Grilling on a holiday like the Fourth of July, when you’ve got the day off, is easy. You can take your time; pull out your artisanal hardwood charcoal; light it in your chimney starter; build a perfect two-level fire; and lovingly tend your rib-eye, or your chicken breasts, or your pork ribs.
Fourth of July is hobby grilling.
But what about the 22nd of June, or the 12th of August — when temps are in the 80s and all you want is to be in your backyard with a beer and a hunk of meat to cook? Instead, it’s 6 p.m., you’re at the office, the kids need to eat by 7, and you still have to go to the store.
This is why gas grills rules.
Charcoal purists will tell you their preferred fuel leads to better flavor.
Cooking on charcoal has one indisputable advantage over gas: It gets much hotter. Glowing coals are at a temperature of about 2,000 degrees of radiant heat; while gas gets hotter, there’s very little radiant heat from the flames.
And radiant heat is what’s really cooking your food on a grill. That’s why gas grills use some sort of surface to create radiation, whether it’s lava rocks or ceramic plates. These surfaces are heated by the gas flame, creating the radiant heat generated naturally by charcoal.
Charcoal purists will try and tell you that their preferred fuel leads to better flavor.
Your food doesn’t know what’s creating the heat below it, and once charcoal is hot, there aren’t any aromatic compounds left in the coals. According to the food science bible Modernist Cuisine, “Carbon is carbon; as it burns, it imparts no flavor of its own to the food being grilled.”
The characteristic flavor of grilled food comes from the drippings, not the fuel. When those drippings hit the heat source, the oils, sugars, and proteins burst into smoke and flame. That “flavor” rises in the smoke and warm air to coat the food you’re grilling.
The real debate should be whether charcoal is necessary at all. Nothing in that process relies on charcoal.
Still not convinced? Know what’s worse than grilling on gas? Not grilling at all.
You can walk in with a bag of groceries at 6:30, and have grilled chicken on the table at 7, a happy family praising a delicious dinner. The most precious commodity in the world, that’s constantly dwindling, is time.
A gas grill gives you back time every time you use it. Grill three times a week over the course of a summer, and you’ll have saved yourself a full day. A day! Think of what you can do with an extra day, provided to you by your gas grill.
To each is own, but...For information on gas grills, contact The Fireplace Showcase.