Ah, summer. It's hard to remember right now, while the snow coats the ground and a step outside means risking instant frostbite, but summer will come again! And when it does, oh boy, will I be ready for it. Summer is all about being outside (without thinking about frostbite or hypothermia), staying up late because the sun is still up, exploring the backyard or going on hikes, feeling the touch of the summer breeze on your face, and of course, backyard portable gas BBQ grills. The first day of summer, to me, is not June 21, but it is the day that we first break out our bbq and grill our dinner. Now, I know that a lot of people are dead set on charcoal grills. The smell, the taste, the slow-cooked style is their bread and butter, and I doubt anything could ever change their mind.
However, I am much more inclined to be out enjoying the summer as long as I can, and then come in and whip up a delicious meal on my gas grill. It is the best of both worlds, in my humble opinion. When time is at a premium- and let's face it, when isn't it?- the speed and ease of gas bbq grills is a great asset. One of the biggest arguments against gas grills is that they do not get hot enough to sear, but that is really only true when it comes to the cheap models. Just like any industry, you will be getting what you pay for in the grill department, and if you buy any decent gas grill, you will be able to sear meat just as well as on a charcoal grill.
Just do a quick check on the temperature a grill will reach, as well as the burner configuration before you buy it. The initial setup of gas grills takes longer than charcoal, but remember that every time you want to start cooking, your gas grill will light instantly and take no more then ten minutes to reach cooking temperature, while the charcoal grill takes time (and usually a lot of frustration) to light, and then at least fifteen to twenty minutes to reach cooking temperature. Another of the biggest arguments is over the price of fuel. Now, I know that gas grills cost more to start with, but if you are going to be cooking a lot, you will most likely actually save money by using a gas grill. A standard 20-pound propane cylinder yields about 20 hours of cook time, and depending on the price of gas, it usually yields about an hour of cook time to the dollar. Charcoal is about two dollars for six quarts, which is what the standard chimney starter holds. Briquettes are almost twice as much. Clean up is much easier on a gas grill than charcoal, since all you have to do is turn the grill to high and let the grate smoke off.
Charcoal grills require you to clean out the ashes frequently and brush the grates every time you grill. Gas also makes it easier to grill delicate foods like fish, chicken, fruit and vegetables. These kinds of foods can easily be overwhelmed by the taste of smoke from a charcoal grill, and when done on a gas grill are better able to retain their integrity of flavor. If you want that smoky taste of a charcoal grill, a smoke box, which is basically a drawer for wood chips, can easily be added to gas bbq grills. If you are concerned about the impact on the environment of respective choices of grills, there is not a clear choice as to which one is more eco-friendly. However, the Sierra Club does advocate for gas grills as being cleaner-burning. And, there are always ways to decrease your impact on the environment; in your choice of foods to grill, opt for organic, hormone-free meat.
Try to buy locally as much as possible- summer is the perfect time to visit your local farmer's market and find delicious, home-grown foods. There are countless recipes for meals that are simple and easy on the earth. Best Pizza Ovens are the clear winner in my book in all areas of comparison. One more thing I forgot to mention is there usefulness if the power goes out- you can use a side burner on a grill to boil water, and, of course, you can cook your food. Some of my favorite makers of gas bbq grills.