Types of Grills


Grills Designed for Outdoor Use | Grills Designed for Indoor Use

Grilling is one of the most popular cooking methods worldwide. The ease and speed in which grilled food is cooked and the unique flavor that is infused into the food as a result of grilling are the primary reasons for its popularity. The concept of grilling is based on cooking food with a heat source positioned below the food. Depending on the type of grill used, the heat source often reaches a cooking temperature of 650ºF or higher; however, any temperature above 300°F is considered suitable as a grilling temperature.

A wide variety of equipment is used for grilling, ranging from the simple to the elaborate. An outdoor grill may be as straightforward as a homemade device in which a grate is placed over an open fire or it may be as sophisticated as a commercially produced charcoal or gas unit, providing inventive methods for controlling heat and maintaining uniformity in cooking. Electric and gas models, designed specifically for indoor use, allow food to be grilled within the home when outdoor grilling is not possible.



Grills Designed for Outdoor Use

Open Fire Grills

Grills using an open fire as a fuel source have been used for centuries. An often used device for this type of grilling is a ring constructed of metal or heavy masonry that is used to contain a small fire, which is usually fueled with wood or charcoal. Commercially produced metal pots and kettles, designed specifically for wood burning, are also used. Of course, a true open fire of the campfire variety can be used for grilling if there is a means available for supporting the grilling grate above the fire.

When cooking food using an open fire grill, the fire is usually allowed to burn down somewhat so that the flames are smaller and the embers are glowing. This stage of the fire produces a more uniform, radiant heat. A roaring fire with leaping flames would quickly burn the outer portion of the food being grilled before the interior portion of the food has reached the proper doneness.

Once the fire has reached the correct stage, a metal grate is placed onto the fire ring or kettle, which supports the grate above the level of the fire. The food is cooked directly on the grate. As the food cooks, it can be transferred from one area of the grate to another where the temperature may be lower or higher depending on the level of heat required for proper cooking; however, it is often difficult to regulate the cooking temperature unless there is a method for raising and lowering the grate.

Charcoal Grills

Grills that are designed for use with charcoal are available in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some charcoal grills are very basic, consisting of a small cast iron container with a grate placed on top. Charcoal is placed in the metal container, which may be round, square, or oblong, and the food is cooked on the grate above. This small type of charcoal grill is known as a hibachi; a traditional Japanese grill used throughout Asia, which is popular in the United States as well.

Other types of charcoal grills may be elaborately constructed and come with a variety of features. Among the more sophisticated designs, the most popular models are kettle grills with large, domed covers. There are vents on the top and the bottom for the regulation of oxygen intake in order to vary the cooking temperature. Some models have built-in ash containers, attached work surfaces, and storage units for utensils. Charcoal grills attached to rolling carts are quite common for ease in maneuverability.

One type of charcoal grill that is becoming very popular is the type that includes a small tank of gas, which is a smaller version of the propane tank used as the primary fuel source for a gas grill. On the charcoal grill, the small propane tank is used as a fuel source to ignite the charcoal. When the charcoal is lit, the gas supply is switched off. This system provides an easy, efficient means for igniting the charcoal.

Gas Grills

Grills fueled by propane gas are an extremely popular variety of outdoor grill. Like charcoal grills, they are available in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and price ranges. The convenience that gas grills provide is perhaps the primary reason for their popularity. They provide an excellent grilled flavor to food especially when used in conjunction with wood chips and wooden grilling planks that are designed to impart added flavor to the food during the grilling process.

It is often much easier to control the cooking temperature with a gas grill than other types of grills. Most models have multiple heat settings for the burners and many models feature built in temperature gauges to determine precisely the cooking temperature required for a particular type of food. Multiple burners, which are common feature on most gas grills, also allow the temperature to be controlled quite accurately. This is especially important when several foods are grilled simultaneously and each requires a different temperature setting for proper grilling.

Most types of gas grills feature automatic ignition for every burner. The similarity between the burners of an outdoor gas grill and an indoor gas range, allows the outdoor gas grill to be used in the same manner as a gas range when food is cooked on the grill with pots and pans rather than being placed directly onto the grate of the grilling unit. Depending on the manufacturer and the price of the unit, some gas grills may include warming trays, special smoker boxes to add a wood-smoked flavor to food, attached work surfaces that may be folded down when not in use, and electric rotisserie units for the terrific flavor provided by rotisserie grilling.



Grills Designed for Indoor Use

Indoor Fireplace Grills

Indoor grilling on a grate placed over the open fire of a wood burning fireplace has been a popular grilling method for hundreds of years. Because of the popularity of modern indoor grills, such as grills built into kitchen ranges and electric countertop grills, fireplace grills are seldom used today except by people who must use a fireplace as their primary source for cooking and heating and by folks who find traditional cooking methods to be a fun change of pace.

There are several types of grates that are manufactured specifically for fireplace grilling. One of the most popular is the Tuscan grill, which features a heavy metal grate and sturdy legs that allow the grill to be placed over the wood or charcoal in the fireplace. As the name implies, The Tuscan grill is Italian in origin and is still a popular item found in homes in Italy, especially in the Tuscany region.

Grills Built into Indoor Ranges

Many of the manufacturers of gas kitchen ranges offer models that include a built-in grill or feature a built-in grill as an option. They provide a more pronounced grilled flavor than most electric countertop grills. Most built-in grills are used in conjunction with some type of venting system to draw excess smoke and cooking fumes from the kitchen. Like indoor electric countertop grills, built-in grills are convenient to use and are a good substitute when grilling cannot be performed outdoors.

Electric Countertop Grills

Portable electric countertop grills are the most popular type of indoor grill. The grills are produced by numerous manufacturers and are available in a range of sizes and styles. Countertop grill units provide a grilled or broiled flavor to a variety of foods, although perhaps not as pronounced a flavor as an outdoor grill provides. They are designed to be "smokeless" in order to be safe for indoor use. Portable indoor electric grills are convenient to use and are easy to clean. Most models are inexpensively priced.

Some countertop grills feature a grill rack constructed with a heavy molded nonstick material. An electric heating unit is located directly beneath the grill rack. A drip well is positioned at the front of the unit to collect any melted fat or grease that escapes from food as it cooks. Some countertop grills (such as the model pictured) have a grilling lid that can be closed during cooking to provide two-sided grilling.

Simpler models of countertop grills feature a traditional style, lightweight metal grilling grate that is positioned several inches above an electric heating unit, similar to the distance between the grate and the heat source of an outdoor grill. This type of unit usually does not include a lid to cover the food during grilling and the drip pan, or well, is located below the grilling grate rather than at the front.

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