Kitchn Love Letters

This Underrated Grilling Essential Is My Go-To Summer Cooking Tool

published Jun 24, 2022
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Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

When the weather heats up, so does my kitchen— and I don’t have a/c. That means when
summertime comes, I cook dinner outside on the grill more often than not. I can pop most things right on the grates no problem, but other things, like sliced peppers and onions, broccoli florets, and kale leaves for kale chips, need something to keep them from falling through the slats. I often used a cast iron skillet placed directly on the grill for those ingredients, but it takes awhile to heat up and takes up a lot of space. Plus, I missed getting that flame-kissed char

So I finally bought a grill pan — basically a lightweight stainless steel dish that’s perforated so the smoke, flames, and heat can get through. I had high hopes, but the results were flabby and underwhelming. With all that metal between the flames and the food, nothing charred, or even really browned. Because the dimensions were smaller than my skillet, things got bunched and steamed rather than seared.

I needed something with less structure, just enough metal to keep the ingredients from slipping through to the inferno below. I scoured the web and found the Charcoal Companion nonstick grilling basket. Its mesh-like design had more in common with a net than a pan. I had to give it a try, and I’m never looking back.

After cooking my first batch of kale chips, which turned out gloriously crispy and browned, I
knew I had found the answer to my problem. Best of all, it has a lid and a handle so I could
shake the leaves — or broccoli florets, zucchini slices, mushrooms, peppers, and shrimp — you name it — for even cooking without anything falling out. 

The nonstick coating makes cleanup easy, and the handle folds down for compact storage. I use this sucker for so many things, even croutons for salad! My only quibble is it’s a bit narrow, like a french fry basket. I wish it were twice as wide so I could fit more in it without having to toss every few minutes for even cooking. Otherwise, it’s a pretty perfect piece of grilling gear.