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Hasty-Bake grill or good alternative

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It may be the thick of winter, but here in CA, grilling season continues, and I'm looking to buy a new grill. I'm particularly interested in the Hasty-Bake, as it's got a few qualities I want and is charcoal burning. Trouble is, the grate is not cast iron or enameled cast iron, so I'm curious if:

1) anyone has experience with Hasty-Bake grills and can speak to the quality of the stainless steel grate. If it's thick and heavy, I may purchase. If it's too light and won't hold heat, I will likely forgo.
2) anyone can suggest an alternative -- a nice charcoal grill with a cast iron grate.

For the second question, know that I've ruled out those that:
*have cheap/thin metal construction
*are shaped such that the sides slope and thus some of the grilling surface doesn't get direct heat
*are over $1000 (a big budget for a charcoal grill!)

Thanks in advance for some Hound advice.

-Tobias

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  1. No nowledge of this brand. Two summers ago, some critters (I'm blaming TREE RATS... aka squirrels) grawed thru the gas line. Grill was 2-3 years old and was NOT expensive to begin with... like $99.99 at end of summer. Checked into replacement part and would have been about $50 PLUS S&H!?! I pulled all the gas "guts" out and used charcoal in the carcass until this summer. Bought another gas grill back in July... again NOT expensive. Would LOVE a "to die for" grill but definitely NOT in budget. Tho I use it mostly during summer time, a rack or 2 of baby back ribs in FEBRUARY would not be out of the picture. At less than $150, if I get 3 years outta it... talking less than $5 a month!?!

    1. I looked at the website and based upon the videos, the cooking grate looks to be similar in thickness (or maybe a tad less) to that on a Weber. I have yet to find cast iron grates of a quality to the cast iron cooking grate of the Lodge Smortsman Grill, which I own. Much of the cast iron and porcelain coated grates seemed light to me and many quite thin for cast. If you are looking for heavy duty quality, you cannot go wrong with Weber. They have reintroduced a 27 or so inch kettle (I've had mine for over 20 years) and it is indestructible although I have burned off the old wood handles a few times. Grilling, roasting, smoking are all feasible with the Weber. Yes, the sides are sloped but I have never had any problem cooking. As a matter of fact, I find it beneficial. My dream was to always own Weber's ranch kettle although what I have has always provided more than enough room for a large gathering.

      As an aside, the money you save with a weber could be applied to a dedicated smoker. Weber makes them and for a no tending option, you could consider an electric smoker such as found here: http://www.smokin-it.com/default.asp. Just a thought. Good luck.

      1. I've researched the Hasty-Bakes at length, and of course they're great, pricey grills. If that's what you've got your heart set on, I'd say go for it.

        However, let me address a couple of things:

        1) Stainless steel is perfectly adequate for a grilling surface, and is definitely the easier-to-maintain option. Although I haven't seen an actual Hasty-Bake *grill insert* in person, I'm sure it's of the highest quality.

        2) You may think you need a cast iron grilling surface, but you really don't. It's time to move beyond "grill marks." Google around re. Harold McGee and the frequent flipping of meat/protein while grilling -- once you read about the science behind grilling food for maximum taste vs. presentation, you will see that grill marks (and cast iron grilling surfaces) are not necessary.

        3) If you want a height-adjustable-charcoal-tray grill, there are other options available at Barbeques Galore, Lowe's and Home Depot. Hasty-Bake may have been a pioneer of the design years ago, but there are plenty of cheaper alternatives.

        4) Grilling steaks over banked charcoal in a $150 Weber grill, and flipping frequently, will return the same results as a $1,000 Hasty-Bake. That leaves $850 to spend on Big Green Eggs, assorted smokers, turkey fryers, etc. You get the point.

        Just one guy's opinion, based on countless hours of reading/sifting through grilling and BBQ (low-and-slow) forums...