I’ve always liked grilling, whether it’s something as simple as a few hot dogs or as complicated as fish, veggies or shishkabob. There’s something about cooking over a fire that makes food taste better and, of course, there’s also probably some primitive facet of my masculinity triggered by cooking over meat, even if I didn’t hunt first! As someone who entertains with frequency, there’s another facet to grilling that’s also a huge win: cleanup is way easy. You can go fully monty and use paper plates, but even without them, using a BBQ grill really lets you focus on the entertaining part of social activities, whether it’s family, friends or a mob scene.
The challenge is to find the perfect grill, one that’s easy to clean up, heats evenly, gives you lots of control over temperature — including having some areas of the grill hotter than others — and looks cool because, hey, it’s your grill, man! I’ve gone through a couple and my newest, the Char-Broil Commercial 4 Burner Gas Grill is hands-down the best I’ve ever owned, and pretty slick looking too:
The propane tank lives in the lower portion, behind the doors, and includes a very nice valve where you can quickly and easily see exactly how much propane you have left. Don’t know why that’s important? Then you’ve never run out just before your cousin Mike or college buddies came over, steaks in hand, ready to grill and eat! The Commercial grill also includes everything you need to hook it up to a natural gas line if you have one of those handy. Makes the grill less portable, but completely eliminates the work of refilling or replacing propane tanks.
The first time we fired up the Commercial 4 Burner — which is super easy with the electronic ignition switch right on the front — my friend wanted to try the grill and cook up a week’s worth of lunches. Chicken. And you can see how beautifully they cooked, complete with the ever-important grill marks:
He brushed the chicken breasts with a little olive oil and added some seasonings, as you can see, but the TRU-Infrared heating system and ceramic grills made for a cooking surface that distributes the heat incredibly evenly and makes it easy to flip the food and clean up with just a quick stroke or two of a grill cleaning brush. His comment when he tried one of the chicken breasts was that it was “super juicy and amazingly evenly cooked” and now he wants to upgrade his BBQ to a Char-Broil grill.
Last weekend I hosted a get together for my friends, a few hours of playing some games, and told everyone to “bring something to toss on the grill, and something to share”. As a result, our grilling was a mixed menu of turkey burgers (mixed with onion soup mix, a simple way to make ’em flavorful), beef burgers, turkey hot dogs and spicy bratwurst:
You can see in this picture that the grilling surface on the Char-Broil Commercial 4 burner is huge. Tons of space for whatever you want to grill, whether it’s a half-dozen steaks, a big foil container of veggies to steam, or even a couple of pieces of choice salmon on a wood plank. Having said that, I’m still unclear why my friend placed the brats parallel with the upper grill rather than perpendicular: you get the wrong darn grill marks this way!
Still, the end result was quite popular and we ended up with a delightful spring BBQ spread that was quickly devoured:
The true tests of whether you’re serving good food to a group are whether everyone goes quiet to eat and whether there are any leftovers. I can tell you that there was very little chatter during our communal meal and there were zero left-overs. Not even the potato chips were left when I cleaned up afterwards!
Look on the right side of the grill and you’ll see a second covered area. That’s a circular side burner that you can use just like on your stove. You can even use a griddle (included) and cook pancakes or similar! Not sure why I’d want to cook pancakes on my BBQ grill, but the flexibility is terrific and if you real want people to stay outdoors while eating, it’s easy to imagine a saucepan of beans bubbling or even a container of butter for people to dip grilled shrimp into before munching. It’s a feature I’ll have to explore further, quite honestly, as I’ve never had a grill with a side burner.
I will say that we found assembly a bit of a bear. Allocate a few hours, find someone to help you out, and go in with a sense of humor. You’ll need it. My daughters and I assembled it all with fairly little stress in about two hours, but if that’s not your thing, buying one pre-assembled might be a smart use of a few extra bucks, just to retain your sanity.
And finally, I want to come back to the TRU-infrared system because it’s pretty interesting and key to how this Char-Broil grill does such a great job with cooking. Instead of having the gas burners immediately below the grates, or having just a thin sheet of metal between the two, there’s a third layer of metal that literally aims the heat at the porcelain coated grates. Look at the photo on the left to see what I mean. The result is that the food is heated up really evenly, far more so than a standard “grate over coals” sort of BBQ grill. No hot spots, no flare-ups, they add up to a fun, easy grilling experience, letting even the most inexperienced griller look like a pro.
Want to learn more? Head over to my place with something to toss on the grill over Memorial Day weekend and we’ll give it a try! Ha, just kidding!! You can learn more about this Char-Broil Commercial 4-burner grill, the smaller 2-burner and 3-burner grills in this line, or any of the other TRU-Infrared grills in the Char-Broil line at their Web site.
And if you can’t find me, check my backyard, because once we really hit the warmth of the summer I’ll be relaxing on my hammock while ostensibly grilling up lunch or dinner!