There is always some sort of new outdoor cooking gadget hitting the market. Many are imitations or knockoffs of something you probably already own, but some of the serious innovations lately are worth consideration and won’t break the bank.
I have been accumulating equipment for the better part of the year, and here is a list of items that get my seal of approval.
The Char-Broil X-200 is built like a tank and might be the most convenient portable grill on the market. It’s ready to use within five minutes of coming out of the box, and it operates with a standard 1-pound propane cylinder (not included) that can be ignited with just the press of a button.
The stainless steel cooking surface is big enough for 12 hamburger patties, a half-dozen steaks or a small meal mixture of grilled meats and vegetables. And it both heats and cools quickly, so there’s almost zero wait time.
It’s perfect for the beach or the tailgate scene, but this could also be the go-to grilling device for apartment dwellers, or it could work as a side cooker dedicated to cooking the asparagus or whatever. Just remember, cleanliness is godliness, so give it a good wipe down after every use to keep it pretty.
Elevated warming rack
Anybody who has ever attempted to toast buns or bread directly on grill grates probably has burned them so badly, the result was an embarrassment of char. The standard grate is just too darn hot for floured-up carbs.
Bread, shrimp and everything else that needs a more delicate blast of heat needs to rise above, and adding a warming rack to your grill can fix a lot of mistakes. Warming racks come in all forms, and many grills even come with one built in, but the standard Weber kettle comes naked.
So pick the one that fits your grill. Warming racks are inexpensive and should be a mandatory addition to your standard weekend setup.
Steal a trick from the diner and burger shack community by adding a grill dome that can cover meats for a blast of concentrated heat. This is a simple metal bowl with a handle that’s especially useful for quickly melting cheese on burger patties, in about one minute, preventing the meat patty from overcooking and becoming a well-done hockey puck. $4.99 at Academy
These thin mats started gaining traction on the “As seen on TV” circuit, and they actually do work as advertised. The mats, often black or with a copper coating, have a nonstick surface and basically transform any grill grate into a flat-top surface, but they are thin enough to still attain those coveted grill marks.
They are great for keeping small foods from falling through the gates and for dealing with wet, saucy chicken wings or ribs that otherwise could make a mess. They can be easily cleaned for multiple uses.
The Grate Grill Scraper
If you use a conventional wire bristle scraper, toss it. The tiny wires routinely fall out, and if they are disguised in your food and swallowed, they can pose a major health risk. So much so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued warnings about them.