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What’s New for the BBQ

Delicious steak skewers on the grill

We’ve found some grilling gizmos you’ll love

Americans are gonzo for grilling, according to a new study published by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. Almost two-thirds of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker. Of those, 68 percent say they plan to cook out on the Fourth of July, so it’s no wonder this is National Grilling Month.

July is National Grilling Month.

In honor of the season, the team at Walton Gas has shopped local retailers and put together a roundup of tools to make cooking on your natural gas grill easier and more enjoyable. You’ll be the boss of the barbecue with these gadgets.

Himalayan Salt Grilling Stone

Salt block cooking is a new trend that is easily applied to the grill. The Cuisinart Himalayan Salt Grilling Stone ($18) is a good starter product for those wanting to experiment with the technique. It’s an 8-inch square that’s 1.5 inches thick. 

The salt grilling stone is perfect for preparing any type of meat, fish or grilled vegetable.

One of the purest salts in the world, Himalayan salt is said to contain about 84 minerals, like calcium, chloride, iron and zinc. Grilling on a Himalayan salt slab can infuse many of these minerals into your food, adding a unique depth of flavor. A Home Depot guide details how to select and correctly use a salt block for grilling.

Our favorite feature: In addition to being naturally anti-microbial and easy to clean, a Himalayan salt stone that is properly cared for can last for years.

Grilling Planks

Planking, the use of liquid-soaked wood planks for grilling foods, is a “new” trend that is actually centuries old. Cedar and other wood-plank cooking is a technique that was used by the Northwest Native Americans to roast fish, meats and fowl.

Planking on a gas grill infuses foods with unique flavor, combining the earthiness of the wood plank and the smokiness of the grill. Using a plank also gives you the option of cooking without oil because you don’t have to worry about fish or other delicate foods getting stuck to the grill grates and falling apart.

Wildwood Grilling Planks (packs of two for $10.99–$14.29) come in a variety of (untreated) woody flavors. Each plank is 5 inches by 11 inches, a size adequate for preparing 2-4 servings of food.

Our favorite feature: Wildwood Grilling Planks come in these woody flavors: cedar, alder, cherry, hickory, maple or red oak planks. Even better: The Wildwood Grilling blog has excellent tips and recipes for pairing wood flavors with foods.

Grill Mat

Grilling fish and small pieces of food on the grill can be frustrating. It often crumbles or falls through the grate when lifted. This is where a grill mat comes in handy.

There are lots of these non-stick mesh mats in stores now, each having the same basic feature of preventing delicate and small foods falling into the flames. For its low price and durability, the Kitchen + Home Golden Grill Mat (pack of two for $10) is a consumer favorite. It’s heavy duty, reusable and, at 15.75 inches by 13 inches, larger than many of its competitors.

Our favorite features: First, this mat is thicker than most at this price point, so it doesn’t curl or crack — and it will last for years. Second, clean up is easy. Since the food cooks on the mat, there are no grill grates to scrub. The mat can be washed with soap and water or put in the dishwasher.

Wireless Meat Thermometer

One of the hardest parts about grilling is determining when a piece of meat is adequately cooked — but not overcooked. A wireless meat thermometer, like the ThermoPro TP20 ($56), can help you perfectly prepare mouth-watering steaks, burgers and chicken.

Highly rated by consumers, the TP20 has two probes (most units have only one), multiple programming options, a variety of timers and excellent temperature accuracy. This model includes a base unit and wireless remote, so you won’t need to add an app to your phone. It has a wireless range of up to 300 feet, so you can wander far from the grill while still monitoring the steaks and chops.

Our favorite feature: The TP20 has presets for nine types of meats using USDA recommendations.

Cast Iron Griddle

If you love the even heating of your grandma’s cast iron skillet, don’t hesitate to add a cast iron griddle to your natural gas grill. This accessory will increase the grill’s versatility, meaning you can cook any meal outside. Foods you’d normally prepare in the kitchen — pancakes, bacon, eggs or fries — can easily be made on the grill.

Versatility gets even more of a boost with the Lodge Double Play Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle ($45). In addition to the griddle, it has a grill with raised ridges that produce grill marks on your burgers just like your natural gas grill’s grates. The Lodge cookware’s 20-inch by 10.44-inch size is large enough to cover two grill grates and ample for preparing a meal for the family.

Our favorite feature: Lodge is the category leader in cast iron cookware because of its long-held reputation for quality. Even better: It’s made just north of the Georgia border in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee.

All-in-One Grilling Tool

It’s a turner. It’s a tong. It’s both! Forget having to keep two tools handy for preparing foods because you can get both in the Pit Boss Pro Series All in One Grilling Tool ($15).

This unique design constructed of stainless steel features a full spatula on one side and a raised ridge tong head on the other. You can easily open the tongs to a wide angle, and securely grip and flip a rack of ribs, thick cuts of steaks, large briskets and more. It also has a meat cleaver on one edge and a serrated tenderizer on the other. In addition, an extra-long handle allows for grilling at a comfortable distance away.

Our favorite feature: There’s no need to juggle a bunch of grilling tools because this is all you’ll need. Fewer tools also means easier cleanup.

All of these items can be found at local retailers, so you can have it in hand by the weekend. Get a new gadget and start celebrating National Grilling Month.

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