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We’ve previously named grilling baskets as one of our five essential tools for summer grilling—they help prevent smaller foods (e.g. shrimp and asparagus) from falling through the grate while they cook, and also make flipping multiple items at once a breeze. However, if you don’t have one in your arsenal, our Culinary Director-at-Large Justin Chapple has a Mad Genius Tip for making a DIY version at home. All you need is two baking racks—not cooling racks, as you’ll soon find out why—and paperclips. In under a minute, you’ve got a new tool that can easily cook food you’d normally need a grilling basket for. Check out Chapple’s step-by-step guide below:
Although baking racks and cooling racks look the same, a baking rack is your best bet here, since you’ll be placing it directly on the grill when you cook.
To create the “basket,” Chapple stands both baking racks vertically on his workspace, with the feet (bottom sides) facing each other. This ensures that when the basket is closed, there will be enough room for your food.
You’ll need two large paperclips for this project. First, grab one and open one of the ends—you shouldn’t open the paperclip all the way—and then loop it through the tops of the two racks to secure them together. You can bend it a little bit if you want, but you should still be able to move the clip. Once the first clip is secure, join the same two edges of the baking racks with a second paperclip on the opposite end.
Once assembled, open the connected racks like a book and slide a sheet tray underneath one rack. This keeps your work surface clean while you season the food.
On the side of the “book” over the cookie sheet, lay out all of your food. Chapple uses shrimp, yellow squash, asparagus, zucchini, and red onions, but you can also do a whole fish filet, which would flip easily in the basket. Then, he drizzles everything with olive oil and adds a dash of salt and pepper.
After you’ve closed the basket and started cooking on the grill, you should use two tongs when it’s time to flip—after all, it’s right on the grate, so it will be very hot.
Chapple takes the basket off the grill and opens it to show perfectly charred vegetables and shrimp. With a final drizzle of olive oil and salt, voilà—you’re all set to enjoy.