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New BBQ this year!!! Need advice...

Recyclor Jun 13, 2008 10:33 AM

Hey CH's, hope all your summer's are going well, mine is about to get better as I am treating myself to a new BBQ, I have only had cheap hand-me-down gas ones and am torn over charcoal or gas. I'm prepared to spend up to about $1000 (...but would be happy if it cost much less!). I like the idea of the charcoal burning Big Green Egg, the smoker options sound great, but can I effectively get smoker action from add ons to gas or other charcoal grills? There are some Weber kettle types that look good too, and are way cheaper than the egg...

General questions:
-I know gas is more convenient, but how much so? How much of a commitment is it to start up the charcoal grill, ignition time-heat up-burn off...can I really only use it if I plan far enough ahead that I have lots of time prior to cooking?

-Any favorite models in either gas or charcoal &/or smoker add ons

Thanks in advance for any advice or shared knowledge/experiences...

Cheers!

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  1. g
    garlicandwingnut Jun 13, 2008 11:04 AM

    I use a Weber one touch gold 22.5in. Kettle. They are cheap ($150) and last a long time. I use it 4 times a week or more in any weather year round. I fire it up with an electric starter and hardwood lump which (I keep in a plastic garbage can nearby) plug in starter and set a timer for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes unplug and remove starter, have a beer, in about 15 minutes you will be cooking.

    4 Replies
    1. re: garlicandwingnut
      Recyclor Jun 13, 2008 11:30 AM

      ..I like the sound of your routine gandw, thanks for laying that out for me..

      1. re: Recyclor
        weinstein5 Jun 15, 2008 06:50 PM

        instead of an electric starter I use weber's chimney starter - works like a charm as well -

        1. re: weinstein5
          BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 23, 2008 08:29 PM

          Same here: my chimney starter gets lump charcoal started in about 90 seconds as opposed to six minutes, with the added benefit of not requiring an extension cord from the house.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
            c
            chipman Jun 23, 2008 11:23 PM

            I used to use an electric starter, it was very simple and fast and EXPENSIVE! I used to burn through those things faster then I could even imagine. And At almost $20. the dollars were really adding up!

    2. z
      ziggylu Jun 13, 2008 11:25 AM

      We have had a big four burner grill from BBQ Galore for the last several years. It's served us quite well and we've been happy with it.

      But...we just bought a Big Green Egg a couple weeks ago. We are seriously in love with this thing. So easy to light and maintain the heat on and the results have been great. We were looking at smokers and decided to get this because we also make a lot of pizza. The pizzas have been fabulous! Beer can chicken last night was the best we've ever made. Burgers, salmon, and steaks have all been great. The only thing we haven't done yet is a low and slow cook which we're doing Father's Day with some ribs. Anticipating great results for this as well.

      Our gas grill is feeling unloved at the moment but I don't see us using it too much now with the egg. It will be handy when we're cooking for a crowd as it will complement the egg when we need the space.

      Happy shopping!

      4 Replies
      1. re: ziggylu
        Recyclor Jun 13, 2008 11:47 AM

        Ok, now we're talking!...pizza is one of the things I wanted to try aswell, did you pick up a stone or just go straight on the grill? Do you have a starter or does it work well on it's own? Is it as easy to get started (& speedy) as the weber listed above works?..thanks for the info zl...

        Please post your findings after this weekend regarding the smoker, I'd love to hear about it...

        Thanks again!

        1. re: Recyclor
          z
          ziggylu Jun 13, 2008 12:02 PM

          For the pizza...we got a plate setter with the grill...which is basically a ceramic stone with feet designed by BGE. we put this on the grill with feet upside down and put a pizza stone on that and preheat everything together(we've been cooking at about 575 for pizza). Right now I'm using my old pampered chef stone but I'm trying to find a new one that's 14" in diameter. The pampered chef is a bit too large and we keep reading that for some reason these tend to crack on the BGE. So far it's been OK though.

          It's super easy to start....we use the lump charcoal and have used the firestarters...toss one of those on and light....we're ready to go in about ten minutes most of the time(we usually let the egg preheat about an hour when we do pizza though). We've had no trouble controlling and maintaining the heat with the upper and lower dampers. you can really zero in on what temp you want and keep there.

          You can use an electric starter too....haven't tried that yet. We've used some wood chunks on occasion...last night tossed one in while we did the beer can chicken. Again, great results and nice flavor on the chicken.

          Like I said we're seriously impressed with this thing. Long thread here about them: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/351543

          We had a Weber kettle once upon a time....we find this easier though we didn't burn lump charcoal in the Weber and used charcoal briquets instead. More cleanup/ash so cleaning it was a pain. Would think lump charcoal in the kettle would be relatively little ash like in the Egg as well.

          The gas grill is nice for convenience. We like having the big four burner one as it gives us lots of options for indirect cooking configurations. Fast and easy to use which I've appreciated during hot Arizona summers when I don't cook inside. I can get the gas grill up and running in a matter of seconds and not have to stand in the heat and tend it. I was resistant to going back to a charcoal grill because of this which is why i appreciate how easy to Egg is to heat and maintain.

          1. re: ziggylu
            Recyclor Jun 13, 2008 01:26 PM

            Alright, I'm just about certain, it'll be the large BGE, I'm stoked!! Thank you for your input and that other thread was very informative...

            Cheers!

          2. re: Recyclor
            z
            ziggylu Jun 15, 2008 06:33 PM

            Hey Recyclor

            You wanted to know how smoking the ribs went. Great! best we've ever made at home. And so easy to keep the egg at the lower temp.

            I'm really sold on this thing. My sister and her husband are out shopping for one now after eating off of ours a few times. The ribs tonight definitely sold them on it.

        2. n
          normalheightsfoodie Jun 13, 2008 11:39 AM

          I have a 6 burner grill with a rottisserie. Having 6 burners allows you the ability to cook on indirect heat when using the rotisserie for a prime rib or chix with out flare ups. It also has a back burner for browning.

          I got mine at SEARS.

          1. d
            duck833 Jun 13, 2008 10:00 PM

            When you get the BGE make sure you get all the accessories that you will need. Plate setter, BGE pizza stone, additional rack etc. They have a great forum with good ideas and lots of assistance.

            4 Replies
            1. re: duck833
              g
              garlicandwingnut Jun 14, 2008 07:26 AM

              Weber Performer advertised in the Star for $350 (great deal IMHO)
              www.certifiedbbqexperts.com

              1. re: garlicandwingnut
                Recyclor Jun 14, 2008 08:07 AM

                ...thanks for the tip...I'm going to check it out still...

                1. re: Recyclor
                  g
                  garlicandwingnut Jun 14, 2008 02:08 PM

                  Hey Recyclor,

                  1. re: garlicandwingnut
                    g
                    garlicandwingnut Jun 15, 2008 11:47 AM

                    Recyclor,

                    Previous message above was interupted by glitch. Sorry.

                    If I were going to spend $1000 I would get a Weber Performer and a small smoker from Cookshack at about $500.
                    I have a decent gas BBQ (Vermont Castings) which I only use for cooking bacon (so as to not stink up the house) or warming up sausages when my kid is seriously hungry.

                    Let us know what happens.

            2. o
              onocoffee Jun 14, 2008 10:39 AM

              Gas certainly has the convenience of one-click starting, but it still takes awhile to come to temperature - especially when you're talking about home models. By the time gas comes to temperature, you could have created a roaring charcoal fire and benefitted from the extra flavor that comes from hardwood charcoal (presuming you skip the briquettes and lighter fluid).

              As for me, I prefer charcoal. Nothing beats it on terms of flavor and if I'm gonna grill something, it's worth the extra effort, time and mess to burn the charcoal. That said, I picked up a New Braunfels barrel-shaped smoker/grill with side box about eight years ago for $115 at Home Depot. It's been a champ and workhorse ever since and I love it.

              The problem is that over the years, CharBroil seems to have bought New Braunfels and the current models of my grill seem flimsy by comparison. Could be that the ones at Home Depot were shabbily assembled but the metal feels thinner and more flexible - that could be a problem. Especially since they're now $180.

              But Weber has a "Ranch" model that's huge and killer for a MSRP of $1145.

              Now, if I had to go gas, there would only be one choice for my home: MagiCater 48". I had one when a friend and I had a bbq shack and it was hands-down the meanest, hottest and best gas grill I have ever worked with. Nearly instantaneous searing heat and a water bath that eliminated flare ups. It was a beast. A workhorse. I miss it.

              It's fantastically expensive but worth every penny. You could easily spend as much and more with the fancy home models but all of them pale to the MagiCater in terms of heat and capacity.

              1. g
                goodeatsinadive Jun 14, 2008 04:49 PM

                Being a true, born and bred southerner, I couldn't pass this up. : )

                BBQ is what you eat. A grill is what you use outside to cook food on.

                Hope you find what you want.

                1. r
                  ricepad Jun 15, 2008 12:58 AM

                  It sounds like you may have already decided on a stick-burner (good for you!), but just in case you're on the fence in the 'gas vs. charcoal' debate, consider this: Gas proponents always talk about convenience, and how it's "almost as good as charcoal". They NEVER claim that gas is better, only easier. Charcoal/wood burners, OTOH, talk about the quality of the product, not that it only took them 5 minutes to get their rig ready.

                  1. woodburner Jun 15, 2008 06:47 PM

                    My 2 cents, after 20 years of wood burning: If you feel like spending $600, get the Egg. For me, I have 4 Weber 22.5-in. One-Touch Gold Kettles, and you can grill direct at high temp, BBQ low and slow at low temps. It does everything. $150. Your pick. For BBQ on briskets, ribs and pork butts, you can set up a "fuse" of charcoal, as below, and light one end, and cover up, with all vents open, and get a 6 hour burn. For grilling, you can lay out a full base of coals, put chicken on the grill, and cover the lid with vents open... and cook the chicken without allowing an open flame to burn the chicken as the fat drips down. The design of the grill does not provide enough air for open flame when the lid is closed.

                     
                    22 Replies
                    1. re: woodburner
                      Recyclor Jun 15, 2008 07:22 PM

                      Hey everybody, thanks for the great advice and your experiences, I was pretty sold on the Egg, but can't discount the option of spending so much less on a Webber rig. So, for now I'm all in for burning lump charcoal, I'll go check out the suggested grills and a few others and decide. I'll post when I sort it out...

                      ps: Thanks for the pic woodburner, the art of fire is quite intriguing...

                      1. re: Recyclor
                        p
                        pabboy Jun 17, 2008 09:05 PM

                        I got both!

                        I use the BGE to smoke ribs & pork butt. While that's finishing up, I use the Webber to cook chicken, burgers & dogs. After the ribs & butt are done, I crank up the BGE to 700 and drop in the ribeye and porterhouse. Voila! Enough to easily feed 30 hungry guests.

                        1. re: pabboy
                          Recyclor Jun 18, 2008 07:16 AM

                          ..sounds like quite the system...I'd settle for an invite!!

                          1. re: Recyclor
                            b
                            bbqD Jun 20, 2008 04:51 PM

                            or get the the weber gold kettle for $150.00 for high heat grilling and the weber smokey mountain for $300.00 for low n' slow cooking. You have it all covered for $450.00 and can spend the rest on charcoal and meat!

                            1. re: bbqD
                              Recyclor Jun 20, 2008 05:54 PM

                              That's the dilema bbqD, I am a fan of a well made and solid device like the Egg, but can't ignore the option of getting great results for half the cost either, space is a bit of an issue so I like the all in one package too though...now that you mention it, how much is lump charcoal anyway? + do you have a fav?

                              1. re: Recyclor
                                b
                                bbqD Jun 21, 2008 06:24 AM

                                You can't really go wrong with either and if space is an issue then the egg will cover all the options and will last you a lifetime. I use Basque Lump Charcoal out of PQ, it is all natural and made with mostly maple wood and produces fantastic results. At Ont Gas BBQ, I think a bag cost around $16.00.

                                1. re: Recyclor
                                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 23, 2008 08:33 PM

                                  You don't need a Weber Kettle AND a Smokey Mountain (although I have both myself) -- you can do high heat grilling on a Smokey Mountain just about as easily as you can on a kettle. And those prices are a touch inflated as well -- I paid $179 for my Weber Smokey Mountain on Amazon on sale, and I believe its regular price is under $300.

                                  BGEs are great, and they have much less of a learning curve than Weber products, but if you're willing to take the time to tweak and perfect your cooks over the course of the summer, you'll get very high performance for way, way less money, with the added satisfaction of feeling like you're learning something new and getting better every go-round.

                                2. re: bbqD
                                  p
                                  pabboy Jun 23, 2008 06:33 PM

                                  I use Wicked Good lump charcoal in both my Weber Kettle and BGE. I've smoked at 215° for 22 hours straight using the BGE without adding any charcoal and only adjusted the vents twice. I cannot do the same in the Weber without adding at least 3 times adjusting 10+ times.

                                  1. re: pabboy
                                    d
                                    Docsknotinn Jun 24, 2008 05:33 AM

                                    Exactly. I load the large BGE, light, throw on the pork butts woth a polder thermometer and 20-22 hours later I pull them. Try that on a webber with out roloading it. The ceramic also retains a lot of moisture and ultimatly yields a better product.
                                    I've had mine for a little over a month. The BGE is the single most impressive cooking product I can recall owning.
                                    They are pricey. Around $900 for a large with all the toys. I lamented this purchase for a long time and I can honestly say the BGE is well worth the $$$.
                                    I'm using Royal oak lump from Wally World for my daily burn along with mesquite or hickory chunks.

                                    1. re: Docsknotinn
                                      z
                                      ziggylu Jun 24, 2008 08:12 AM

                                      We've had ours about a month, too. I have to agree with your enthusiasm. we've been really really really impressed with it. Everything we've made has been so great...even boneless, skinless chicken thighs last night came out super moist and flavorful.

                                      We made some ribs for Father's day that were the best we've ever done.

                                      I even put a loaf of bread on the Egg last Friday after we grilled dinner. Turned out fabulous.

                                      We've been using the BGE charcoal and have been pleased with it. We paid $740 for the large egg, the nest, the mates, the platesetter, the first bag of charcoal, and the ash tool.

                                      1. re: ziggylu
                                        d
                                        Docsknotinn Jun 24, 2008 11:25 AM

                                        Wow That's a great price!

                                        1. re: Docsknotinn
                                          z
                                          ziggylu Jun 24, 2008 11:54 AM

                                          yes, they told us it was signed wrong but that they would honor it(sign was for just the egg, not the bundle which is how it was displayed). But...we went in the next week to pick up something and the signs hadn't changed so I think this is their regular price actually. I'd say it was a shady sales technique...but it really does seem to be a more than fair price.

                                          1. re: ziggylu
                                            Recyclor Jun 24, 2008 01:09 PM

                                            Hey ziggylu, where did you buy it? I'm in Toronto...*fingers crossed*

                                            1. re: Recyclor
                                              z
                                              ziggylu Jun 24, 2008 01:14 PM

                                              BBQ Galore. Chandler AZ.

                                              Don't know if they're in Toronto...Ohio or Canada for that matter!

                                              http://www.bbqgalore.com/

                                              1. re: ziggylu
                                                Recyclor Jun 24, 2008 01:19 PM

                                                No dice! I'm up here in Canada, thanks for the response though...

                                                Cheers

                                            2. re: ziggylu
                                              d
                                              Docsknotinn Jun 24, 2008 01:24 PM

                                              I paid $860 before taxes for the Large egg, Nest, Shelves, a bag of charcoal and an ash tool. It was marked down $100 from when I had shopped a month earlier. I did get a plate setter for free because they had one that was damaged in freight and repaired with JB weld so they gave it to me.
                                              It works just fine. :)
                                              I also paid about $68 for a deluxe vented cover which is very nice. A polder thermometer is a must have. I'd love to have one with two probes so I could check temps at the grate as well. I need to get back over to the store and pick up a pizza stone.
                                              I'm absolutly giddy about this grill. LOL
                                              I think you paid less than what a Grill Dome costs so that was indeed a very good buy. I'm GREEN with envey!

                                              1. re: Docsknotinn
                                                z
                                                ziggylu Jun 24, 2008 01:38 PM

                                                green with envy! Very good! LOL

                                                yeah, we were looking at the primos and when we came across this we snapped it up.

                                                I've been using my pampered chef stone on it so far....it's been working fine but it's a bit too large so i am going to have to get a 14" stone at some point. Haven't found one other than the Egg brand yet but havne't looked too hard...I think the Egg's is $50.

                                                If you haven't made a pizza yet you must soon, docsknotinn. They're fabulous. We were already making pizzas regularly - in the oven and then once it got hot on our gas grill but the ones on the Egg...again, just superior to anything we've made before and we thought we were already making damn good pizzas! Our friends beg for invitations now to Friday Night Pizza Night!

                                                Haven't picked up the cover yet. Need to do that before the summer dust storms start in a couple weeks....

                                                1. re: ziggylu
                                                  d
                                                  Docsknotinn Jun 24, 2008 05:01 PM

                                                  I've got some sausage from Salumi I'm saving for that first pizza. I wrote myself a note today.
                                                  Buy Pizza stone! :)

                                                  1. re: ziggylu
                                                    p
                                                    pabboy Jun 24, 2008 08:58 PM

                                                    Whoa... so many fellow eggheads out there!!!

                                                    I'm looking for a 14" pizza stone as well. Any recs? I really don't want to spend $50 for a BGE version.

                              2. re: woodburner
                                p
                                Pantz Jun 23, 2008 03:28 PM

                                Hi Woodburner - Your charcoal fuse idea sounds like a great solution for getting a long, even burn. My only question is concerning fumes. When the charcoal first starts to burn, doesn't the meat absorb all those toxic fumes? I usually light coals and then add them to the fire once they are mostly covered in white ash.

                                1. re: Pantz
                                  woodburner Jun 23, 2008 05:13 PM

                                  Good question. I believe that the idea of toxic fumes from charcoal is related to briquettes that have been doused with starter fluid. I do use fluid to start the initial burn, and I wait for the fluid to burn off and the ash to form. But I don't sense anything bad as new, "clean" coals pick up the burn. Consider the way many BBQ pits place ashen coals atop a pile of unlit coals... the same slow burn process takes place. If there are bad chemicals from that, I'm in trouble LOL

                                  1. re: Pantz
                                    r
                                    ricepad Jun 24, 2008 07:42 AM

                                    It's not a question of toxicity - any fire gives off toxic gas, in the form of carbon monoxide. CO is odorless, however, so that's not the issue, and charcoal that has ashed over is no safer than freshly lit charcoal. As woodburner noted, offensive fumes are more a product of lighter fluids than the briquets themselves.

                                2. a
                                  acvr5 Jun 21, 2008 11:32 AM

                                  If you want the best ceramic cooker, capable of high heat for grilling as well as low and slow BBQing, consider the KOmodo Kamado. They look great, easy to use, large capacity GREAT customer service, but like everything that's at the top of the class, not inexpensive

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: acvr5
                                    c
                                    chezdick Jun 24, 2008 07:23 PM

                                    Big Green Egg is the bomb. We are dealers in Key West and sell it complete for 895.00 including delivery for the large with nest and mates plus charcoal. You really should purchase your Egg from your local distributor. Money spent locally stays in your community and that's important. We also distribute a high end s/s high BTU gas number but The Egg is a superior performer. Plus its cool.

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