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Cook the Best Food Ever With High Heat Grills.
Barbeque or Grilling?
When you cook outdoors with a barbeque or a grill, most BBQ grills are used the same way. There are a few really awesome high heat grills and a few amazing barbecues for low heat but most BBQ grills cook the same: leave the grill on high for ten to fifteen minutes to build heat, add food, close the hood and wait for the trapped air within the hood to cook the food. I live in Florida, where we cook outside all year long and I have learned the best tasting food comes from ultra high heat grilling and very low temperature barbecuing.
Barbeque and Grilling are often used synonymously but they are not. Grilling is cooking at the cooking surface when heat is most intense. Barbecue is low slow heat fueled with charcoal and wood for added smoky flavoring.
High heat cooks food fast and generally locks in moisture and flavor so food tastes better. At a medium heat, food sweats and most of the moisture and flavor drips out. This is not only messy but it is the reason steak sauces exist – after 30 minutes of dripping there is not much flavor left for eating and enjoying.
High heat and great flavor in barbeque grills is created a few different ways. Traditionally the convection style of high heat inside a closed hood can be useful if manufactured correctly. This oven still uses hot air to cook but it cooks so fast the food does not have time to dry out. Commonly referred to as Pizza Ovens, a stone oven will function for almost a week fueled by a single fire. When a wood fire is lit in a stone oven, the stone absorbs and radiates heat rather than losing the heat through a vent or chimney. I have been to steakhouses that cook in this fashion above 1800 degrees.
The flavor is good and moisture is retained using this method of cooking. This is not really barbecuing or grilling. Gas fueled stone ovens are used as often as wood or electric as a fuel source. I mention this method of cooking because many people who install a pizza oven, stone radiant cooker do so outdoors. We build stone ovens into outdoor kitchens and even the kits available online are manufactured for outdoor use and venting. The stone oven is expensive and difficult to use for a variety of cooking. When first heated, the convection is great for sear-like preparation of steaks, fish or anything that benefits from fast hot cooking. By the second day, the oven is hot enough for just about anything you could cook in an indoor oven and by day five you can still melt cheese on a sandwich. However, you cannot cook a steak at 1800 degrees the same day you melt cheese on a turkey sandwich.
Dynamic Cooking Systems - DCS Grill Parts
Conduction For Grilling and Even Heat Distribution.
A well-made gas grill will use lava rocks, rods or briquettes to conduct heat at the grilling surface. During the initial heat-up period the briquettes absorb and radiate heat. The result is additional heat at the grilling surface. In a gas grill this can provide several hundred degrees extra grilling temperature as heat from the grill burners is combined with radiant heat from the briquettes. Porcelain rods, lava, etc are generally set just below the cooking surface, close enough to provide radiant heat.
Many poorly made barbeques also use briquettes and lava rocks to spread heat on a cooking surface that would otherwise have a lot of hot and cold spots. If the burners and heat shields are not properly placed to maximize circulation hot and cold spots are created making cooking difficult. Even high quality grills can have a limited lifespan due to this design. The conduction source (briquettes, rods, lava rocks) can hold and hide grease. Grease can build up and become mini grease fires while cooking, hot spots at the grilling surface and cause corrosion of the materials of the grill parts. This type of grill needs a regular deep cleaning.
Infrared grills are the newest and most efficient method of grilling. Infrared gas grill burners are thick square housings rather than slim pipe burners. Gas pressurizes within the burner and comes through ceramic tiles with thousands of ports. With an infrared grill, thousands of red flames are grilling rather than thirty or forty blue flames on a pipe burner. The direct heat of the flame is cooking the food; there is no conduction with porcelain or convection through air.
The benefit of infrared grilling is flavor. An infrared grill will be over a thousand degrees in minutes. Food cooks very fast if the heat is left at that temperature and grilling produces a sear. Once seared, steaks, fish, burgers, etc will not drip or lose moisture (or flavor) through the remainder of the grilling process. For instance, a medium-rare steak is ready to eat in minutes and the flavor is perfect! A medium-well steak can be perfectly grilled without burning the outside of the food. I do not have to cook for 45 minutes anymore, when I am ready to eat I turn my grill on and we grill fast for great flavor.
I do not know of any “cons” to infrared grilling. The high-heat makes the products easier to clean than most outdoor BBQ grills. Infrared replacement grill parts are easy to find and install. There is a learning curve to cooking with an infrared grill as you get used to cooking with such an intense direct heat but everyone I have ever asked has repeated my own experience that it was a lot easier to use than I expected. Infrared grills are more expensive than traditional barbeque grills but the flavor and reduced time is well worth it. Some importers have been putting infrared burners into more affordable barbeques but so far the level of quality is not worth the price for these “sear zone” hybrids. From what I have seen, it appears the infrared grill parts that are being added to other imported barbecues have a lot of the same problems as the first infrared burners invented twenty years ago. These are unreliable while the high-end infrared grills that have been developing the technology by listening to cooks and customers have very reliable products and wide ranges of heat.
In closing, I sell BBQs and grills and I know the majority of gas barbecues do not get hotter than five or six hundred degrees. The flavor of the food is often sacrificed for the convenience of easy starting and control. To barbeque for great flavor, many people believe charcoal and wood are the only answer. Restaurant-quality searing is generally understood to be 800 degrees so if you can grill over 800 - 1000 degrees you will be amazed at the difference in the flavor of your food. Have fun and Grill Often.