Walk down any Sudbury street in the summer and you’re likely to get a whiff of something cooking on the backyard grill. It’s a staple of almost every home, but most homeowners (and BBQ owners, of course) don’t know very much about what makes their grill good or not so good.
Grab a pen and paper and make some notes before you visit our showroom. The more you know, the happier you’ll be with your purchase. Here’s what you need to know to choose the perfect BBQ for your family.
British Thermal Units, or BTUs, provide a measure of how much energy your grill can produce in an hour. A hotter BBQ cooks meat quickly, sealing in all the juicy goodness. Look for at least 12,000 BTUs per burner.
*note – our Black Olive Charcoal Grill can reach up to 60,000 BTUs. Wow!
COOKING SURFACE AREA
Do you expect to grill just for your family, or maybe a small group of friends? You can probably get by with as little as 500 square inches of grilling space. If you want to be safe, however, spring for between 700 and 900 square inches.
If your home is the social hub for all large gatherings, opt for professional sized grills of 1,000 square inches or more.
Do you normally cook quick meals, like hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks that are grilled at high termperature for a short period of time. Or do you cook more elaborate meals like ribs, pulled pork, smoked roasts using lower temperatures and longer times. This will determine how important some of the “bells and whistles” are to you that are available on the better grills. Grill novices tend to use the quick methods more frequently and hence a no-frills grill will often suffice. Those more serious cooks that adventure into the slow & low techniques will appreciate the better grills features and benefits, like rotissaries, smoker boxes, heat evenness etc.
Stainless steel is the standard, but not all stainless steel is strong enough to stand up to a few seasons in the elements. You want grade-304 stainless steel, which will never rust. Bring a magnet when you go shopping. It will stick to grade-304 and fall off of the cheaper grade-430.
A high quality stainless steel is easy to clean and maintain. It produces the most intense heat and the most pronounced grill marks (a sign of rich flavor). A cast iron grate is also an excellent choice. Cast iron needs to be seasoned with oil to prevent rusting and ideally wintered indoors to prolong its life. The thicker the grate, and the more surface area, the better for holding and distributing heat.
If you buy a model with a built in temperature gauge, the temperature should be taken at the centre of the grill. A temperature gauge keeps you from opening the lid every few minutes. If you know how long to cook a meat at a given temperature, you will only have to open the grill to flip the meat once.
Steak, for example, should cook between 4-5 minutes, then flipped and cooked 3-5 minutes more for medium-rare, 5-7 minutes for medium and 8-10 minutes for medium-well.
CHOOSE GAS IF…
Gas grills are best for the busy family who want to cook burgers and hot dogs quickly after work, before heading out to the baseball diamond or soccer field.
It’s fast to heat and easy to clean, but you don’t get the smoky BBQ flavor you get with charcoal.
CHOOSE CHARCOAL IF…
If you’re a serious griller with spare time to dedicate to the art of cooking slow over the BBQ, charcoal is your choice. You get great flavor and you can learn how to smoke your meats.
Of course it heats up slower and takes more effort to clean. You’ll be cooking big cuts of meat – ribs and the like – so make sure you get enough surface area to accommodate it.
CHOOSE PELLET IF …
If you like smoke flavor but also like the convenience then a pellet kamado grill might be for you. It gives you versatility, slow roasting for those days you have more time to quick start up times, with temperatures rising 100 degrees a minute, to 650 degrees plus,. There is no need to remove the food to refill like charcoal grills, loosing heat and smoke flavor. You just refill the external hopper with pellets, allowing for longer smoke times like 12-24 hours.
Whatever your preference, we have a wide selection of grill options to choose. Get your family outside in the evening and cook a great meal together on your new grill tonight! Visit our showroom to pick out your next charcoal or gas grill today.
BECOMING A GRILL MASTER, ONE RECIPE AT A TIME
Doesn’t thinking about a BBQ dinner make your mouth water? How many times have you taken a walk around the block and enjoyed the delicious aromas of your neighbour’s burger, hot dog, steak, salmon, or veggies being grilled to perfection? Your stomach can’t help but groan when you conjure up images of others opening aluminum-foiled packets of grilled potatoes. There is only one thing you can do in these moments—head home where your “Grill Master” apron, spatula and sauce brushes await.
THE GRILL: COOKING AND CLEANING
- Preheat your grill 10-15 minutes prior to usage (this ensures appropriate cooking temperature is reached).
- Oil grill racks with olive or vegetable oil after preheating.
- Remove excess food debris from racks with hot water and your barbecue brush.
Grilled Pattypan Skewers (serves 4), from Chris Smith’s The Diabetic Chef Year-Round Cookbook
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP sherry vinegar
1 TSP chives, minced
Pepper, to taste
16 pattypan squash, cut in half
- Preheat grill.
- Mix oil, vinegar, chives and pepper in bowl.
- Wash squash and pat dry. Slice squash in half, removing the top green stems.
- Toss squash in oil mixture, and arrange on skewers. If opting for wooden skewers, soak in water for at least 30 minutes prior to use.
- Grill at 400 F, until squash is cooked on both sides (about 8-10 minutes).
Grilled Fruit Kebabs (serves 6), recipe in “Rao’s on the grill”, by Frank Pellegrino Jr.
Fresh fruit, cut into chunks (i.e. pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, peaches)
2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
2 TBSP light brown sugar
- Preheat grill on medium heat at 350F.
- Prepare skewers with fruit.
- Brush kebabs with lemon glaze.
- Grill with lid closed, turning and brushing with glaze occasionally, until fruit is slightly browned (about 5 minutes).
- Serve immediately.
Bacon-wrapped spicy barbecued shrimp (serves 4), from “The New Gas Grill Gourmet”, by A. Cort Sinnes
2 pounds large shrimp, shelled, deveined, rinsed and pat dried
15 fresh jalapenos, seeded and quartered lengthwise
15 strips of bacon, cut in half and partially cooked until limp
Tomato-based barbecue sauce of your choice
- Preheat grill on high for 10 minutes.
- Cut lengthwise slit halfway through back of shrimp.
- Insert jalapeño piece into opening.
- Wrap each chili-stuffed shrimp with piece of bacon.
- Thread shrimp on two parallel skewers.
- Coat with barbecue sauce.
- Turn main cooking surface heat off (indirect cooking), setting opposing burners on medium heat.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning skewers once and basting with sauce
- Serve immediately.
Hawaiian grilled chicken sandwiches (serves6), from Mary Younkin’s blog “Barefeet in the kitchen”
3 chicken breasts (1 ½-2 pounds)
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP Tabasco sauce
3 TBSP brown sugar
3 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 (14 oz) can of pineapple rings, drained
- Slice the chicken breasts in half and pound them to about a 1/2″ thickness.
- Place the chicken in large sandwich bag and add soy sauce, Tabasco, brown sugar, dijon mustard, and juice from the can of pineapple.
- Place in the refrigerator and marinate (between 6-24 hours).
- Preheat grill on medium-high heat.
- Grill chicken for 12-14 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking time.
- Place pineapple rings on grill when chicken is cooked halfway, flipping over after 3 minutes
- Add cheese to chicken, near end of cooking time (about 3 minutes remaining)
- Toast buns
- Butter buns with mayo, and top with chicken and pineapple.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Try out one or two of these recipes, then click through to our Facebook page and let us know what you think. Perhaps you need a new BBQ before you get cooking. Come visit our showroom or give us a call to learn about our huge stock of barbecues with features for even the most picky outdoor chefs.
All of us are familiar with life’s most famous and timeless debates: The Beatles vs. The Stones, mustard vs. ketchup, a charcoal vs. a gas grill.
Those on either side may say that they all come down to a matter of taste. When it comes to cooking on grills, however, the considerations are a bit more complex than that.
ACQUISITION VERSUS COOKING COST
￼This part of the gas versus charcoal controversy is relatively straightforward. Gas grills, in general, cost more to buy, but recoup that cost quickly via reduced fuel costs. The cost of cooking a meal with propane is less than one-tenth of the cost of using lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes. If your home uses natural gas, then you can further reduce cooking cost by having your new gas grill’s regulator adjusted for hooking up to a natural gas line.
Gas grills win hands-down in terms of the time to prepare an outdoor meal compared to charcoal. Fire-up time is less than five minutes compared to the 30 to 40 minutes required for charcoal to obtain an even glow. With a gas grill, you have finer control over cooking heat, whereas with charcoal, fiddling with hot coals, air vents or grill height is required to produce the perfect temperature zone. For some cooks, however, that fiddling is a plus. It is an essential ingredient of their craft’s “secret sauce.”
DOWN TO TASTE
￼Here is where the drippings hit the fire, literally. BBQ gurus will tell all within earshot that gas grilled meat can never achieve the elusive, smoky, spicy, natural taste of a charcoal-grilled steak. They may be partially right. Actually, most grilled flavor comes not from the charcoal but from the fat, proteins and sugars vaporizing as they drip onto the heat source, regardless of whether it is hot coals or a gas grill’s vapor bar.
If you are a purist when it comes to the taste of your outdoor grilled food and think that charcoal is the only way to go, be advised that lump charcoal is your best fuel choice. It does cost more and burns down more quickly, but it lights faster, burns hotter and does not contain any additives.
To achieve a true smoky flavor with a gas grill, you can place fruit wood chips in a small aluminum pie pan and set it on the grill. As it heats, it will bathe your food in the same kind of smoky flavor produced by wood charcoal.
BEYOND THE GAS VERSUS CHARCOAL DEBATE
Alternative fuel and cooking designs in modern grills are also available. Black Olive grills, available at Nordic Energy.ca, utilize economic wood pellets. Their unique design and appearance is a great conversation starter. Their grills employ an exclusive insulated ceramic shell to trap heat. Consistent temperatures without hotspots are obtained via convection circulation within the shell. They are ready for cooking even more quickly than gas grills.
BUYING A QUALITY GRILL
If you want to avoid the gas versus charcoal debate entirely, you could invest in an outdoor grill that does both. Side-by-side charcoal and gas grills are available. Whichever fuel you ultimately prefer, however, you will not regret buying a high quality grill that yields decades of service.
Stainless steel outer cases and enclosed storage shelves and drawers are good signs that you are looking at a grill made to last. Such features provide a convenient way to store you grilling tools and accessories out of sight too. Make sure that your new grill’s width is large enough for BBQ parties. Typically, a 42-inch grill is large enough to keep the hungriest crowd at bay. Plan to get an easy-to-use, durable grill and taking plenty of time to experiment with new grilling recipes all summer long.
Visit our showroom or call to talk with one of our BBQ experts today.
Charcoal for cooking photo credit to epSos.de under cc 2.0
Sesame chicken kebabs photo credit to George Ruiz under cc 2.0