In honor of March 1st, I present to you, our ole friend, the BBQ. Nothing tastes quite like fresh barbecue food off the grill, whether it’s gas, charcoal or electric. Each has its own distinct features, and you’ll need to consider size, grids and general construction to ensure you’re making the right purchase for your BBQ needs.
Should I choose charcoal, gas or electric?
This depends on your cooking preference, what you feel comfortable with and ultimately how you’d like your food to taste. See below for the pros and cons of each option.
Charcoal: Using charcoal briquettes, wood, or a combination of both, charcoal grills give food an unmistakable smoked BBQ flavor, yet cooking it may take more time and you need to be aware of disposing ashes regularly. Look for a charcoal barbecue with air vents to maintain control over the internal temperature.
Gas: Gas grills require less time for cooking and heat quickly with a push-button, rotary or electronic lighter. They’re often more spacious and less expensive to use, since gas is cheaper than charcoal. However, gas tanks are heavy and you need to be weary of how much gas is in store to avoid running out in the middle of cooking.
Electric: Electric grills have improved greatly and cook much better than they did in the past. They’re great for spaces that won’t allow gas or charcoal grills, however you’ll need to place it in proximity to an electrical outlet.
What do I want to keep an eye out for in barbecue grills?
There are several features you want to be sure your grill contains so you know you’re making the right purchase. Make sure yours is solidly constructed and don’t wiggle, that the wheels roll easily and it features a good fit and finish. Take note of assembly requirements: better brands tend to offer easier assembly; they will also offer adequate service and maintenance through assurance of replacement parts, easy-to-read instructions, a toll-free service line and a long warranty. Safety, of course, is key: grills should control heat easily, stay cool to the touch and have appropriate safety features.
What size should I look for?
There are several questions to ask yourself when deciding what size grill is best for you and your needs. To begin, think about what you will be cooking and how much. For example, if you’ll be cooking small dinners of chicken breast and vegetables for you and your family, you’ll need less room than if you’re planning to grill briskets for large parties. How often will you be using the grill? If it’s only on special occasions, waiting 20-25 minutes for a charcoal grill to warm up may not be a bother, but if you’re using it daily, you may prefer the quicker preparation time that gas grills afford. Also take into account the space you plan to place the grill; a small balcony off an apartment building will have considerably less room than a backyard patio.
What types of grids are available?
Grids differ in regard to durability, maintenance and heat-retention. See below for four common options.
Cast iron: Cast iron grids cook food well by evenly distributing heat. However, they are heavy and require care to prevent rust.
Porcelain coated: Food won’t stick to porcelain-coated grids, but the glaze can chip and rust if not maintained.
Porcelain-coated cast iron: Durable, long-lasting and easy to maintain, porcelain-coated cast iron grids retain heat well and are resistant to rust.
Stainless steel: These will resist rust, but you may have trouble with food sticking to stainless steel grids.
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