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Grills and smokers available for every cooking style
With the outdoor grilling season upon us, you may be in the market for a new grill or smoker. But just like any project, you will need some planning and research to make sure you buy the perfect cooker for your needs and budget.
Most people still gravitate to gas grills, in part because they are easy to use and come in a variety of sizes and prices.
For example, Melissa Enos, vice president of Americas Marketing, Weber-Stephen Products LLC, weber.com, said Weber offers the Genesis II and Genesis II LX lines that include eight gas grill models, with two-, three-, four- and six-burner options. The Genesis line also features a docking station to house the App enabled iGrill 3 digital thermometer ($109 MSRP) that monitors cooking times and temperature and sends alerts to a smart phone.
Today’s gas grills can also be equipped with infrared burners. There are even the combination grills that fit all styles in one unit, including gas and charcoal grilling along with searing and smoking options.
While gas or combination grills are still popular and can be purchased without breaking the bank, more people today are getting into the process of cooking outdoors and spending more time — and money — doing it.
According to Chris Cordle, store manager for This Is It Shop in West Bloomfield, (248) 973-6241, thisisitshop.com, said many people are going back to the old ways of grilling they grew up with.
“The trend seems to be toward grilling with charcoal again,” Cordle said. “Because gas grilling can dry out the meats, they are looking at ways to achieve more flavors when grilling and charcoal does that.”
One of the more popular charcoal cooking options is the ceramic kamado-style charcoal grills like the Big Green Egg (biggreenegg.com) or Kamado Joe (kamadojoe.com). While these ceramic grills can be pricey, ranging from around $800 to $2000 when you ad the grill cart or other accessories, they have some unique advantages over a standard grill.
“People don’t realize that you can use a ceramic charcoal grill like the Green Egg for your everyday outdoor cooking just like a gas grill,” Cordle said. “It is a very similar time frame to get it ready to cook, and I use mine for 95 percent of my outdoor cooking.”
Wood smokers are also becoming more popular with outdoor cooks who want to use the slow-cooking method on meats and fish.
“With people staying home and doing more outdoor entertaining these days, the trend is to spend more time cooking outdoors as well,” said Gary Merrill, one half of the popular “Grillologists” Mad Dog & Merrill, maddogandmerrill.com.
Merrill said with that outdoor entertaining, people are also willing to take more time to cook using the low- and slow-cooking method wood smokers offer.
“There are plenty of options when buying a smoker, including gas or electric versions that are the lazy man’s style of smoking because they are easier to use than a traditional smoker,” he said. “And one type that is really becoming more popular is the pellet smoker.”
Merrill said a pellet smoker features an electric motor that turns an auger that feeds wood pellets into a firebox. The pellets come in a variety of woods, like apple, cherry or mesquite, and Merrill said they are easy to use.
Lou Sharkas, owner of Sharks BBQ in Troy, (248) 250-6412, sharksbbq.com, said no matter what type of smoker you use, one of the keys to good smoking is the wood.
“It is important to use good hardwoods like oak or cherry that have been aged at least six months, and then make sure you let the meats cook low and slow,” Sharkas said. “But you can cook them too long. Often when people smoke ribs they try to cook them so that the meat will fall off the bone, but they should cook them for only about four hours.”
Merrill said that cooking things too long is a problem with grilling as well.
“I especially see people overcooking pork and then it is too dry, so I recommend you cook it until it is 145 degrees on the meat thermometer,” he said. “And people really need to keep their grills clean so they don’t have flare-ups.”
If you are buying a grill or smoker, there are plenty of quality manufacturers to choose from. But the key is to determine what style of cooking you prefer, how many people you plan to cook for, what your budget is and what the product warranty is. Once you do your homework, you can get the grill or smoker that is perfect for you.
Note: This article was accurate at the date of publication. However, information contained in it may have changed.
If you plan to use the information contained herein for any purpose, verification of its continued accuracy is your responsibility.