Guard Your Grill: Gas vs Charcoal
It’s memorial day weekend and it’s time to fire up that grill baby! We all love our smoky ribs, juicy steaks(medium done please!) and corn on the cob dripping with buttery goodness. But what is the best type of grill, gas or charcoal? I’d bet you’d get a million different answers. One things for certain, does one make the food taste better than the other? And how does both impact our enviroment?
Well, in case you’re wondering, my all time favorite is charcoal. Yes, I know it seems contradictory given where I stand, but charcoal with some hickory chips gives meat and vegetables a wonderful flavor and aroma. The key here is again, moderation. I live in an apartment with no balcony, but when I lived in a house, grilling was for those rare occasions where everyone would come to your house, drink all your beer, and let the kids run aound the backyard. We all know this as the traditional cookout. There was a dominoes table, spades table, the uncle that flirted with the young girls and talked smack witht he fellas and the lady of the house who would urge everyone to take a plate home with them. Those were good times.
So, back to the topic. First, we’ll start with charcoal. Charcoal, according to www.wisegeek.com ,is a black substance that resembles coal and is used as a source of fuel. Charcoal is generally made from wood that has been burnt, or charred, while being deprived of oxygen so that what’s left is an impure carbon residue. While charcoal is used in the manufacture of various objects from crayons to filters, its most common use is as a fuel. The heat from charcoal is much hotter and wood and burns cleaner than wood. Charcoal has been around for centuries but Henry Ford is actually credited to mass producing charcoal for the backyard bbq. Charcoal is simply much easier to use. You don’t have to worry about measuing the right amount of propane and certainly don’t have to worry about storage. There are two types, the synthetic charcoal that most people use that’s cheaper and comes from glue and wood ash and there’s the other more natural charcoal made from hardwood. Either one can have an effect on how food tastes, but that’s according to personal preference. On the downside, it could take a while to build up heat for the charcoal, cleanup is messy or even the grill itself could catch fire.
Gas grills are those types of grills one would see on the Food Networks’, Boy meets Grill with Bobby Flay. They are made of stainless steel with a sleek design and can hold more food. You get to measure the right temperature like you would with a gas or electric stove. The food gets to cook evenly and you don’t have to constanly watch the food like you would with a charcoal grill. Cleanup is a lot easier too since you don’t have to mess with charcoal ash. The downside to having a gas grill is that if you’re an apartment dweller like me, then having this behemoth serves no purpose and maybe too large for your balcony or small patio. Also, gas grills doesn’t give you that smoky flavor like charcoal and hardwood does. You can’t carry it around like you would a small grill if you want to go out to the park. And dealing with propane is a pain the the a$$ for those who are not used to it.
So as far as the enviromental impact is concerned, gas grills win it everytime burning cleaner fuel than charcoal. Dallasnews.com ran an article a couple of years ago bout grilling the green way. Since I’m a charcoal devotee, they urge that folks like me use natural charcoal like harwood over synthetics cheaper versions laced with coal and other chemicals. Never use lighter fluid, since it will simply cause a fire and create a lot of smoke. A chimney starter should do the trick. And of course, it’s still about being healthy, grilling more vegetables as well as fruits and less meat.(I know, what’s a cookout with less meat?)