Tools of the Grate

Every outdoor chef, whether he cooks with charcoal, wood, gas or electric, needs good tools to flip his burgers, turn his steak or baste his ribs. Choose the right ones and you're halfway to grilling success. Substantial construction is the place to start. Tools with the heft and durability of the Viking set pictured will stand up to fire and the elements with their heavy gauge stainless steel and full-tang construction.

Chef Jamie Purviance, author of Weber's Real Grilling, which includes a section on tools, says tongs are his mainstay. He keeps three sets: one for handling raw meat, one for removing the meat from the grill and a third for working the fire. A variety of spatulas are also in order. One long and wide variety, called a fish turner, can flip an entire salmon fillet. Spatulas with offset handles allow the chef to avoid grilling his knuckles. Knife and fork, while essential, should be used after grilling to avoid piercing the meat, which loses juices and causes flare-ups.

Digital-readout thermometers are the key to avoiding that griller's bane: chicken with blackened skin and red meat. The state-of-the-art type—available from Weber and Oregon Scientific—includes an alarm receiver that clips to your belt and alerts you up to 100 yards away when the meat is done.

Purviance rounds out his outdoor kitchen appurtenances with a variety of grilling pans and cast-iron griddles that can be placed above the fire. The latter allow for warming tortillas or quickly sautéing peppers. A low-sided, perforated baking sheet doubles as a shellfish steamer. Purviance fills a spray bottle with beer and douses clams, oysters and mussels. Heat from a charcoal fire (mesquite suggested) rises and the resulting steam cooks and flavors the shellfish. Another in-grill essential is the rib rack, which holds stacks of ribs on their sides, allowing for more ribs on less grill area.

The new light in grilling is just that, light sources that illuminate the food for night grillers (which most of us are). Weber now has one that fits conveniently on the grill handle.

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