Level 1: Just the basics
Weber Smokey Joe Grill
• Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid
• Plated steel cooking grate
• Aluminum dampers
• Glass-reinforced nylon lid handle
Mixed chops from Bozek’s Market
$5 for 2.5 pounds at $1.99 per pound
This basic grill gets the job done. Smokey Joe’s 147-square-inch grilling area will accommodate six burgers at a time, and the enamel steel lasts almost forever. It’s such a popular model that you’ll have no problems getting replacements for the charcoal grate ($8) or the cooking grate ($8.50). Heck, at these prices, you might just buy a new cooking grate each year, since it’s half the price of a good grill brush. There are drawbacks to this little guy, of course: Tending the grill requires some stooping, kneeling or bending over. But for a low price of admission, you get the thrill of cooking meat over heat in the great outdoors.
Level 2: Cooler coals
Char-Broil American Gourmet 600 Series Charcoal Grill
• Cast-iron grates; swing-away rack
• Adjustable damper on smokestack
• Adjustable fire grate
• External temperature gauge
• Side and front shelves
Ground beef from Bozek’s Market
$7.50 for 2.5 pounds at $2.99 per pound
It’s not hard to up your coal-fired ante. Unlike little Smokey Joe, this Char-Broil creation stands up nice and high so you don’t get your apron wrinkled, with handy shelves that keep everything right at your fingertips. What’s more, you can switch things up under the hood with the latest in hip coal cooking by springing for a bag of Ono coal. Made from the wood of the kiawe trees, it’s the traditional coal for Hawaiian luaus. Lately, gourmets have been going berserk for the fancy fuel. You can also shrink your barbecue’s carbon footprint ever so slightly by starting those coals off with Frontier Eco-Start Natural Lighter Fluid, a safe, greener alternative to traditional lighter fluid. At these prices, you can’t buy a more fashionable fire.
Level 3: Cooking with gas
Weber E-210 Gas Grill from Bourlier’s Barbecue & Fireplace (bourlierbbq.com)
• Runs on natural gas
• 2 stainless-steel burners
• “Electronic Crossover” ignition
• 26,000 BTU output
Porterhouse, T-Bone or New York Strip Steaks, USDA Choice. $53.94 for six 16-ounce steaks at $8.99 per pound
Coal is all well and good for its portability and affordability, but gas grilling involves a stronger commitment. Instead of fueling your fire with propane tanks, you may choose to tap into your home gas and make this grill the centerpiece of your outdoor kitchen. This E-210, available from Bourlier’s in Royal Oak, has all the basic features for a satisfactory gas grilling experience. Each burner has its own electronic igniter, making lighting up a snap. Judging a grill by its BTU rating can be tricky, but a good rule of thumb is that 80 to 100 BTUs can cook about a square inch of meat — which means that with both burners going full-blast you can expect an E-210 to cook about 2 square feet of steak. Fire it up!
Level 4: Barbecue for Blue Bloods
Teton Grills Whitetail Heritage Gas Grill — seven-burner model
• Seven burners, three infared
• Electric rotisserie, Temp. gauge
• Stainless-steel fire box
• Warming rack; Smoker box
• Gas regulator with hose and hookup
Assorted USDA Prime steaks (New York strip, boneless Delmonico and porterhouse) from Hiller’s Market in West Bloomfield. $121.43 for six steaks, 18 oz. each, at $17.99 per pound
For those who absolutely must have the top-of-the-line grilling experience, here’s a whopper from Teton Grills. If you get an ironic smirk over grilling in the great outdoors at prices that could have bought old Thoreau a shack or two, the raw power of this appliance ought to wipe it clean off their faces. Using our rule of thumb, crank this baby up and you could cook more than 5 square feet of steak at once! And then there are the bells and whistles: the rotisserie, the warming rack, the smoker box. Heck, three of this model’s seven burners are infared, bringing grilling into the 21st century. Crafted with brushed stainless steel, solid wood, and state-of-art materials, the hood is acid-etched with a majestic buck and doe in the brush. MT
Michael Jackman is managing editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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