Grill Gadgets for the Aspiring Grill Master

Let’s face it, every dad is either a Grill Master or aspires to become one. Whenever two or more dads are gathered together, you can be assured that at some point, the conversation will take a turn towards the realm of the grill. There will be debates over rub recipes, gas versus charcoal, green eggs versus barrel smokers, and which type of wood creates the best flavor profile. But what is a Grill Master without his favorite grill gadget? Odds are he keeps one in his car, just in case there’s a grill emergency away from home. With Father’s Day around the corner, now is the time to equip the dads in your life with the tools he needs to work his way up the grill proficiency scale, until at last he can bask in the glory that can only be felt by a true master of the grill. With that in mind, here are some fun gadgets to consider.

Fire-Starter Tools

chimney-of-insanity2Anyone who cooks with charcoal knows that it takes a while until the coals are ready to start the cooking process. Once they’ve reached that “perfect” level of heat, however, the aspiring Grill Master will want to start defrosting everything in the freezer, even after everyone has been fed. After all, the coals are perfect, and it took so long to get to this point. Well, not anymore. With the BBQ Dragon fire-starter fan and the accompanying Chimney of Insanity, the coals will be ready in merely minutes, without lighter fluid.

Bluetooth Temperature Gauge

Now that the coals are perfect, it’s time to start grilling. A true Grill Master knows that entertaining the guests is just as important as manning the grill. In order to tend to both without neglected one over the other, a Bluetooth-enabled temperature gauge is a must! Simply pair the Brookstone Grill Alert gauge with his phone and insert the needle into the meat. If he steps away from the grill, he’ll receive an alert when the internal temperature hits the right level. He’ll never serve hockey puck steaks again.

3-in-1 Tongs

Presenting the Quirky Grill Wrangler. Yes, that’s actually the official name of the product. Is it a pair of tongs, a spatula or a fork? The answer: yes. This 3-in-1 tool can grip chicken wings, flip a burger and spear a hot dog. It’s made of sturdy stainless steel with an easy-grip plastic handle. Hold it closed to use as a spatula, open as tongs, or use the sliding release button to slide out the fork attachment. Voila!

Grill Light

grill-lightIt’s a little tough to get that perfect sear if you can’t see what you’re doing. This nifty battery-operated LED Handle-Mount Grill Light has a pivoting head and an adjustable clamp that allows it to fit onto just about any grill lid. So, you now have a reason to get him to toss that ridiculous head lamp he insists on wearing every time he grills at night. If he’s not ready to toss it, that piece of equipment can go back in the closet with the rest of the camping gear that never gets used.

Robotic Grill Cleaner

grillbot2One of the worst parts about grilling is cleaning the nasty gunk off of the grates afterwards. Some aspiring Grill Masters will try to tell you that the build-up adds flavor, which probably just means he lacked the desire or the elbow grease to clean it correctly. Well, fear no more, there’s a robot for that. The Grillbot is basically the barbecue pit version of a Roomba. Simply place it on a dirty grill, turn it on, and three electric motors will propel it and its mighty brushes around the grill. A chip inside controls movement and speed, and an alarm will sound when the job is done.

It’s Family Tourney Time

It’s that time of year again. That’s right, it’s Dad’s Day. This year, celebrate that special hard-working man with a day just for him, focused on his favorite pastime: sports. Ok, so he’s not LeBron James or Mike Trout, but today he can be the “King of Insignificant Sports”. So, dig a couple of poster boards out of the school supply closet and get ready for a backyard family tournament.

Badminton
Go to your local sporting goods store and grab yourself an affordable badminton set. Just make sure to set it up yourself. We don’t want to start off Father’s Day by putting the ole man in a bad mood. Once it’s all set up, separate the family into teams, set up your “singles” and “doubles” brackets, and then have at it. Have fun with it, and if you’re feeling extra sweet, let Dad win a game or two.

Ping Pong
Ah, ping pong…the game of champions. It’s a game that anyone can play once they get the hang of it. On your way to seeing who the true ping pong master is, however, be careful with how you celebrate your wins. Too much showboating can make any lovely day turn sour really quickly, especially if Dad busts out some celebratory dance move from his college days.

Cornhole Toss Game Board Close-UpCornhole or Washers
There’s just something so peaceful about throwing objects into holes. You can play this game with washers or bean bags. Either way, it’s an easy way to spend the afternoon. It’s also a great game to play for multi-taskers. Unlike other outdoor activities, cornhole doesn’t require you to put your drink down while you are playing, which will surely be good news for Dad.

Ring & Hook
You can guarantee that Dad will be telling stories about his favorite college pub before this game is over. A carport, porch, or even a tree would all be easy places to set this one up. All you need is a string, a metal ring, an eye hook, and a screw hook. Attach the string to a rafter or tree branch with the eye hook, tie the ring to the bottom of the string at a level low enough for the kids to reach, and screw the hook into a wall, post, or tree trunk. Now, you’re ready to play! The person who makes the ring onto the hook in the least amount of swings wins. But be prepared to hear stories about how good Dad was at this game in college, despite his lack of proof.

At the end of the day, assign points to each event for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, tally up the total points, and crown someone in the family as “King (or Queen) of Insignificant Sports”. Now, hopefully it will Dad, since it’s his day, but it all depends on how competitive the family is. They may want him to actually earn the title. In any case, it’s all good fun and will surely be a day to remember. Who knows, it may just become a favorite annual tradition.

Father’s Day Gourmet BBQ Ideas

It’s that time of year again where we set aside a day to say, “Thank you,” to that hard working man in our lives: Dad. The only problem with Father’s Day is that many of our fathers are humble guys who often say that they don’t want anything special. This year, tell Dad “Tough luck,” and do something special for him anyway. Here are a few ideas you can do for the “old man” this Father’s Day that will surely bring a smile to his face.

oh-onion-blue-cheese-mini-burgers-x

Gourmet burgers topped with caramelized onions, blue cheese mayo, tomato, and arugula. (Photo credit: Oxmoor House, Time Inc.)

Gourmet Burger Bar

Sure, Pop probably barbeques burgers regularly. However, ketchup, mustard, lettuce and tomato can get boring. This Father’s Day, stock up on new ingredients to add to your burgers and setup a gourmet burger bar. Here is a quick list of items to get you started. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other toppings that are not listed here. The idea is to just try something new.

Have fun experimenting with any sort of possible topping. Examples included avocados, over-easy style eggs, sprouts, various greens, caramelized onions and mushrooms, and literally any pepper that comes to mind. While the grill is hot, try grilling some fruit toppings, like pineapple or peaches.

Next up, the cheese layer. Sure, you’ll need standards like American, cheddar, and swiss, but don’t be afraid to mix it up a little with something like pepper jack, gouda, havarti, blue cheese, and goat cheese.

Then the coup-de-grace, the sauces. Here’s where you really get to have a little fun. Options include wasabi mayo, humus, honey mustard, Boursin sauce, garlic aioli, and (don’t laugh until you’ve tried it) peanut butter and jelly.

And, what shall all of these delicious toppings rest upon? Try different types of buns: onion, poppy seed, rosemary focaccia, or brioche would all be excellent options. Check out your local gourmet grocery or bakery for more ideas. The point is to try something different. Dad may find his new favorite burger after all is said and done.

Bacon-wrapped stuffed peppers, ready for the grill. (Photo credit: Photo: William Dickey; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey - Time Inc.)

Bacon-wrapped stuffed peppers, ready for the grill. (Photo: William Dickey; Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey – Time Inc.)

On the Side, Dad Style

Whether we like it or not, most dads are starch fans, so be prepared to starch it up with some dad-friendly side items. Dishes like potato salad, baked macaroni, and loaded baked potatoes come to mind. But, you can also get dad to step outside of his norm a bit by adding some grilled vegetables to the table. One idea is to stuff peppers with gourmet cheeses from your burger bar and grill them. To make it a little more dad-friendly, you can always add bacon. For other grilled fruit and veggie ideas, check out our “Garden to Grill Ideas” blog.

Microbrew Tasting

What is simpler than burgers and beer? Both cooking burgers and drinking beers are two of the favorite pastimes for many American men. While your father may have his beer of choice, most likely something he learned to love in college, it may be time to broaden his horizons.

Make it festive and set up a microbrew tasting table. Visit your local specialty liquor store and get a variety of samples from around the country. Many specialty stores will have a wide variety of single beers for sale or will allow you to break a six-pack for the purpose of doing a sampling. If not, plan ahead and order from an online distributor. It also will be helpful if you have small drinking glasses or shot glasses at your BBQ for beer sampling.

Beer tasting