Gas or Charcoal
One of the decisions you will need to make at some point is whether to purchase a gas or charcoal barbecue (unless of course you can afford to buy both). The are pro’s and con’s to both and I firmly believe it is down to personal preference which way you go.
Many BBQ purists will claim that food cooked on a gas grill does not taste as good as one cooked over charcoal. Until recently I would agree with this and to a certain extent I still I still do, but independent taste tests more often than not has food cooked over gas coming out as the favourite.
Cooking on Gas
The main benefits of gas are convenience and control. I think gas makes the whole BBQ process simpler so if you are new to grilling this may be the better option.
I tend to use my gas BBQ mid-week when I get home from work a little later but still fancy a BBQ. It takes a few minutes to light the BBQ and bring it up to temperature. If you are only cooking for 1 or 2 people and just throwing some fish or a steak on the grill it is so much more convenient.
I also think it is much easier to control the temperature and create direct and indirect cooking zones.
Gas also helps from a cleaning perspective. Before I BBQ (or sometimes after I have finished cooking) I just put all the hobs on max, get the BBQ really hot and then use a wire brush to clean the grates. You don’t have to clean up ash or charcoal remnants which again makes the whole process easier.
Some will argue you don’t get the same smokey taste with gas. It is possible to help this process by using a smoking box. These are great and really help infuse the meats with that authentic wood or smoke taste.
Cooking on Charcoal/Briquettes
So cards on the table this is my preferred way to cook a BBQ. I really enjoy the whole process and challenge of lighting the coals and controlling the temperature, but this is something I will tend to do when I have more time to prep.
It does takes a little longer to get the BBQ going but you can speed up this process by using a chimney starter. These really help in getting your briquettes hot really quickly. If you do go down this route, from a safety perspective, I would recommend you purchase a good pair of fire resistant gloves.
Chimney starters also are great if you need to top up your briquettes. Another advantage is that they make it easy to distribute your coals again so you can easily set up direct and indirect cooking zones.
I like the amount of smoke charcoal gives off. Briquettes aren’t as good and although some of the newer briquettes from Weber are 100% wood based they are not quite the same as using charcoal. Typically what I will do is use wood chunks (from Smokewood Shack) so add some natural smokiness to my food.
I would recommend buying a quality briquette as cheaper makes do have chemicals in that will tarnish your food slightly. My favourites are the Australian Heat Beads but I also like the Weber long lasting briquettes and the Natural Coconut briquettes.
There is no right or wrong answer here. I really think it comes down to personal preference, factors being how much time you have, what you want to BBQ and potentially budget.
BBQ is a great way to cook so just make the choice that is right for you and enjoy!!!!