It’s nice to own lots of BBQ accessories when you are starting out. However, you can concentrate too much on what piece of gear will make BBQ easier rather than trying to learn the basic skills of BBQ.
Don’t let Gear Lust hold you back
You may not know what ‘Gear Lust’ is so let me explain.
Have you ever become interested in something new and decided to give it a go, so you get onto amazon and order up whatever you need to get started. Your new items arrive and you are on your way. A week or two in and you start to tell yourself ‘I would be so much better at this if I had X,Y and Z’ so you go and buy X,Y and Z. Another few weeks pass and those thoughts creep into your head again. ‘Maybe if I had this item it will make learning this new skill a lot easier’.
Fast forward a few months and you will have boxes of shiny new gear but very little experience using them because you are holding off, waiting for the next big thing that will make your life easier.
The same problem exists in BBQ. Choosing your cooker can be hard enough, but then there are countless BBQ accessories that go along with each of them. As a beginner, how do you know what is essential and what will just complicate things? Below I have listed 3 accessories I feel will benefit you as you are learning the skills of BBQ. I haven’t included your grill in this list as I am assuming you already have one. If not, you may want to check out my post ‘3 questions to ask yourself when buying a BBQ‘.
A Temperature Probe
I’ve noticed quite a few of my customers who seem to think that you are more likely to give someone food poisoning when cooking on a barbecue than you are by cooking in your kitchen. It’s ridiculous but many times, barbecued food is horrendously overcooked for this reason.
Having a quality temperature probe allows you to check that your food is safe to eat so you can cook it to the perfect internal temperature and no more. When I first started barbecuing and bought a temperature probe, my wife and I challenged ourselves to grill a boneless chicken fillet until we thought it was cooked. The recommended safe internal temperature for boneless chicken breast is 75°C. We lifted the chicken off when we both thought it was ready. The internal temperature was 91°C! The breast way so dry that even a good sauce couldn’t save it!
A temperature probe will give you peace of mind when trying new things like roasting a chicken or cooking brisket. Almost all barbecue recipes will state an internal temperature so all you have to do is monitor the temperature then lift it off the barbecue when ready. Over time you will learn when meat is ready and the probe will become a final check but until then, keep one by your barbecue at all times!
A Chimney Starter
This one obviously only applies to charcoal barbecues but a chimney starter is essential in my opinion. I believe that gas barbecues became so popular because people thought that a charcoal barbecue was too much hassle to light but not any more.
A chimney starter is a metal cylinder with a wire grate at the bottom and slits in the sides. Fill it with charcoal, place some lighters under it and within 10 – 15 minutes, all the charcoal will be perfectly lit and you can pour it out into your grill and start cooking.
Charcoal barbecues can be a little hard to light in the beginning so a chimney starter is a life saver. It removes the stress, it saves you time and makes you more likely to fire up your barbecue. Customers who were sceptical about paying for one almost always come back to say they can’t imagine lighting a charcoal barbecue without one!
One Good BBQ Book
Books are another item that BBQ enthusiasts love to collect however when you are just getting started, one good book is all you need. The ‘Weber’s Complete BBQ Book’ is an ideal book for a beginner as it is full of techniques, tips, information and recipes. They provide step by step instructions for each recipe and the photo’s will help you get to grips with learning the different techniques.
You will undoubtedly buy more books as you progress and that’s perfectly fine, but choose one book to begin with, read it from cover to cover, try every recipes and you will learn so much faster. One thing I like to do with my books is to keep notes on each recipe page I try. These notes may include problems I had with the cook or how long each step took. I might simply keeps notes on what flavours or parts of the recipes I liked and didn’t like.
Keep it simple and learn the basics
If you take one thing away from this article, I hope it’s the understanding that you can get started and learn all the basics with your current gear. Once you have developed the basic skills, you can start to get different accessories to help you learn new skills.
Let me know in the comments what accessory you found most valuable when you started. If you have ever suffered from Gear Lust, how did it hold you back?
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