As autumn gently passes giving way to a winter wonderland, with sugar plums dancing in our heads, the merriest of holiday seasons arrive while Saint Nick makes final preparations and reading line by line, one last time, through his Naughty and Nice List. But, well-before Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen embark on the most historic of annual adventures, circumnavigating that jolly old elf around the globe direct to your rooftop chimney, now is the last chance to ensure your beloved Grill Master’s wish list is fulfilled with their every flame-fueled hope, well-seasoned dream, and barbequed desire.
To help, over the last 365 days between travel, recipe development, television work and event hosting, I’ve compiled the ultimate Christmas Gift Guide – comprised of the most innovative and trusted pieces of outdoor cooking equipment – uniquely designed, hand-crafted grilling tools and accessories, next generation technology, educational resources necessary to not only feed the mind, but warm the young heart of your very own 24/7/365 Backyard BBQ Hero!
In no certain order, my Ultimate Christmas Wish List for Santa:
1. First, a handheld gun that blows fire and ignites charcoal. No further explanation needed. Please, Mr. Kris Kringle – Make sure the Bison Airlighter finds it’s way into my fireplace stocking!
2. The single hottest grill on the holiday marketplace. Bar none. This ultra-brand new, stainless steel, bad-to-the-bone fire-breathing outdoor cooking appliance from Char-Broil is the Smartchef™ TRU-IR 3-Burner Gas Grill. A WiFi connected infrared grill that intuitively syncs to your smart phone, tablet or computer, allowing control your cook from home, work or anywhere else in the world. Seriously, incredible.
Featuring their patented TRU-Infrared Cooking System, this grill provides nearly 26,000 BTU’s and 700F of even heat, prevents flare-ups, and independent testing has concluded that proteins maintain up to 50% more of their natural fluids and flavor when cooked on this grill. Last, but far from least – Char-Broil is covering the stainless burners for 10 years, the firebox, lid, grates and emmiters for 3 years, and all other parts for 1 year!
3. Sewn from two shades of hand-waxed canvas and finished with sturdy leather straps, giving it that weathered, rough-and-tumble look as well as a water resistant seal, to keep clothes nice and dry. Scout Mob – Charles Men’s Waxed Canvas & Leather Apron.
4. Or, if truly desiring to dress to impress, a strong play at any backyard barbecue is adorning this finely crafted, Macho Man Grilling Apron. Light, comfortable, and sewn with adjustable straps, this getup is perfect for any tailgate, church get-together, or a charity throwdown for your best buddies at the local police department.
5. Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4. The triple black belt ninja of instant digital-read internal thermometers. Pre-calibrated, easy to use and most trusted by professional chefs and pitmasters alike. Select any one of their rainbow of colors. And, new this season, there are 6 brand new designs ranging from the American Flag, to Desert Camo, and Blazing Fire. Very cool.
6. Designed for competition BBQ teams and professional chefs, ThermaWorks Smoke outlasts and outperforms every competitor in it’s markeplace. Smoke features a rugged housing, pro-series probes for quick and accurate measurements, a radio-frequency application for connectivity within a radius of 300′, and molded-in seals for splashproof protection.
7. Bear Paws are the original ergonomically-designed meat pulling and shredding tool. Made of a nylon-based, heat-resistent material, Bear Paws were awarded 1st place for “Best BBQ Tool” by the National BBQ Association, and recently appeared on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters, Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, and America’s Test Kitchen – In each review being highly endorsed!
8-11. Four of the most influential books in grilling and barbeque. Each necessary for the aspiring outdoor cook, as well as the most veteran of tailgate warriors and barbeque aficionados.
Aaron Franklin’s, Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto – A New York Times best selling complete meat cooking education from the country’s most celebrated pitmaster and owner of the wildly popular Austin restaurant, Franklin Barbecue.
Bon Appetit, The Grilling Book – The definitive summertime grilling companion, featuring more than 350 recipes, full-color photographs, how-to guides, and tips to simplify your grilling life.
Meathead Goldwyn’s, Meathead: The Science of Great Grilling and Barbecue – For succulent results every time, nothing is more crucial than understanding the science behind the interaction of food, fire, heat, and smoke. This is the step-by-step manual to the concepts, methods, equipment, and accessories of barbecue and grilling.
Steven Raichlen’s, Project Smoke – From America’s “master griller,” a step-by-step guide to cold-smoking, hot-smoking, and smoke-roasting, and a collection of 100 innovative recipes for smoking every kind of food, from starters to desserts.
12. The one. The only. The Pitmit Grilling and Oven Mit. Supremely heat-resistant aramid fiber is woven into a cotton-lined, form-fitting flexible glove with silicone grip for the professional griller, smoker or pitmaster. The glove can be worn on either hand – but, why take the risk of catching a burn on an uncovered hand? Buy two!
13. Listen. The debate is over. Adios, Briquettes! When grilling with charcoal, the undisputed king of natural hardwood fuel is, The St. Louis Charcoal Company’s Rockwood Lump Charcoal. Period. Done. End of story.
Not only does this company employ strong environmental and green standards in harvesting and production, but their output waste is virtually zero and, equally important, the product is incredible. The charcoal is produced by burning sustainable natural hardwoods in the absence of oxygen. By definition this product is simply carbonized wood. But, unlike charcoal briquettes, Rockwood Charcoal has no fillers, additional chemicals, additives or adhesives. Lump charcoal lights with ease, burns hotter, harder and produces reduced amounts of ash as compared to briquettes.
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14. BBQ Dragon’s Chimney of Insanity is designed to be easier to use and more versatile than traditional, old-style charcoal chimneys. A 90 degree elbow sticks out the bottom of the chimney – this side hole helps create a drafting effect that lights charcoal faster. Also, it allows a user to aim a fan or even just blow to the interior, dramatically increasing oxygen flow, speeding ignition, and getting your charcoal ready in just minutes.
Purchase in tandem with the BBQ Dragon Supercharger for superior results!
15. Kick it old school at your next backyard barbecue. Like a boss! The break dancing be-boxing hip-hop won’t stop on Lasonic’s i-931BT Portable AM/FM Bluetooth Ghetto Blaster Boombox Speakers. This retro-fashion icon is powered by two 15-watt professional speakers, pumping crystal clear, detailed sound via Bluetooth, USB, SD Card, WiFi or Radio, supported by dedicated bass and treble EQ controls. Let the party commence!
16. Introducing the ultimate outdoor bluetooth surround sound system, The UE Boom 2.0! Insanely good, loud 360 degree sound with deep bass & portable design. This model is not only shockproof, but waterproof up to 30 minutes at a depth of one meter of water! Hands free control with connectivity to Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora and iHeartRadio. Among it’s coolest features is this speaker’s ability to wirelessly connect more than 50 fellow UE Boom 2.o speakers – just incredible! But, above all, the party will rage day and night with a 12-15-hour battery life and 100 ft. Bluetooth wireless range. Rock and Roll!!
17. While the backyard barbecue rages onward, keep cool and UV-protected – like a boss – with my absolute favorite all-natural bad-ass wooden shades. Shwood merges precision technology with classic skilled craftsmanship and contemporary design to create a timeless accessory art. From veneering and lens cutting, to shaping and finishing every step is conducted in their Portland-based workshop, delivering stunning, high-performance eyewear from single-source sustainable wood products.
18. Char Broil’s Wifi-enabled Digital Electric Smoker with SmartChef Technology – the next relavent evolution in outdoor smoking. Control and monitor real-time progress with the convenience of a smart device. This connected stainless steel smoker simplifies the science & demystifies the art of perfectly prepared, slow-cooked outdoor fare.
American designed and constructed, double-wall insulated with 725-square inch smoking capacity and glass door viewing. Convenient remote control and LED display panel. Dual-tone, stainless steel finish and locking latch for smoke-tight seal. 4-cup wood chip chamber for up to 6 hours of smoke, all monitored by a removable internal temperature thermometer. And, guaranteed in whole and by part, under a 1-year warranty!
19. If you love the efficiency of gas grilling but long for the rustic, smoky flavor of charcoal, Williams-Sonoma’s Stainless Steel Smoker Box is destined to become your favorite grilling accessory. Simply add a handful of pre-soaked woodchips into the smoker. Place it at the back of the grill, over direct heat… and boom! You’re infusing another level of flavor into your grilled fare!
20. Western’s Premium BBQ Smoking Chip Variety Pack is perfect when you are trying out wood smoke flavor for the first time, making unique flavor combinations, or as a gift for your favorite BBQ Enthusiast. These are the same chips I use over my grill, in my smoker and at the backwoods campsite barbeque.
21. Standing tall and handsome, this designer Athena Plus 304 Stainless Steel Flame Gas Patio Heater not only performs, but also looks stunning. Almost 50% more heat is generated than the standard heater using the glowing infrared collector and an enhanced reflector.
22. Jacobson & Company’s encyclopedia of 25 savory, brilliant seasonings. A deluxe sampler of hand-gathered Oregon sea salt from Netarts Bay, slowly evaporated until it forms light, delicate crystals. The salt is then blended with spices, herbs and other natural ingredients to create flavors ranging from lemon zest, rosemary and fiery habanero to sweet onion, cranberry and maple.
23. Thousands upon thousands of hours are spent researching and working direct with organic producers to bring world-renowned chefs the finest, most sought-after flavors from around the globe. Dean & Deluca’s Signature Collection of 40 Spices and Herbs is the premier sampling of global flavors, arranged in glass test tubes on a stainless steel spice rack.
24. The entire handcrafted collection of spices by Urban Accents. 18 globally-inspired, all natural, versatile blended spices. Color-coded by World Flavor: American Adventures, Pan Asian Flavor, Global Exotics, Latin Heat and Old World Classics.
25. The Cole & Mason Derwent Salt and Pepper Mill Grinder Set features stainless steel and carbon steel burr construction facilitating 5 degress of precision grinding. Flawless design and performance and a lifetime guarantee from Cole & Mason.
26. Great artisan pizzas aren’t about the wood. They’re about the flame. The billowing live fire in the Kalamazoo Artisan Pizza Oven is cultivated in a hand-crafted stainless steel chamber that mimics the heat of a traditional old world wood-fired pizza oven, but gives you the control and responsiveness a wood-fired pizza oven is missing. Designed for the home gourmet and world-renowned chefs alike, this sleek, sexy piece of outdoor cooking equipment is ready to roast in as little as 20 minutes, emits up to 52,000 BTUs and perfectly prepares Neapolitan-style pizza in less than 3 minutes. Jaw-dropping. Breathtaking. Beautiful. Beyond words.
27. The Sharper Image Stainless Steel Steam Cleaning Grill Brush uses heat from your grill to make steam, so cleaning the barbecue is a breeze. Just fill the reservoir handle with water and flip a switch. Water flows into the steel bristles. When the water hits the hot grill, it turns to steam and instantly loosens up grease and charred foods. The powerful combination of steel bristles and steam gives your grill a clean-as-new appearance that’s also safer for food preparation. Works on virtually all charcoal and propane barbecues with cast iron, stainless steel or ceramic grills.
28. The legend. The Shed BBQ Joint of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, USA! This package includes the Orisson family’s Award-winning Junk Free barbeque sauces, rib and chicken rubs. The BBQ sauce that started it all, when you are in the mood for absolutely deliciously sweet southern BBQ sauce.
29. Made from 304 high grade stainless steel, Grill Beast’s Meat Injector Kit is perfect for intensifying the flavor of brisket, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, goose, duck, and more! Durable and sharp, the needles puncture any meat or poultry with ease, ensuring you can enrich the taste of tough or thick cuts.
30. Inspired by my travels through the furthest reaches of Argentinian Patagonia, from Torres del Paine to Rio Grande, through Tierral del Fuego and Ushuaia – I present, The Heritage Backyard Asado Cross. Designed to slowly roast whole animals over open fire, this cross is 60″ x 24″ with an adjustable 12″ base. Still used today, these artisan crosses have been employed by South American Gauchos for centuries as they prepared and perfected the art of smoking the finest of cuts of lamb, pork and beef on God’s Green Earth.
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31. Kenter’s Unity XL Entertainment and Grill Preparation Station is an all-in-one outdoor solution that allows you to effectively prepare the most phenomenal of outdoor feasts, while hosting comfortably, and securely storing, as needed, up to 78G of culinary items. Made of strong, weather-resistant resin and finished in an appealing wood-like texture, this unit has a durable upper surface for cooking, food preparation and serving – an absolute necessity for the professional backyard chef.
32. Any chef cooking over an open fire knows the difference between an impostor and a set of exceptional grilling tools. Crafted of the same wood used by Major League Baseball players and designed by New York-based Schmidt Brothers, this Ash-Colored 4-piece BBQ Gift Set is comprised of flame-forged stainless steel and pakka wood. The tools which separate the men from the boys.
33. The Calphalon Katana Serie 18-Piece Cutlery Knife Block Set is a breathtaking collection of Damascus-style blades clad with 33 layers of VG-1 Japanese stainless steel. This time-honored layering process that not only imparts exceptional sharpness, but allows the blade to retain its edge longer for enduring, high performance results.
34. Influenced by the Zen principle of simplicity, the flawless Shun Kanso Chef’s Cutlery Collection was designed with only the indispensable elements in mind: high-performance steel, razor-sharp edge, balance perfection and precision handling. The Damascus blades are forged of highly-refined, high-carbon vanadium stainless steel with angled handles of dense dark Tagayasan, the traditional wood of ancient Samurai swords.
35. Are you a South Texas oil tycoon, Wall Street CEO or Silicon Valley Software Savant? If yes, read further. Named for the blacksmith’s forge, the +$5,000 23-Piece Kaji Series of Shun Knives was developed by the most world-renowned of knife makers. Combining ancient Damascus-steel and iron-clad construction, this set offers a complete array of Japanese cutlery. Inspired by centuries-old samurai sword–making techniques, the 65-layer blade features a premium SG-2 powdered steel cutting core clad in 64 layers of forged nickel/stainless steel Damascus.
This is a culinary “Bucket List,” right?
36. This handsome 24″x 18″ John Boos Edge-grain Cherry Cutting Board is finest of additions to any serious cook’s kitchen. The board is reversible, so you can safely use one side for raw proteins and the other for fruits and veggies. It also features grip handles on its sides to make it easy to lift and flip. And, as with all John Boos products, their proprietary cream finish creates a protective layer that prevents food and moisture from damaging the wood board.
37. Daniel Boone would be proud! Standing 5′ tall with an adjustable 36″ chain, The Lodge Tall Boy Tripod is constructed from hot-rolled half inch bar stock and galvanized chain. This rugged tripod is ideally suited for use with Lodge Dutch ovens, camp ovens and kettles.
38. Fossil Farms Wild Game & All-Natural Meats specializes in providing the highest quality farm-raised game and all-natural meats in the country – from alligator, to bison, ibirico pork, kangaroo, quail, and venison to yak. When you experience a Fossil Farms product, you are ensured that every effort taken to guarantee the health and welfare of the animal has been maximized by being raised in a natural environment. An ethically responsible approach is the difference you can taste and see – the quality you should expect. Delivered from their farm to your front door!
39. When you want to elicit surprise, elation – perhaps even a gasp – give the gift of the prime, dry-aged and waygu butchered meats this holiday season. For five generations, Lobel’s of New York has been the most prominent purveyor of fine meats, dedicated to the highest standards of quality and personal service. But, above all, Lobdel’s Ultimate Gift Basket is a true steak-lover’s dream – packaged with the top 1/10 of 1% of all meat sold in America – hand-selected cuts of prime-grade and dry-aged filet mignon, porterhouse, rib steak and strip steaks!
40. The Char-Broil Patio Bistro is a mobile, light and mighty grill for those who seek to sear or barbeque, but may not have the space for a larger 3 or 4-burner commercial grill, or wish to avoid use of charcoal or gas fuel. This bad boy is retailed in a table-top and stand-up model, both powered by electricity and featuring Char-Broil’s TRU-Infrared heating system and high-end porcelain-coated grill grates.
This grill has been on my patio and in my backyard for years. I love how simplistic and intuitive the grill is to control and operate. Ideal for date night dinners, grilling and smoking poultry (see below), searing lighter dishes such as fish, and caramelizing fruits & vegetables to perfection.
41. Be still, my gentle heart, as I gaze upon Yeti’s Soft-Shell Hopper 30 Cooler. Portability, pack-ability, and durability, all wrapped in one sleek and sexy package that has no rival. This Yeti excels most when it comes to keeping things ice cold and its tough exterior guarantees a long life for your frosty brews.
42. Party from day into night with the Igloo Party Bar, featuring Igloo’s exclusive LiddUp LED Light System. With aesthetics that channel outdoor beer chests of a traditional Texas ice-house, this cooler anticipates your every merry-making need, from a removable lid and drink dividers to mobile-ready locking casters on a detachable base. Style, function, and easy clean up – the Igloo Party Bar is the light of the party.
43. If a picture tells a 1,000 words, I’ll just let this picture speak for itself! Introducing the 300W hot rod of ice cold coolers, The Cruzin’ Electric Scooter Cooler – Combining three essential necessities of life – 1. the ability to cold store food, 2. having handy means of being mobile (without walking), 3. and looking like a boss while doing so! The Cruzin’ Cooler is light-weight, comes in various sizes and colors and is available in electric models, with up to a 10 mile range for transporting your body and the contents of your cooler.
44. The Pure Michigan-Made, Grillworks Infierno 64! For 30 years Grillworks has built premier wood-fired grills for gourmets, chefs and kitchen designers alike. Signature cast aluminum crankwheels allow the chef to adjust the height of the cooking surface with the rise and fall of the flames. V-Channels slanted at 4 degrees capture juices for basting and sauce preparation. Full stainless craftsmanship ensures a long, beautiful life. Free-standing, built-in and professional options; in any size that can be imagined, each designed to perform the live-fire techniques of the world.
45. Is bacon the best gift ever? I’m not sure, but probably. If anything, Zingerman’s Bacon of the Month Club is the mouthwatering, glorious gift that keeps on giving all year round! The infamous purveyor of fine fare, delivers direct from Ann Arbor, Michigan to your front door – and, if you really needed any further convincing – Iron Chef Michael Symon, Bobby Flay and Mario Batalli are not only customers, but bestow the blessing of artisan Zingerman bacon to their staff and employees every holiday season!
46. There’s something incomparably satisfying about a perfectly roasted chicken – which is exactly what Williams-Sonoma’s Vertical Stainless-Steel Roaster ensures. It’s meticulously designed with the outdoor chef in mind and the capacity to roast one or two birds on the grill simultaneously – so there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy.
47. You are one taxi drive and one red eye plane flight from experiencing the greatest cooking school on the South American Continent. Focused upon the centuries-old art of Asado, Mauricio’s Cooking Class of Mendoza, is rated a 5-star open fire culinary experience on TripAdvisor – You’ll experience shopping at the local markets for freshly farmed fare, walk through preparation, learn indigenous techniques, grill till the sun goes down and eat enough barbeque to choke a donkey! It is with a strong recommendation that I share this course!
48. Are you looking for that once-in-a-lifetime outdoor cooking experience, set upon the backdrop of America’s most breathtaking of settings, and instructed by the best pound-for-pound grill master on Planet Earth? If yes, reservations for this rare opportunity are now being accepted by global grilling authority, Steven Raichlen, for attendance at Barbecue University 2017 – what Forbes Magazine called, “one of the best food lover’s events in the nation.” You get to grill under Steven’s supervision and will leave with a bold new perspective on man’s oldest, most universal method of cooking. Two back-to-back, 3-day sessions will take place at the luxurious Five-Star Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado: June 9-12 and June 12-15.This is truly a barbeque aficionados bucket list destination trip!
Well. There it is. My Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide and Wish List. Now time to clear space in my outdoor kitchen, seal, stamp and deliver this post the the North Pole.
Stay warm, safe and hungry. Merry Christmas, happy holidays and best to you and yours in the New Year! -David