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While grill baskets and trays are the norm for barbecuing delicate food, chefs like Christina Lecki and Daniel Holzman often reach for a mesh strainer instead. Holzman said it is perfect for grilling small seafood. “I’m a big fan of the mesh strainer for anything that would fall through a traditional grill,” he told us. “Whether fire-roasting calamari and shrimp or toasting pine nuts, there is no alternative that allows you to kiss small foods with flame.”
Lecki also recommended using a mesh strainer to char tender produce like snap peas, mushrooms, and even strawberries. “I love to use a mesh strainer to roast and smoke mushrooms directly over the coals,” she said. “I just toss them in a little oil and salt and they get great flavor and a crispy texture. Just make sure to be patient and cook them in small batches.”
Now, using a wire strainer over a hot grill will wear it out faster than everyday cooking use. If you’re using fine mesh, you need to cook quickly, lest you burn the wire, Holzman explained. It’s best to invest in a fine mesh strainer designated for grilling and reserve another for traditional sifting and straining. Lecki even opts to replace her grilling strainer every year.
Mesh strainers come in all shapes and sizes. When it comes to using one to grill, this Winco Fine Mesh Strainer is a great choice. The wire basket is a single fine mesh (so no small pieces can slip through the grill grates) and has an 8-inch diameter (the perfect size to avoid overcrowding your food). The added convenience of a wooden handle makes it easier to control over hot coals.
To buy: Winco 8-Inch Strainer with Single Fine Mesh, $11 at amazon.com
Professional chefs love finding innovative ways to grill. When those new techniques involve everyday kitchen tools under $15, they’re even more enticing to try out. Grilling with a fine mesh strainer can help you keep it simple and down-right delicious this summer. Grab the Winco for just $11 on Amazon to give it a try yourself.