Happy Friday! Waking up in the morning knowing that it’s Friday is such a great feeling! Do you think that Friday’s are better as an adult or as a kid? We think they were better as a kid. As an adult it usually just means the end of the work week. But as kid it meant pizza for lunch, TGIF, maybe a high school football game, or spending the night at a friend’s house. So many great memories!
This weekend is more than just “the end of the work week” for us though. Tonight, Dave has his 10-year high school reunion. On Saturday, we are going to The Sweet Corn Festival in Adel. If you live in Central Iowa and have not been to the Sweet Corn Festival, you should really try to make it out. There is a parade (which Dave will be in ), lots of activities for kids, entertainment, and oh yeah…7 TONS OF FREE SWEET CORN!!! After that we are headed out to a friend’s/co-worker’s house for a “Meat-a-Palooza.” Basically, we all bring some drinks, a side dish and whatever meat we want to have grilled. It will be a grand ol’ time!
Speaking of grilling, we are going to do something a little different for our Food Face-Off Friday today. If you are new to 1 cup Awesome, on Fridays we typically compare the cost, nutrition, and taste of two similar foods and then tell you which one we like better. Click here to view past Food Face-Offs.
Today we are going to compare grills, and we are going to tell you right away that the winner is the Char-Broil Infrared Grill:
This Summer, Dave has been able to cook on standard gas, charcoal, and infrared grills. Without any doubt at all, the infrared grill is the one he would choose to cook on every single time.
The Char-Broil Infrared Grill is still a gas grill that uses flames to get the cooking process started. Placed between the flames and cooking grates are infrared surfaces. These surfaces get really, really hot (700°), so as soon as your food touches the grill it sears and locks in all the juices and flavor. This is what allows you to get the perfect grill marks like we talked about yesterday, without your food getting burnt to a crisp.
So for today’s Face-Off, we are going to compare charcoal grills, gas grills and infrared grills. To compare them we going to look at heat intensity (the key to grilling), heat distribution, temperature range, ease of use, and price.
- Heat Intensity: Has the ability to get very hot and even produce some infrared heat. But it takes lots of time for the charcoals to get this hot.
- Heat Distribution: Extreme hot spots and cold spots. This can sometimes be desired with certain cooking methods. Prone to flare-ups.
- Temperature Range: Difficult to control. Once the charcoal gets super hot, it can be difficult to bring the temp back down
- Ease Of Use: Difficult. You need to babysit the grill while your food is on to avoid flare-ups and ensure that the temperature of the grill is ok.
- Price: Range from $50-$1,300 at Lowes. The Weber is considered the industry standard and it is only $69
- Summary: If you are looking for an inexpensive grill to get started, charcoal is a great option. Some people swear that food cooked on a charcoal grill just has a different taste to it…and we happen to agree. We really like the taste of food on a charcoal grill. But the amount of time and effort that it takes to produce great food just isn’t for us right now. Using a charcoal grill would easily add at least 30 minutes to our cooking process.
- Heat Intensity: Not able to get a good sear on food. Gas grills work more like an oven. They heat the air around the food instead of the food itself.
- Heat Distribution: Depending on the grill, there may be extreme hot and cold spots. Gas grill owners often have to memorize the hot and cold spots on their grill and rotate food around them. Prone to flare-ups.
- Temperature Range: Good temperature range since you can control the amount of flames getting pushed out. But because the gas grill works more like an oven, it is difficult to control the temperature of individual areas of the grill.
- Ease Of Use: Fair. Much easier than a charcoal grill. In most people’s minds gas grills are very simple to use. But once you cook on an infrared you may see it is not as easy as it could be. Constant rotating of food around hot and cold spots and flare-ups don’t have to me the norm!
- Price: $90-$2,500. Lots of options for gas grills, which is the reason for the drastic price range. Basic Weber gas grills can be around $600, while Char-Broil gas grills (not infrared) go for $300.
- Summary: Most casual grillers will opt for a standard gas grill. They are easy to start and maintain in comparison to a charcoal grill. Most grillers aren’t even aware of the frustrations with gas grills (cold spots, flare-ups) because they have lived with them their whole lives and know how to work around them.
- Heat Intensity: Extreme heat, which is what you need to sear the outside of food and lock in all the flavorful juices.
- Heat Distribution: Even temperature distribution. The front left corner is the same temp as the back right corner. No open flame so there aren’t any flare-ups ever.
- Temperature Range: Great control over the temperature. Intense high heat for searing or low and slow for BBQ. Also, with the three burner option you can turn one burner to high and leave the others off for indirect grilling. This is method that we use to grill perfect bone-in, skin-on chicken.
- Ease Of Use: Easy. No more rotating around the grill, no more flare-ups, no more babysitting the grill. Put your food on, let it sit for the appropriate amount of time, flip it once and finish cooking it. That’s it! Three trips to the grill is all you need to make. Put the food on, flip it, and then take it off.
- Price: $399 at Lowe’s for the 3-burner model like we have.
- Summary: Takes all the guess work out of grilling. We know exactly how long different foods need to cook on our grill and it’s the same every single time. Produces the most flavorful food because the juices (i.e. flavor) are seared in.