Cars can be started from the kitchen table now, so it should come as no surprise that backyard barbecues can be managed from the living room. That is, if your outdoor grill is within 200 feet. That’s the range of Macworld’s new iGrill wireless thermometer. The Bluetooth-enabled device monitors food temperatures up to 400 degrees and transfers the information to an iOS device. It works with an iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad. The battery-powered gadget operates with a free iPhone app.
The app also includes features that give grillers the ability to browse and share recipes and monitor remaining cooking times. The iGrill Thermometer sells for $100.
Especially as more and more vegetarians conquer the meatless grill, stainless steel mesh baskets for grilling vegetables are becoming more popular. Basic mesh grill baskets, which can also be used for grilling fish, sell for $15-$20.
“A new flat pan version is useful for shaking vegetables while they grill,” said Dan Marguerite, co-owner of the Backyard BBQ Store in Wilmette.
Marguerite is also a fan of the Big Green Egg, a ceramic, egg-shaped grill that allows foods to cook at temperatures as high as 700 degrees. The grill modernizes a high temperature cooking technique that is thousands of years old. Its predecessor is an ancient clay cooker called a “kamado.”
The mighty grill’s hefty price tag — around $700 for a large version — is a bit more reflective of today’s modern economy.
Still, grill chefs like Marguerite favor the Egg, particularly for its temperature control ability.
“Once you get the temperature to 225 degrees, you can take a nap or go to your kids’ soccer game.”
The grill is useful for slow cooking meats like ribs, but is also beneficial for grilling just about any food.
“One of our family classics is a ‘surprise package,’” Marguerite said. “It’s a recipe that was in the original Weber cookbook. It’s pork tenderloin cut like a little filet and topped with crisscrossed bacon, slices of onion, green pepper and tomato. Put a toothpick right down the middle and grill it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Put a slice of provolone cheese on top when there are about two minutes left to cook.”
And he loves the charcoal flavor the grill adds to pizzas. The store staff demonstrates cooking on the Green Egg every Saturday at noon, so shoppers can sample the taste difference. Green Egg-grilled pizza is frequently demonstrated, as well as jalapeno peppers stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and wrapped with bacon.
“I always get the bacon from Al’s Meat Market around the corner, because he slices it really thin,” Marguerite said.
Another unusually shaped grill is the new Smokey Mountain Cooker/Smoker. The 22 ½-inch cylindrical grill is compact, but tall enough to house two racks — one to cook a turkey, another to cook a ham at the same time. A porcelain enameled water pan in the bottom of the grill provides steam to keep meat tender and moist. The grill sells for about $399.
On June 25, Highland Park resident Carol D’Anca will show how to grill her Neopolitan pizza recipe during a class at the Backyard BBQ store. She said the recipe she’ll showcase during her hands-on class is very different from Chicago-style pizza.
“It is a pizza like you would find in a small trattoria in Italy,” D’Anca said shortly after she returned from Naples where she herself was a cooking class student. “I went for the class to discover the culture of Naples.”
This will be the second year D’Anca, who has a master’s degree in nutrition, will teach a class about grilling pizza at the Backyard BBQ store.
For more information about the class, and the store’s schedule of grilling classes, visit www.backyardbbqs
Grilled Pizza (From the Backyard BBQ Store in Wilmette) Dough 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons) 1¾ to 2 cups all purpose flour ¾ cup of warm water 1½ teaspoons salt ½ tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons corn meal (for rolling out dough) Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and ¼ cup warm water. Let stand until mixture appears to be creamy on surface (about 5-10 minutes). In another bowl, combine remaining flour with salt. Next, mix in yeast mixture and olive oil. Knead until dough is smooth, soft and elastic. Put dough ball in greased large mixing bowl and cover. Let dough rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Sauce 1 15-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes ½ 5-ounce can tomato sauce 2 tablespoons oregano ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes Pinch of salt Pinch of pepper ¼ red onion, minced (optional) In large mixing bowl, crush tomatoes and mix with the rest of the above ingredients. Sprinkle corn meal on pizza peel. Place dough on peel and roll out thin. Spread sauce evenly. Add desired topping ingredients. Slide pizza off peel and onto grill grates. Grill at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes.