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...
-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...
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.