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Charcoal or Gas

Sun May 27, 2012 4:24 pm

This is one of the biggest grilling weekends of the year in the USA. So, what do you prefer, charcoal or gas? Anything on the grill this weekend?

For us, we use a gas grill. Mainly for convenience. One of my favorite things to grill are peppers, zucchini, onions and whatever else I can find and make a anti-pasta type dish out of it. I use them cut up on sandwiches and as a side dish for dinner.

For meat, brats are a big deal here in Wisconsin but I almost never make them. We do grill hot dogs and burgers and occasionally chicken. I would love to do some ribs but I have no idea how to cook them.

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Sun May 27, 2012 6:14 pm

Charcoal all the way for me. Nothing remotely compares imo.

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 pm

Charcoal... both because I'm broke and well, it does taste better. :D

Ribs? Indirect heat (250*) for 4 and a half hours... any dry rub will do.. cook them for 2 hours uncovered and add smoke chips.. then cook them 2 hours covered (you can add basting liquid during the covered time to steam them, or not) and then the last 30 minutes uncovered, and start saucing them. Tender enough to pick up, but basically fall off the bone. Almost all of your smoke flavor is absorbed in the first hour, so be sure all lighter fluid and anything has been burned off, and this is why you only need to add wood chips for the first couple of hours.

The trick is to get that fat to melt without the rib totally falling apart when you pic it up.

So remember: 2 uncovered, 2 covered, and up to 1 more uncovered. You can go up to 5 hours, after that they really fall apart too much, or you need to lower the temp to 225 or maybe even less.

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Sun May 27, 2012 10:54 pm

I learned the basics of grilling from my dad. As a kid, we grilled only over real wood fires in a brick fireplace my dad and I built on the patio for that purpose -- and sometimes when it was raining, we built our fire and grilled in the fireplace in the living room. My dad managed an older office building in downtown San Diego, and whenever they remolded a suite for a new tenet, the 50-year-old oak flooring was ripped out, which he salvaged and cut into foot-long pieces for grilling. Wonderful stuff to cook over. My job was to build the fire, using mostly pine for kindling, careful stacking the 2"-wide, 1/2"-thick oak planks on top, adding more until I had a thick bed of glowing coals.

However, after I left home, got married, and moved to an apartment, I switched to charcoal briquettes out of necessity -- no space for wood, and no source of it, either. Initially I had only a small hibachi, then switched to one of those cheap 24" round things with three legs. When we bought our first house in the San Fernando Valley, I moved up to a standard Weber kettle and became very proficient with it. Later replaced it with a 27" Weber. Worked great, almost as good as the old oak fires of my youth.

As my business grew, time became more precious, so my wife decided we should get a gas grill to speed things up (i.e., so I could do the cooking when I got home from work). Got a pretty good one from Barbecues Galore, one that ran on natural gas rather than propane. I was skeptical but quickly discovered that the results were pretty good. There was some loss of smokiness, of course, but everything I tried turned out great nonetheless. The juices of the meats and poultry dripping on the rocks create smoke and add a lot of the typical flavor of grilled food, and the direct heat produces the desired crust. Not a bad trade for the convenience.

I later bought a fancier gas grill, a Ducane Meridian, all stainless, gigantic grill which we took with us when we moved to our present home. Also natural gas. I cook steaks, chops, chicken, fish (salmon and halibut mostly), and lots of veggies (especially asparagus, eggplant, potato wedges, bell peppers, red peppers, onions, Portobello mushrooms, etc.) a couple of times per week during the summer, less often the rest of the year.

I still like the gas grill a lot and would not give it up due to the convenience factor -- the quick start-up time, not having to worry about having enough charcoal on hand (and with natural gas, propane tanks aren't a concern, either), and the absence of ashes to clean up. Also, no worry about sparks setting my trees or the roof on fire. And the heat is far easier to control than with a wood or charcoal fire.

But if I had the time and space and a bunch of old oak planks sitting around, I switch back to "real" wood fires in an instant. Well, may not for everything.

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Mon May 28, 2012 5:54 am

I like & use both.

Each has its own advantages/disadvantages.

:)

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Mon May 28, 2012 9:25 am

Being in the BBQ Capitol of the world I only have a couple words, charcoal followed by hickory or pecan or apple wood. Or if your lucky you can find the hickory charcoal made from preburnt hickory chunks where the fire is put out before it is finished burning than bagged that stuff is great. Btw NO lighter fluid if people want to learn how to light a charcoal fire quickly then let me know I will give that secret away. But turn hardcore bbq'rs or people that also grill there is a difference in the words BBQ is slow and low grilling with charcoal is fast and hot it can co both ways even for gas also. Peace and if someone wants that little fire starting trick let me know it's fast and convient. Jmbullman

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Mon May 28, 2012 11:10 am

Charcoal.
Tried gas, didn't like that I couldn't smother it and still cook whatever.

JB, give up that secret, please.

And a safe holiday to all.

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Mon May 28, 2012 1:11 pm

I have a Weber Performer and an 18-1/2" WSM. Love them both. I started with charcoal and an Old Smokey in 1968 and just stayed with charcoal. Gas is quicker by about 20 minutes. Gassers are usually bigger,too if space is a problem

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Tue May 29, 2012 6:03 pm

A gas grill for convenience?

Get a Big Green Egg (or the like...I have a Primo...same concept), some natural lump charcoal, and a MAPP torch. Grill will be up to heat in 10 minutes while you get your things ready to grill.

Re: Charcoal or Gas

Tue May 29, 2012 7:55 pm

I use them somewhat interchangeably.

if I'm just doing a couple burgers or sausages I'll use gas because I can go from a cold grill to serving in about 15 minutes.

I really prefer lump charcoal (I generally make my own) in my built in brick grilling pit off my back porch.
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