Choosing the right barbeque grill

Which is better, gas grills or charcoal? Learn about the benefits and disadvantages of each and how to choose the right one for you and your family.

Many long time grill enthusiasts swear by charcoal. They love the smoky taste that cooking over charcoal gives the food and they like the "hands on" feeling of building their own fire, usually a big, hot fire. The scent of meat broiling over hot coals makes mouths water for miles.

Charcoal grills are portable and they come in the tiniest tabletop versions that you can take anywhere. You do have to be careful with charcoal grills, however, and make sure that you let all the starter fluid burn off so your food does not taste like charcoal starter.

Another concern is carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use charcoal in any enclosed area, even if the space is ventilated. Make sure the coals are completely cool before putting the grill away if kept indoors. Even coals that are still barely smoldering can produce enough carbon monoxide to cause harm.

Take care when using a charcoal grill in windy weather. Flying bits of hot coal can cause a fire.

Clean Up

While the grill is still hot, scrape away bits of food, grease, and soot with a grill brush. These brushes are specially designed with a notched area that wraps around the rungs, so you can clean your grill thoroughly.

After scraping each rung with the notched section, brush the entire surface. After the grill has cooled, remove the cooking grate and spray it with cooking spray or oven cleaner. Let it sit for a few moments, then rinse it with the garden hose, or wipe it with a damp rag. Always dry the grate after cleaning.



Make sure there are no hot embers remaining before attempting to dump the ashes. Use a small shovel or trowel to remove the ash and dispose of it.

Clean up is much more convenient if you have a collection plate in the bottom of your grill to catch the ashes. Just slide it out, dump it, and return it to the grill. If you do not have a catcher for the ashes, purchase one, but do not just use any metal tray. Make sure the type you choose is safe to use for this purpose.

GAS

Some people enjoy gas grills purely for convenience. All they have to do is press a button to ignite the grill, and set the heat controls, much the same as a kitchen stove. Coincidentally, charcoal enthusiasts complain that this amounts to having an outdoor stove instead of a "real" grill.

Gas grills have come a long way and are now more portable than they once were. You can purchase a small grill and a small bottle of propane to take along on outings. Some gas grills also offer the benefit of adding wood chips to help give food a comparable smoky flavor, without the mess of charcoal.

Gas grills have their own set of safety concerns. Dozens of people are injured each year due to fire or explosion, caused by leaks, blockages, or other problems with the gas line. This is especially true of grills that have been unused for long periods of time or those that have recently had a new bottle of propane installed. The fact of the matter is both types of grills require careful, responsible use.

Clean Up

Cleaning a gas grill is much the same as cleaning a charcoal grill, though it may not be quite as messy. To clean your gas grill, simply turn the grill up to a very high temperature. Close the lid and let the grill sit for several minutes. When the grill has cooled a bit, scrape the grate with a grill brush. Wipe it down with a damp rag then dry it.

While there are no embers or coals to clean up, if you have an attachment that allows for wood chips, it will need to be emptied. Make sure the wood chips are cool before dumping.

GAS AND CHARCOAL COME TOGETHER

How great would it be if you could cook with charcoal, but light the coals quickly using gas? Manufacturers have found a way to incorporate the best of both worlds. Gas/coal combination grills have the convenience of gas and the benefits of charcoal, and they also include a container to collect coal embers and make clean up easier.

If you have been debating the pros and cons of gas vs. charcoal, but couldn't make up your mind, now you don't have to choose. You can have the best of both, all in one grill.

© High Speed Ventures 2011