In a world of gadgets, low-tech and high-tech tools are making barbecuing simpler than ever before.
New models of Green Mountain Grills can connect to WiFi and sync with a smartphone app that allows grillers to sit inside and control the temperature without missing a moment of the football game.
"It's the perfect tool for game and beer day. When you don't want to be distracted with cooking," says Mike Tucker, owner of Hawgeyes BBQ in Ankeny, IA.
Hawgeyes BBQ is a small store with a large online customer-base that sells tools, sauces and rubs. Big and small producers from all over the country use Hawgeyes BBQ as an avenue to get their name out and make a mark in the crowded world of barbecue.
Tucker says his favorite tool is the Thermapen because it "instantly" reads meat temperature without making big holes in your food.
Special heat-resistant gloves let a cook get hands-on with your grill meat while its cooking, which Tucker says is sometimes better than using tongs or spatulas.
Smoke pistols give meat a wood-smoked flavor without a wood-burning grill. Grillers can flavor their BBQ with cherry, oak, mesquite, hickory, or pecan wood. The tool can even be used in a well-ventilated oven. But if you're using real wood on a wood-burning grill, Tucker says the best flavors for new grillers include cherry, plum, or peach. Mesquite or hickory can be too harsh-tasting if not used correctly.
For shine and sweetness, spritz apple juice using a simple spray bottle for quick flavor that will also keep your fish and other proteins moist on the grill.
"Everything is an experiment with barbecue, there's not really any rights or wrongs unless you totally botch the whole project," says Tucker.
For vegetarian grillers, Tucker recommends tools like the Chili Pepper Grilling Set for cooking up stuffed jalapeños and a pepper corer to take those super spicy seeds.
Grills like the Big Green Egg can be used to cook more than just meat; flatbreads can be fired on the ceramic plate of the grill because they get hot enough for five-minute pizzas. Although, Tucker notes, the Big Green Egg can singe the hair of chefs who get too close. So always grill with caution.
Even with gadgets galore to make grilling easier, some cooks still appreciate tending to the fire, hanging with friends, and doing it the old fashioned way-- you usually can't go wrong sticking with a classic charcoal grill.