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Gas Grill: The Ultimate Guide
There is nothing like the smell of a good BBQ in the summer air. Hanging out with friends and family having cold refreshments and a wide variety of grilled delicacies. You need a new grill, but you don’t want to bother with starting a fire or are not permitted to have open flames in your area by law. The answer is, you need a gas grill. But with new brands coming out every year, it gets harder and harder to choose. Many people are confused with statistics and different selling points like BTUs and flavorizers, material of the grates and covers, size of the grill that they need and additional functions. With this guide, we hope to clear most of them up.
What are BTUs?
BTU stands for British thermal unit. More or less, the more BTUs you have, faster your food will be ready. But in actual cooking, you need to pay more attention to how the grill distributes heat over the grid. Because if heat is well distributed, a three burner grill may very well cook faster than a five burner one.
There are almost as many different materials as there are brands, but decent and good grills only use a few. The most common materials are cast aluminum, stainless steel, porcelain coated steel and porcelainized cast iron. Many brands still use ordinary sheet metal for cook boxes or covers, but having in mind that sheet metal is usually just plain cold steel and very prone to rust, most of them develop rust spots during the first year. There is a few things to keep in mind when choosing between different materials for your grill. Cast aluminum and stainless steel have the best durability and last the longest, but there may be some trouble with cleaning because water stains are quite visible. Also if able, try to avoid porcelain coated steel, especially if you plan to grill often. They are prone to chipping from the constant heating and cooling and as soon as they chip rust follows quickly.
We all want to have a lasting relationship with our grill, but sometimes even though we pay good money they can fall apart from use in a couple of years. To avoid having to grill shop too early, here are some things that are good to know. First look for screws and bolts. Try to get a grill that has the least. Nuts, screws, and bolts are usually first to give up on you, especially if you move around a lot. Also try to get one that has as few pieces as possible. Logic is simple. More pieces, more things that can go wobbly over time. Next are the wheels or legs. If you don’t plan to move your grill than you don’t need them, but if you do then choose wisely. Grills that have four wheels that can go in any direction are best for hard floors like tiles for example. On the other hand grills that have only two fixed position wheels that You drag around like a cart are better suited for rougher ground like grass yards.
People usually draw straws to see who gets to clean the grill. Delicious meat does not come without a cost. Knowing that cleaning the grill is one of the tiresome chores, many brands are trying to reduce the trouble to a minimum. Removable drip trays to the rescue! When cleaning time comes, you want to be able to easily remove all, or as much as possible, of the greasy parts. Assembly should also be fairly easy so nuts and screws rule applies here as well.
Definitely one of the first things to look at. Most people decide to go mid-range with 3 burners as they fill almost all of family oriented needs. But if you are limited by money or space there is a variety of smaller grills that can do a good job. Some even come with foldable side racks for saving space. On the other hand more burners offers more options. When you have 3 or more burners you can do some slow roasting, indirect cooking or smoking.
Most common grids are stainless steel, porcelain coated steel or porcelainized cast iron. The first and the third are better because they offer a greater longevity and are less prone to chips and rust. Another thing to keep in mind about the grid is the weight. Heavier grid means more heat retention and a better sear.
Or flame protectors, as many people call them, are a very important part on every gas grill. They sit above the flame and prevent drips of fat or chunks of food to clog the burners or create flare-ups that can burn the food. At the same time they distribute heat evenly over the whole surface of the grid and vaporize the juices that add flavor to the food you are cooking. There are two main types of flavorizers: steel or ceramic. They both do a fine job but there are differences. And the main difference is in heat retention which is a lot higher in ceramics. So if you want to switch quickly from high to low temperature maybe steel is a better choice.
A good thermometer can mean a lot when planning your cooking time and precisely preparing your meals. Most mid-range grills come with a thermometer which can be analog or digital. Some more expensive models even offer more advanced systems that you can connect with your smartphone.
Where are you cooking?
Depending on your needs you may decide to go with a portable grill or a fixed one.
Fixed gas grills are perfect for backyards, patios, terraces or outdoor kitchens. Some can even replace all of your cooking equipment.
Portable gas grills are great for camping, field trips and tailgate parties. Most of them fit in a trunk of a car and leave you enough room for your baggage. There are a few things to have in mind when looking at portable gas grills.
Weight to stability ratio
Clearly for an item you need to carry very often you want it to be light but when they lack in weight they can tip over especially if their balance isn’t great. So W/S ratio is something to consider knowing that portable grills can weigh up to and over 45 lbs.
Next thing that you need to know is how easy it is to set it up? As few parts as possible and the whole process shouldn’t last more than a couple of minutes.
Price of a good grill can vary from a little less than a 100$ for a small portable one to over 3000$ for professional cooking monster. But more expensive isn’t always better. Most commonly bought grills range from around 150$ to just under 500$.
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