|Woman ‘Man’-ing the Grill- Tools are Essential|
It’s long been the equipment associated with the guys. Perhaps it’s due to the primal start of cooking over live fire which initially was a man’s skill. Hunt the animal and cook it on fire and hot coals.
Recently, the trend has begun to turn around in favor of more women grilling components of a meal on the grill. In fact, it’s not just the traditional LP/gas grill but charcoal grills as well, as women take their new recipe and technique finds out of the traditional indoor kitchen and to the outdoors.
Just Because It’s Outside Doesn’t Change The PurposeThere is no question that outdoor grilling equipment has evolved into something of fantasy. We now have choices beyond the standard LP, natural gas, charcoal, and electric grills. Many brands are now featuring dual fuel cooking, meaning they may have gas or electric assist but use wood and/or charcoal for heat and flavor!
What does this mean for the ladies who want to do more outdoor cooking on the grill?Versatility! It is so easy to cook an entire meal on the grill without it taking several hours or more.
Accessorize!The key to ensuring that an entire meal can be cooked on the grill is to have the right tools and that includes some accessory items. Let’s look at each recommended item and answer the question why it’s important to the woman’s full meal grill event.
#1 Grill Grate Accessories:First up, the grill pan, grill basket or grill topper. These are perfect for vegetables and fruits making it so easy to ensure that the food doesn’t stick to the grill grates and that every piece gets cooked evenly. Plus, since many grills are now sold with a side burner, you can always steam or par boil tougher vegetables first, then transfer to the grill pan/basket/topper. Or, use that side burner to make rice for a healthy starch side. Don’t have a side burner on your grill or are using a charcoal grill? Then buy a butane burner! These are so inexpensive yet give you another cooking option to get everything ready at the same time.
#2 Easy Charcoal Lighting:If you don’t know what a chimney starter is, time to learn. The charcoal chimney starter is the best way to light a charcoal fire. Although these traditionally use newspaper at the bottom (for ignition) and load charcoal chunks (can be briquettes or lump) into the body of the unit, I take a simple method of lighting my chimney. I load with my favorite charcoal and use a butane torch under the unit to light – no newspaper needed. This allows me to leave the butane on auto fire for a few minutes to ensure the lower coals are lit. Simply pull the torch out, shake the chimney while wearing fire gloves, and return to a heat safe surface until the top coals turn white-gray. Oh, and you can always light the chimney off that side burner too!
#3 Purchase 2 ThermometersStop guessing at when things are done! You need to invest in 2 quality thermometers; one for the grill/smoker and one instant-read for the food. Be sure the thermometers you invest in can take a reading in 5 seconds or less, have at least a 4-inch probe for thicker cuts of meat, and have cables that are durable (if you don’t go with a wireless), especially for equipment thermometers that are placed through venting holes or under lids.
#4 SiliconeAnything made from silicone will become a lifesaver at the grill. Silicone pot handle covers, spatulas, heat resistant tongs – you get the idea. This material can handle the high heat of grills so stock up on those items you’ll need and use the most. Suggestions? Tongs, pot handle covers, spatulas, spoons, mat.
Diversify!Grilling does not necessarily mean you must put all foods on the grill grates. Use high heat cookware to help you out. Think cast iron or high heat clay and enamels meant for the grill. These are perfect for starting one pot wonders like legumes, pasta dishes, even sauces. With a roomy enough grill, you can fit many different items – grill pan/basket, Dutch oven, and rib racks. Don’t forget most grills come equipped with a lower and upper grill rack so more fragile items that need less heat can go to the top. Here’s some tips on food to cooking equipment match:
Tip #1: Cast Iron and Charcoal
Cast iron is, without question, the best material for cooking
directly in the coals. Here’s a tip – if you have an outdoor fireplace
or even a fire pit that uses wood, you can do this method of cooking by
placing your cast iron skillet or Dutch oven directly in the coals.
Keep in mind, I said coals, not flame. Coals have a very high BTU
rating and can cook foods within cast iron as if they are in the oven.
Just be sure to pack the hot coals around the cast iron after placing
the pan in the coal bed. Perfect items to try: vegetable medley,
roasted potato, curry dishes, au gratin dishes.
Tip #2: Cast Iron and LP/Gas GrillJust like having the side burner on a grill, cast iron on the grill is like having an extra pot on the stove. Cast iron comes in lots of sizes and cookware type: saucepan, skillet, Dutch oven. Anything you would traditionally make in cookware on the stove can be done on the grill. The key is to ensure that you have this on a section of the grill that isn’t set to “high”, as cast iron holds heat.
Tip #3: The Upper Grill RackThough small in overall size, the upper grill rack is designed for those fragile items or for items that require simple warming. Think melting butter for vegetables, heating sauces, warming bread and rolls. Use it! It can be of great value to keep you from needing anything indoors.
Tip #4: The RotisserieIf you have a grill with a rotisserie, use it! Keep in mind, as that item turns on that rod, the meat or poultry renders some fantastic juices. Catch them! Put a high heat pan under the food item with some great vegetables and use the drippings to add superb flavor to the cooking process.
Flavor It Up!Now, let’s be clear! Unless you’ve invested in a dual fuel or hybrid grill, one that allows you to use charcoal and/or smoking wood, most standard LP grills are just that: grills not smokers. If you don’t have a hybrid but want to get some smoking woods flavoring to your foods, then start thinking of adding charcoal and wood chunks!
Yes, you heard me right. Wood Chunks vs. woodchips which was the product of choice for years with LP grills.
Why Smoking Wood Chunks?Most grills today are designed with covers for the gas burners to diffuse the heat more evenly. They go by a lot of names: heat distributors, flame tamers, heat plates, burner shields, flavorizer bars. The addition to the traditional LP grill is the reason why you can use smoking wood chunks. Simply place a few small wood chunks under the grill grate right on top of the heat diffuser. Be sure you only put chunks on a burner you will ignite. Replace the grill grate and you’re ready to go! And, yes, you will get real wood smoke vapor to flavor whatever you’re cooking on the grill. I promise!
Final Points"Man”-ing the grill is no different than planning a meal in your conventional kitchen. Pick out the components of the meal and decide what needs to cook where on the grill: directly on the grate, on the rotisserie, in cast iron, on the coals. If doing a meat, be sure to marinate 6 hours or best, overnight, to ensure a moist outcome and to reduce cooking time.
Have everything prepped including the grilling tools you will need and this is a walk in the park for the woman that is use to planning daily meals for her family. The best part, you can enjoy more of those great warm days and not sweat in the confines of the hot summer kitchen!