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Quick: What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without in your kitchen?
Answers are going to be as different as the people giving them. For some cooks it will be a certain knife. For others it might be measuring cups. Still others are going to be unwilling to do without their spatulas, tongs or zester.
What can’t we live without? Foil. Yep, good ol’ tin foil.
An Affinity for Foil
It probably doesn’t need saying, but we love using foil when we’re cooking. It doesn’t matter if we’re cooking in the house, on the grill or at the campsite. Foil has just become that one thing we wouldn’t be able to do without when it comes to cooking.
And with good reason.
These are just a few of the ways we use foil to make our cooking lives simpler.
On the Grill
As kids, one of our favorite meals was what mom called a “Hobo Dinner”. There was just something fascinating about eating supper from a foil packet. And for some reason, we never had to be urged to eat our veggies.
We still make foil packets today. They’re a great option for smaller meals, like a burger and vegetables, but they’re also perfect for meals with more ingredients, like our Foil Fiesta. These packets, whether big or small, are ideal for home and are a great time saver when camping. Just stoke the fire and toss the packet on the grate. Ingredients can be prepped ahead of time and using a foil packet means fewer dishes to wash.
We also love to use foil pans when we’re grilling. Sometimes we make a “one pot meal” in a larger foil pan. Other times we use a smaller pan for a side dish. Either way, the pans make meal prep easy and clean up a breeze.
Plain ol’ heavy duty foil is just as handy. It’s versatile and pliable, meaning we can take a sheet and form it to any shape we need. If we’re roasting a pile of Brussels sprouts on the grill, we’ll form the foil around the bottom of a bowl. That way we still have a “bowl” for our sprouts, but we don’t have a bowl to wash.
We follow the same principle when we’re grilling things like bacon or sausage patties. But instead of using a bowl as our form, we’ll use one of our cake pans. This gives us a wider and flatter surface for the meat, yet still gives us sides so grease doesn’t leak onto the grill.
Speaking of grease…
The Quicker Picker Upper Helper Outter
Anytime you cook a greasy meat, like bacon or sausage, it has to drain on paper towels. If it doesn’t, you’re liable to wind up with a coating of grease on the roof of your mouth. And that’s just nasty. So while our meat is cooking, we get the paper towels ready. But we take one extra step. We add a sheet of foil under the towels. This does three things:
- It keeps grease from soaking through the towels onto the surface beneath;
- It keeps us from having to wash a plate (see “surface beneath”);
- And it allows us to ball up and toss the grease once it’s hardened.
If you’re like us, you occasionally find yourself trying to get liquid from one bottle to another. Picture those three bottles of ketchup in your refrigerator and you’ll know what we’re talking about here. Make life easier (and cleaner!) by creating a funnel from a sheet of foil. Use it just as you would a traditional funnel, but toss this one when you’re done with it. This is a super handy hack for making infused oils and salad dressings.
In the Kitchen
We use foil in the kitchen almost daily. Whether we’re catching crumbs from cooling cookies or lining that old skillet that everything sticks to, it’s something we reach for often.
Bacon is a weekend staple. We eat it at breakfast, we snack on it, put it on burgers or wrap it around poppers. In other words, we can go through a lot of bacon on any given weekend. And while we love our cast iron skillets that have been handed down through the generations, we still prefer to bake our bacon.
We start by lining a cookie sheet with foil and make sure to wrap it over the edges of the tray. Then we place a cookie cooling rack on top of the cookie sheet and add our bacon. Using the cooling rack means both sides can cook at once and we can get our bacon perfectly crispy. We let the grease cool then ball up the foil and throw it away. The cookie sheet stays clean, the stovetop stays clean and we’re silly enough to think we’ve just made enough bacon for the day. Riiiight.
We do much the same thing with sausage. We love the fresh breakfast sausage from a local meat market and will make our own patties or links. These do better if we place them directly on the foil lined cookie sheet as they can tend to sag through the grates on the cooling rack. But the end result is the same: a clean sheet tray with quick and easy clean up.
Foil is also our go-to when smoking a brisket or making pulled pork. Once the meat reaches a certain internal temperature, we wrap it in foil and place it back on the smoker. The layer of foil aids in keeping the meat moist while also retaining a more consistent temperature as it continues to cook.
These are a just some of the ways that foil makes our lives a little simpler…and cleaner. And why we couldn’t do without it.
Well, we could, but why would we want to?