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Charcoal vs gas BBQ

Discussion in 'Geek Food' started by jas0nt, Mar 6, 2012.

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Gas vs charcoal BBQ

  1. Charcoal

    65 vote(s)
    61.9%
  2. Gas

    40 vote(s)
    38.1%
  1. jas0nt

    jas0nt Member

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    I'm looking at buying a new BBQ and thought I'd ask which is more suited to my needs, or which ones you guys prefer.

    It'll be used for me and the housemates (4 people) probably two times a week and we don't usually have people over.

    Ease of cleaning would be a plus.

    Any opinions? :D
     
  2. Mathuisella

    Mathuisella Member

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    gas is cleaner, faster to get going and not as messy to deal with all round.

    That and you don't need to buy charcoal bits :)

    Gas is easy, clean and efficient.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    jas0nt

    jas0nt Member

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    Is cleaning charcoal BBQ's time consuming? Wouldn't it just involve chucking the charcoals out and giving the insides of the BBQ a clean now and then?

    Also true about the not needing to buy buying charcoal bits, but if I went with charcoal I won't need to buy gas bottles :)
     
  4. BluBoy

    BluBoy Member

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    I hardly used the charcoal one I used to have because it was such an effort (Longer to set up, longer to cook, longer to clean... All significantly longer!)... Whereas with my new gas one, it's being used a lot more cos it is simple.

    Having said that, I'd look at getting a second hand charcoal webber for those afternoons where you have the time for a special recipe. You can taste the difference with charcoal!
     
  5. HUMMER

    HUMMER Member

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    lets see. scrubbing the barbecue and chucking charcoals out for charcoal barbecues or scrubbing the barbecue for the gas barbecue.

    you still have to buy charcoal or a gas bottle or a refilled gas bottle. so either way. you will have to buy one of the other.
     
  6. darksilencer

    darksilencer Member

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    A nice weber one touch silver or gold with the cleaning fan in the bottom is amazing for charcoal, almost no cleanup internally unless you go nuts with oil sprays and don't use drip trays.

    My usual startup involves chucking in some lump charcoal or heatbeads, using the looftlighter (bigass heatgun) if i have nothing to prep or chuck in some jiffys. Once most of it ashes over i do a once over with a wire brush (weber branded one is AMAZING) and then wipe the grill down to start grilling. Depends on what i'm cooking but its usually a 15-30min startup time.

    I've used the weber to just cook up some bacon for lunch in some cases lol.

    This is coming from a gasser by the way, it hasn't seen any work for years bar being a makeshift table!
     
  7. Lukenet

    Lukenet Member

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    GAS = Faster, Easy, More even heat (on a good quality BBQ), Every day BBQ, and Cheap to use, fuel (GAS) is easy to come by when you run out. No real planning required..

    CHARCOAL = Expensive for good quality natural fuel, slower, takes some skill, less heat control when you are not experienced and in a rush, but better flavor, better cooking temperatures (Mmm Real HOT) if you know what to do.

    http://amazingribs.com/
    http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/
     
  8. bleAf!

    bleAf! (Taking a Break)

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    Gas. It's just more easy, quick, and convenient.
     
  9. Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    Don't let sgtraven see this thread! He will say the same as me - charcoal all the way. Oh and BTW - gas vs. charcoal in some circles is a bit like PC vs. Mac. But unlike PC vs. Mac, all the experts seem to agree that charcoal is better. Go to the BBQ circuit in the USA - all of them cook with charcoal. Go to any decent steak house, and you will find them cooking over charcoal. Why? Read on ...

    Cleaning - charcoal is easier. To clean a Weber - I plonk it over the grass and hose it out with a garden hose. To clean my Kamado - I open both vents and develop an inferno. This carbonizes any food particles inside the Kamado. After that, just empty the burnt charcoal into a container. To clean a gasser ... well you better hope that the oil dripping from your food hasn't clogged up any gas holes otherwise you will be going at it with a toothbrush :)

    Startup - use a charcoal chimney and your coals will be roaring hot in 10-15 minutes. With a gasser you have to wait for your lava rocks to preheat before you can cook, so you will be waiting for about 10-15 minutes anyway.

    Fuel - you know when you are going to run out of charcoal. Just look at the bag. But gas ... you might run out in the middle of a party. I admit it is easier to get a can of gas than good quality charcoal - but I have about 40kg of charcoal sitting in my garage. That should last me for the rest of this year.

    Cost - Webers start from $250-300, and the ultimate charcoal cooker (a Kamado) costs as little as $600. In contrast, a decent quality gasser starts at $1200 and up. Those Bunnings gassers are close to useless - they don't put out much heat and they tend to die after a couple of years.

    Heat - charcoal burns MUCH HOTTER than gas, so it can develop flavour that you will never get from a gasser. The reason - on a grill, food cooks mostly by radiation. Convection is inefficient and the heat transfer is very low. Gas grill makers know this, which is why nearly all gassers have lava rocks or metal grill bars which are heated by the gas flame and emit the energy absorbed as radiation. However - these lava rocks and metal bars will never emit as much as charcoal. As Modernist Cuisine puts it - when was the last time you saw lava rocks glowing red with heat?

    Also think about how food develops flavour when cooked on a grill. Part of it is due to the Maillard reaction (more heat = more Maillard). But part of it is also from fat dripping on the hot coals, which burns instantly and forms new flavour compounds, which goes on to coat your food and give it the distinctive "charcoal grill flavour". This is the rationale for me using "sacrificial fat" - pieces of fat offcuts which I place around my food for the sole reason of dripping fat onto the coals to further develop flavour.

    Cooking area - I will give this one to gas. Most gasser grills have a much larger surface area for cooking than nearly any charcoal grill I am aware of.
     
  10. renagade

    renagade Member

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    Everything Amfibius said is true however he didn't mention that cooking on Charcoal is so much easier to maintain a low temperature for a longer amount of time. I reckon with the good quality lump charcoal you could cook for about 24 hours. You could do that with natural gas but you'd probably be stretched with an LPG tank (a 9Kg tank).
    I have a Kamado Joe and recommend them.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    jas0nt

    jas0nt Member

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    Awesome advice, thanks guys! Might go to Bunnings/BBQ's Galore to check out some bbq's this weekend.

    Is it hard controlling the heat (increase/decrease) on charcoal?

    That doesn't answer my question about whether or not it's time consuming. If the only difference is the process of chucking out the charcoals, I don't imagine that takes too long.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  12. Dogo

    Dogo Member

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    For me its easy.

    Charcoal = better taste
    Gas = more convenient

    Get both.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  13. Amfibius

    Amfibius Member

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    There are three ways to control heat on charcoal, but always remember - it is easy to get more heat, but once you get too much heat it is harder to turn it down.

    1. How much fuel and what type you use. You can get anything from an inferno to a gentle warmth. Obviously - the more coals you have lit - the hotter it will be. Also, charcoal burns hotter than heat beads. Use heat beads for applications where high heat is not needed (e.g. low and slow cooks, rotisseries, etc). The advantage of heat beads is economy and consistency - all the batches are the same. Not so with charcoal.

    2. How you arrange the fuel. An important concept to grasp is the two zone method - a hot zone and a cool zone. Build your fire on one side of the grill and use that to caramelize the surface. Move your food to the cool zone to complete cooking. Some people recommend you cook your food in the cool zone then move to the hot zone to develop flavour - the so-called "reverse sear" method. There are many other ways to arrange the charcoal as well, depending on what you want to accomplish - e.g. the snake method, the minion method, and so on.

    3. Control the air supply by adjusting the top and bottom vents. There is a bit of trial and error involved, but you should quickly master it after a couple of cooks. Remember - unlike a gasser, if you cook with the lid off, your fire will get bigger and bigger. With unlimited supply of air, the only thing controlling the heat is how much fuel there is to burn! The only way to stop it from running out of control is to leave the lid on.
     
  14. trentski

    trentski Member

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    I went through the same angst earlier this year and settled on a Royal Kamado $650.

    Heat up time for gas is the same as for Charcoal, light it and then do your prep and come back and cook.

    To get a decent gasser for $650 is pretty much impossible, they are built to last for a couple of years and that's it, the stainless steel they are made of is low quality and rusts. I was looking at $1800 Webber gas BBQs with 25 year warranties but in the end I couldn't justify it.

    The Kamado should last me 25 years if I don't drop it. I've cooked pizzas at 300 degrees C and done slow roast pork shoulders at 100 degrees C for over 12 hours without adding extra charcoal. Steaks are great and even sausages with a smoke ring just adds so much to the flavour.

    I could go on, but the short version is I went charcoal
     
  15. OP
    OP
    jas0nt

    jas0nt Member

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    I think I've decided on the charcoal route. I've seen some Webbers selling on Gumtree for $50 :eek: There's not much that can go wrong with a charcoal BBQ right (in terms of its condition)? Given there's no 'moving'/electrical parts...
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  16. MR CHILLED

    MR CHILLED D'oh!

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    I probably prefer gas for ease, but I like the idea and taste that goes with charcoal grilling.
     
  17. Dogo

    Dogo Member

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    Just holes in the kettle from rust
     
  18. ph3var

    ph3var Member

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    I saw this baby at bbq galore in osborne park
    http://www.weber.com/explore/grills/charcoal-series/ranchkettle

    Not sure if you need much more cooking space then that. Tho it was over 2k.
     
  19. Anteros

    Anteros Member

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    I bought a 10 year old weber off of ebay for $20, still in good condition, the paint isn't the nicest but it functions well, apart from one of the cleaning fins is bent up a little so harder to control the temps. I will look into getting a new charcoal soon as i don't really trust this one for 12 hour cooks

    Where do you get a Kamado for $600-650?
     
  20. Brett

    Brett Member

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    I've got a generic 4 burner gas hotplate/grill for snags and steaks, a Weber Smokey Mountain for roasting/smoking. Total investment <$500.
     

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