A skilled barbecue practitioner can create perfectly grilled salmon, a juicy hamburger or summer-defining barbecued chicken. It requires limited investment in the tools of the culinary art form.
A 14-inch black portable Cuisinart charcoal-using grill costs about $30. It has a 150-square-inch cooking rack, a dual venting system, an enamel-coated firebox and an ash catcher. A long, two-pronged fork or a decent spatula might add another $10. An eight-pound bag of Kingsford charcoal briquettes costs about $8.
Grilling connoisseurs often disdain such simplicity. Many barbecue wizards lean toward “bigger is better”—massive stainless-steel counters, multi-temperature heating dials with LED lights, Wi-Fi settings, infrared side burners and halogen lights are all considered requisites.
No doubt, high-tech-minded barbecue craftspeople have their varied ways. Expensive gadgets are also thought of as must-have accessories … as if whatever is being cooked knows the difference.
“All you are really asking for is to cook some burgers,” says Ken Samples, general manager of Grill & Fill, the specialty grill business with two locations in Naples. “A $20,000 grill will not make a steak taste any better than a $150 grill you can buy at Walmart. You’ve got to start with the meat.” Grill & Fill sells a wide range of grills, entry-level to high-end, as well as contraptions and accessories.
But if accoutrements enhance your enjoyment of the process, what more justification do you need? For those so inclined on state-of-the-art equipment, here’s a look at options to make barbecuing more bodacious.
Kalamazoo K1000HT Freestanding Hybrid Fire Grill (pictured above)
With heavy cast bronze burners, this high-performance barbecue can cook with any combination of gas, wood and charcoal. The temperature range is versatile, meaning it’s equally adept at searing quickly or cooking low and slow.
“Every one is manufactured handmade,” says Samples of arguably the most luxurious grill available. “Literally, when you buy there’s a serial number and it’s a thank you note. Everyone who worked on that grill signs this little sticker that goes on the inside. There’s a lifetime warranty on pretty much everything. Not only are you buying something rare that’s for you; it’s art.”
The K1000 HT is made from marine-grade stainless steel. It has four cast stainless steel burners (26,500 BTUs each) and 1,012 square inches of grilling area. There’s a rotisserie system with infrared burners and a motor mounted in the cabinet. Optional laser-cut grilling surfaces are available with pattern choices specific for meat, fish and vegetables. The electronic control bezels have LED sensors.
Built upon individual orders, Kalamazoo grills usually ship in about 10 weeks from the company’s headquarters in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Mont Alpi 805 Black Stainless Steel Island
An island six-burner gas grill (115,000 BTUs) with additional infrared rear and side burners, is fitted with halogen lights in the cooking zone for night cooking ease.
“What you try to do is determine the needs of the customer first,” says Larry Peterson, assistant manager at Wiliams-
Sonoma in Naples, which sells several manufacturers’ grills. “Some people don’t want to use gas; they might live in a condo, so what are the other options? There are smokeless grills with infrared heat.”
The Mont Alpi grill also has large drawers and cabinets to store accessories and to hold a propane tank. And it operates on natural gas with a small 15-minute DIY conversion.
SABER Deluxe Black 4-Burner Gas Grill
A four-burner gas grill with four cooking zones and a large grilling area, this black-painted offering has a powder-coated finished cart, double doors and a lid with cast aluminum end caps.
SABER touts its grills with a patented cooking technology that “ensures even heat at every temperature while eliminating flare-ups” to use 30% less propane. The multi-position enamel warming rack adds cooking versatility.
Like other top-notch grills, SABER grills can easily convert from liquid propane to natural gas with a conversion kit sold separately.
A wire brush with a sturdy handle and spray bottle of degreaser once was the go-to for cleaning grill grates. Today, what’s needed is a Grillbot. It’s the so-called Roomba for barbecues.
Just like its vacuuming relative, Grillbot does the work without human intervention. Place it on the barbecue, turn it on and it does its job. Three electric motors power the wire brushes that move across the grill. Speed, brush direction and overall movement are controlled by a chip inside the mini R2-D2.
If you’re busy, perhaps while sipping a beer and talking over the backyard fence to a neighbor, no worries: The Grillbot also has an alarm. When the grill is clean, you’ll be notified.
$109.95 (with case)