Outdoor Grills Buying Guide
Categories: Outdoor Living
Nothing calls to mind a relaxing day outdoors more than food cooked on the backyard BBQ grill. Whether you’ve got a good, old-fashioned hot-dogs-and-hamburgers family meal in mind or you’re tapping into your inner foodie daredevil, the outdoor grill is a natural place to start.
According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, “Americans say easy clean up is one of the most pleasurable parts of grilling food outdoors. In a recent survey, we found that 70 percent of respondents find a lot of pleasure in having no pots and pans to clean up when grilling as opposed to indoor cooking.” Sound good?
It’s Not Called Grilled Cheese for Nothing
First, ask yourself about your audience. Grills are measured in square inches of cooking surface, so knowing who you’re cooking for (just you and the kids or large groups of tailgaters, for instance) will help you judge how big your grill surface should be.
Next, what type of food are you likely to serve? If you’re looking to impress with more than steaks, chicken or burgers, you can find recipes for everything from grilled bananas served over ice cream to charred avocado on grilled cheese sandwiches. There are grill accessories to fit every culinary category, including pizza stones, fish/broiling baskets, rotisseries, griddles and even woks to help you break out of your BBQ rut.
Take It For a Test Drive
When you’re in the store looking at various grills, give each one a shake. Literally. Grills that have been seamlessly molded are naturally more stable, and thus safer, than grills that have pieces and parts that have been bolted together. Take a look under the hood and, while you’re at it, check out the distance between the handle on the grill’s lid and the heat source. Make sure it’s not so close that you risk burning a digit when you go to lift the lid. Flimsy construction and materials other than cast iron or stainless steel typically won’t have enough heft to keep a grill’s heat in so it can do its job. Look out for sharp edges or corners too.
What’s My Style?
Manufacturers these days are thinking outside the design box when it comes to grills. Your choices range from sleek stainless steel to colorful ceramic finishes. Where will you use your grill? If you’ve got a large deck or even a custom outdoor kitchen, the sky is the limit on grill sizes, but if you’ll be limited to a small patio or balcony, look for designs that are specifically downsized for apartments and condos.
What’s Up With Those Big Green Eggs?
You’ve probably heard of these, but what, exactly, makes them different? The egg-shaped design (based on ancient traditional designs) allows airflow to circulate efficiently. You can grill, smoke and bake at exact temperatures by making adjustments in the airflow system—its gauge provides precise readings to 750°F. And its ceramic surface doesn’t get as hot as a metal grill because the heat source is protected within a ceramic firebox inside the base. The outside glaze wipes clean easily and, inside, residual heat burns away grease and ash build up is minimal.
4 Tips to Make Grill Cleanup a Breeze
1. Before you start up the flames, use non-stick cooking spray on the grates.
2. For charcoal grills, line the grill bowl with aluminum foil and discard when you’re done.
3. Use a wad of crumpled foil to scrub away buildup on grates after cooking.
4. Place a splatter mat under the grill before cooking. These heat-resistant pads protect your deck or patio from grease that misses the drip pan.
Did You Know?
Fat drippings from meat create smoke that’s full of chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Smoke then permeates meat during cooking and transfers carcinogenic PAHs onto the meat itself. Since fat drippings are key to PAH development, choosing to grill meats with less fat means fewer carcinogens will develop.
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