In the beginning, the art of grilling involved a simple process of roasting a meat or fish catch over untamed fire, kindled from two pieces of stone. Although the basic smoked flavors of the end products haven't changed much, grilling today has evolved into a more complex orchestration with the use of high-tech tools and fancy barbecue cookers.
As increasing varieties of foods get thrown onto the barbecue, the cooking paraphernalia grows, and grows. To update the collection and ease this summer's cookout task, make room for some of these grilling accessories, consisting of new and fairly new implements:
Every barbecue chef always aims for moistness in grilled steak, chicken or sausage by cooking it right, but sometimes juices get drained out of the item when it is pierced with a fork or tong. The Barbe-Claw ($22) from Commercial Aluminum will hold that meat item gently. This unique invention is a long shafted two-tined fork with an extra claw that moves to grasp the food (up to two inches thick) without piercing it, then releases it as well. The thumb-like stainless steel claw springs open or closed upon control of the trigger grip that's located in the black plastic handle.
Ever have problems of delicate ingredients--fish, mussels, shrimp or oysters as well as other small vegetables and fruits, or kebab or satay items,--sliding from the grill bars into the coals or heating elements? If it's an expensive tiger shrimp, salmon or scallop, you're in even deeper trouble. John Griffard, a young seafood sales representative from Illinois, discovered a "why didn't I think of that?" solution for his favorite salmon, which kept breaking and falling into the fire. He created a grill over a grill and called it Griffo-Grill.
This sturdy stainless steel mesh rack fits flatly atop any gas or charcoal grill or stove-top indoor grill to provide maximum support for fragile seafood, vegetables and other foods. A good heat conductor, the fine mesh guard allows you to flip these delicate food items with ease, sans fear of losing them. The Griffo-Grill is available in two sizes: a squarish 10.5 by 10.75-inch size ($9.95) and an 11 by 16 rectangle ($15.45).
Incentive from the initial success of this simple tool led to the development of Griffo-Grill's upscale Mark Series racks. Griffard's new top grills are sleek-looking in its shiny black porcelain enamel on steel finish. Although the product is not coated with a commercial non-stick finish, it is virtually resistant to sticking (as we've discovered ourselves while cooking sticky fish and chicken satay) because of the special vitreous enamel treatment.
The Mark Series comes in two sizes: a large rectangular rack ($39.95 with handles, $35.95 without handles) and a half-moon shape for Weber kettles ($35.95). The racks are cleaned by soaking in hot soapy water for few minutes or longer for crusty stains. A more heavy duty model ($50) is also available for chefs for their higher temperature grills. (For institutional orders, call (800)-426-1286.)
Having done very well with the Steak Button in 1987, Charles Adams and Douglas Fielding, owners of Charcoal Companion in Oakland, Calif., have released two other temperature gauges to avoid guessing on the grill. A small sized version of a meat thermometer, the Steak Button ($3.95) is a stainless steel button that can be slipped into the side of a steak before cooking (either on the grill, broiler or skillet) to let you know during cooking when the meat has reached rare, medium or well done stage. The newcomers are the Poultry Button ($3.95) for chickens and turkeys, and the Grill Temp ($8.95), which attaches to the grill or oven rack with its magnetic back.
Another handy grilling aid from Charcoal Companion is the grilling basket series. Manufactured in black non-stick finish with long handles, these flat baskets accommodate foods together so they don't fall off the grill and can all be turned together to cook the other side. Available are the original long-handled black rectangular basket ($17.95) for steak, hamburgers, chicken fish and vegetables; the small or single, large, and triple fish baskets (from $12.95) for whole or cut up fish. Now also available are shorter handled or medium weight rectangular or fish baskets.
There's always room for a new barbecue or all-purpose kitchen apron. This particular apron has room for its own towel too. Classic Cook Apron and Towel Combo ($25) consists of a heavy-duty cotton polyester beige apron with a loop that holds a terry towel. You may choose from various logo designs in the apron: farm animals such as cow, Longhorn cattle, geese and pig, produce designs such as carrot, radish or strawberry, fish or lobster as well as Christmas patterns such as holly. The towels come in light cocoa brown or deep blue.
The Barbe-Claw is available at the Broadway and Williams-Sonoma.
The Griffo-Grill stainless steel mesh is available at Long's Drugs, Barbecues Galore and Santa Monica Seafood.
The Griffo-Grill Mark Series black porcelain rack is available at Crate and Barrel.
The Charcoal Companion Steak and Poultry Buttons, Grill Temp and grill baskets are available at the Broadway.
The Classic Cook Apron and Towel Combo is available at Cookin Stuff (Palos Verdes and La Habra), Kitchen Aware (Claremont), Village Kitchen Shoppe (Glendora) and Cook's Corner (Arcadia).