Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Essentials Of An Outdoor Kitchen

Writing about the essentials of an outdoor kitchen is a little difficult because what I consider to be essential may not always be exactly what someone else considers to be essential but there are probably enough common things that can be agreed upon so here goes.
Let’s start with the cooking equipment since the basic function of any kitchen, inside or out, is cooking. What type of grill should we have in our outdoor kitchen? Obviously there are hundreds if not thousands of options but my simple rule of thumb is that I want a grill that’s big enough for those occasional large parties I have but not a monster that requires more cleaning – and cost – that I don’t want or need on a regular basis.
I also like propane since it’s easier to set up and more flexible in the long run. Other people like natural gas because it can be hooked up to your home’s system, if you have natural gas, and then you can forget about it. Charcoal is an option but it’s harder to deal with than the others in terms of clean-up. However, if you’re really going to get fancy with your outdoor kitchen setup then you could easily have a gas grill, a smoker and a charcoal grill area. That way you can have the best of all worlds: gas for quick cooking, smoking for the best flavor if you’ve got lots of time and charcoal with different wood chips for various flavors.
I also think it’s important to have other cooking accessories at hand and I like to have a sideburner and a searing station as well as a burner for use with a wok for stir-frying vegetables. These accessories give you a lot of flexibility and make things go a lot quicker, especially when you’ve got a lot of people over and you want to have more than one person in the kitchen.
And to make things easier, you’re also going to want to have a refrigerator in your kitchen so you can keep your prepped food nearby when it comes time to start cooking. An icemaker is also helpful when there are a lot of people enjoying cold beverages. And a warming drawer also comes in very handy the bigger the party you have. You don’t want to leave cooked food laying around getting cold and dry while you’re still cooking.
And while this may not be an absolute essential I also like the idea of having a pizza oven and maybe even a combination pizza oven/salamander as well. It’s great for backyard pizza parties for the kids – or for adults. And a salamander is great for finishing off all kinds of dishes with a quick broil.
There you have it. This is my list of outdoor kitchen essentials. Granted, some of the items on my list might not be considered essential but they sure come in handy and help make your barbecue parties as good as they can be. With a kitchen like this all you’re going to need now are a couple of cooking lessons.

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