The backyard barbecue and pint are an integral part of the Australian experience. And even though you may take a lot of time to carefully select and prepare the foods you serve, the success of your meal will mostly depend on the quality of the grill that you prepared it on. If you don’t own a grill and want to get one, you’ll need to consider a couple of different factors.
For starters, you’ll need to choose between a charcoal, gas and a pellet grill. There’s an age-old debate over what type of grills are best for backyard barbecues, and there’s no definitive answer. Gas grills are convenient as they’re easy to start, whereas charcoal models offer a greater degree of control. Pellet grills are relatively new on the market, and they provide the taste of cooking with wood and extreme precision.
That being said, there are different factors to consider when shopping for each type of grill. Let’s start with gas barbecue built in grills and what you need to pay attention to when buying.
Basic gas grills are suitable for cooking hot dogs and burgers, but if you also want to add sizzling steaks and fish into the mix, you need to pay attention at the grill’s temperature range. The higher its temperature range, the better it will be at cooking different foods. If you want to roast and cook ribs, you’ll want a grill that performs well when slow cooking. Then, consider the British thermal units per hour the grill comes with, as that’s a reflection of how much gas the grill uses and how much heat it can create. However, more BTU doesn’t always necessarily mean that the grill will preheat faster. Furthermore, pay attention to the burners, as they’re the most commonly replaced part. They usually come with some sort of a warranty, usually between 2 to 10 years. If they have a 10-year warranty, you can expect them to last longer than those with a 2-year warranty.
There are many gas grill models that come with infrared burners, which are meant to use intense heat to sear chops or steaks. I personally think that you should ignore these types of burners, as they don’t perform that better than typical gas burners while costing substantially more. Instead, just get a grill that’s on the higher range of the temperature scale.
Lastly, you want the grill you choose to be made of solid construction. It should be sturdy and stable, with quality carts, wheels lid and firebox. Stainless steel models with welded joints and seamless constructions are typically sturdier than painted steel grills with bolts and nuts. If you want a gas barbecue built in grill, then you won’t have to worry as much about the build of the grill as you would if it’s portable.
Charcoal grills depend on airflow to regulate their heat. More air going through the coals means the fire will burn hotter while limiting the flow will keep the coals just lit for slow and low cooking. With that said, if you want a charcoal grill, make sure you get one with solid vents or dampers and a tight-fitting lid. Further, the coal bed should be easily accessible so that you can add coals if necessary. The temperature of charcoal peaks about 20 minutes and starts to drop off after 90 minutes.
Since charcoal briquettes burn at a similar temperature, the shape and size of the grill will determine how heat is diffused or concentrated. Wider models can cook more foods, but over a thinner coal bed, so they’re better for a bratwurst and burger cookout. Komando and kettle grills usually have narrower and deeper beds that can concentrate heat for searing, or if you shut the dampers, slow the rate at which the coals burn for slow cooking.
There are a couple of features that are nice to have on charcoal grills. For instance, adjustable-height grates that allow you to raise and lower the food you’re cooking can come in very handy. Place the food close to the coals for searing, or farther away to cook a skin-on chicken breast without charring the skin. The ashtrays where the residual coal, food drippings and ash collects should be removable and easy to clean. The grates should be easy to open so that you can add charcoal to the grill without having to move food or remove the hot cooking grates.
Pellet grills provide the convenience of gas grills and the flexibility of charcoal grills. These grills all look similar, and they feature a large metal bin also known as hopped, where you add the pellets from compressed sawdust of flavoured woods like hickory, oak and mesquite. You can get the pellets from a hardware store or home centre. They also have an electronic igniter that draws out the pellets and lights them on fire, creating smoke and heat for a distinct flavour. They also have a thermostat, which is a very convenient feature, allowing you to adjust the heat to a specific temperature.
The hopper size will determine how many pellets you can put inside the grill, and therefore how long the grill can run before having to add extra pellets. The larger the hopper is, the longer the grill can cook from a single load of pellets. Smoking foods on these grills is easy, as you can dial down the temperature. Some models have a searing zone that lets you remove the heat deflector that these grills usually have across the cooking surface so that you can directly expose the foods to the flame.