When the warm weather comes, men everywhere start to get that special kind of "itch." No, not a parting gift from your last one night stand, it's the urge to grill! Grilling has been bred in to men's genetic makeup ever since the first people used fire to char mammoth meat and such. We've come a long way since then, with our fancy attachments and tricked out grilling rigs, but the song remains the same; namely, you need a reliable place to cook meat (or vegetables, if you swing that way). There are a lot of options out there for today's grilling aficionado, especially when it comes to a gas grill. Charcoal has its place, no doubt, but the convenience of a propane grill is just awesome. So how do you know which gas grill is right for you? Well, luckily MadeMan is on the case to provide you with the the tips you need to buy a gas grill that won't let you down.
1. Size Matters. You need to assess your grilling situation. Do you do a lot of entertaining, or are you just looking to grill small meals for you and your lady friend? Gas grills usually run somewhere between 300 and 600 square inches of cooking space, with the possible addition of an extra level or rack. On the lower end of things, you can comfortably cook for around three or four people, and on the upper end of things you can expect to get about eight people's worth of food on the grill. Some places measure the grill in terms of "burgers" as in "You can cook thirty six burgers at the same time!" but you're not just cooking burgers, are you? Also, take into consideration the size of the unit as well. Gas grills are available on small, cart-style models as well that make them great for traveling!
2. What's a "BTU," anyway?! BTU stands for British Thermal Units. Men love to throw this unit of measurement around as if it were the end-all, be-all of grilling and heating. Guess what? BTU is important, but alone it's not a measurement of a great grill. You need to consider the size of the grill versus the BTU. The bigger the grill, the more BTU you will need. For comparison sake, a 500 square inch surface would need 35,000 to 50,000 BTU to get the grill searing hot. A little grill with a ridiculously high BTU count is woefully inefficient, and it's going to suck down more propane than it's worth.
3. The Wave of the Future. Friends, the future is here, and it's called Infrared Cooking. Traditional grills use the propane to ignite burners, and the direct heat and flame cooks the meat. This can sometimes to lead to hot and cold spots, leaving food cooked unevenly. Newer grills feature infrared cooking, which uses the heat from a burner or burners to heat a surface area uniformly which gives you nice even searing and cooking. The heat on these units can exceed regular grills, so if you have the means, it's worth getting the infrared. Also, be mindful of being able to control the heat by turning off certain burners and using indirect heat. You'd likely need a grill with at least three burners to do this, and it makes grilling things like pizza much easier. Putting pizza over direct heat will leave you with a scorched crust.
4. What's It Made Out Of? The grill grates themselves are going to see a lot of action during the life of your grill, so you need to find the right material to withstand this assault. Typically, most grills offer, cast iron, porcelain-coated steel, stainless steel, and heavy aluminum. Each has its pros and cons, so do your research and find out which features are best for you. To give you a basic idea, cast iron is generally the strongest but is the hardest to keep clean and rust-free, stainless steel stays clean but may wear out after numerous brushings, porcelain is fine as long as the finish doesn't get stripped, and aluminum is the most cost-effective but may need replacing.