Eight great gadgets for grilling fish, veggies, ribs and more

Consumer Reports News: May 10, 2013 12:08 PM

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There's so much more to grilling than burgers, steaks and hot dogs. Fish, veggies, whole roasts, and pizza are also great on the barbecue. But you'll need more than the old burger flipper to whip up those dishes. Special gadgets such as grilling baskets, woks, cooking racks and pizza stones will give you the tastiest and neatest results. But which ones are really worth it? To find out, Consumer Reports' experts tried eight new grilling gizmos and found some big differences in those that are designed to do the same job.

Master Forge stainless-steel topper 267447, $17 (Lowe's)
Best for evenly cooking large quantities of cut vegetables or fish fillets and chicken cutlets thanks to its large surface area. Small surface holes keep food from falling through.
But: The pan has only three low sides, so food can fall off as you're turning it. Food also stuck to the pan a bit, even after using cooking spray.
Tip: Materials matter. Stainless-steel gadgets can be cleaned with steel wool or stainless cleaner. Porcelain-coated tools are more fragile, so use a plastic scrubber.

Master_forge_grill_wok.jpgMaster Forge grill wok 25375, $17 (Lowe's)
Best for keeping smaller batches of vegetables or small fish such as shrimp or scallops from going overboard due to its deeper sides and bowl-like shape. The holes are small enough to keep food from escaping while allowing juices to drain.
But: A large amount of food might cook unevenly because it's piled up.

Kenmore grilling wok and tong 15273, $15
Best for sautéing vegetables or fragile or small items on a grill. The folding handle is convenient.
But: Cooking was uneven because of the small surface area of the wok. The handle is thin and uncomfortable to use, and the tongs, which are flimsy, permanently scratched the wok the first time we used them together.

Brinkmann flexible grilling basket 812-9012, $16 (Home Depot)
Best for cooking large quantities of thin fish fillets such as sole or tilapia, or vegetables cut flat such as eggplant or zucchini, because of its 24x16-inch surface area. And you can flip over lots of food with one turn.
But: Whatever you cook has to be exactly the same thickness or the thinner items may fall out when the basket is flipped over. Its large size made it awkward to flip, open to remove food, and wash.

Weber original rib and roast holder, $20
Best for cooking full racks of ribs upright on large grills. A roast we cooked, turning it once, came out just as well as one cooked on a grill spit. The holder is versatile and easy to clean.
But: We couldn't close our medium-sized grill's lid when we placed this big holder front-to-back to hold full racks of ribs because it was too wide.

Brinkmann rib rack, $18 (Home Depot)
Best for cooking several half- or full-sized racks of ribs. Cross-bars on the bottom keep ribs from falling through. The rack was also easy to clean.
But: Its porcelain coating may be damaged by aggressive cleaning, so use a plastic scrubber.
Tip: Remove ribs from racks with tongs and place them on a serving dish, because the racks get very hot.

Weber_pizza_stone.jpgWeber Style pizza stone 6430, $50
Best for cooking one large pizza or several personal-sized ones. A handle allows you to easily move the stone from the grill or rotate it during cooking to adapt to hotter spots. A holder elevates the stone off the surface, so it's not as likely to crack if placed on a wet surface, for example.
But: The metal holder, like the stone, will be burning hot when moved from the grill, so use oven mitts and caution.
Tip: It's hard to control the cooking temperature with pizza stones, so you have to watch the pizza carefully.

Brinkmann 13-inch pizza stone, $13 (Home Depot)
Best for cooking pizza or flatbread with a crispy crust.
But: Like other pizza stones, it's fragile and can break if exposed to extreme temperature changes (from the grill to a cold or wet counter, for example). It's hard to move because it gets blazing hot and has no handles. And like other pizza stones, this one was difficult to get completely clean once we started using it.

Top grills
We've added new brands, new tests and lots of lower-priced models to our tests of more than 100 gas grills. We found 31 winners in our recent gas grill tests including the small Weber Spirit E-220 4631000, the mid-sized Weber Spirit SP-320 46700401 and the large Jenn-Air 720-0709 sold at Sam's Club.

Artemis DiBenedetto

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