Everybody loves food straight from the grill. Gathering around the grill and cooking some burgers, hot dogs and steaks is a great activity for an afternoon or evening with friends or family. You get hungry as you see, hear and smell the food cooking.
The unique taste and pattern burnt onto the meat makes it more appealing. The high heat caramelizes the meat, adding flavor. Since grilling allows for the fat to drip from the meat, it is often presented as a healthier alternative to cooking with oil. What's not to like?
There are three basic types of grills, with additional sub-categories: Charcoal, gas and electric. Each has its proponents.
Charcoal grills provide the richest and most authentic "grilled" flavor. Depending upon how the charcoal stack is built, it can provide high heat to sear the outside of the meat and lock in the juices, or a long, slow cooking platform that true barbeque proponents prefer.
Downsides of the charcoal grill include the messiness and dust associated with charcoal, both before and after cooking. You also have to constantly replenish your supply of charcoal and deal with the possibility of having the charcoal burn out before you meat is done. Charcoal also means dealing with an open flame and some kind of lighter fluid, something to consider when small children
or pets are around.
Some of the best brands are Weber grills, Brinkman grills, BBQ grills, Ducane grills, Lynx, Coleman and Green Mountain outdoor and natural gas grills.
Gas grills are the most expensive kind of grill. Most are free standing in a cart configuration or built into a permanent structure. Gas powered grills can only be used outdoors. They are powered by a propane tank and start with the push of a button. They provide a direct flame for cooking. Larger models have several burners which can be set individually, so that some items can be lightly grilled (fish or vegetables) or kept warm while others cook. This helps get everyone's meal ready at the same time. It's easy to include a smoker box filled with wood to further enhance the flavor of the meat being cooked.
Electric grills are the most convenient type of grill. You simply push a button - assuming you have access to electricity - and you are good to go. There are models that you can use indoors and out. There are also small "personal" grills that will fit one burger at a time and are very inexpensive, as well as easy to store.
Electric grills offer uniform heating and therefore cooking of meat. It's easy to control the temperature so you can grill vegetables exactly the way you like them. Neither charcoal nor gas allow this kind of precision control of the heat.
The two main issues with electric grills are the taste of the meat when its done and the lack of models with large grilling surfaces. Charcoal grilling adds the most flavor to the food being prepared, providing a smoky, woody scent. Gas grills, by way of the open flame, add a unique caramelized taste to the meat being cooked. In comparison, food prepared on an electric grill can be a little bland. Of course, the chef can add his or her own seasonings, but it will never taste as though it was cooked on a charcoal grill
No matter which type of grill you choose, a great meal lies in your future.