Charcoal or gas barbecues will both cook efficiently and produce delicious food! To help you choose which type to purchase we've put together this guide to set out the features, advantages and disadvantages of both charcoal and gas barbecues.
These types of barbecue are usually made from either cast iron or stainless steel, often with a baked on enamel finish. The enamel protects the stainless steel and prevents rusting and this is probably the best choice for a long lasting barbecue. Look for heavy duty plastic wheels which will stand up to cold or hot weather.
Features of Charcoal Barbecues
Cooking grates made from stainless steel or nickel plated are the best as they do not rust and are easy to clean. Plastic or wooden handles are much better than metal as they can be used when the grill is hot. A hinged grate is useful as it makes it easy to add more charcoal and an incorporated work surface that is durable and easy to clean and is also useful.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Charcoal barbecues are cheaper than gas barbecues but can be more expensive to run. There are not so easy to light but to many people lighting the charcoal adds to the fun! Gas barbecues are cleaner and do not need the ashes cleaned out after use. Many people also like the smell and atmosphere of a charcoal barbecue and feel that a gas barbecue does not have the traditional 'feel' of a charcoal barbecue.
Features of Gas Barbecues
The best construction method is stainless steel covered in a baked on enamel finish which is durable and rust free. Leg supports should be welded for greater strength and durability. A lid is useful and most gas barbecues come with two or more burners to allow you to cook more than one dish at one time. Angled steel bars are preferred over lava rocks as they prevent flare ups caused by the juices pooling by efficiently vaporising them. The rising smoke from the vaporised juices enhanced the flavor of the food. Many gas barbecues also have side burners which can be used to cook pasta, sauces etc.
Advantages & Disadvantages
Gas barbecues are cleaner than charcoal barbecues and lighting is easy. Temperature is also easy to control. They are more expensive than charcoal barbecues and the gas bottle can be bulky. Many people miss the traditional smell and atmosphere of a charcoal barbecue.
Keep hands away from hot surfaces and do not put your hands directly over the heat.
Always pre-heat the barbecue for about ten minutes.
Use a wire brush clean off any food debris after use.
Replace the grill lid while cooking to help keep the hot air circulating around the food for more even cooking.
Always make sure meat and chicken is thoroughly cooked by using a meat thermometer. Undercooked food is one of the leading causes of food poisoning!
Do not turn constantly. Turn only once half way through cooking.
Steaks and other items that cook quickly can be grilled over a direct heat source, slower cooking foods such as ribs need to be cooked away from a direct source to make them juicy and tender.
The outside temperature will affect the cooking time so if you are cooking outside in the winter you will need to allow more time than is given in the recipe.
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