The first time you cook with cast iron pan on a blazing hot grill you realize you just might not ever cook again on that thing in your house you call a stove. Yes you can still use the grates and fire to char thick stalks of asparagus and fennel and give them that kiss of smoke, you can render the fat out of chicken thighs, and, sure, char some whole shrimp while you’re at it. But a cast iron pan allows you to sizzle and crisp smashburgers, get a mahogany-brown crust on every inch of a steak, simmer a tomato jam to go on those lamp chops, and, yes, imbue it all with that hint of smoke. We’re digging Field Company’s handsome cast iron skillet. It’s got a smoother cooking surface than most and clocks in a tad lighter than other pans, making that long walk from the kitchen to your grill that much easier. Get the biggest one you can afford. “I wish I had a smaller pan” said no one ever.
San Francisco-based Lazzari supplies mesquite and oak hardwood charcoal to some of the West’s finest restaurants, including Bay Area stalwarts Zuni Cafe, The Slanted Door, and Chez Panisse. We love that in every big bag you’re going to find sturdy hunks and branches of hardwood charcoal that burn long and hot and impart everything with the slight tinge of the cleanest smoke.
Sure you can find more high-tech heat-proof gloves, made of silicone and tricked out with aramid fiber and outfitted with colorful, grippy graphics on the palm. But none look as old-school cool as these cowhide SpitJack welding gloves. 5-finger glove design always beats a mitt for more dexterity and the long design shields your forearm from spark showers and flare ups when you’re dumping a new batch of hot coals from the charcoal chimney or positioning another log in the firepit.
You could just plunk a cast iron pan on the grill and cook, but sometimes you want a little char on ingredients that would otherwise stick or fall through the gaps. Gimmicky grilling accessories come and go (just Google “the hamdogger”), but a grill pan is one tool that’s completely worth it. We tested the gamut of grilling pans, baskets, and woks, and declared the Weber Style 6435 Grill Pan the must-have among them. Made of sturdy, stick-resistant stainless steel, it keeps small vegetables and tender fish in place and gives them a nice, even char.
Sometimes you want to cook a grilled pizza, which, let’s face it, is really just flatbread with cool cross-hatching. And sometimes you want to be a next-wave pizzaiolo pulling out blistered crust Neapolitan pies but can’t afford to build a wood oven in your backyard. There’s a compromise for all you kettle grillers: a KettlePizza Oven Insert that contains and circulates heat while allowing you to monitor and adjust your pizza as it bakes on the stone insert and bubbles away in 700-degree heat.
Long, gauntlet styling and extra padding across the palms protect hands and arms when you’re dumping charcoal chimneys, adjusting wood fires, and hefting hot, heavy cast-iron skillets or pizza inserts. Gloves are 17 inches long; one size fits all.
That cast-iron skillet you use in the kitchen for scrambled eggs can take your outdoor grilling to a whole new level. Caramelize cherry tomatoes for bruschetta without losing them through the grates. Brown a cake of thinly sliced potatoes to go with your pork chops. And make dessert: Caramelize apricot or plum halves in the skillet with a little sugar, and spoon it over pound cake.
If you don’t have a charcoal chimney chances are you’re still probably using lighter fluid and you just really need to quit that. With the Weber Rapidfire Chimney just fill the cylinder with charcoal, crumple a couple of sheets of newspaper into the cone bottom, and strike a match. Vents help pull air up to ignite the briquets quickly. The sturdy construction and double set of handles mean the chimney will last a long time and be a pleasure to use. We recommend splurging on two if you ever plan on doing heavy-rotation grilling or smoking at an all-day backyard cookout.
We give our grills a workout at Sunset, and have been through more than our share of brushes over the years keeping them clean. For heavy use, the Alpha Grillers grill brush rises to the top. At 18 inches long, it has enough reach to use comfortably on hot grates. The stiff, thick stainless steel bristles and rigid handle are tough enough for serious build-up. And the spiral design helps get into every nook and cranny.
No wires! As you rub this wooden barbecue cleaning tool over a hot cooking grate, the straight edge forms grooves, customizing to fit the grate’s shape. It’s a good option for lighter-duty grilling and for anyone who’s concerned about possible stray wires left behind from wire brushes.
Has the rib-eye steak on the grill reached 125° to 130° for medium-rare? Check with the ThermoPop instant-read thermometer. Unlike first-gen instant-reads, its thin tip won’t gouge foods. Another bonus: The light-up, rotating display is readable upside down and in the dark. Comes in 8 happy-making colors.
Jacobsen Salt Co.’s cedar planks do what many other grilling planks fail at: deliver lots of woodsy flavor to your food. Plus, the six aromatic, Northwest-milled cedar planks come with a jar of the company’s hand-harvested Oregon salt, seasoned with lemon, herbs, and natural cherrywood smoke.
Burgers for a neighborhood potluck. Low-and-slow brisket or ribs. These are situations—and dishes—that call for an extended burn. Grab a bag of Kingsford long-burning charcoal briquets and you’ll be ready. In a side-by-side comparison with Original Kingsford briquets on the Sunset grilling patio, the long-burning ones lasted 25 percent longer, just as promised.
Hosting friends and family at the grill is the perfect excuse to trade in your well-worn apron for something that’s more ready for prime time. These denim ones, all made in the West, are sturdy enough for grilling, yet stylish enough to segue to the dining table.