Grilling & Barbecuing Tips and Reviews

Origin of the First Barbecues
Nobody knows for sure where the word barbecue actually came from, or who first invented it, but people have been cooking over fire since the cavemen roamed the world. It is believed though that the early settlers learned the technique from Mexican vaqueros as they put a special blend of spices on pork and cooked it over a slow heat. The early settlers preferred beef as it was more abundant, so they tried the same method of spices on beef. They would hand rub the meat with salt, pepper and spicy seasonings and cook it at a distance of three feet from the fire in pits filled with hardwoods that were available like oak, hickory, pecan and mesquite. The taste was as distinctive and delicious, and has been carried down through the generations and adjusted by different cultures. Marinades, basting, and sauces are traditional add ons, and depending on your geographic location, can vary in technique’s and taste. There is clearly a difference between grilling and barbecuing though.

Charcoal versus Gas Grilling
This has been an ongoing war as old as the hills, and when taste tests have been performed using both types of grilling methods, no taste difference was noted when cooking hamburgers. However, steaks were a different story. The charcoal grill won hands down due to its distinctive smoke flavor. To decide which grilling process will work best for your cooking habits, you will need to consider a few things. A gas grill works better under covered patios’ as charcoal tends to have flare ups when grease from meats hits the flames. How much time do you have? Gas grills work well when you are pinched for time. Charcoal is a much better choice for barbecuing on a leisurely day when you aren’t saddled with pesky time restraints. Finally, there is the question of price. If money is not an issue, then go with a gas grill, but penny pinchers will prefer the inexpensive charcoal grills over the higher priced gas grills.

Grilling is Quick Cooking
Grilling involves placing the food directly over a heat source like charcoal or propane, and it is the process of cooking foods quickly over high heat. The cooking temperature usually ranges between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the simplest and most common outdoor cooking technique. Most people choose this method for foods that don’t require prolonged cooking, such as vegetables, poultry, fish, steaks, and burgers.

Barbecuing is Slow Cooking
Barbecuing means cooking food slowly over indirect heat and smoke that is generally between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is usually reserved for tough cuts of meat like beef ribs, pork butt, and brisket that tenderize during the long time they spend over a low fire. In addition to tenderizing the meat, the goal in barbecuing is to infuse it with as much smoke flavor as possible. This low heat generates smoke from wood stoked flames that give barbecued food its characteristic flavor that propane and coals just can’t do.

Grill Reviews

Gas fueled grills

These grills are easy to start, warm up quickly, and usually cook predictably, giving meat a full, grilled flavor. Many of these grills include shelves and side burners. The higher priced models offer added sturdiness and more even cooking.

Price ranges: $100 to $1,000 or more.

Charcoal fueled grills

Cooking with charcoal provides an intense, smoky flavor savored by many people, but they don’t always light easily, and they burn less cleaner than gas. Charcoal heat is harder to regulate, and the cleanup can be messy as you need to dump the ashes, and keep the grill clean with a wire brush.

Price ranges: $29.99 to $150.00

Gas Grills

The Weber Genesis is the best general purpose, mid-priced gas grills. This grill includes porcelain-coated cast-iron grates that create a flawless distribution of heat, which means that the food cooks just as well on the outside of the grate as it does in the center of the grill. Price: $499.99

The Broilmaster is considered one of the most durable grills made, and they have a unique styling that is all their own. This grill offers an exceptional heat evenness and distribution, and dual burners disperse flames evenly for 40,000 BTU of cooking power. Price: $899.99

Kenmore offers a grill with a non-stick coated grate. It is cheaper then other gas grills, and cooks just as well. It is by no means a fancy grill, but it does offer a side burner for extra cooking needs. Price: $199.99 to 1,299.99

The Perfect Flame gas grills offer serious cooks more then 500 square inches of cooking space, and this powerful grill heats up with relative ease. It also includes porcelain coated cooking grates for easy clean up. Price: $125.00 to $5,686.00

Charcoal Grills

The Big Green Egg Grill features a temperature control that can range from as low as 100 degrees to several hundred degrees. It’s a complete cooker with unmatched flexibility of use from grilling, barbecue, smoking, and baking at exact temperatures all by adjusting the dampers. This grill features cooking flexibility with an oven ready to cook in 10 minutes with no lighter fluid. The ceramic walls retain the heat, and the charcoal can be reused in this grill. Price: $349.00 to $529.99

Patio Classics is a top of the line grill as it offers serious cooks a large amount of cooking area with side plates for keeping utensils nearby. The clean up is also fast as this good looking grill offers an ash catcher for easy removal of used debris. Price: $75.00 to $177.00

Weber offers several styles of grills that are almost as efficient as the gas grill. They also offer one of the largest grills available today. The Ranch Kettle Grill offers more than 1,100 square inches of cooking space, and it includes two half grill shelves for indirect cooking needs. Weber grills include smoking abilities, and a gas powered charcoal lighter with a push button ignitor. This grill demonstrates even heating even though it is charcoal powered, and it includes an ash catcher for easy clean up. Price: $45.00 to $1,009.00

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