For our money, tongs are the handiest tool in the kitchen. The best operate like an extra pair of hands while keeping yours from getting burned or con-taminated by raw meat.
For Independence Day next week, lots of backyard cooks will pull out the extra-long grilling tongs. They're great for keeping your arms safe from the flames, but a little unwieldy for other cooking and serving jobs (and for storing later).
We tested four sets of tongs on the grill and in the kitchen to see if we could find one winner that did it all, but we ended up with two favorites -- one for grilling only, one for other types of cooking. We'll never have too many tongs, anyway, but if you want one kind to do lots of things, we suggest a set of "stop and go" tongs from Grill Friends. They're a little short for the grill, but you'll get a good grip and two pairs of tongs.
GRILL FRIENDS STOP-AND-GO TONGS
Price: $19.99 (includes two sets of tongs)
Available at: bbqproshop.com
This twin set of tongs at first struck us as a little gimmicky -- the red ones (stop) are for working with raw foods, the green ones (go) for cooked. We were more impressed by the sure way the silicone tips gripped the meat and the comfortable silicone-cushioned sides. These tongs are a little short for the grill, but workable, especially if you have grilling gloves.
ZYLISS COOK-N- SERVE TONGS
Available at: Target
We liked the tweezerlike silicone tips of these tongs, a look we don't often see. But the lock on the side, which was designed to make it easier to lock the tongs with one hand, ended up getting in our way.
EXTENDABLE GRILLING TONGS
(BY ASSEENON TV GUYS)
Available at: amazon.com
These extendable tongs would have been the answer to our multitasking prayers -- they are easily adjusted from 16 inches for grilling to 14 inches or 11 inches for other uses and easy storage. But the flimsy plastic body (you're warned not to touch hot surfaces with it) let us down.
BEST FOR GRILLING
OUTSET BBQ TONGS, STELLA SERIES
Available at: Wegmans
A classic is usually a classic for a reason. These traditional long grilling tongs, with the familiar stainless-steel scalloped grips and cushioned sides, are good-looking, comfortable and very functional. The set we purchased came with a handy complimentary silicone trivet.