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The basic tools for backyard grilling

Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 9:18 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 9:47 p.m. CST
Caption
(Kirk McKoy for the Los Angeles Times)
Having the right tools makes summer grilling easier.

With the smells of charcoal and propane beginning to perfume backyards across the nation, now is the perfect time to take stock of your equipment.

Outside of the grill itself, here’s a basic list of all the tools you’ll need so you’re ready when your inner chef hears the call of the great outdoors.

• Chimney: A gas grill is a wonderfully easy way to fire up the grilling season, but for real flavor, nothing beats cooking over charcoal – that is, as long as that great charcoal flavor isn’t ruined by the taste of lighter fluid. For a quick, surefire way to light charcoal without having to douse the hardwood or briquettes with lighter fluid, try a charcoal chimney starter.

• Gloves: When you’re working over high heat, gloves and grill mitts are a great way to keep your hands protected from heat and occasional flare-ups.

• Tongs: When looking for tongs, reach for a pair of spring-loaded or flexible bent tongs as opposed to a pair joined by a swivel pin (similar to scissors or pliers), as they offer more control. The shorter the tongs, the more control you will have.

• Spatula: The right spatula can make quick and easy work of lifting and flipping burgers, delicate fillets and more as they cook. Standard metal spatulas are thicker and work well when you’re flipping burgers and larger cuts of meat and poultry. For delicate items, consider a thin and flexible fish spatula.

• Grill basket: If you plan to grill small or delicate items such as cut vegetables or fish, consider investing in a grill basket. Perforated open baskets help to keep smaller foods from slipping through the racks, and closed mesh baskets keep delicate foods from crumbling as they’re grilled.

• Grill brush: A basic grill brush is all you need to keep your grill and racks in working order. Simply heat the grill on high after cooking to char any stuck foods and sauces, then run the stainless steel bristles of a cheap grill brush over the mess to clean it off.

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