Category: BBQ Grill
Outdoor BBQ grills make for the perfect accent to a weekend spent in the backyard, away from the stress and hectic action of the work week. Outdoor grilling is ideal for entertaining family and friends or simply for giving yourself a clean, Zen-like ritual space in which to work your flame-based culinary magic all by your lonesome.
When you go to purchase your first grill, however, you might be caught offguard by the complexity involved in what seems like a fairly simple task. Really, though, when you cut through the jargon, it’s not all that tough. There are three basic types of BBQ grills for your backyard: gas, electric, and charcoal. Of the three, you want a gas grill.
Electric grills are easy to use and offer precise temperature control. But seriously, it’s just like cooking on your stovetop except you’re outside when you do it. That’s not what a grill is for.
Charcoal grills offer up the most authentic ‘grilling’ taste, but they’re a royal pain in the butt. Lighter fluid. Light. Sit and wait. Grill. Clean the grilling surface. Wait for the ash to cool. Clean up the ash. It’s a huge process that will make you less likely to take advantage of your opportunity to grill.
No, gas grills are the way to go. Gas grills can be propane or natural gas — you want natural gas. Propane gas is meant for portable camper’s grills; that’s not you. You’re going to be a backyard Grill Master, and that means using natural gas. It’s cheaper, it burns cleaner, and each tank will last you a hell of a lot longer. `
Then, you get to choose between the various materials of natural gas grill. There’s stainless steel, cast aluminum, and enamel-covered steel as standard options, and of them, you want stainless steel. Aluminum spreads the heat around, making it harder to control the cooking than steel, and it’s hard to clean because it scratches easily; enamel is easy to clean, but also easy to accidentally crack or shatter. Steel will handle a grill brush without damage and it cooks easily besides.
And there you have it: the perfect outdoor BBQ grill. Enjoy!
Today’s market is quite saturated with such a wide variety of BBQ gas grills that sorting through them all to find the one that’s right for your backyard can be quite a fuss. To find the best BBQ grill for you, of course, you can always ask your friends and family about the ones that they’re using, or check the Internet for reviews and ratings. But none of that will help you if you don’t already have a good idea of what your goals and what the basic traits of the various outdoor BBQ grills actually are.
The first thing to note is that you should already have made up your mind to go with a gas grill. Charcoal grills, pellet grills, and even wood grills are available and functional, but gas grills — and specifically natural gas grills — are America’s main kind of backyard grill for several good reasons. They’re inexpensive to operate, easy to use, and doesn’t leave the same kind of taste on your food that propane does.
Assuming you’ve already (correctly) chosen a gas grill for your backyard, it’s time to look at the variations within that category. You can get a good grill in stainless steel, copper, cast iron, cast aluminum, and enamel-coated steel — the first three are more expensive, but last longer; the enamel can be easier to clean but also breaks more easily, and the cast aluminum has the advantages of being non-stick without being fragile like the enamel as well as being less expensive overall — it just has the minor setback of being easier to dent than iron or steel.
There’s also a split between traditional fire-based gas grills and the more technologically advanced infrared gas grills. It’s a tough choice — fire-based grills give you that ‘really grilled’ flavor, whereas infrared grills cook much hotter and are easier to get a good sear with, and some who favor them claim that the food’s flavor is ‘purer’ because there’s no flavor from the gas-fed fire left over on the food. Either way, infrared grills are clearly more expensive.
Finally, you have to look at features. There are grills out there with one burner, two, four, or even sixteen. Some have heat reflectors, large counters, pans to capture drippings from the food, built-in spice racks, or wood-smoking equipment already in place and ready to go. These elements are, by and large, less important in the end than the material and type of your grill, but of course, when you’re buying something that’s going to last your family for decades, you’d better get the details right the first time.
If you have the kind of family that includes a Master Griller — and if you do, you know what I’m talking about: he’s the guy with the Corona apron and a cookbook devoted entirely to marinades — you start to look, especially around the summertime holidays, for the best outdoor kitchen accessories on the market. There’s nothing like supporting the man who whips out deliciousness like coke-and-cayenne marinated steaks or really grilled cheese sandwiches by making his job easier and more fun.
Of course, you can always count on something small like a new flipper, a spice rack, or a grill brush for minor occasions. But when you want to really impress, you have to delve a little deeper.
What would he think, for example, if you had an outdoor refrigerator installed right next to his BBQ gas grill? By being able to keep certain key ingredients outside and ready to rock, you make the grill an even more inviting place for the Grillmaster to cook at. No more hassled running back and forth between the patio and the kitchen. Some such outdoor refrigerators are traditional front-opening minifridges, but if your setup demands it, you can also acquire top-opening coolers, pull-out drawer-style refrigerators, or even a Kegerator.
If you’ve already achieved that first step of outdoor grilling nirvana, the next step you ought to look into is the outdoor sink. It might require a bit of plumbing, but having a sink right next to the Grillmaster’s Station makes cleanup easier — but also helps with prep time, as veggies can be washed right next to where they’re cooked, again eliminating more of that constant trucking into and out of the house.
The next stage in creating the perfect patio environment for the Master Griller is to add beverages to his repertoire. Now that he has running water at his disposal, give him a couple of blenders, a beverage caddy, and of course, the proper fixin’s for a good set of mixed drinks to fill his outdoor fridge. He’ll need the sink to wash the blenders and the margarita glasses, but the party will thank you from top to bottom.
These aren’t minor additions to the classic outdoor grill, but if you make the investment, you’ll wonder by the end of grilling season how you ever did without them.