Memorial Day weekend kicks off grilling season! But if you don’t have a huge backyard (or a park nearby!) that gives you open space for firing up a monster grill, don't worry. Our food columnist Bren Herrera has the tools and tips you’ll need to get started right in your home.
Tool: Stovetop Grill. For starters, if you don't have a grill, fret not! Become the proud owner of a stovetop grill pan. This is one of my favorite go-to gadgets and will soon become yours, too.
Use it for: Grilled cheese sandwiches, pan Cubano, grilled vegetables and other goodies. You’ll still get those pretty grill lines and charred areas, especially if you're working on a gas stove. I particularly like a 11" square one, because you can throw enough food on there for 4-6. (Calaphon Contemporary Nonstick 11-inch Square Grill Pan, $40, amazon.com)
Tool: Spice Rub. If you’re going to play around with steaks—which I recommend you try, if you haven't before—you must have a good rub and marinade to season them. If you’re not ready to make your own, you can easily buy some at your local bodega. I found this awesome "Turn Up the Heat" by My Favorite Gourmet at TJ Maxx. It has notes of Serrano chiles and ginger spice. ($4, TJ Maxx, visit tjmaxx.com for store locations)
Use it for: Major kick, let me tell you.
Tool: Mini thermometers. In order to end up with a perfectly juicy piece of carnita, you have to regulate the temperature—that’s where these little gauges enter the equation. (Similar set of four thermometers, $20, williams-sonoma.com)
Use it for: I use this pack of four mini thermometers (pork, beef and seafood) that indicate when each type of protein is rare, medium or well done.
Tool: Brushes. A grill brush is essential. Use it for: Scrubbing, scraping and cleaning your rack from all that coal gook. I have this lovely rosewood long handled grill brush that is suited for the multi-tasker. It’s 3-in-1… perfecto! You also want a basting brush to make sure you evenly distribute the marinade or rub on your meats. (It’s kind of like painting.) I also have a beautiful rosewood long-handled silicon bristle one that goes perfectly with the grill brush. Use it for: As your meat is cooking (with the mini thermostat in it), brush your meats for continued flavor infusion and moisture. (Outset Grillware, $5-10, visit outsetinc.com for where to buy)
Tool: Steak Knives. As your food is cooking and you’re prepping to serve, you want to think of how you’re going to cut your steak or chicken, right? I have to share the prettiest steak knife set I found just in time for my weekend grilling. They’re French. They’re colorful. They’re sharp and they’re light to hold. I love this multi-colored, 6-pack I found at T.J. Maxx. I’m in love with them! (Mulit-color steak knivfe set, Laguoile, $60, amazon.com).
Use them for: Carving and serving your perfectly grilled steaks.
Tool: Lastly, if you're working indoors, grab some tongs that'll serve as super practical handlers to help you grab stuff on the grill, flip your food and move things around the grill pan. A big-faced slotted spatula is also great. (Cuisinart Professional Grill Tongs, $20, amazon.com).
Use it for: Save you some embarrassing moments and will avoid all kinds of dropped steaks.