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Outdoor Grills: Which is best for you? | Chantilly VA

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With spring on its way and summer right behind, it won't be long before it's time to get outside, fire up the grill and get ready a cookout.

Grilling is not only an American tradition, it's also a seasonal rite of passage. What would the warmer months be without hamburgers, hot dogs and the occasional steak dinner?

Although if you are looking to buy a new grill, it's important to ask yourself what kind of grill do you need. Although there are several outdoor grills to choose from, they basically fall into three categories: Gas grills, charcoal grills and smokers.

Gas Grills

Gas grills come in a variety of sizes to accommodate grilling needs. They also can come on wheels and use propane canisters, or be stationary and hook up to a gas line coming off of your home. Grilling with gas is an extremely efficient way to cook. Multiple burners controlled by knobs allow you to regulate the temperature, so you can evenly cook different kinds/cuts of meats to desired temperatures. Most gas grills also have racks above the grill, allowing you to roast vegetables or warm buns without burning them. Cooking with gas is faster and easier than cooking with charcoal.

Charcoal Grills

If cooking with gas is faster and easier, why would anyone want to cook with a charcoal grill? Well, there are a lot of purists out there who think cooking with charcoal is the only way to grill or barbecue. They will tell you that cooking meat and vegetables over charcoal yields better-tasting, more flavorful food. But if you want to experience those better flavors, you'll sacrifice time (getting a charcoal bed hot enough to cook normally takes between 20 and 30 minutes). And don't let anyone fool you, mastering a charcoal grill is much more difficult than twisting a knob and hitting an ignition switch. Getting your coals just right and knowing how to adjust them to regulate your grill's temperature is tricky, and it takes time to learn.

Smokers

If you enjoy good barbecue, there are few things better than whole chicken or a rack of ribs that have spent a good, long time on a smoker. Now, if the thought of waiting 20 to 30 minutes for a charcoal grill to get hot made you anxious, using a smoker may not be for you. "Low and slow," is the mantra of the smoker cook. Low temperatures and slow cooking make even the toughest cuts of meat, like brisket, as tender as can be. Smokers normally generate their heat from gas, electricity or charcoal. Hardwood, such as apple wood or mesquite, is then added and allowed to burn, releasing the smoke that will give the meat flavor. Like traditional grills, a gas or electric smoker will allow you to better regulate the temperature, but a charcoal smoker, when used right, will produce superior tasting food.

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