6.2 Tools for barbecuing
[What kinds of tools are handy for barbecuing?]
RIB RACKS - If you have a small bullet water smoker, you might want to
consider a rib rack. These racks allow you to stand a rack or slab of ribs on edge,
instead of laying them flat, thus freeing up valuable grill space. They are available at
barbecue stores, some home centers, better kitchen stores and restaurant supply houses.
Usual cost is about $20.
UTENSILS - A set of long spring-loaded barbecue tongs are indispensable
for picking up and moving meats, especially ribs. A large fork or spatula is also handy
for checking doneness and transferring the cooked meat to a serving platter or to a
roasting pan for covered cooking.
FIREPLACE TONGS - These are useful for messing with the fire and for
adding chunks of wood or charcoal to the firebox. Get the smallest ones you can find as
you aren't going to be moving fireplace-sized logs around in your smoker. If you pre-burn
your wood, the tongs are great for transferring coals to the smoker's firebox.
SPRAY BOTTLE - Nope, not for putting our grease fires! A spray bottle is
ideal for applying thin mops, such as apple juice, beer or soda, which do not contain
ingredients that would stop up the sprayer nozzle.
DRIP PANS - These accessories come in many shapes, sizes and materials.
The bottom line is that a drip pan, placed under the meat, can help keep your cleanup
requirements to a minimum. Instead of washing out the smoke chamber, you simply clean out
the drip pan. For even easier cleanup, line the pan with aluminum foil and just fold up
and throw away the foil after smoking.
COOKING PANS - A nice aluminum, stainless steel or porcelain roasting
pan is a handy smoking item but be aware, it'll turn black over time!. Many folks like to
finish their product in a covered pan, either in the smoker or in the oven. A shallow
roasting pan, covered with aluminum foil, works great for this purpose.
WATERING CAN or FUNNEL - Many of the bullet water smokers have horrible
access to the water pan. Refilling the water pan can be dangerous and difficult. A long,
flexible funnel or a gardener's watering can makes replenishing the water pan a breeze.
CHIMNEY STARTER - This is one of the most indispensable items for anyone
using lump charcoal or briquettes. They are available at home centers (Lowe's, Home Depot,
HQ, etc.) for about $10. Basically, it is an open metal cylinder with a grate near one
end. You fill it with fuel which sits on the grate, crumple up newspaper underneath the
grating and light it. In 15 - 30 minutes, you are ready to pour the contents into your
firebox or firepan and get to smoking.
COOLER - A standard insulated chest or drink cooler, size determined by
your needs, is an invaluable tool for barbecuing. Often, the meat, particularly brisket,
is removed from the smoker, wrapped in several layers of foil, and placed in a cooler.
This resting' period continues the cooking process (without you having to tend the
smoker and burn fuel) and tenderizes the meat further while holding in heat. A brisket can
be safely kept in a cooler if it's wrapped in towels for additional insulation for 6-7
hours prior to serving. Remember, meat must be kept at a temperature above 140F for safe
BEER HOLDER - Self explanatory. You or anything else that keeps your
beer handy and cool while you slave over the smoker.
BASTING BRUSH and MOP - You should have one of each. Both should have
long handles. A mop is used for thinner sauces and a basting brush for thicker ones and
for honey, butter and oils. These are available in barbecue stores, kitchen shops,
supermarkets and discount stores. They are available from $2 to $9. Always slip back the
sleeve covering the top part of the mop or brush when you put these into the dishwasher
after use. This will clean the top portion of the mop or brush.
WATER CAN - Some people who have off-set firebox smokers like to have
some added humidity to the smoke, just like the bullet smoker people get. To accomplish
this, an old coffee can (paint burned off) set in the firebox will do the trick.
Alternatively, a small loaf pan, filled with water and set in the smoke chamber in front
of the firebox opening has basically the same effect.
FOOD GLOVES - When handling the meat, particularly after smoking, a nice
pair of rubber gloves is handy. Helps keep the meat clean and also helps keep from burning
your hands if the meat is too hot. There are some gloves that are FDA approved for food
handling, such as those made by Edmont.
CHICKEN RACK - A chicken rack is available at barbecue stores, better
kitchen stores and at some home centers. Some consist of a pan with a center cone attached
to the pan while others are fabricated from a wire frame. In either case, the chicken sits
upright. On the cone type, the hot air and smoke can get to the inside of the bird as well
as the outside. It is also supposed to save some space if you have a small cooking
surface, depending on the size of the rack's footprint.
JACQUARD - This item is available only at specialty kitchen stores and
kitchen item suppliers. It consists of a row of tiny blades (as few as 9 or as many as 36)
which are used to tenderize the meat. This tool is plunged into the meat many times and it
cuts the fibers. Probably not an item required for the backyard chef.
INSULATION - If you smoke in a cold climate, you might consider
insulating your smoke chamber. Brinkmann makes a "Smoking Jacket" for some of
its smokers. A water heater blanket may work just as well but be sure there are no
combustible materials adjacent to the chamber. A piping system insulation manufacturer
would also have a suitable product. WARNING: IF YOU INSULATE, MAKE CERTAIN THAT THE
MATERIAL IS ENCLOSED AND CANNOT ESCAPE ONTO YOUR FOOD AND THAT IT WILL WITHSTAND THE
TEMPERATURES YOU EXPECT ON YOUR UNIT.
CHIP BOX - These small metal boxes are designed to hold wood chips. The
box is placed on a bed of coals or just above an electric or gas element and produces