A Charcoal Barbecue – Is It Better Than Gas?

Charcoal BarbecueA charcoal barbecue is a symbol of Summer, a way to bring the whole family outdoors to enjoy a meal which is somehow more sophisticated than a picnic while having many of the same characteristics.

So what is it about a barbecue that persuades men to don an apron and enjoy cooking for the family? This is one feature of the occasion which makes it popular with many wives; when it comes to the time to cook, it’s the men who cluster around the charcoal, seemingly happy to grill all day.

Of course there are many available these days which use gas, so why choose a charcoal barbecue?

One reason is convenience. Gas cylinders are heavy, they have to be exchanged when empty and can pose a safety risk. In contrast, a charcoal model is much easier to move, in fact there are many charcoal barbecues which are portable, and a portable barbecue can be taken on trips, so you can enjoy fresh, grilled food in the sun while you enjoy the scenery or lie on the beach.

Another good reason to choose a charcoal version over gas is flavor. Meat prepared over charcoal is usually cooked more slowly and most cooks agree that it gives the food flavor. Another factor in their favor is cost. Most are significantly cheaper than their gas counterparts.

There are several types of charcoal barbecue, running from the inexpensive disposable and portable types available in many supermarkets, to much larger grills. Your choice will be determined partially by budget, but also by how and when you plan to use it; a few days a year when the weather is good, or on a regular basis.

You’ll also have to think about how large it needs to be. Most cooks agree that around 400 square inches of cooking space is the practical minimum. If you plan to entertain, and a barbecue is a popular way to do so, then a large model, such a Weber barbecue, is a better choice.

If you barbecue rarely, then a portable type, perhaps even a disposable one will be fine, but choose one with a lid so the ash and residue doesn’t spill when you move it.

If you plan to leave your barbecue in place in the back yard, you need to be sure it is well constructed and can withstand the weather. If it has rusted it will be no fun to clean! Most charcoal barbecues have a metal grid which sits above the charcoal.

The food is placed on the grid and the speed of cooking is determined by the temperature of the charcoal and the food’s distance from it. You will have more control over the cooking process if you choose a barbecue where the height of the grid can be varied.

Whatever your choice, a barbecue is an event for family as well as friends. Fun is guaranteed, but the right choice of barbecue can help turn a good day into a great one.

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