Thursday, April 2, 2009

Gas or charcoal grills

That is the question this time of year isn't it? A gas or charcoal grill? Well if your already a pro griller probably not, but for the ones just getting started it can be, there are a lot of reasons to consider. So if you're just beginning to look into a barbecue or grill then read on.
Just about every pro seems to hands down prefer charcoal vs gas, why: that's what we'll discuss here. The number one reason is taste, most claim you can taste the gas in the meat from the propane, whereas the charcoal leaves a nice smoky flavor and of course you can always add wood chips for extra flavor. Grilling chicken, grilling fish, even grilling hot dogs seems to taste better.
Second of course is plain old Nostalgia. Nothing brings ya back to childhood like smelling the charcoal briquettes firing up.
Third is they claim to be able to adjust the heat easier than a gas grill, personally they must be awesome pros to do that.
Of course a charcoal grill can be a lot less expensive than a gas barbecue. But as I said the pros seem to prefer them. So what's the downside? Why don't the beginners speak out about using charcoal grills? Well there can a lot of snags on your way to that first successful barbecue:
1. Don't plan on going right out and firing up the grill with 10 minutes before dinner. Getting charcoal ready can take up to 45minutes, maybe longer if you're a beginner. They never seem to heat up fast enough when everyone is waiting.
2. With the use of lighter fluid it can be dangerous, especially if you have already lit the briquettes once. Relighting can be a pain because either the fluid either burns right up in a huge flare up(known to take many eyebrows), or the fluid evaporates in the heat before it can soak in properly.
3. Charcoal grills are either too cold if not started right or not enough coals (try at least enough to cover the area of food with a layer of coals plus a little more). Or they can burn hotter than a gas grill and need a lot more attention. No set and forget it.
4. Of course once your done... I've never been able to turn off the coals, you have to wait for them to cool, usually a few hours or overnight. And there's no reusing them, you use half a bag of charcoal for 2 burgers, you've used half a bag of charcoal. Then there's where to store the briquettes and lighter fluid safely.
Overall using a charcoal grill can require a lot more practice, time, and attention then using a gas grill. But overtime, the more experience you get the more you'll probably think like the pros. So if you want to have a barbecue in the next couple hours go with gas, if you have time to make a few mistakes, and eat a few cold dinners, start with a charcoal grill.
Later I will talk about ways to ensure a better first time with a charcoal grill, and why the pros are also probably cringing at my several mentions of using lighter fluid.
p.s. Is it barbeCue if it' single and barbeQues if it's plural?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Barbecue, it's what's for dinner

There seems to be no question as to if we'll barbecue... but what to barbecue. If you're like me the same old burgers and hotdogs doesn't quite seem to fit the season, not yet anyway. It's still a little too cold for that. I came across a display of beef brisquette at the supermarket though, they don't have to be just for St Patty's anymore. So I decided to try it. Now we all know how to barbecue, ya crank up the flames and charbroil everything in sight. But that doesn't seem to work for thicker meats, ya end up with charcoal on the outside and raw on the inside. So what is the trick?

Well first you leave yourself at least 2-3 hours cooking time. Then, you keep the burners on low, very low. If your barbecue is like mine you might have to only turn one burner on to keep it low enough. Then just set the meat to the side where the burner is off, or on a the higher grill if equipped. After that its just a matter of turning the meat on occasion and making sure the gas doesn't run out. Oh and don't forget to add the barbecue sauce 15-20 minutes before it's finished.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Barbecue, problem with fires.

Ahhh spring. Time for flowers, trees in bloom, young love.............
NO! It's time to breakout the barbecue, pour out them briquets, drown em in lighter fluid and let the fireballs begin. Or if your like me it's time to find out how much gas ya got left in the tank. And find those last two hotdogs that no one ate last year.
Have you gone out to fire up the bbq and not seemed to have any gas to the burners? Maybe it just seems to not get as hot even though the gas is definately on. OR even worse you crank it up then go inside to let it warm up, only to come out to find a raging fire outside the barbecue. Try checking the pipes for spiderwebs. Yep, I took mine apart only to find spiderwebs and eggsacs clogging up the pipe. Luckily this was a lot easier and cheaper than a now bbq or a new burner.
So flame on fellow cooks, don your apron apparel and flip those burgers.

New teen drivers

Well it's happened. She got her learners permit, and of course who gets to bravely sacrifice his car and sanity so she can apply her newly gained skills? Well actually she hasn't gained any skills because she's never been out there, so she can hopefully develop some skills and gain experience. Unfortunately the only way to gain experience is for something to happen. That person got to be me. Yes another Man thing, take the kid out and try to impart your years of driving wisdom, not while she's safely in the house, no, while she's barreling at what seems to be warp speed towards a herd of cars with no signs that she intends to slow down, or that she even needs to. This is when you realize that stomping your foot where your secondary brake pedal should be... does absolutely no good!

Well we've gotten through most of that with no actual mishaps, so I thought

I could breathe easy. WRONG! This was when things went bad. The most innocent of things. She went through the fastfood drive thru. Any guesses at this point or do I have to relive the whole thing. Okay, so we stopped and gave our order at the magic speaker. So far so good. Then she began to pull forward to the next window. See the speaker is in the middle of a curve as you turn towards the window. Apparently she kept turning as the turn straightened. Those nice little cement posts... They aren't good for cars. Yes she managed to run the entire back door and fender along that nice little post, then backed up and did it again. Insert invectives here. Or cuss words for short.