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Food & Wine Ground >> Buying a new bbq (tips please)


7/8/08 1:21 PM
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Extendo
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So I am going to move away from the tiny little two-burner I have sitting on my fire escape and get something a little more serious for the backyard.

Looking for tips and suggestions on good models, good features, etc.

Price range is $300-$500 CDN.

I'm thinking that a built-in thermometer is something I would like to have. Beyond that, I think three burners would do me fine if they are large enough.

Help! Please and thanks.

Also, I've always just picked up my bbq from Canadian Tire, canadiantire.ca but if anyone has other suggestions, I would love to hear them.
7/8/08 1:57 PM
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Tys
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Try Home Hardware and get a Broil King.
7/8/08 2:00 PM
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alpo
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Are you talking about a gas grill?  In the US, to BBQ means to cook slow with smoke, wood, etc. and a BBQ would typically be a smoker or charcoat pit.  (The nomenclature is different depending on what country you are in)

Anyway, the Weber and Ducane grills are pretty good.  Some of those Charbroil "Commercial Series" grills are good too.

Just try to find something with cast brass burners, solid construction and make sure it has some kind of heat diffuser above the burners.  Stainless is preferrable, as it won't corrode as it sits outside for years.  Side burners can come in handy, but they are largely overrated because wind makes them hard to use.  They pretty much all have built in thermometers, so I wouldn't worry about that.
7/8/08 2:54 PM
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Edited: 07/08/08 3:18 PM
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Thanks alpo, moments after making the post I figured my lingo would add to the confusion.It's weird, I'm from Toronto (hardly a BBQ mecca). We do call propane grills bbq's here. The term grill is catching on among purists but that's about it. Despite calling the device a BBQ, the end result is grilled whatever and that's how people refer to it.Along the same lines, traditional BBQ is generally called "smoked meats", ala, Montreal smoked meat, or smoked brisket, smoked pork butt or shoulder.Even more confusing is that most people here only use the term "eating BBQ" if they are eating something cooked over charcoal.All that being said, yes, I am looking for a gas or propane grill and thanks so much for all the tips.

Last year I got an electric smoker, which I love. It's the size of a small fridge and I can smoke an incredible amount of meat in that sucker.
7/9/08 9:47 AM
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crescentwrench
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Edited: 07/09/08 9:48 AM
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Ah, so you need a dedicated grill since you have smoking covered.  BTW what's Montreal smoked meat?  Is that what GSP carts around in those tights?

In addition to what alpo said, pay attention to the material your grates are made out of.  Thin metal ones are usually poorer in those types but they can be so big that you are as much stove cooking as grilling.  Stainless steel is essentially no maintenance but doesn't retain heat as well as cast iron so you'll suffer some on getting your perfect grill marks.  Not a problem with me, it eats pretty much the same imo. 

Cast iron will give you the best heat retention but you have to take good care of it or it will rust out fast.  You have to make sure all the parts you didn't cook on are oiled when you're done etc. 

You can get porcelin coated CI that eliminates the need to be vigilant against rust.  But then you have to be vigilant against chipping and wear.  No metal scrapers and preferably brass brushes to clean it. 

Personally, I'd probably go coated cast iron.  Just don't be filthy with it, use proper technique (preheat, lube, sear properly, cleanup after) and you should be fine. 

 Oh, edit:  No matter what your grates probably won't last as long as the grill so make sure it's not some odd design or measurement so you won't spend forever finding new ones. 
7/9/08 10:25 AM
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Edited: 07/09/08 10:26 AM
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Thanks for your input, crescentwrench. Good tips.Montreal smoked meat is similar to New York style pastrami, but more spicy, and just altogether tastier, IMO. Anyone going to Montreal needs to eat at Schwartz's.http://www.schwartzsdeli.com/


From their site"

"We've protected our tradition for over 80 years by maintaining the standards of old. Unlike other smoked-meat purveyors, who add chemicals to their briskets, Schwartz's prepares smoked meat the old-fashioned way using a secret blend of fine herbs and spices marinated for 10 days. Our smoked meat is smoked daily and contains no preservatives; just the award winning taste and freshness that have brought celebrities from all around the world to our tables."
7/10/08 9:58 AM
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Tys
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Montreal Smoked Meat is caca.
7/10/08 10:14 AM
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Weird, never heard anyone say that.
7/15/08 10:52 AM
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Fuck me, should have never taken the girlfriend out to look at these.

She loves the look of the stainless steel Weber's and Ducane's, but not the $1000 price tag.

I took a broil king that had rotisserie, and a side-burner for $500 but then found a consumers report indicating that the firebox has a melting problem.

It seems you can go real cheap on gas grills, or real expensive. Not much of in between ground from what I have seen.
7/15/08 11:08 AM
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crescentwrench
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I read that about the broil kings.  lol, I forgot all about that or I would have warned you. 

Check the vid in the link.  Holy shit, how did this get to stores? 

Many gas grills flare up when loaded with fatty foods. Most top-rated grills flare up momentarily and then stop. Others, like the Signet 90, flare up quite a bit. The Signet 90 also made a popping sound, and our testers saw black smoke coming from under the lid.

So the testers turned off the propane tank and pulled it out of the cabinet under the grill. As they did, molten metal dripped down onto the area beneath the grill, just missing one tester's hand. The grill's firebox had melted.

We tested two more Signet 90 grills. (We bought all three Signet 90 grills we tested online). During this subsequent testing, the testers removed the propane tank from underneath the grill before they started cooking as an added precaution. At the end of the flare-up test, they found that the firebox of one grill had melted and the firebox of the other grill had started to crack and deform.

Also, notice that in the course of advice, none of us have brought up how pretty a grill is.  lol, I bet you had a fun time.  "This one will sear a steak in 30 seconds but it's....so.....blocky". 

There are some good ones that won't bust your wallet, I think that Consumer Reports had some in their "Best Value" or whatever they call it.  If I recall, they concluded that things like bragging about BTUs and stuff was a bit like bragging about megapixels or bandwidth.  It's more of a dick measurer than actual necessity. 

According to this site, the best bang is the Weber Genesis E-310, $650US so that's close to your upper limit with the exchange now I guess?
 
7/15/08 11:53 AM
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lol, I've literally watched that vid like ten times already. Just got through showing it to someone at work.

Huge price difference on the Weber's in Canada. The E-310 is around $850 here before taxes, $977 after.

I am considering the Spirit 310, which retails for $550 before taxes here, but it's a made in China dealio, looks and seems solid enough though.
7/15/08 12:01 PM
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alpo
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Why not just go charcoal?  They are really cheap.  Just return that other one.  Spend $100 on a good Weber Kettle, $20 on a chimney starter (or $50 on a MAPP torch) and $30 on some lump charcoal/wood chunks.
7/15/08 12:59 PM
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To be honest, I want both. I was planning on getting a little charcoal kettle pot as well. In the summer, spring and fall we use the grill as much as possible.

I reckon I'll end up with the entry level Weber. At least the warranty on it is way better than anything else I can find from their competitors.
8/5/08 11:26 AM
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Ended up getting the Weber, EP-310 and absolutely love it. The thing is a tank.
8/5/08 7:44 PM
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warcake
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 I have the same Weber grill, but it's about 5 years old.  I've had absolutely no issues with it.  The only maintenance I've ever done on it is a deep cleaning once a year.  Good choice.
8/12/08 4:31 PM
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I cannot believe the difference in heat retention between this and the old shitty beater I had on the fire escape.

The sucker gets up between 550 and 600 degrees in three to four minutes.

I've got like four chains on the sucker though, because my backyard backs into an alleyway where a lot of dodgy Polish workmen like to get drunk. I will cry if they steal this.

I'm actually thinking about running a little current through the stainless steel to shock anyone that thinks it might be fun to cut the chains.

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