BBQs, Grills, & Smokers
Cooking outdoors with a BBQ, grill, or smoker is a favorite activity among chefs, home cooks, and tailgaters. With the proper tools, equipment, and preparation, most foods can be successfully cooked, grilled, or smoked. Understanding how you will use your grill or BBQ and what features will suit your needs will help you make a smart decision when investing in a new grill, BBQ, or smoker.What are some features to look for in a BBQ or grill?
One of the first points to understand when looking for a BBQ or grill is the method of cooking that each offers. Grilling food means cooking meat or other items on a grill over a direct open flame. Food that is barbecued is cooked by indirect heat, where the meat or food is not in direct contact with the flame or heat source but is kept within a lid-closed environment where it cooks at a lower temperature and slower pace than food that is grilled. Common features to consider when purchasing a grill or BBQ include:
- Surface area of the grill and indirect cooking racks. Greater surface area of the grill and any additional cooking racks will allow you to cook more food at the same time.
- Fuel source. Decide whether you would prefer the use of propane, charcoal, wood, or electricity for your fuel source. Each offers distinct advantages and disadvantages.
- Temperature control. With a charcoal-fueled grill, the lid should be tight, and there should be dampers to allow the escape of heat. Propane-fueled grills should have a minimum of 2 burners for you to create 2 distinct temperature zones.
- Material of the grill construction. For outdoor units which may be subject to the elements and weather, choose a grill with sturdy construction such as cast aluminum or stainless steel.
Smokers cook meat over a long period of time with the use of low heat and smoke which gives the meat a unique flavor. There are 3 main types of smokers:
- Propane smokers: These offer a consistent level of heat over the time period needed to smoke the food and work well in areas where electric service is not available.
- Charcoal smokers: These smokers give meat a memorable and delicious flavor.
- Electric smokers: These can be the simplest to use of these 3 types, as they require minimal setup and supervision.
There are several reputable brands of grills, BBQs, and smokers available. Understanding your grilling and BBQ needs will help you narrow down which one is right for you. Some leading brands include:
- Char-Broil and Char-Griller
Portable grills are small grills that are often collapsible or fold for easy transport in a vehicle. These lightweight grills make excellent choices for tailgating, camping, or fishing, allowing you to enjoy fresh-cooked food anywhere. Portable grills typically use either charcoal briquettes or small propane canisters for fuel.