geek grilling tools
Summer has arrived, and that means it’s time to grill.  But before you start charring steaks, you’ll need a little equipment.  Here are my favorite nerdy accessories for the grillmaster within you.

1.  Extra-Long BBQ Tongs.  They don’t sound geeky, but this single piece of equipment can mean the difference between retaining your forearm hair or not.  Look for locking tongs at least 16” long, with metal ends since plastic and even silicone can melt at grilling temperature.

2.  TurboQue Turbo-Charged Smoker.  This battery-operated fan attaches to the inside of your grill and turns it into a convection smoker.  This means reduced cooking time and extra exposure to smoke from wood chips. 

3.  Infrared Thermometer.  Sure, you could hold your hand above the grill grate and count “one Mississippi… two Mississippi,” but it’s far more geeky to be accurate to .1 degrees Fahrenheit.  This non-contact thermometer instantly measures surface temperatures with the pull of a trigger, enticing you to be quick on the draw. 

4.  Instant Digital Probe Thermometer.  While the infrared thermometer will tell you how hot the grill is, it won’t give you a read on the internal temperature of your porterhouse.  Use a probe thermometer to quickly check the doneness of thick cuts without having to slice them open.  Choose a digital instant read over an analog model, unless you enjoy waiting while your fingernails melt over the fire.

5.  Onion Goggles.  You may look a little… special… flipping burgers with these on, but if you’re cooking with smoke, or better yet, over a campfire, they are indispensable.  The foam-lined glasses are highly effective at keeping the smoke out of your eyes, and keeping girls from ever talking to you.  But hey, form follows function, right?

Reading time: 1 min

turmeric curry ribs
If you’re planning on making ribs this summer, I applaud you.  However, if your rib recipe involves a bottle of Hunt’s BBQ sauce, you are denying yourself a transcendent epicurean experience: garlic-curry short ribs. 

Total kitchen time: 30 minutes prep, 4 hours, plus 15 minutes cooking time
Makes: 3 racks

Shopping list:

  • 3 racks baby back ribs (short ribs)
  • 8 tbsp. + 2 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 4 cups prepared Turmeric-Curry Dry Rub
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. lime juice
  • a lot of heavy-duty aluminum foil
  1. Can be done 1 day ahead, refrigerate until ready to cook.  Work one slab of ribs at a time.  Lay out two large pieces of foil, on top of one another, big enough to cover the slab.  Pat the slab dry on both sides with paper towels, and lay bone-side up in the middle of the foil.
  2. Spread 1 tbsp. of crushed garlic across the surface of the ribs (bone side up).  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the prepared dry rub over the bone side of the ribs and push the rub into the skin.  Flip the ribs over (skin side up) and repeat – 1 tbsp. of garlic, then 1/2 cup dry rub pressed into the skin.  You should have 1 cup of dry rub remaining, for the barbecue sauce.
  3. Lay the ribs bone-side down and seal tightly with the aluminum foil. Working with the long side first, bring the opposite edges together and fold over to form a crease.  Fold over a second time to double the crease, being sure to keep the foil tight to the meat.  fold the short ends up towards the skin side and seal tightly. 
  4. Preheat your oven to 200°F and set the top rack in the middle position.  Place a rimmed baking sheet or a large piece of foil in the bottom of your oven to catch any juice that drips off during cooking. 
Reading time: 2 min

potato salad 
Although your guests may argue that this is not a “real” potato salad (of course, there is no mayonnaise) a single bite should settle the score.  This bright, vinegary side dish has been known to take center stage at my barbeques, so be sure to serve it alongside hearty entrees that will stand on their own.

Total kitchen time: 1 hour
Makes: 8 servings

Shopping list:

  • 2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. capers
  • 2 tsp. herbs de provençe
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F and set the top rack in the middle position.
  2. Spread the potatoes in an even layer in a microwave-safe dish filled with enough water to cover the potatoes.  Microwave 8-12 minutes (this will vary a lot) or until the potatoes are fork tender, but not fully cooked.  Drain and pat dry.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the diced onion and pepper in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they have softened, about 15 minutes. 
  4. Add the par-cooked potatoes and toss with a little olive oil to coat.  Bake another 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown. 
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  The dijon vinaigrette is a balancing act between bitter, sweet, salty and spicy.  Adjust each of the ingredients until the vinaigrette stings your tongue, but finishes in your mouth with a slightly sweet, rounded flavor. 
  6. Toss the potatoes and vinaigrette together on a serving bowl and serve warm or room temperature.

If you want to cheat a little (I won’t tell) you may be able to get away with frozen roasted potatoes.  If you’re lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, they sell a package of frozen potatoes with roasted veggies that works great for this recipe.  It can be our little secret.

Reading time: 1 min