Grilling: The Gas vs. Charcoal Debate
"I'm a die-hard charcoal man."
If you follow this column you've probably noticed not just an emphasis on charcoal, but a complete omission of gas grilling. The explanation is simple—I've only owned charcoal grills and I only write recipes the exact way I cooked them. Beyond that, I'm a die-hard charcoal man, standing firmly in the camp that's quick to spit out lines like, "You've never heard of anyone waxing poetics about the great taste of propane."
Being such an avid griller, I've gifted many grills for friends and family—all charcoal, of course. That was until I was tasked with picking out the perfect grill for my sister-in-law's new house. Sitting, starring at a 22-inch Weber kettle in my shopping cart, I started imagining this grill sitting on her porch, mostly unused. I couldn't see her taking the time to start (and clean up) a fire each time she wanted to grill.
So out it came from the order and after some gas grilling research, I bought her a beautiful, top-of-the-line Weber Q. It came as no surprise that, although it really was a gift for her, I was the first one to make use of it.
Now I'm not switching to a gas grill anytime soon, but the advantages of gas (that I've always known) came into much clearer focus—it's just so convenient. On a night I had to cook hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks for 50 people, I had the grill warmed-up and cooking in minutes, and was able to grill over three hours straight—a task that would have required at least one charcoal change on my grill. Then, the next night we got the grill going just to finish off a few hot dogs, something that I may not have done if the extra time and effort with charcoal was required.
Despite my immediate appreciation for the gas grill, I'm still a firm believer in all things charcoal. The gas grill couldn't match charcoal's heat, and when I saw smoke start to emanate from the gas grill, I just kept thinking how that would have been great wood smoke flavor with charcoal.
I am, however, more likely to entertain both sides of this grilling debate, and there could be room for one of these Weber Qs in my arsenal, but for right now I'm more interested in your grill of choice.