The first hints of warm temperatures and longer stretches of daylight are the only prompts that Canadians need to get out their barbecues and begin grilling season with gusto. Anything from fruits and vegetables to thin crust pizza to classic ribeye steaks is fair game this season, and with new balcony and budget-friendly models available it’s no surprise that barbecuing has become a national pastime.
Picking the right barbecue
Gas and charcoal grills are the two main options to choose from and both come with their own set of pros and cons when it comes to flavour, convenience and ease of use.
Gas grills are a popular choice for backyard barbecue cookouts and with good reason, they’re user-friendly and can reach and maintain a constant temperature in a very short amount of time. Gas grills are also extremely easy to clean compared to charcoal grills due to the total lack of ash. Purists will insist that gas grills don’t impart that much-desired smoky flavour and practically speaking, gas grills are much more expensive to purchase and fix should any mechanical problems arise.
Charcoal grills come in all sizes and shapes, from smaller ceramic versions to open outdoor pits, and rely on burning white-hot charcoal briquettes for fuel. Charcoal grills tend to be a more affordable and portable option; many picnic areas and public beaches offer grills on a first-come-first-serve basis, just add charcoal for an instant barbecue. Charcoal’s biggest advantage over gas is the smoky flavour it adds to anything grilled as well as the extremely high temperature it can sustain over long periods of time. The main drawback to using charcoal is the fact that it’s extremely messy and requires a fair amount elbow grease to keep clean.
6 essential accessories to keep you grilling all summer long
Vegetable grill basket
These grill baskets are meant for barbecuing veggies but can be used for so many other purposes. Shrimp, cubed meat and seasonal fruit can be quickly cooked without worrying about anything falling into the grate.
Metal skewers are another great tool for preventing smaller pieces of food from falling into the flames, and are durable enough to go through tough vegetables like corn on the cob.
Cedar grilling planks
Cedar grilling planks are used to impart a subtle smoky piney flavour to fish, especially salmon. Soak the planks in water overnight to make sure they don’t burn. Brush the fish with oil and sprinkle some kosher salt on the board before cooking the fish directly on the plank.
Chimney starter or charcoal chimney
Shaped like a small metal chimney, this device is essential for creating steady heat for a charcoal grill. Add the charcoal briquettes and ignite them, a chimney starter will help stoke the intense heat necessary to create a caramelized perfect crust on meats and vegetables.
Instant-read meat thermometer
An instant-read meat thermometer takes all the guess-work out grilling juicy steaks and crispy chicken so that consistent results are achieved every single time. Look for a longer thermometer probe and a digital temperature reader in case of any grill flare-ups.
Pizza grill pan
Why order take-out when homemade pizza can be made on the grill? A pizza grill pan makes the process that much easier and takes away all worries about pizza crusts and toppings slipping through the grates.