Not ideal.
The best double skewers I have found come from Weber and cost about £8 for eight:
5. Good quality lump charcoal
Obviously only for charcoal BBQs but the difference in flavour and longevity using lump charcoal instead of briquettes can make or break a BBQ. I currently use Big K or Direct Charcoal and have been happy with their consistent quality.
6. Ceramic Pizza Stone
A good quality pizza stone is essential for adding true versatility to any BBQ. It means you can bake pizzas and breads but, just as importantly, you can use it as a ceramic plancha to cook vegetables, seafood, fish, fruits etc. It takes barbecuing to a whole new level – I simply couldn’t live without it.
7. Wire Brush
However much I hate to clean, it is necessary now and then. A good quality wire brush is needed to remove any food residue on grills/grates and ceramic pizza stones. Once your food is cooked, raise the heat on your BBQ to cremate any residue and brush down with your wire brush. Job done.
The best one I’ve found is Weber – very good quality and mine has lasted years and doesn’t shed bristles.
As you can see there aren’t a lot of actual BBQ tools you need. So, please don’t waste your money on unnecessary BBQ tools, most of the stuff you have in your kitchen can be used to cook outdoors. An outdoor kitchen is just that. Most of my favourite outdoor cooking tools I find in kitchen shops and supermarkets.
I would be very interested to hear about your essential BBQ tools….
There might be another list coming soon: the top ten useless BBQ tools..and there are a lot of those !