Kitchen gadget: Barbecue mop
If you love outdoor cooking, there's nothing like taming a tough cut of meat through the mastery of a low and slow fire, or deftly handling a lean cut quickly over a hot grill. But often it's that signature touch -- a thoughtfully honed sauce -- that separates barbecue masters from weekend warriors.
And while you can baste the meat with almost anything -- paintbrush, fancy silicone kitchen brush, wooden spoon -- nothing does the job better than a basic barbecue mop.
A barbecue mop looks just like a old-fashioned floor mop, but on a much smaller scale. Typically a cotton mop head fitted on a wooden handle, these gadgets are great for soaking up sauces and basting mixtures so you can lovingly slather all that great flavor over your charred masterpiece as it cooks to perfection.
When looking for a mop, there are a couple things to keep in mind. Look for one with a longer handle (at least 12 inches), so you've got some distance between you and the food in case there are any flare-ups. And go with a classic cotton mop -- silicone may be nice, but I've found it doesn't hold a sauce or liquid as well when basting (that, and silicone is so much more expensive than a sturdy, inexpensive cotton mop). If you can't find a mop, I've found a small kitchen terry cloth towel works in a pinch; simply use a pair of tongs as a handle to baste with the soaked cloth.
Barbecue mops can generally be found at cooking supply stores and wherever barbecue and grilling supplies are sold (including some hardware stores), and are easily found online. A basic one should set you back no more than $5.
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Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times