Pat LaFrieda shares the 8 grill accessories he can’t do without, and how to use them

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  • I sat down with Pat LaFrieda, of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, to learn about what you need to do grilling right.
  • We discussed why you need a thermometer, why wood cutting boards are bad for meat prep, and why electric grills don’t cut it.
  • From a $5 cutting board and a $13 spatula to a $1,200 overhead grill, here are the meat man’s essential tools.

Pat LaFrieda, of the three-generation-old LaFrieda Meats, is a purveyor of some of the choicest bovine, swine, poultry, and game provisions to the likes of New York City restaurants as The Spotted Pig, Union Square Cafe, Minetta Tavern, and yes, of course, Shake Shack. We sat down with him to grill and to discuss the finer points of preparing and cooking meat, and what you need to do it right.

First and foremost, LaFrieda is a fridge-to-grill (or overhead oven) guy. And there is any number of ways to cook meat, but make no two ways about this much: You’ve got to have the right tools for the job.

That fancy walnut cutting board your mother-in-law gave you for Christmas? Save it for your cheese and crudité plates, lest you want it crawling with all sorts of pathogen-laden microbes.

Using your thumb to gauge the done-ness of your meat? Guess again. Maybe if you spend all day in a kitchen cooking steaks for a living, you can have at it, but for the rest of us? Just go with the thermometer. They won’t break the bank, they’re foolproof, and you won’t look like an utter dope the next time you plop down a still-bleeding hunk of meat at a dinner party after your discerning guests (trust me, they’re all discerning) discussed to exhaustion and agreed that they wanted the thing medium-rare in the middle and medium on the edges.

Then there are the absolutely imperative do-nots. Do not, for example, pepper your steak before cooking: Olive oil and salt is all you need. Pepper will burn during your sear, and you’ll ruin it. Put it on after you’ve pulled your steak from the fire.

And once you do remove it from its heat source (grills are always best, according to LaFrieda, and cast iron is king indoors, but be ready for a smoked-out kitchen), place it on a resting rack, not on a plate to get all soggy in its own juices, until it reaches the right internal temperature and/or you’re ready to slice it — for which you’ll want a butcher’s knife.

And, lastly, if you know you’re not going to eat the whole steak right then and there, “Make sure the meat is very rare to begin with … make sure you refrigerate the rarest parts so when you reheat it that it’s not overcooked. And keep it out of the microwave for crying out loud. Stovetop.”

There you have it, my meat-eating brethren. If you want to shop some of the choicest meats, you can find premium cuts at Goldbelly, and pick up LaFrieda’s book for the best ways to cook them too. 

Now read on for LaFrieda’s favorite grilling tools.