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Great Gadgets for Chilehead Cooks PDF Print E-mail
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by Mike Stines, Ph.B.


As a chef, cookbook author and food writer, I receive a lot of products for review and evaluation. While many of them are unique and a welcomed addition to my arsenal of cooking, grilling and barbecue tools and equipment, some are too complicated, poorly designed, or are “single-use” items that I won’t recommend. Below are observations about some of the products I’ve received and evaluated for our SuperSite readers that I believe are useful and worth the price.

ThermapenThermoWorks’ new “splash proof” Thermapen

I was introduced to the original Thermapen when the Fiery Foods & BBQ team competed at the 2007 BarbeQlossal in Des Moines, Iowa. It was a fantastic rapid-response thermometer.

ThermoWorks has improved on an already great product by introducing a “splash-proof” Thermapen with a redesigned case and display. Retailing for $96, the new thermometer’s display has been moved to the left so it is more easily seen if grasped with the thumb on the front side. Unfortunately, the display still lacks back-lighting, so use at night requires a flashlight. Gone from the new model is the wrist tether.

The new Thermapen uses commonly found coin cell batteries with an anticipated life of 1,500 hours, about 15 times longer than the original model. The new model is also customizable, allowing users to select Fahrenheit or Centigrade, auto-off and resolution (0.1 or 1 degree) by resetting dip switches in the battery compartment. I use the new Thermapen almost daily and recommend it highly.

More information about the Thermapen is available at thermoworks.com.

Fire Wire flexible grilling skewerFire Wire skewers

Barry “CB” Martin, who authors the Char-Broil “Sizzle on the Grill” newsletter (charbroil.com), recently sent me a unique item for the grill, Fire Wire—a flexible grilling skewer manufactured by Inno-Labs and distributed by Char-Broil.

Fire Wire is a 30-inch stainless steel wire with twice the capacity of traditional metal or wooden skewers. A loop on one end holds the food in place. After placing the food on the Fire Wire, the food may be marinated in a food-safe bag or container and then placed on the grill, eliminating the need to handle the food twice. By leaving the tips of the Fire Wire outside of the grill, they remain cool enough to handle without tongs or gloves.

A package of two Fire Wires sells for $14.95. More information about the Fire Wire is available at firewiregrilling.com.

ThermoWorks thermometerThermoWorks IR thermometer

Ever wonder how hot your smoker or grill is? Sure, you can use the hand-over-the-coals method or place an oven thermometer on the grates of your smoker, but a more accurate—and faster—method is to use an infrared thermometer such as the ThermoWorks Infrared Food Safety Thermometer.

Retailing for $79, the thermometer allows a user to accurately determine the surface temperature of food, a grill or smoker. The large, backlit display has a temperature range of -67 to 536 degrees F. and is easily operated with a finger trigger.

Check it out at thermoworks.com.

Char-Broil Heatwave GrillChar-Broil Heatwave Grill

For about the past 10 years I’ve used a Broilmaster P-3 propane grill for grilling. The P-3 has an aluminum body and dual 20,000 BTU stainless steel burners with cast iron cooking grates that adjust to three levels, allowing grilling, baking and warming at the same time. It’s a great grill that will last a lifetime.

This summer, a new grill joined my collection of outdoor cooking appliances: a Char-Broil Heatwave infrared grill. Infrared cooking is done without an open flame, reducing the chance of flare-ups from dripping grease or sauces. Infrared cooking is also faster than open flame cooking, with food being done in almost half the time.

The three-burner grill offers a temperature range of 250 to 800 degrees F., making it ideal for rotisserie, barbecue, grilling and searing. Because there is no open flame, dry wood chips may be placed in the cooking chamber through the porcelain-coated cast iron grates to add a smoked flavor to foods.

The Heatwave has a suggested retail price of $599. More information is available at charbroil.com.

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