Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tools of the Trade: 5 low-cost accessories for your Weber One Touch kettle

Since many of you already have a Weber, I wanted to put up some info on some "cheap upgrades" for your grill, just in case you didn't already have them. A few of them have different versions, and I'll show the variations so you know which one will work best for what you want to do. These products are all made by Weber, so a perfect fit is guaranteed.

  1. Grill Cover- This bad boy can really keep the grill looking fresh for years, but keep in mind that these come in both standard and premium versions. The gray standard version is low cost (under $10 most places) and is great for keeping dust off the grill if you have it stored under an overhang or in a shed, but isn't really well suited to protecting the grill from the elements for long, especially in the winter. I call this the "one year cover" as that's about as long as they seem to last without tearing. The premium black version costs about twice as much, but lasts years longer. Keep in mind that although it seems like common sense, no cover is going to last very long if you put it back on a hot grill.
  2. Tool Holder- Unless you have a table right next to the grill, you're going to want a place to put your utensils when you aren't using them. Most propane grills have some utensil hooks built in (and often one or more work tables), but no such luck on their round charcoal counterparts. The good news for you is that this gem of an accessory costs less than $5, and clips right onto the rim of the grill. They make a polished stainless version as well for about twice as much; while it looks a little classier, it has one less hook. Both work on the 18.5" and 22.5" models. For the money, this might be one of the biggest time saving additions you could get.
  3. Charcoal Rails or Baskets- When setting up the grill for indirect cooking, these little guys keep the coals where you put them; the center section stays at a moderate temperature to keep your food from burning to a crisp before it has a chance to cook through. You could do without them, but for between $9 for the rails and $18 for the baskets, why would you? The baskets are designed to work only with the 22.5" models, but I prefer the rails as they can be clipped more towards the center to give you larger hot zones if you need them. These work perfectly with a hinged grate, as they can be positioned directly below the hinge for drop in convenience.
  4. Side Work Table- This one is a really great idea. I move my grill a lot, so I haven't purchased one yet, but when it stops getting tossed in the back of the car all the time this will be one of the first things I buy. The earlier versions were made of wood and clipped to the rim and one of the legs, but the new ones are made of high temp plastic. The newer version seems like it would be a little more stable since it has legs that touch the ground, and it also includes three tool hooks. If you are planning on getting one of these they do make a cover that accommodates the table so you don't have to remove it every time.
  5. Rapidfire Chimney Starter- I know we sound like a broken record at this point, but if you only take home one accessory with your new grill, this should be it. Works with all types of charcoal, and lights it quick and easy with no lighter fluid. They last for years if you don't leave them outside. Can be had for under $15 if you get one at Home Depot or Lowes when you're picking up your lumber and sheet rock screws. Grab the newspaper off your neighbor's front porch and light up your coals, you'll be cooking before you know it.

One of the big advantages to the Weber One Touch grill series is the ability to control the temperature with the top and bottom vents; the unfortunate part is that the grill doesn't come with any type of thermometer to monitor your progress. Many people go through years of owning a kettle thinking that closing the vent in the top will hold the heat in and increase the temperature when the opposite is actually true. More airflow from the vents means more oxygen for the burning coals, and the temp can go up rather quickly when airflow is increased. Soon we will be writing several articles on temperature control, and even a few product reviews to give you an idea of what's out there.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Weber chimney starter. $15 on Amazon with free shipping, so you don't even have to leave the house. I did notice that Lowes seems to carry the entire compliment of replacement parts and accessories, so it's nice to know that they're available instantly should I need them.

    I follow the Alton Brown recommendation of a little bit of oil on 2 sheets of newspaper (actually, mail spam), and I've never had a lighting failure even in high winds or drizzly conditions.