I'm sharing some of my favorite barbecue items drawn from years of outdoor cooking here at home. I don't sell grilling products (or make a profit on these top picks), so my links will be to reviews I've written (for more info) or to home sites for the companies.
Top Ten Christmas Grill Gifts - On a Budget
1. Barbecue sauces - There must be thousands of barbecue sauces on the market. I was amazed when I started looking around and trying out new ones. Wow. I've had the opportunity to try out some absolutely fabulous sauces, and I can't begin to name all the great ones (sorry to all you great sauce makers that I can't get in a single post - I'll do a sauce only post one of these days).
One of my favorite barbecue sauces for this year is Nephew's which is out of Raleigh, NC. I especially love the Cherry Polte that we enjoy on country ribs. They have a yummy pumpkin barbecue sauce and a peach sauce that I'm planning to try out soon.
If you're on a tight budget you can get your griller a new sauce and put a whole new twist on a favorite grilled dish.
2. Marinades - Marinades make a big difference when it comes to grilling or smoking. Marinades add moisture and flavor. It is hard to find really great bottled marinades, but I found a line that I fell in love with when my son gave me a gift certificate to Southern Seasons (a high end food/cooking store in Chapel Hill). That marinade was Allegro Spicy. It's still my all time favorite, but all the Allegro marinades are super.
3. Oils - This may seem an odd pick for a top barbecue item list, but a rub of a nice oil seals, crisps, and adds flavor to grilled foods. I brush olive oil on boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and they come out really moist and full of flavor.
I've tried and liked a lot of oils, but my favorite for oils would be Garlic Gold. They have all natural products with American grown garlic. The flavor is so smooth, you may not even be able to pinpoint that you have a garlic product. This stuff really is like liquid gold.
Greek grilled potatoes, and they are wonderful. I lived in Greece years ago, and I built on what I learned there along with these products to come up with our favorite potatoes on the grill.
4. Grilling and Barbecue Cookbooks - There's nothing much better than kicking back with a great grill or barbecue cookbook. I like to page through and read at night before I go to bed. Then, I have visions of ribs and burgers dancing in my head when I dream.
Again, there are loads of cookbooks to pick from. You can't go wrong with the Weber brand grilling books. I have several and often give them as gifts.
If have a low and slow person on your list, then I'd highly recommend Peace Love Barbecue. It is chock full of stories as well as great recipes.
5. Bear Paws - While I've got low and slow on my mind, I have to mention Bear Paws. If you do pork butts or shoulders, then you'll know that it can be hard to chop them. You need good knives and space to do a nice chop. I've found it easier to shift over to Bear Paws. They are a really simple idea, but they do a great job. It only takes a few minutes to pull the meat and have it on the table.
6. Basting brush - I much prefer the silicone basting brushes out now over the bristle brushes that always seem to leave some bristles behind. Clean up is also easier. You can also get recplacement heads for some of the silicone brushes. There are several basting brushes that I like and use. The ones from Oneida have been solid.
7. Grill Gloves - Outdoor cooking is hard on kitchen gloves and mitts, so it really does pay to spring for a real grill glove. There are two that I especially like. For general outdoor cooking with gas, I love the Oxo grilling mitt. It can go on either hand, and it has a magnet so can be stuck to the side of the gas grill. For charcoal, smoking (especially with larger meat cuts), and for Dutch oven, I go with the Lodge red gloves. They are super sturdy and stand a whole lot of heat.
Here is the Lodge Dutch oven glove:
And, here's the Oxo grilling mitten:
8. Chimney Starter - If your favorite grill guy uses charcoal and does not have a chimney starter, it's an excellent purchase. It's low tech, but it really works. I never buy lighter fluid. The charcoal starts right up with perfect coals in about 10 minutes with my Weber chimney starter. Charcoal starters are under $20 and pay for themselves in just a few grillings. If you want to know more about charcoal starters, I wrote a guide showing how cchimney starters work.
9. Grill Wok - I find that a lot of my barbecue gear gathers dust, but my grill wok gets constant use. It's much easier to wok shrimp, meat chunks, and vegetables rather than thread them on skewers. I usually put them in a marinade beforehand, wok them quickly on the grill, and serve over rice. Quick and easy meal - and really yummy.
Yes. This dinner made in a grill wok was great. In fact, just posting the photo makes me want to go out and find some shrimp.
10. Cast Iron Skillet - This may sound odd, but you can do a whole lot with a cast iron skillet on top of a grill grate. I've been using my Lodge skillet on the grill for years. Since it's black, it does not mess it up to have it over flames. If you have more bucks to spend, then Weber came out with a really neat grate system with cast iron drop ins. I don't have that for my Weber kettle, but I hope to get that set one of these days.
Merry Christmas - And Happy Grilling!
See there. Shopping for the barbecue fan or grill guru in your life isn't hard, and it won't break the bank. All of these ideas are inexpensive but very nice to have if you grill or smoke.
If you have a bigger budget, then your outdoor god or goddess likely has his or her eye on a fabulous new grill or a smoker to add to the arsenal. That's terrific too. I won't name out any best grills or smokers, or this post will be a book. Plus, different units work for different people. I have more than 20 grills and smokers, and I love them all (-:
Making a List - Checking it Twice
If you follow my blog, you'll know that there are loads of products that I've tested out and loved. Please feel free to add your products here and tell us about them. Or, if you have a favorite I've not mentioned, toss it out.