How to choose a barbecue
The type of barbecue that you choose will depend on a number of factors. What fuel type suits you best, the available space, how many persons you generally cook for, what foods you intend to cook and of course.....personal taste.
There are basically three types of fuel...gas, charcoal and electric.
Charcoal comes in briquettes or lump charcoal. The briquettes tend to burn longer and do not impart much flavour to the food. Lump (natural) charcoal will give your food a distinctive taste. Be sure to use good quality charcoal. Many brands have undesirable additives or are produced with little quality control. They may give off little heat or present an “off” flavour. We use Rossima charcoal which is available in our store and some chain stores. If you use charcoal from a grocery store or a gas station be prepared to be disappointed.
There tends to be a little more effort to cook on a charcoal barbecue. Regulating temperature can be a bit trickier...depending on the barbecue. Of course there is the clean up that some people do not care for much. Many people shy away from charcoal because the start up time can be quite long. However, if you have a good starter and a decent barbecue you should be able to get up to temperature in 15 minutes or so. A good charcoal barbecue allows you to make restaurant quality steaks, wood fired pizza, smoked roasts and more.
Gas comes in Propane/Butane or Natural Gas (methane). Temperature control is a breeze and a good gas barbecue with a side burner can become much like an outdoor kitchen. There are few limitations to what a person can cook on a gas barbecue. Roasted peppers, pizza, pasta, desserts and even bread are possible. Some people pine for that charcoal taste but this can be achieved in two ways. There are smoker boxes that you can place wood chips in for a wood fired taste. Some barbecues are capable of burning charcoal in trays as well. Usually people choose gas for the versatility and ease of operation.
Electric tends to be the option for people who have an aversion to gas or charcoal. In some cases apartment blocks do not allow anything but electric barbecues. These work well, but be prepared to replace the element from time to time and expect the food to come out drier than with the other two options.
You should look for a size that suits the number of people you intend to cook for and the space you have available. If you have guests often then buy a barbecue appropriate for entertaining. If you are intending to cook vegetables and appetizers keep in mind you need room for all that. We have had many clients come in and buy a barbecue only to find that they use it for more than they originally thought and have bought one a bit too small for their needs. On the other hand, there is no need for a monster barbecue if you generally cook only meat and only for a few people at a time. Remember that the barbecues we sell last for years. Choose one with that in mind.
There are many outdoor cookers. We sell smokers, ovens, barbecues, plain grills and planchas. They all have their benefits and limitations. Much depends on the types of food you will cook. It is not uncommon for our clients to have a couple of different styles which reflect the different sorts of cuisine they enjoy. Many people ask what I have at home. Currently I have a good gas grill with a back burner, rottisserie and side burner that I use most of the time. I also have a good old fashioned charcoal grill that I fire up from time to time to compliment the gas grill. If I had my wish list filled I would have a plancha as well.
Quality is really important. Many grills look good on the picture and when you receive them you realize that they are made of thin, painted metal. A good grill is an investment that should last you many years. Take a good look at the craftsmanship. Give the showroom piece a shake. If it rattles like an old jalopy, it is probably worth passing on. The lid should be double lined stainless steel or cast aluminum or a combination of both. Thin metals do not retain heat in the oven. The oven itself should be quite deep allowing for convection and room for large cuts of meat etc. Many of the models made now have low sleek lids that look very nice but are highly impractical for cooking. Keep in mind that stainless steel quality varies. Many people are shocked to find their shiny stainless barbecue rusting beyond use after a couple of years.
Unfortunately, it is not generally possible to test a barbecue before buying. Gas barbecues tend to have hot and cold spots throughout the grilling surface. The better barbecues are engineered to minimize the difference. Some barbecues are really not worth cooking on at all....honestly,
Come by our shop. Ask us anything. There are no stupid questions. All we do is barbecue.