Friday, June 25, 2010

The plot to grill...

Boy, Meats, Grill... That is the way it should be been spelled. Why didn't Bobby Flay see the obvious extra-double?

I have a confession to make: Never been much into grilling or barbecue in my life. I have no objection to eating plenty of the stuff, I just haven't cooked much of it. Yes, I know that makes me a wanton communist. You can't be much of an football fan if you don't grill. If I have an excuse, it is merely that apartment life has its limitations.

Recently, I have decided to get around those limitations. I can't precisely put my finger on the moment. Maybe it was when I learned that Paella is a grilled dish. Maybe it was when I failed to achieve the perfect Millard reaction when attempting Tyler's ultimate cowboy steak. Maybe it was when I learned that my cheap-ass, apartment provided stove had a maximum BTU rating of 8,000 per burner. In case you didn't know, 8,000 BTU sucks. Maybe it was when I learned that Viking burners can hit 16,000 BTU easy. That is exactly twice the heat of my top burner. Maybe it was when I learned that Lazyman Grills can deliver a walloping 60,000 BTU per burner, for around $400. Yep, that's right, per burner. Be careful with that, sounds terrifying and intriguing. Maybe it is the good spirited full I see Bobby Flay engaging in all the time on Grill it! and Boy Meets Grill.

So I have developed a list of good reasons for purchasing a quality grill.
  1. My stove is deficient.
  2. I am apartment dweller, and cannot replace my 'management provided' stove
  3. I have a balcony which has gone unused for three years. I've never been interested in it. It is much larger than I ever realized. I can put a grill there.
  4. A good grill is better than a good stove. No bullshit. They cost less and crank out much more heat.
  5. Propane trumps Methane. Methane is the natural gas your gas company pumps into your house. All chemists will tell you that Propane is better fuel and more earth-friendly also. Propane = 2,488 BTUs per cubic foot, methane = 1000 BTU per cubic foot
  6. If I move my cooking operation outside, I will not heat-up my apartment. The dog-days of summer are coming. I do not want heat up my apartment or pay $200 per month in electrical bills per month, as I did last year.
  7. You are supposed to grill Paella
  8. You are supposed to grill cowboy steaks
Being a fan of induction, I was originally planning to take a Fagor portable induction unit outside. That plot died for two reasons. First, the portable Fagor units don't have much push to them. The BTUs are low. Only your best-quality indoor induction cooktops can compete with a good gas-grill in terms of BTUs. Also be warned that it is difficult obtaining BTU ratings from Induction vendors. They want to quote watts, which is basically meaningless. One guy's Induction range is more or less efficient than the other, so watts don't translate hard-and-fast into BTUs.

Second, there are no electrical outlets on my balcony. Yep, I know, that's pretty wretched. I would have to run some sort of an extension cord out of the apartment to the balcony, or get the company to make a mod for me. I do not want to do take either approach. It isn't worth it. A good propane grill will out-perform the Fagor induction system, and they generally requires no AC outlet. Electrical starters are usually done with a few AA batteries. Just a little spark will do it.

I reached a series of intriguing initial conclusions:
(1) I can get a grill which is better than a stove
(2) I can get it for less than a stove
(3) I can put it on the balcony and do something with that space finally.

So now the next question that logically follows is: Which grill do I buy? This is a super question. This is the question posted on a billion blogs and reviews all over the frickin' web. I will take my swing at this question next time. You can expect me to follow a logical path to an optimal solution also.