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Choosing a Grill

Whether you’re interested in building a luxury, custom outdoor kitchen or just need a basic Weber to cook a few hotdogs and hamburgers, there are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a grill. Backyard cooking is consistently at the top of a homeowner’s “must have” list when planning their outdoor space. With so many options on the market, what grill will you choose? Here’s a little information about two of the hottest kinds of grills on the market – flattop grills and infrared grills.

Flattop Grills

Although it resembles a griddle, a flattop grill actually performs differently because the heating element creates an extremely hot and even cooking surface, as heat spreads in a radial fashion over the surface. Flattop grills have been around for hundreds of years. They originated in Mexico and Central American where they were made of clay and used for cooking corn dough.

Today, flattop grills are great for sautéing, toasting, simmering, stir frying, browning, blackening, grilling, baking, braising, and roasting. You can even use them for flambéing. Hungry yet? Try making an omelette, crepe, pizza, quesadilla or even a Greek gyro. Flattop grills are one of the most versatile outdoor cooking apparatuses on the market. And because they’re so attractive, they generally become the focal point of your outdoor get-together.

Infrared Cooking System

Also known as Infra-red, infrared grilling is the hot new thing in outdoor cooking. It’s sometimes referred to as the microwave of the outdoor kitchen because of its ability to cook food – especially thick meats – in such a short amount of time.

According to an About.com article on the subject, the physics behind Infrared cooking is this: An infrared burner is covered with several stainless steel emitters that prevent air from being ignited, causing only infrared energy to be created. Infrared is an energy that causes molecules to shake, causing the temperature of the molecules to increase. This infrared strikes the molecules directly instead of being transmitted through a liquid or solid conductor.

Pretty technical, huh? Let’s look at the pros and cons. Infrared grills and burners generate a much higher temperature and heat up much faster than other grills. Some experts say that the intense direct heat enhances the food’s flavor and there are fewer flare-ups because grease is instantly vaporized instead of dripping onto the heat source. Some cons to infrared grills include expense (they cost a lot more than traditional grills) and low temperature range (it’s either hot or really hot).

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