Barbecue grilling has become an art form of sorts, elevating the backyard into more than a place for recreation, but a place for culinary experimentation and competitive grillsmanship. Grilling enthusiasts have their favorite grills, preferred ways of grilling, and even proprietary bbq sauce recipes as well as a multitude of grill accessories from mitts to thermostats and meat injectors.
A barbecue grill or (BBQ or barbeque grill ) is a device that cooks food by applying heat from below. The food is cooked on cooking grates which sit above the source of heat. There are several varieties of grills, with most falling into one of three categories: gas (propane gas or natural gas grills), charcoal, or electric.
Charcoal grills use either charcoal briquettes or natural lump charcoal as their fuel source. When burned, the charcoal will transform into embers radiating the heat necessary to cook food.
With an electric grill, the heating comes from an electric heating element. Neither charcoal nor briquettes are needed. The George Foreman outdoor electric grill is an example of a very popular electric grill.
Gas grills typically use liquid propane or butane (liquified petroleum gas) or natural gas as their fuel source, with the gas flame either cooking food directly or heating grilling elements which in turn radiate the heat necessary to cook food.
There are hybrid grills which are both a gas and charcoal grill in one. Other bbq grill types are grills and smokers combinations.
Wood pellet grills are fueled by compressed hardwood pellets (sawdust compressed with vegetable oil or water at approx. 10k psi) that are loaded into a hopper and fed into a fire box at the bottom of the grill via an electric powered auger that is controlled by a thermostat. The pellets are lit by an electric ignitor rod that starts the pellets burning and they turn into coals in the firebox of the wood pellet grill once they burn down. Most pellet grills are a barrel shape with a square hopper box at the end or side.
Grills can be freestanding or built into a countertop in an outdoor kitchen. The simplest units are made from welded metal and can cost under $100. The other end of the price spectrum contains grills that are made from 304 stainless steel, have infrared burners, automatic temperature control, rotisseries, LED lighting and can cost upwards of $5000. A far cry from the original kettle Weber charcoal grill.
There are several styles of grills including hibachi, kettle, barrel, kamado grills (a type of ceramic grill) and tandoor grills and one or more can be found in every outdoor kitchen, both residential and commercial.
History of Barbecue Grills
A Spanish historian first coined the term barbacoa when he traveled to Central America almost five centuries ago where he witnessed the indigenous people cooking meat over coals on top of a grate. Centuries later, barbacoa has evolved into the word barbeque which has become synonymous with outdoor cooking.
When we think of grilling these days, we think of our bbq grill, where we build a fire to cook our hot dogs and hamburgers. Or perhaps you think of camping trips you have taken when the smokey joe was unpacked from the trunk of a car and used to grill the catch of the day.
This is a relatively new invention, dating back to the post-World War II era. Picnics and grilling outside became popular as soldiers returned home and built up the suburbs. From the 1950s to the present, it appears that everyone requires a backyard barbeque. George Stephen’s iconic Weber original kettle grill was first marketed in 1952 to meet the demand.
Although barbecue and grilling have similar origins, they are now two distinct styles. Grilling and barbecuing are two very different cooking methods.
Small items are frequently grilled, and they are cooked quickly and without smoke, often without a top, and over high heat.
Barbecue is often larger chunks of meat that are cooked low and slow with the lid on, similar to roasting but with the addition of smoke.
Whether your tastes run to a 3burner natural gas grill, or a liquid propane grill in matte black to match your smoker, there is a grill model that will upgrade your summer barbecue experience. Rest assured that propane gas or charcoal, there is one that will fit your cooking space and your style.