At the risk of being controversial, I’ll just say it: grilling is grilling — no matter what fuel source you use.
Both involve the radiant transfer of heat from the fuel source to the food resting on a cooking grid. Drippings come off of the food, land on the heat source and sizzle and smoke. The smoke rising into your food creates barbecue flavor.
So, really, it just depends on what you like.
I like quick, convenient and fool-proof. So I like gas grilling.
Gas grills offer more control over temperature and often have options for high-temperature searing and low-temperature, indirect cooking. Many gas grills have small shrouds that shield the burners from incoming drippings to minimize flare-ups and control temperatures.
See? It’s convenient, and it’s quick. So gas grilling gets my personal vote. (Please feel free to battle me in the comments.)
But grilling purists swear charcoal’s the only way to roll (nice rhyme, eh?). The smoky, barbecue flavor created by the drippings sizzling and smoking off the charcoal can’t happen in a gas grill, they say.
And they are more simple in their essence. Charcoal grills lack the mechanical sophistication (i.e. stuff that breaks) of gas grills, such as burners, shields and igniters. They require only charcoal, meaning no mid-party trips to the store for another propane tank.
And did I mention the flavor? Apparently, charcoal grills lend a distinct flavor to their foods — especially meats.
I’m going to check out this weekend’s BBQ Expo at our Edina store (across from the Galleria) Saturday. Maybe I’ll be convinced that charcoal is doable. Maybe I’ll just eat.
We’ll be having live grilling demos 10-4 Saturday and 12-4 Sunday at all of our 7 Warners’ Stellian store locations. All grills (except UMRP, like Wolf) are on sale starting Saturday. And we’ll assemble it, deliver it and take an old one if you have it for free with purchase of a grill $499 and up.
You’ll get $50 to Von Hanson’s Meats if you buy a grill priced $599 and higher. Von Hanson’s is this cool, old-fashioned meat market with expert cuts of the best quality meats. And it’s local joint, so you know I love ‘em already.
My friend Stu “King of the Barbecue” (he’ll stop feeding me if I don’t add that part) Glock says most expo-goers already have their mind made up on their fuel preference. But he also says, “You have two cars, why not two grills?” He advocates for a workhorse Holland Grill gas grill and a charcoal grill, maybe a Big Green Egg smoker grill, for when you really have some time to spend outdoors.
So comment away: I’d love to hear about why others like gas grills and I suppose I’d entertain some hating from barbecue purists as well ;)