Grills - Hot, Hot, Hot!

Even Oprah is Hot for Them

Yes, grills have made it to the big time now - Oprah included the Weber EP 310 gas grill in her favorite things for summer! Remember when we thought having a hibachi was really cool? No longer do backyard barbecues involve grilling with some cheap thing you throw some charcoal in and stand around sweating while you cook  burgers or hot dogs. Grills are are really slick these days.  And if Oprah says they are cool, then they must be!

Now that the Father's Day promotions are past us, expect to see even more advertisements for super duper grills for the next holiday - the 4th of July (Expect to hear things like: "Light up the fireworks and fire up the grill for the holidays!")

All kidding aside, some of the new outdoor barbecue grills are pretty impressive. Let me put it in a formula. As 1970s VW Beetles are to the Pontiac GTO, so are the old, cheap grills of our youth to these new, slick muscle grills of today. Yes, the "muscle" grill... bet you haven't heard of those (cause I just made that up).

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo...Charcoal, Gas, or Electric?

You could just go: eeny, meeny, miney, mo.  But that isn't rational, so maybe learning about the differences in charcoal, gas, or electric grills would be better.

So, starting with charcoal grills, I think we all have experience with these - most of these are lower priced, due to their not having be hooked into a gas source or electricity. What can I say, the typical charcoal grill can be a smoky mess, and that lighter fluid is dangerous (and it smells nasty). And another downside is have to dispose of the used up coals.

Charcoal Grill - With No Dirty Mess

There is a solution to that problem of using charcoal lighter fluid - get a charcoal grill with a propane ignition system (such as the Weber Performer Grill). This grill has a Touch-n-Go ignition system which uses liquid propane to the light charcoal briquets.  Nice improvement if you don't want to play "firestarter" with the liquid lighter fluid. This one isn't recommended for the true pyromanics. So, the lighting problem is solved, but you still have to dispose of those dusty used-up charcoal brickettes.

Oh and there may be an even bigger problem - charcoal grilling could be hazardous to your health. (You might notice a warning on bags of charcoal about this.) Environmentalists saying that charcoal use is bad for the air quality (due to air pollution from the emission of soot particles and hydrocarbons) and also a waste of fossil fuels and a contributor to deforestation. And there is a health risk from carcinogens in foods cooked on a charcoal grill - the American Cancer Society says that the compounds: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are potentially carcinogenic. Basically we can ingest these when the fat drips from the meat onto the charcoal, then the smoke rises back up to the meat and voila, we have cancer-causing barbecue. The good news is that there  natural charcoal brands that will help you avoid exposure to these potentially harmful additives (look up "natural charcoal" to find the brands that make this product). But enough about that already, it's making me depressed...

Jumpin' Jack Flash, It's a Gas....Grill

There are those that make the switch to gas grills - they say they won't give up their charcoal grills because they like way charcoal grilling makes the food taste. (I say, at least with a gas grill you won't taste that lighter fluid!) Consider the benefits of a natural gas grill:
• They are more convenient
• No waiting for the charcoal to get hot enough
• No charcoal-related health risks or air pollution
• You won't run out of gas or need to change tanks (like you can with propane grills)
• You can control the temperature
• You can have areas to cook different meats which need different temperatures
• Many have prep areas and warming trays
• They are easier to clean, too.

When you turn your grill on...does it return the favor?  

Heh, ok, ok, I borrowed (stole) that line from that car commercial...but some of these gas grills are amazing.

The photo on the left is the Napoleon Appliance Prestige II grill. This one has lots of extras: grill cart, side shelves, a warming shelf, a rotisserie, and an optional side burner. It's not cheap, but it is far less expensive than many other grills with these features.

When you turn your grill on...does it return the flavor?  

Not only can I steal copy, I can butcher it! Here is another outstanding gas grill: the Weber Genesis S-310 Stainless Steel Gas Grill.  This one has lots of options and is slightly more affordable than the previously mentioned barbecue grill. You can choose whether you want to use propane or natural gas with this model. I personally like the double-door storage area on the grill cart. As you can see, this one also has the work areas, plus it has 3 burners and hmmm, flavorizer bars. Those are these metal things that you put over the cooking grate  that protect the grill rack and allow the meat drippings to vaporize. It keeps the grill racks cleaner and allows the grill to cook in the flavor.

Do the Electric Glide, I mean Electric Grill 

Electric barbecue grills for outdoors or the backyard are the most envionmentally friendly. They come in table top sizes and models with carts. These can be used in more locations - since not all rural areas allow for natural gas (and many people don't want to have to bother with propane tanks). These electric grills (shown to the left is a Dimplex EBQ Electric Grill) are safe for use on an apartment balcony and really easy to hook up and start using immediately. The only downside I have heard is that the grills don't get as hot as gas or charcoal grills, so it may take a little longer to cook food.

Well, those all sound good, and now I'm hungry. Go read more about this and the other great BBQ grills - there are so many to look at and choose from in all price ranges. And for you smokers...I mean, for those who like to use meat smokers, there are combined grill/smokers.

Next article: Decorative Grill Covers (don't be boring!)

Read more on Part I of Cookware Reviews. including these topics: Stainless Steel Cookware, Cast Iron Cookware Tips, Wine Refrigerator Coolers and Cellars. Or continue with the Cookware Reviews II articles - Nordic Ware Bundt Pans.
Cookware Reviews II - previous article: Fun Shaped Nordic Ware Cake Pans
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