Food and Wine magazine Senior Editor Christine Quinlan stopped by the show Friday to discuss models of different types and price points.
Barbecuing purists tend to prefer charcoal grills for the flavor they impart. Using a chimney starter makes lighting charcoal easy and doesn't require lighter fluid, which is much more environmentally friendly and keeps food from tasting like chemicals.
FOR THE CLASSIC LOVER
When you picture a grill, you probably are thinking of the Weber 22 1/2" Kettle. It has a rounded bottom, durable porcelain enamel bowl means no wear and tear due to temperature change, it's easy to use and assemble and it's easy to clean. Weber makes many sizes in this model, from portable table top to huge 3 feet wide ranch kettles (prices vary). With the price of about 90.00, it's a classic and a steal.
FOR THE SPORTSMAN
Lodge's Sportsman Grill ($108): This hibachi-style grill is small enough to put on a table and large enough to cook kebabs for a crowd, making it an ideal tailgating grill. Made in Tennessee by Lodge, well-known for their cast iron cookware, it has two adjustable heights. www.lodgemfg.com
What to consider when buying:
Quality is key - look for the most durable materials at each price point like high-grade stainless steel, heavy-duty wheels and a long-term warranty. As you go up in price you can usually expect better materials and accessories like a side burner and rotisserie.
FOR THE TRENDSETTER
Solaire's Anywhere Portable Grill ($400) is a great way to experiment with infrared (instead of open flame) cooking without committing to a full-size grill. Use it in conjunction with a traditional gas grill for more flexibility. Infrared is best for thick cuts of meat because its high heat sears the outside while locking in juices as it cooks. The grill is made of high-grade stainless steel (for salt-water boating, there's an even tougher, corrosion-proof version) and has stainless steel burners. It heats up fast (less than three minutes) and cools down fast (pack away in about 15 minutes). It uses 1 lb. propane bottles or a 20 lb. tank with optional adaptor or it can be converted to use natural gas. This portable grill weighs less than 20 pounds. www.rasmussen.biz
FOR THE CLASSIC LOVER
Kenmore's 875 square inch gas grill ($899.99): We set out to test basic gas grills and find out what to look for and what you get at each price point. For under $1000, this grill provides a lot of versatility - independently controlled burners allow you to cook steak at a high temperature while simultaneously cooking more delicate items like fish or vegetables at lower temps. A side burner makes it possible to cook a complete meal outside. www.sears.com
Fuego: Interchangeable drawers provide three cooking options-gas, charcoal or infrared. With under counter and drawer storage available in its streamlined 40-inch design, the Fuego model is ideal for space-challenged grillers. It's like an outdoor version of a kitchen island, surrounded by teak counter tops and a built-in slate cutting surface while its sides feature a peg-board like design that allows the addition of accessories including a spice rack, paper towel holder and even a Champagne bucket. www.fuegoliving.com
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