Buying a grill for camping

Just because you are camping it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t enjoy a hot meal. Instead of resigning yourself to hot dogs roasted over a campfire, you can easily enjoy burgers, chicken, vegetables and even grilled cheese sandwiches with a portable grill. Designed specifically for campers, these grills are lightweight, compact and generally easy to use. Before you rush out and buy the first camping grill you see there are a few factors that you will want to consider.

One of the first things to think about is your budget. Camping grills are priced according to size, materials used in construction, and who the manufacturer is. In this case it is often worth it to pay a little more for a well known brand, especially if this means that the camping grill also comes with a warranty. The last thing you want is for the grill to quit working in the middle of the camping trip.


When it comes to deciding on the size you will be slightly limited. Remember you will have to carry the grill to and from your camping spot. If the grill is too bulky or heavy to easily carry, chances are you just made an expensive purchasing mistake. In general most camping grills are large enough to hold up to 4 regular size burgers or a couple of pieces of chicken at a time. If you think that you might need more cooking space you might want to consider adding a backpack grill to your gear. These single burner grills are inexpensive, lightweight and extremely easy to use.

The fuel source is another important aspect to consider. You can find camping grills that use kerosene, propane, butane, unleaded gas or Coleman (white) fuel. I recommend propane since these grills are usually inexpensive, easy to operate, and lightweight. Another advantage to a propane camping grill is that many can be adjusted to fit the size of the tank. This way you can attach a 5, 10 or even 20 pound tank depending on the length of your camping trip. If you’re not sure what size propane tank you’ll need, a good tip to remember is that most patio grills come with one that weighs 20 pounds. The only downside to using a propane camping grill is that the cost of the tanks can add up over time.



My favorite grill recipes

No matter the time of year some foods always taste better when they’re cooked on the grill. Grilling is a time honored tradition in my family. We firmly believe that everything can and should be grilled, with the exception of maybe a can of soup. If you are just starting out with your grill or are simply looking for a few new ideas, here are some of my favorite recipes that you might want to try out.

Grilled Pineapple

Of course one of my favorite recipes has to do with dessert. Grilled pineapple is sweet, delicious and easy to make. It is even better when it is glazed with a mixture of Nutella and mascarpone cheese. All you have to do is cut the pineapple and place the slices on the grill, which should be set at medium heat. Grill the pineapple for about 3 minutes on each side and place on a plate when finished.

In a bowl you will want to mix 6 tablespoons of whipping cream with ⅔ cup of Nutella. In another bowl you want to combine ⅔ cup of mascarpone cheese with ½ of vanilla extract. Cover the grilled pineapple with the Nutella mixture and add a dollop of mascarpone on top. Garnish with a few hazelnuts and you have a delicious and relatively healthy dessert.


London Broil (Grilled Steak)

This recipe is quick, easy and almost guarantees that your steak will turn out tender and delicious. This first step is to marinate the steak for 2 hours in  a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, ketchup, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and thyme. One tip is to let the steak marinate at room temperature. Not only does this shorten the time it needs to marinate, but it also helps the steak to cook more evenly when it is placed on the grill.

Before placing the steak on the grill you want to make several diagonal cuts in the sides. This will help the steak cook faster, while also retaining its juices. This little trick will also help prevent the steak from turning an unappetizing grey color. Before placing the steak on the grill liberally coat it with pepper and paprika. Now all that’s left to do is grill the steak for one minute on each side, constantly flipping until it has reached an internal temperature of 125 to 130 degrees depending on how rare you like your steak.





Gas grill maintenance tips you should know

I love spending summer evenings with the family and friends while grilling and enjoying the fruits of my efforts together with the people I care about. This means I have to keep my gas grill working optimally. A gas grill is typically designed for lasting use. However, that does not mean it won’t be necessary to spend a decent amount of time cleaning and maintaining it.



Cleaning my gas grill


eg6Although experts recommend deep cleaning of a gas grill just one or two times a year, I believe it should be done every few months since I do regular grilling the whole year round. There could be any number of things that could build up pretty fast such as grease from burgers, chunky splatter from marinades and vegetables falling through the grates. Cleaning should be done before and after the grilling season. I use a good quality stiff-wire grill brush, an empty bucket for the debris I collect, another bucket with warm, soapy water plus an old sponge that I won’t be using again. I give the grates a really good scrub with the brush after removing them and the briquettes. I towel dry the grates and then put them back into the grill. I eg7also give the burner protectors a good scrub with my sponge and warm, soapy water. Since the burners in my grill are easy to remove, I give them a good rinse in the warm soapy water as well. If the burners in your grill are hard to detach, simply take a damp sponge and wipe them down. I also remove the collected gunk from the plates beneath the burners then scrape away any chunks from the edges onto the removable tray. I use the sponge to get some of the grime and grease off the tray.


Maintenance tips

eg8I make sure to check routinely for propane leaks. I do this by running some soapy water along the connections and gas line with the propane switched on to see if bubbles form, which is a sign of a leak. When this happens, I either simply tighten the connection or replace the line altogether. I also keep my gas grill covered when I don’t use it to protect it from the elements and shield it from corrosion and dirt. I do spot cleaning after every use by brushing the grates and using Windex to wipe down the exterior. I burn off some of the excess debris by turning the grill up to high for a good 15 minutes once a week.

Grilling at home – gas vs charcoal grilling

eg4When it comes to home grilling, people are either gas hot heads or charcoal purists, who have started a flame war that seems to have no conclusion to it till now. Grilling is generally utilized for three types of cooking. We have high heat direct radiation cooking, a setup in which the food is directly positioned above the source of heat. Steaks are prepared this way, usually without a lid over the meat. With indirect heat smoke roasting, the lid is kept closed when the airflow from the warm convection is made heavy with flavorful smoke from hardwood. With indirect heat convection roasting, we can cook whole roasts and chickens with the heat source off to the side as the warm air flowing around the closed lid cooks the food. This two-zone method is quite complicated for many as well as the second type of cooking described before. The real difference/s between gas and charcoal cooking lies in a number of factors.


Searing performance


The process of browning the surface of meats is called searing, which is how steaks are cooked. When searing is properly executed, chemical reactions occur and they include caramelization and the Maillard reaction, among others. Those two principal reactions are responsible for the production of sweet, complex, rich and savory substances on the surface of the grilled meats. A beautifully crunchy crust is also produced due to how searing dries the surface. Searing meats will not seal in their juices. For the perfect steak, what we actually want is a uniform sear from one edge to another and no grill marks.


Thanks to how it produces more direct infrared heat, a charcoal grill outperforms a gas grill in this aspect. I have seen some expensive gas grills equipped with special sear burners that can do an acceptable level of searing. And with the most expensive and popular steakhouses grilling rare aged prime beef on gas grills, the scales in this aspect have certainly tipped in favor of gas. Good quality gas grills used in the most expensive steakhouses produce a dark sear all over the food, which can only be achieved using high heat. Plenty of steakhouses have special broilers that deliver heat above and below at the same time at awesome blow torch temperatures. While regular gas grill burners are geared to deliver temperatures in just the 500°F range, a restaurant gas broiler sears the meat surface from 800°F to 1,200°F. The limiting factor for these types of grills is the small grilling surface.


On the other hand, a charcoal grill can dish out up to 900°F on the surface of a number of steaks at once, so we can easily host the barbecue party with confidence.


Taste factor


eg3Smoke is yet another bone of contention between charcoal and gas grills. Although smoke is merely a flavorful byproduct of the process of combustion, the smoke from burning charcoal and gas is different. Charcoal produces more smoke compared to gas, and more smoke means a wider variety of tasty flavor molecules. Gas, being a simple molecule, creates no flavor during complete combustion. Only carbon dioxide and water are created. There will be a lot of smoke produced as the drippings from the food hit the heat sources below. Although gas grills have flame jets covered with lava rock, metal plates or ceramic rocks to shield the burners, absorb heat and give it off, the food is not directly exposed to the flame. Charcoal produces combustion gases when mixed with smoke from wood chips for a distinctive Southern barbecue flavor. Charcoal grills impart a deeper and smokier firehouse flavor and scent, but gas grills impart a better pork flavor and more moist food. In this aspect, taste is a matter of preference.