“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start,” said the belly of modern day America, Anthony Bourdain. Cooking with fire, and with little intervention, is a custom accepted throughout continents – on binchō-tan grills in Tokyo’s back alleys; at tailgates across North America; in the foothills of the Basque Country – and one which can often, when in the hands of a master, produce tar-black haunches of meat; links of blistered sausages; fish whose skin curls and exfoliates under the licks of gentle flames; and seasonal produce that’s been transcended by the mystical properties of heat and the heavy fragrance of smoke.
If you’re considering playing grill-jockey this weekend, here is a selection of our favourite cook-out paraphernalia that might just help you lift your game.
Invest big in a BBQ base
Let’s begin with your workhorse, the incandescent implement that’ll give you charred sirloins and primal-looking checkerboard grill lines. We could ruminate on that atypical backyard-pop debate of gas versus charcoal – but instead of going down that rabbit hole, we’ve selected the three pieces of kit that have proved most dependable for us in the past years.
A failsafe – much like what Levi’s is for denim or Ray-Ban for eyewear – is the Big Green Egg, the dimpled kamado grill whose ceramic profile facilitates the maintenance of a consistent heat and moisture retention, and whose vents allow for an easy handle over airflow and thus temperature regulation. For those inclined towards a more laissez-faire methodology, the Traeger Pro D2 780, whose appearance takes on that of a squat locomotive, offers the option to control its degree-level via Wi-Fi. If tight on square-footage, Snow Peak’s takibi, which is to say an open-air fireplace, complete with a carrying case and baseplate, is a reliable compact grill.
Big Green Egg, large
Traeger Pro D2 780
Snow Peak takibi fire & grill
Refine your accessories arsenal
Contemporary guidance often throws up a myriad of puzzling and often gratuitous gizmos for outdoor cooking: forks with in-built torch and laser; utility-belt-style condiment holders; knuckle-duster meat tenderisers. In broad strokes, you only really require a modest selection of tools to handle the food – as is often the case, although limited interference means less labouring over the flames, it can often lead to singular results.
It’s probably a safe bet that you’re already in possession of a reliable pair of tongs – so, consider Kuchenprofi’s fish basket, a nifty piece of kit whose purpose is to prevent your turbot or John Dory from breaking up under the heat. A hard-working turner, for flipping burger patties, prodding blackened asparagus, checking the doneness of your chops, should have a slim bevel in order to slip under food with ease, and something made from a durable material, in order to hold up over burning charcoal, is preferable – OXO’s offering, in stainless steel, is the platonic ideal. In a world that’s slowly going meatless, a grilling basket by Weber, which is defined by its perpendicular incisions, is designed to swaddle summery vegetables and loamy potatoes over the heat source, preventing any slippage through your main grill grate.
Kuchenprofi easy fish BBQ grill tongs
OXO grilling precision stainless steel BBQ turner
Weber deluxe grilling basket
Finesse the occasion with these accessories
It’s the small touches – a pocket square in the well-tailored suit; the onion in the martini; an additional turn of the pepper grind over a bowl of cacio e pepe – that often round things off nicely. For a little hit of flair, consider these add-ons.
If wanting to impart further flavour via a vinaigrette or a mop sauce, a basting brush will help with the distribution – this option, again by OXO, comprises silicone bristles that feature subtle holes for maximum sauce and marinade pick-up. Le Creuset’s cast-iron casserole dish, in the company’s distinguished volcanic hue, is a weighty, beautiful thing, one that enables a decent socarrat (the layer of scorched rice at the bottom of your paella), or, at the very least, provides you with a vessel in which to present your fuming, blackened brisket. For the clean-up afterwards? A Bang & Olufsen speaker awaits.
OXO grilling basting stainless steel BBQ brush
Le Creuset cast iron shallow casserole
Bang & Olufsen Beosound 1