Every good summer party needs a good DJ (or Spotify playlist), a random drunk person, and someone who knows how to man the grill. There are certain bragging rights in any family, group of friends, or neighborhood block as being the go-to-barbecue guy. Girls want you. Guys want to be you and dogs will follow you around. If you want to stake your claim to that crown, here are the best cookbooks, grilling toys and latest tech that will help you raise your grill game to the next level.
The Burger Companion
Grilling burgers is a glamorous job. You get all the credit without all the hassle. Prepping the burgers is the dirty work, a hands-on job that leaves you with bloody knuckles and greasy mitts. Mr. Bar-B-Q solves these problems with an adjustable burger press ($13) that will keep your hands clean, while also customizing the size of your burgers quickly and easily. Simply select a size, place the ground meat of choice in the burger press and push out your patty. That sounds dirty but at least the burgers are going to be outstanding.
Consider this book, Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto ($18), your new bible. Aaron Franklin of Franklin۪s Barbecue fame started out like most of us, just a hobbyist smoking meat and feeding his friends on the weekend. Sure, his parents ran a barbecue stand in his native Texas where 'que is sacred, but it was their self-taught son who perfected his famous brisket through trial and error in his own backyard smoker. The 2015 James Beard Award winner۪s namesake joint is now one of the most famous barbecue spots in the nation and Franklin has become the hipster face of the Austin artisan food movement. This humble and witty memoir isn۪t a how-to-guide necessarily, but more of a manifesto that Franklin describes as a Boy Scout manual that focuses less on passing on recipes and more on emphasizing the craftsmanship that gives you the basic tools (choosing firewood, slicing meat) to do-it-yourself.
The Seating Solution
The party is in full swing (aka the Fireball is being passed around), the meat and fixins' are ready to be devoured, but there۪s nowhere to sit (the ice cooler is not a chair unless you don۪t mind blue balls). Party fail. Since barbecues are often held in the backyard or patio, space can be at a premium, especially if you live in an apartment. The Outsunny 2-in-1 ($110) is a convertible 2-in-1 chair that switches from garden bench to picnic table and back in one easy motion. Think of this why this invention as the love child of Optimus Prime from Transformers and your college futon. There۪s even a hole that is molded into the center of the picnic table for an umbrella to provide shade (the good kind).
Get A Grip
Anything you put on the barbecue deserves some TLC, and even the most seasoned pitmasters sometimes forget that presentation is a part of the package too. Not even the most blood-thirsty carnivore wants to be served a piece of meat that looks like Ramsey Bolton۪s face after the dogs got him (sorry, Game of Thrones spoiler). A good set of tongs is the most underrated and overlooked tool in your grilling toolbox. Stabbing a perfectly cooked piece of meat with a fork to get it off the grill is like scoring a date with a dime piece you met on Bumble and then trying to sex it up with her in the backseat of the Uber on the way home. Weber's Chef-Grade Tongs ($18) are a solid option at a fair price and are durable stainless steel, have easy-grip handles, and are spring-loaded, offering more control.
Two Words: Bacon Rack
You know what۪s better than bacon? More bacon. This must-have pork lover۪s item, The Bacon Rack ($16) is exactly what its name implies, allowing you to grill up to six beautiful brown slabs of bacon for your burgers (or anything else really). All you gotta do is drape that meat candy on the stainless steel rack set it on the grill and let the fire take over. A drip pan captures excess grease so you don۪t burn off your eyebrows when the fat hits the fire.
Light It Up
Just because the sun went down doesn۪t mean the grill top has to also (post-bar grill sessions are very underrated). As the party host, it۪s your duty trudge outside to fire up the grill at night, especially if you want the drunks to eventually head home. This scenario never ends well for the griller but thankfully you don۪t have to be THAT guy who brings in a plate of meat that looks more like the charcoal it was cooked under. The Grill Light ($25) is a nighttime game-changer that incorporates high power LED lighting into restaurant-grade stainless steel frame utensils. Invest in the two-pack which includes a spatula and tongs for $40.