The purchase of this grill all began with the question of what I wanted for my Mother's Day meal. I told my husband that I decide meals 364 days a year, this one day I don't want to have to decide, surprise me. Well, he did just that. His meal was going to be hamburgers, cod fillets, and chicken breast, so the little grill we have would just not keep up with that. So, the Saturday before Mother's Day we set out to find a grill.
Recommend this product?
I should say it wasn't as spur of the moment as that sounds, we have been looking for a grill for a few years. We moved 3 years ago and left behind a natural gas grill set up we had. We really wanted to replace that, but between price, running pipe and just making a decision on a grill, we just weren't ready.
We looked at many stores. One of our stops was Home Depot. We explained what we were looking for. We were shown the Char-Broil Red. There were two different models there. Both had the same intriguing feature of grill pans under the grates that reduce flare-ups. My husband really gets frustrated with flare-ups, and unlike charcoal it is a bit more difficult to deal with on a gas grill. One thing he requested is to see if we could find something that wouldn't flare so much. We had found another model at a different store that claimed minimal flare-ups, but it didn't have the grill pans that fully covered the flame and in which you could liquids or wood chips.
The employees with talked to at Home Depot told us how they use this grill for store cook-outs and they actually own them theirselves. They also told us of how they cook different foods and that they even tried cooking a chicken from frozen and it worked. We did look at a few more stores, but didn't find anything else that intrigued us in the same way.
Here are the points that sold us on spending far more than we had planned:
1. Grill pans (U's): The model we purchased over the other had two grill pans instead of one. You can grill on one side and steam vegetables over the other. You can put liquids in the grill pan - things like water, water with herbs, beer and wine. You can also put in wood chips, there is a recommended list in the manual.
2. 3 burner and a large cooking area: There is someting like 750 sq. in. of cooking area. There are 9 people I cook for everyday (unless there are friends over) and on a holiday we add at least 4 more. We plan on making 2 turkeys this year on the grill for Thanksgiving.
3. Sideburner: I requested that the grill we get have a sideburner. It is great for heating sauces or melting butter. When we do corn-on-the-cob it will so nice to have the melted butter right there. I could also saute onions and mushrooms, and I am sure a myriad of other uses.
4. Easy on and clean: You simply set it to the lightening bolt symbol and it ignites. To clean you set to clean (which is also what you do to warm the grill up), let it run for 15 minutes and then cool down. Once cool you dump the ashes in the garden. Scrap off the grates, wash if desire, wipe out the pans, wash off the rest of the grill (with what we spent, we figure the extra steps of keeping clean are worth it) and cover.
So far we have made burgers, 5 pounds ground chuck on Mother's Day with no flare-ups and 3 pounds ground beef this weekend with not flare-ups. We have made cod over herb water, boneless chicken breast, chicken legs and thighs, and country-style ribs. They all had a great grill taste, even the first use was flavorful.
The only flare-up was the chicken legs and thighs. A relative was doing the cooking and had on too high of heat. But with adding water to grill pan, it kept the flare-up down. The manual does say how to deal with flare-ups.
The ribs we used the sear feature and then cooked on the BBQ setting, which is low and slow. We then slow cooked the next day in the house and they were really flavorful.
The one odd thing I have done in it and it worked great, was boil bagels. I needed to make about 200 bagels for various uses so, I thoroughly cleaned the grill pans and filled with water and some sugar and boiled 18 bagels at a time. It sure sped up the process. (I figured this could work since the employee at Home Depot said he boiled his brats in beer in the small grill pan. He also made french fries using peanut oil.)
I can't give an cons at this point, we haven't had it long enough to discover it. I suppose the price was a bit steep for us, but not out of line with all the other models we looked at. I would have to address durability as time goes on. I have read reviews on rusting and such, but we did purchase a 65" cover and do keep it clean all over. It looks nice that way and will hopefully protect our investment.
One more pro for us is when we are ready we will be able to convert it to natural gas, so we will not have to repurchase a grill, just the conversion kit and pipe to run the gas to the outside of the house. The conversion kit is available through Char-Broil for around $110. It will be another investment, but you no longer have to purchase tanks, refill them and connect them.
So, if you are looking for a large grill (though there is a smaller model) with minimal flare-ups, still a great grill taste and many ways to use it, I think this would be worth looking into.
(The actual price is $599.99, we purchased a put together floor model with a bent wheel. We could fix the wheel and intend on placing in a permanent location anyway, so moving it around wasn't important to us. So, we were given a managers discount. You can get it in a box and assemble yourself. I can't say anything about how assembly goes. You can also have the people at Home Depot put it together for free - it is large, so you will need a trailer or truck to carry it. We have a 12 passenger van that we removed 2 benches. Lengthwise it fit, but height was only just enough once we tipped it past the back header by the back doors.)
update June 10, 2009:
It has been 1 month and we are still loving this grill. We have grilled a variety of things so far - including 1 dozen ears of corn (While a 6 pound chicken finished cooking on the top rack) and 1 turkey, over one rack, while pork chops simmered in a foil packet after searing them. I buy only 10-12 lb. turkeys and will be able to do 3 of them this Thanksgiving on this grill.
You can sign up for a free grilling newsletter from Char-broil and it is interesting.
The only concern so far is that the small "U", or as we call it, the grill pan has a small surface rust spot starting. I cleaned it off and will keep an eye on it and contact the company if we see it is getting larger or deeper. We keep the grill very clean, I am sure the neighbors think I am nutty. So, I am not sure why it is rusting already.
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Amount Paid (US$): 525 tax