Chef Rocco DiSpirito admits that he is "a big fan of convenience," but when it comes to grilling he strongly believes "it is worth investing and grilling the proper way." Read on to discover Rocco's five essentials for grilling like a champion.
1. Vitamix Professional Series 750
"One of my favorite things is marinades, and I think the Vitamix blender is the best thing for that," Rocco shares.
The Professional Series 750 performs like a commercial machine, but its quiet and easy-to-use design makes it perfect for the home kitchen. Use one of five pre-programmed settings to blend foods like hot soups or frozen desserts or ensure simple cleaning.
2. Sur La Table Round Glazed-Cordierite Pizza Stone, 16.5"
Rocco loves to cook whole wheat pizza dough on the grill, and he recommends using a pizza stone. "It is a great combination of a hot surface plus the added benefit of the wood or the charcoal to give it that great perfume that you get in Italy when you have pizzas cooking in a pizza oven," he muses.
To get the stone really hot, he heats it in a covered barbecue grill, which he says is "the closest thing you can get to the proper temperature of a real pizza oven." He explains, "The inside of our typical home oven doesn’t get past 500 or 600 degrees, but you can get up to 750, 800, 900 degrees in a barbecue grill especially if you have wood and charcoal in there."
4. Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue Cast Iron Tuscan Barbecue Grill
Rocco recommends this grill from barbecue legend Steven Raichlen, which he describes as "a nice cast iron Tuscan barbecue grill that you can place over any charcoal." Lay it on a conventional grate, or screw on the included legs to position it over a campfire or fireplace, to get perfect grill marks.
"I think grill baskets are the best way to barbecue food to give you a lot of control. They give you the ability to flip food quickly and the ability to raise and lower food from the grill surface as needed. If you want to stop grilling immediately, all you have to do is flip the grill basket up on its side," raves Rocco. "You don’t have to worry about tongs or about flipping things. It is really convenient. The cool thing about grill baskets is they sell them everywhere; they are hanging above the dairy section in every grocery store. They are extremely inexpensive. There is no downside to using them; it is all convenience." He recommends the selection at Williams-Sonoma.
"One of the chief complaints about cooking with charcoal is that it takes a long time to heat up," Rocco says. "I found a really cool charcoal chimney. It holds a lot of charcoal, it is square, which is actually a better shape for rapidly heating up charcoal, and it speeds up the process a lot."
Not only does this charcoal chimney from Sandbar Manufacturing produce hot coals quickly, but it also packs flat for easy storage.
Chef Rocco DiSpirito is serious about his grilling.
"I'm all about the purest way of grilling. And this is coming from a guy who put a microwave lasagna recipe in my last cook book," Rocco tells us. While he admits that he is "a big fan of convenience," he also believes in grilling properly, especially during a long weekend when you have time. "When you have several days off, it is worth investing and grilling the proper way."
So, what does that mean for Rocco? For starters, he recommends using real hardwood lump charcoal. Another tip, he suggests, is to throw wood chips or chunks on top of charcoal, which he says will give smoke and wood flavor.
Check out the slideshow above to discover five of Rocco DiSpirito's essential grilling picks.