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Old 06-25-2014, 11:12 AM
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I have been doing a fair amount of grilling lately, using a somewhat unique grill: a Sportable 28159K gas grill (Sportable Propane Gas Grill in Black-28159K-DS at The Home Depot). It's somewhat of a blend between a table-top hibachi grill and a full-sized one. Its cooking area is somewhat larger than a table-top hibachi, and unlike a table-top it's supported on legs so you don't have to put it up on a platform, yet its cooking area and size and overall ambition wouldn't be at the level of a full-sized gas grill either. Out of box it operates using the "tube" Coleman propane containers but you can apparently buy a hose that lets it work with full-sized 20 gallon propane bottles as well. It has one distinct advantage: the legs collapse and then you can squeeze it into a car trunk and take it with you.

At any rate, my wife got me this grill for a discount price (I think it was like half-off and $75) and I have really gotten on well with it. It's my first "real" grill per se, as previously I made do with table-top hibachi grills like the $20 Coleman models etc. I really do well with it in that I cook much better with this thing than I ever did with any of the small table-top grills. (Then again, maybe that's not saying much.) The few times I tried goofing around with charcoal, that didn't work well for me either, I just couldn't get the knack of it, whereas I seem to just get it on with this particular gas model.

Living in east TX, I have noticed, though, a fair number of persons in grilling who SWEAR by charcoal, which surprises me, as I thought gas had long ago all but totally displaced charcoal totally. I read in Consumer Reports many years ago that the "charcoal taste" wasn't really due to the charcoal itself but from the meat drippings hitting the hot burning coals below, and that such could come from gas cooking as well. (That said, this particular grill doesn't seem to have any hot bricks, it just has the "tube" heating element that the gas emits from as it burns.) Whether that's actually true or not, I can tell you that, to me anyway, this gas grill seems to produce some very tasty food. Other than the fact that the left-area seems a bit hotter than the right area, it's perfect. I have cooked chicken breasts, "sirloin" style pork chops, and ground beef hamburgers on this thing and it all tastes great. It's easy, too, I turn the knock and when it "clicks" the gas lights right up and modulates very well.

You also see a fair amount of grills that use wood, where people grill barbecue brisket and the like, for hours on these grills they call 'smokers." I imagine those grills are JUST for barbecue, vs grilling steaks and burgers etc?

From what I've read, apparently people can't tell much difference in burgers as burgers aren't on the flame long enough to really benefit that much from what charcoal-flavored smoke can do, the same goes for thinner steaks, but that for thicker steaks that are on the grill longer, charcoal can't be matched by gas. At the same time, though, for someone like me for whom charcoal is difficult to "get on with," it may be that in real world execution of matters there is no advantage simply because you never will be able to realize any advantages with charcoal if you can't figure out the grill to start with. Maybe one would say it's like a car with a 5-speed vs a car with an automatic--the 5-speed provides advantages, but if you can't figure out a 5-speed (that would be my wife, she will pop your neck with whiplash trying to figure out the clutch, ha ha), then in the real world the 5-speed experience will actually turn out WORSE for such a person.

So what's the overall consensus here, or have I opened a can of worms sort of like "Ford Vs Chevy" in a trucks forum?

Last edited by shyguylh; 06-25-2014 at 11:21 AM..
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:15 AM
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I prefer the taste of charcoal grilled food, but usually do gas as it's easier.
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Old 06-25-2014, 11:51 AM
Location: South Central Texas
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Charcoal for flavor/aroma or the easy way. That pretty much explains it.
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Old 06-25-2014, 12:25 PM
Location: Middle America
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Charcoal is superior, tastewise, but we're usually working with a narrower window of time and go the quicker gas route. Tradeoffs, tradeoffs.
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Old 06-25-2014, 12:30 PM
Location: Montreal, Quebec
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I prefer charcoal but use gas, as I'm too impatient. I slap the chicken on before the coals are ready, and am already done eating when they're perfect.
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:08 PM
Location: League City, Texas
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We've always used charcoal. Just got my husband this Performer® Platinum | Weber.com for Father's Day, & he's used it a few times already. The big advantage with this grill is that while it uses charcoal, it has a gas starter that lights the coals right up, so there's less time waiting. No chimney starters or lighter fluid required. It takes a small propane tank like you would use on a torch. It's awesome
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:34 PM
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In this article (Charcoal Vs. Propane - Which Grill is Best? - Yahoo Voices - voices.yahoo.com) the writer argues what I read in Consumer Reports years ago--that there is no difference taste-wise because the "smoky" flavor comes from the fat juices hitting the hot lava rocks etc, not from the heat source. I am not saying I agree with that, only merely that it mirrors what I read years ago. (And in my case, there are no hot rocks to hit, the porous gas heating element is it.)

At any rate, what about "smokers?" I assume that is for very slow cooking of barbecue brisket and the like.

Also, I see a lot of people around here that put aluminum foil on the heating surface, but that would seem to REDUCE the "open flame" or "grilling" experience and it make it be more like "surface" cooking. Why do people use aluminum fool, unless it's for ease of cleaning?
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Old 06-25-2014, 01:43 PM
Location: Alaska
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I prefer charcoal. It seems to impart more of a smoke flavor to grilled foods.

As I type, I have fired up the grill to prepare country-style ribs, Serrano chile and zucchini for dinner/lunch.
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Old 06-25-2014, 02:20 PM
Location: Heart of Dixie
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Originally Posted by Naturen View Post
I prefer charcoal. It seems to impart more of a smoke flavor to grilled foods...
Correct - the briquets are impregnated with wood chips, the wood chips give-off smoke, the smoke flavors the meat. Charcoal is definitely more flavorful than gas .

I don't grill, I BBQ, so I use lump charcoal and apple wood or peach wood with indirect heat.
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Old 06-25-2014, 04:08 PM
Location: Islip,NY
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I love the flavor of meats grilled on a charcoal BBQ but We used gas because it's easier.
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