Your Outdoor Cooking Options made simple
Summer is soon approaching and along with the warmer weather means cooking outdoors. Barbecue season is almost upon us and that means hot dogs, hamburgers and more. It means fun in the sun, even if that fun is just a family get together in the backyard. Every person that loves barbecue has a preference on how they cook it. Some like it cooked over a flame such as with propane or with hard wood. Others prefer that charcoal briquets that add a little flavor to the meat, and anything else on the grill. Each grill will get the job done, but it will depend on your taste, time and effort that you want to put into it to make it a real barbecue.
By far the charcoal grill is one of my favorites. I love the taste and the smell of the charcoal, and it adds a certain flavor to the meat. It does require more work than other grills though as there is more preparation time and cleanup when you are done. These are the most commonly sold grills around as they are easy to assemble and come in many different sizes. You can purchase them as small and portable that you can take with you to the beach or the park. I always have a large one that fits in my backyard with a folding side table attached to it.
A charcoal grill requires at least two things, charcoal and lighter fluid. There are briquettes that light by themselves, but even they might need a little kick. Once the charcoal is laid out and lit, you need to wait a little while for the temperature to rise and all the charcoal to lite. Then you can start cooking your food. Add some flavor with flavored charcoal or adding mesquite wood chips mixed in.
Cleanup means having a grill brush and removing the ashes. The charcoal crumbles and fills up into dust at the bottom, or falls into a storage bin at the bottom that needs to be emptied out now and then. The grill itself, where the food sits, needs to be cleaned before you cook on it again. Caked on food, charcoal and debris gather, and you don’t want to have that in your food.
While for the most part they look like a charcoal grill these are more efficient when it comes to cooking. They are cleaner then charcoal grills both for the
environment and for your food. And they are easier to clean. Take all of that into consideration, because there are more expenses involved in a propane or gas grill than with charcoal. Some people prefer the taste of propane grill as it is not much different than cooking on the stove in the house. There is no charcoal taste which is a turn off for some people when it comes to their barbecue. It is faster to cook with one as you can be ready almost instantly. It just takes a few minutes to warm up, unlike a charcoal grill.
Propane grills are more expensive than charcoal grills. They are heavier and have more parts to them when you are building them, taking more time to build too. This is because of all the parts that are needed to make everything function. It also must support a propane tank, which is heavy enough by itself. You will also need to buy your first tank, and can trade in tanks later for half the price. There is a battery that is needed, but it is generally a AAA battery and this is used for the starter. (A battery usually comes with the propane grill and it will tell you where and how to install it.) There are portable camping stoves that are smaller and travel sized, making them perfect for outdoor grilling on the go.
A fire pit is a stationary pit, rimmed with rocks or bricks and able to hold a small bonfire. It can be used to cook from, although mostly for items that you can place on a stick and reach into the fire. This includes marshmallows, hot dogs and shish kabobs. You can run a spit across them to roast chicken, other birds and pigs on as well. Since a fire pit is an open flame you need to be more careful of getting burned when you are near one.
One of the great things about a fire pit though is the ability to have many people sit around one and enjoy it. You can all get warm and cozy, and just relax enjoying each other’s company. Another bonus is that debris that lands in there gets incinerated by the fire, so dropping a marshmallow or hot dog in there is even less clean up than having a grill.
A Barbecue Island
If you are looking for something a bit more stationary you might want to consider the size of your backyard. If you are willing to sacrifice part of it, you can add a barbecue island to it. Depending on what you want in it, they can be rather simple with just your grill surrounded by brick giving you space to cook and serve the food. Others can be more elaborate, and include a sink, plenty of counter space and all of it covered so you can even barbecue in the rain. Add a nice patio set or couch out there and you have your own personal outdoor get away.
Either way the entire thing, whether large or small, sits on concrete to protect the ground from fire. So a concrete base is laid out before the grill is built into it. If you want power and water lines it is best to run those before the concrete is set. (Hire a professional, someone or a company that specializes in these grills and areas instead of trying to do it yourself for best results.)