What’s Your Favorite Grill To Cook On – Gas or Charcoal
One of my boyhood memories is of watching my Dad struggle on the weekends to start a charcoal fire with lighter fluid (gasoline when there was no lighter fluid around). Looking back, I don’t think we ever used the grill except on weekends because of his work schedule.
He would wait around for the fire to get hot before grilling up some chicken pieces or hamburgers but my dad is one of those guys who can’t sit still. So he would get involved in some other project that had to be done and forget about the fire. When he came back and found the coals burned out, he would say something under his breath and start all over again.
Now that I’m a dad myself grilling for my own family, I have the choice of either gas or charcoal. At the moment, I use a gas grill but I’m very close to picking up an inexpensive charcoal grill that I can use on the weekends. I love how easy it is to turn on the gas valve, hit the ignite button and instantaneously have a fire.
But something is missing! Maybe it’s getting your hands dirty arranging the charcoal, the time standing around watching the coals get hot or even the smell of the charcoal burning. Whatever it is, there is something nostalgic about grilling with charcoal that I want to experience again.
Yeah sure there is more clean up, you have to get rid of the used up coals. And then there is always the possibility that the coals will burn out in the middle of cooking. That wouldn’t happen with a gas grill, although there was a time I couldn’t figure out why my steaks were taking so long to cook until I realized the gas tank ran out.
But there are also a lot of benefits to grilling with charcoal, which leads me to this article. I wanted to look at the pros and cons of grilling and charcoal and figure out how they affect my style of cooking. I’m not even going to approach electric grilling but it’s something you may want to check out for yourself some time.
I put the question of gas vs. charcoal to a couple of my professional chef friends who had opposite positions. Although their preferences were different, they both came up with great reasons why they choose their style.
One chef listened quietly while I ranted about the virtues of gas grilling, waited until I was finished and then said, “Yes, charcoal grills are more work and what type of grill you use will depend on your lifestyle and the amount of time you have available, but in the end you can’t compare gas grilling to charcoal grilling. Forget about it, charcoal wins hands down.”
When I asked why he was so enthusiast toward charcoal he said, “Because with charcoal, you add more flavor and you can make a hotter fire and heat is your friend.”
The other chef I spoke with favored a gas grill for the convenience and felt you could achieve the same great tasting food by various cooking methods, food prep, and the use of woods for a smoky flavor.
Who’s right? In my opinion there is no right answer and it really just depends on personal preferences. It really depends on your life style and how often you plan to use the grill. Look at my list of benefits for both gas and charcoal to see which fits best into your lifestyle.
Benefits of Gas and Charcoal Grills
Push Button Convenience
No messy charcoal to deal with
Easy to start
Control temperature with a dial
Control temperatures for longer periods of time
Can still use wood for smoky flavor
Wind is not a factor
Flavor from charcoal
More intense smells
More hands on experience
I’m a gadget guy and didn’t think think there was a kitchen gadget I didn’t like but what about these Stainless Steel Herb Mills? What am I doing wrong with mine? My wife gave me one for my birthday and we were both excited about using it on all our fresh herbs we were growing in our garden this summer.
As you can see from the photo, an herb mill has rotary blades that are supposed to mince fresh herb like basil and cilantro instead of chopping them up with a knife. I first tried using it to make the tarragon and cilantro herb butters I wrote about last time. Expecting to fill the stainless reserve area with cilantro, turn the crank a couple of times and end up with perfectly minced, fragrant product, I was surprised at the nasty ball of shredded green stuff caught in the blades. I ended up throwing the cilantro out and starting over with my knife and cutting board.
Has this happened to anyone else? Is my technique wrong? Please let me know!
I tried it on a few other fresh herbs and the same results occurred. Looking back, I’m wondering why I even need an herb mill. Yes, it looks very cool and the idea of perfectly minced herbs in an instant is inviting but how long does it really take to chop up a bunch of basil. And you still have to clean it when you are finished.
In My Opinion, this is one kitchen gadget I’m sad to say isn’t going to take up space in my Kitchen Drawer.
Differing opinions appreciated.
onlinesources: Grills & Outdoor Cooking
There are lots of sources for purchasing top of the line Grills, Barbecues & Outdoor Cooking Equipment. I suggest you check out your local department stores and kitchen supply shops but if you’re looking for a wide selection of products and prices, you may want to check out Amazon.com where I buy many of my favorite pieces of grilling tools.