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Barbecues Gas vs. Charcoal

Oliver's picture

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For you cooks out there- who BBQ simple receipes for chicken, fish and burgers-- do you think charcoal BBQs are better than gas?
We were told that there is no difference. The theory being that smoke is smoke and that once the meat drippings land on the heat source it makes no difference. I agree that gas grills are more convenient, but Webber has come out with a charcoal model that has a built in heat source (propane gas) to easily get the chargoal going. However, their web site doesn't mention which model (gas or charcoal) is the best. This seems like a good idea - but if you think there is no difference I'll go for the convenience of a gas BBQ.

EM_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #1 of 27)

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If you decide on gas, check out the Holland Grill. We love ours and don't think there is another as good, except maybe those $5000 jobs, and they probably don't cook any better. Holland has a web site.

My son in law swears by charcoal, but not because of flavor. He says it's the mood it creates....relax in a lawn chair and have a beer or two while the coals heat up.

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53580, reply #2 of 27)

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There is no issue, Charcoal is much better.
However, its messy, less convenient, trickier to cook.
I have an expensive Weber gas grill. It does slower/longer cooking like chicken well but it doesn't cook a steak worth a damn.

aussiechef's picture

(post #53580, reply #3 of 27)

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We have a Weber gas BBQ that I connected up to our kitchen gas supply when we remodelled. Convenient because we don't have to worry about gas tanks.

We HATE it. There is simply no flavour in any of the meat other than what we use in a dry rub or marinade. We've tried everything - wood chips in containers, nothing works. When we really want flavour , we pull out the old rusty wood-fire BBQ. The best BBQ for flavour and convenience is Captain Cook but I can't remember which country it's in.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #4 of 27)

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I had a huge Thermos gas grill with many, many BTU's and a side burner (which I never used - any breeze blew it out)...and it gave great results. I have done many meats; turkey burgers, steaks, half cornish, pizza and did the most killer veggie platters. You can fit a great deal of food on a large gas grill and you can do it on a weeknight because it's fast and convenient.

There are flavor benefits to charcoal, so the Weber to which you refer may be your
i Nirvana.

I didn't get to take said mondo grill when I moved to CO and my S.O. had this tiny weird shaped gizmo in the backyard which could not fit much food on it. It was attached to a propane tank and had lava rocks through which the fire had to travel. He explained that it was intended to be a smoker but it does great grill too. I mean to tell you, this thing cooks meat like you dipped it in
i Liquid Smoke.
The richest, smokiest flavor added a whole new dimension to whatever sauce, marinade or rub was applied to the food. Very deep smoky flavor...but not many square inches on which to cook food (one cut up chicken takes up the whole round grill). Maybe you'll have similar luck with the Weber.

NLM's picture

(post #53580, reply #5 of 27)

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I definitely agree that charcoal is better - and the lump burns better than the briquettes. Both the flavor and the whole cooking experience are much more satisfying than with gas. For a small quantity of food, we just use a good ole "Smokey Joe" which you can find at discount dept stores for under $20. Good luck, and happy grilling!

Carolina's picture

(post #53580, reply #6 of 27)

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Recently at Home Depot (has to be my all time favorite store), I saw mesquite and hickory flavored briquettes for gas grills. Anybody had any experience with these? If they work, they might give certain meats,say for instance steak, more of a "charcoal" flavor.

BTW, we have a gas grill, but the DH swears the flavor just isn't the same as it was with our old charcoal grill. Maybe it's a "male thing" because I can't tell that much difference.

Gerard's picture

(post #53580, reply #7 of 27)

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The drawback to gas grills(LPG) is it doesn't get near hot enough, I've tried cooking on them and lava rocks juz don't cut it.
Maybe using brickette type charcoals...nah, they get so hot they'd melt the burners.
Gas is good for convenience and keeping the kitchen cool but for best results charcoal is the way to go, they use charcoal to melt steel in foundry's for that reason.

Cheers, Gerard

EM_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #8 of 27)

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We use the wood briquettes for our gas grill and soak them in water first I think (husband is in charge of grilling). I can't tell any difference in flavor when cooking steak with our gas grill vs. the charcoal we used to use. He places the steak around the outside edges of the grill where the heat is higher. We only eat a steak once or twice a year, so it could be that I'm so grateful to be eating it that I don't notice, but no complaints here. ;-)

Perhaps you should decide based on what you generally cook on a grill...more poultry and fish, or more steak. A gas grill can cook a killer roast chicken.

sysop_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #9 of 27)

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after only one month of concerted effort to burn animal flesh myself for my meals, i cannot speak highly enough to the advantages of wood/ charcoal grilling. having grown up in an affluent pool-side bbq-ing type of family, i thought i understood the manifold benefits of eating off the grill, and never understood that the gas models simply cannot sear and cook a thick steak properly. of course, i can't make chicken worth a damn less i oven cook it first, and i've yet to introduce the girlfriend to the joys of pittsburghed hamburgers (black on the outside, purple-pink on the inside), but i can't say how satisfying it is to remain a gustatory ignoramous and still know i can grill a tender flavorful steak any night of the week.

friends and family all have the gas models, and they do seem more convinient for entertaining and cooking (get the fire going, then pay scant attention), but for the zen peace associated with stoking and tending a vibrant, living fire into cookable force whilst downing many beers, real wood and charcoal is the only choice.

cosmo's picture

(post #53580, reply #10 of 27)

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Sean,

Amen!

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #11 of 27)

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I must have been
i incredibly
lucky...any grills I had cooked pretty darned hot and the food cooked on them was excellent. (I actually referred to one of them, I think the Thermos, as a "microwave grill" because it cooked fast.)

Shrugs shoulders.

Carolina's picture

(post #53580, reply #12 of 27)

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Sean: Like I said before about using charcoal: "It's got to be a
i male
thing!"

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #53580, reply #13 of 27)

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Wait a minute . . . sysop guru AND you can cook? If it weren't for my DH and your girlfriend . . .

Carolina's picture

(post #53580, reply #14 of 27)

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Sorry, Nihon, but Jean and I have already adopted Sean. Of course, for a price,
i maybe
we could work a deal.....

Jean_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #15 of 27)

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Speak for yourself kiddo, if I "unadopt" him then I can't yell at him anymore when he screws up!(But that's all in the past, right?) BTW, our grill is languishing, unused. I find it so ironic that now when we can finally afford to buy steak, it's no longer good for us!! LOL

sysop_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #16 of 27)

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i thought eveyone was still angry at me...

too d#mn hot to bbq today, at least here in the northeast. recommend grilling only if beer rains down from the heavens (so humid last night it took 30+ minutes to get the charcoal/ wood fire going with an electric coil).

that's taunton there on fire in danbury!

Ol'_Pro's picture

(post #53580, reply #17 of 27)

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Having used both, I believe the charcoal really is better for steak because of the more intense heat factor. My S.O., on the other hand, swears there's no difference but that may be because he was in the propane business all his life.

Smittyroo_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #18 of 27)

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Rare day indeed when Danbury is hotter than Dallas!!We had 54 days last summer when it was over 100, do not ever want to go thru that again..suggest stay indoors get keg. smitty

Jean_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #19 of 27)

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Aw, sweetie, you know we can't stay angry with you!!

sysop_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #20 of 27)

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it was nothing. i scoff at such steamy early new england summer heat, as, having played in three-game rugby tourney in dallas one day in may, i can say my little two mile run midday today compares not at all to that texas marrow-sucking heat (tho i am praying for the well-being of the poor b#stards reshingling my roof today).

can't wait to get home and burn some food up!

anyone have any tricks for properly grilling veggies over a wood fire? i tried it last night simultaneous with a flame set perfect for my 1-1/2 thick sirloin, but wasn't sure how to grill the green and red peppers, beyond coating wiht olive oil and sneakin off to the side of the grill.

Jean_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #21 of 27)

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But then, again, maybe I could. Have you been trifling with us again? Just when things were going along swimmingly I click on "read your new messages" and get this
b Taunton Press Discussions
instead of my new messages. It's not nice to fool with my mind like this, dear.

Adele_'s picture

(post #53580, reply #22 of 27)

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Hi Sean! I have become a grilled veggie addict! I marinate a couple ears of corn- shucked & red & yellow peppers(cut in half) & yellow summer squash cut into 1/2" circles & zuccini (sic?) in the same size circles & I also do 1 or two jalapenos- split in half & seeded. I also do an onion & a tomato. I have been fooling around with the marinades, but started with good seasons Italian w/olive oil & white wine vinegar. Marinate 24 hours- turning the bag whenever I go in the fridge. I do my veggies 1st on the grill- just watch closely,check the corn especially. When done, I put the peppers & jalapeno in a plastic bag to cool & easily peel the skin off. I have a glass serving dish with a lid & while still outside, I cut the corn off the cob & put in dish, then the rest as it is done. I cut up the peppers & mince the jalapeno & put in bowl too, along with the cut up onion & tomato (keeping as much juice as possible). Then just mix everything up. This is soooo goood. Even better the next day. Also anyleftovers are great on top of a pizza w/some cheese. Or in fajitas!

minda's picture

(post #53580, reply #23 of 27)

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Could someone tell me...if I'm only going to make veggies and a few fish dinners, does it matter tastewise if I use a charcoal or gas grill?

Big_Daddy's picture

(post #53580, reply #24 of 27)

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Not really. Either would do fine.

BD

Full-fledged's picture

(post #53580, reply #25 of 27)

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k, here I go, sticking my neck out again. But, might be something to it. Have brand new 714 sq.in. cook surface, and just breaking it in.
My father has the prototype that is 17 years old. The design has not changed too much, but I think the seasoning of the "pit" itself make a taste difference when using charcoal. My pit does not produce the same amount of smoke as my dads. Kinna like that cast iron pot theory..no?. Gas grills too wimpy for me. And straight wood too strong.

Carolina's picture

(post #53580, reply #26 of 27)

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And you thought you had nothing to contribute. Wrong!
Think we'll be picking your brain more or more.
(Attn. group: The girl knows grilling!)

Full-fledged's picture

(post #53580, reply #27 of 27)

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lol.......okay, pick brain, but not feathers or I will never fly. :)