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Thread: Looking to buy a new bbq. Should I cross over to the dark side?

  1. #1
    Senior Member sundancekid's Avatar
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    Looking to buy a new bbq. Should I cross over to the dark side?

    Ok, looking to buy a new bbq these days --- or even a couple --- as I'm still using my smallish charcoal "low tech" one with not much wiggle room. I only find myself using it about one time a month though, and I am far from a bbq charcoal expert. Thing is, I want to make more use of my outside area instead of hunching over a hot kitchen stove inside. Trying also to get more into slow-cooks, and smoking, which is something I've yet to master on a bbq. So I am actually looking into upgrading for some gas products...

    I know... it's kinda akin to the Pattaya vs. Phuket debate, but I've always thought charcoal was the better choice, despite the inconveniences involved. But is it really? Perhaps a gas smoker and a charcoal for searing heats?

    Two sides of the debate 555:

    Your food doesn’t know what’s creating the heat below it, and once charcoal is hot, there aren’t any aromatic compounds left in the coals. According to the food science bible Modernist Cuisine, “Carbon is carbon; as it burns, it imparts no flavor of its own to the food being grilled.”

    The characteristic flavor of grilled food comes from the drippings, not the fuel. When those drippings hit the heat source below, the oils, sugars, and proteins burst into smoke and flame. That heat creates new complex molecules that rise in the smoke and warm air to coat the food you’re grilling.

    The real debate should be whether charcoal is necessary at all. Nothing in that process relies on charcoal.
    Grilling Over Gas Is Objectively, Scientifically Better Than Grilling Over Charcoal | WIRED

    What charcoal brings to the party is a healthy heaping of aroma compounds, the other half of the power couple that is flavor. In fact, aroma might be the super starlet in that relationship, because our tongues are actually pretty limited. “There are only five taste receptors that are well-agreed-upon to exist within your taste buds,” says Sacks. He’s referring to sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and the new kid: umami.

    ...

    Of course, even food cooked on a gas grill gives off aromas — all food does. But food grilled over a charcoal flame has a special one: guaiacol.

    Guaiacol is an aroma compound produced when you use heat to break down lignin, the resin responsible for holding strands of cellulose together to form wood. “It has a smoky, spicy, bacony aroma,” says Sacks. “In fact, the flavor that most people associate with bacon is largely degraded lignin.”

    Translation: Cooking over charcoal makes your food taste like bacon. Let me repeat that: blah blah charcoal blah blah BACON.
    Grilling Over Charcoal Is Objectively, Scientifically Better Than Grilling Over Gas | WIRED

  2. #2
    Super Moderator dawsey's Avatar
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    We don't BBQ that often in the UK for obvious reasons, but I swear by the quality of the Weber brand. Guaranteed for 25yrs, unfortunately now made in China and not Australia, but they are very good although expensive.
    For me, charcoal is too much of a faff waiting so long for it to get hot enough, no temperature control and a load of wasted heat and energy once you've finished cooking. Gas BBQ's have come on a lot since they appeared on the market and I wouldn't go back to charcoal again.
    RIP Nicke June 1971 - Jan 2013.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member sundancekid's Avatar
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    Only currently looking at something like this for my setup as they are available in Phuket, and not breaking the bank the bank either. Alternatively a cheapish Weber charcoal instead of the gas burner.

    Gasmate Smoker THB 9,900
    http://www.bbqthai.com/vertical_smoker.html

    2 Burner BILLABONG THB 16,900
    ::2 Burner Billabong::

    Weber Compact Kettle (charcoal) THB 12,900
    ::Weber Compact Kettle 57cm::

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    Senior Member nelsonone's Avatar
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    In Aus I had a gas BBQ which took a tray of charcoal beads above the gas elements....so they gas heated the beads in turn cooked the food on the grill above...it was similar to the Webber's in that it had a closing hood which would act like an oven when closed + it had a smoking rack to put wood chips in at the side

    Best BBQ I ever had but it was a custom local build...I just use a small electric table top model from Home-Pro here with a grill top that can be changed out with flat plate....it also has a glas lid if you want to cover your food...I love the convenience for balcony cooking...turn it on and its ready to cook on within 3-4 mins..iirc it was about 1600 baht...gets a decent char and BBQ taste on the food once it is "seasoned"

  5. #5
    Yes
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    i just bought a gas baby Webber,its very good design,energy efficient,easy to clean.

    i also like it is small enough to transport,camping,taking an extra one to a party etc.

    ( In Australia it costs about THB 7500)

  6. #6
    Senior Member BroTiger's Avatar
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    Some of the best food I've had has come off a gas grill. As mentioned, they need to be seasoned before cooking; easiest way is to burn a pound of bacon spread across the rack. If you like a little wood smoke, you can always throw some wood chips (Apple or Hickory) on the burners.

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    I greatly prefer charcoal, I use a gas ring and a chimney starter which takes like 5 mins so no hassle.
    Slow smoking with indirect heat is a great excuse to sit on the deck drinking beer anyway.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bacon's Avatar
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    You can't compare that smokey goodness you get afterwards to what you get out of a gas burner, and that's the biggest argument in favour of charcoal(not to be mistaken with actual coal beads, they're sh*). However, as mentioned, using smoking chips is a great alternative. Wrap a handful in some aluminum, poke a few holes in it and throw in there. Not sure if you can buy them specifically in all their various flavours over there or not though. Some nice, dry regular wood chips work just fine as well.
    Last edited by Bacon; 17th December 2015 at 06:54.
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    Senior Member tnlawyer's Avatar
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    I would never recommend gas over charcoal. Just can't get the same flavor IMO. Don't sacrifice flavor for a little convenience.
    Get out there in the game, don't sit up in the bleachers. That is the philosophy of pimps and preachers.

  10. #10
    Senior Member sundancekid's Avatar
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    Yes, that has certainly always been my thoughts as well. But then it was more about actual events and special occasions where the lighting, the waiting, the anticipation, the smell, the atmosphere etc. was all part of the experience.

    The more I read about it though --- and from recent experience --- can we really distinguish the flavor in the food from charcoal or gas grilled? If not, only the atmosphere is left, with a whole lot of inconveniences in between.

    A question: Can anyone say with certainly they can distinguish between a burger grilled on a charcoal or a gas? I know I failed just that. Which is something referred to as the Heineken tests... when blind-testing beers usually produce surprising results...

  11. #11
    Senior Member nelsonone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sundancekid View Post
    A question: Can anyone say with certainly they can distinguish between a burger grilled on a charcoal or a gas? I know I failed just that. Which is something referred to as the Heineken tests... when blind-testing beers usually produce surprising results...
    IMO there is not a big difference between a properly seasoned gas grill BBQ and a charcoal fired one....you will get a noticeable BBQ flavour from both if you buy a decent one in the first place

    The real question is...you are home alone and just feel like a burger...are you gonna fire up a batch of charcoal and fuck around with it for 20 mins or more before eventually putting your one burger patty on to cook?...or would you just fire up your gas grill and whack it on...and have it cooked before your charcoal has died down enough to even contemplated putting that patty on the grill

    I have a little Thai Hibachi style BBQ on my terrace next to the electric/heat bead one...I hardly ever use the coals...but its there if I can ever really be arsed

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    Quote Originally Posted by nelsonone View Post
    IMO there is not a big difference between a properly seasoned gas grill BBQ and a charcoal fired one....you will get a noticeable BBQ flavour from both if you buy a decent one in the first place

    The real question is...you are home alone and just feel like a burger...are you gonna fire up a batch of charcoal and fuck around with it for 20 mins or more before eventually putting your one burger patty on to cook?...or would you just fire up your gas grill and whack it on...and have it cooked before your charcoal has died down enough to even contemplated putting that patty on the grill

    I have a little Thai Hibachi style BBQ on my terrace next to the electric/heat bead one...I hardly ever use the coals...but its there if I can ever really be arsed
    Way less than 20 mins for me but for a single patty I would simply mist it with liquid smoke and cook it in a hot cast iron pan on the stove for good enough

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    Quote Originally Posted by nelsonone View Post
    IMO there is not a big difference between a properly seasoned gas grill BBQ and a charcoal fired one....you will get a noticeable BBQ flavour from both if you buy a decent one in the first place

    The real question is...you are home alone and just feel like a burger...are you gonna fire up a batch of charcoal and fuck around with it for 20 mins or more before eventually putting your one burger patty on to cook?...or would you just fire up your gas grill and whack it on...and have it cooked before your charcoal has died down enough to even contemplated putting that patty on the grill

    I have a little Thai Hibachi style BBQ on my terrace next to the electric/heat bead one...I hardly ever use the coals...but its there if I can ever really be arsed
    You should try this one.. Bought it a couple of weeks ago, and love it.. OptiGrill? by T-fal® - NEW & Improved OptiGrill PLUS - Exclusive TV Offer

  14. #14
    Senior Member nelsonone's Avatar
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    ^ do I get a set of steak knives with that....555

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    Quote Originally Posted by nelsonone View Post
    ^ do I get a set of steak knives with that....555
    Lost your teeth? 55555

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    Ye gads man,

    There is only one way to BBQ and that is with wood. The best BBQ I've ever had was an wood fired BBQ made from left over housebricks. You could even knock one up out of an old 44 gal drum and a hotplate in a pinch if you're handy with an angle grinder or oxy torch.

    But back to reality. I'd go gas because using coals is just too much of a PITA. In Australia we have a lot of patio space for large 3 or 4 burner BBQ's and enough days to make them worthwhile but bugger waiting 2 1/2 hours for the coals to warm up. A gas BBQ will be warmed up in 10 mins.

    Personally I can remember the taste of wood fired BBQ's being different and much better compared to gas, but it's really more about the space and convenience which makes gas the better option.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Thin White Duke's Avatar
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    Wood with some charcoal.

    Holy cow sometimes the fire burns out and I even forget I'm supposed to be eating

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarzan View Post
    You should try this one.. Bought it a couple of weeks ago, and love it.. OptiGrill? by T-fal® - NEW & Improved OptiGrill PLUS - Exclusive TV Offer
    Geez, only six easy payments of $29.95.

    But wait, there's more.
    Waharoa likes this.
    This post is known by the state of California to potentially contain more than the maximum daily allowance of awesome.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjwx View Post
    Geez, only six easy payments of $29.95.

    But wait, there's more.
    What you want to say, except that you cant afford it...?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarzan View Post
    What you want to say, except that you cant afford it...?
    Just taking the piss out of TV shopping.

    I'd put good money on the fact you could find the same thing online for about $60.
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