Grilling produces a flavor that appeals to most people, even those who don’t necessarily enjoy eating meat. Grilling brings the flavor of the meat or vegetable to the forefront and in a real sense adds to the enjoyment of eating.
However, to get the most from the grilling experience it takes a quality grill. While there are numerous grills on the market, one that offers the most advantages over the least disadvantages is the recent introduction of the combination grill. Using both gas on one side and charcoal on the other, a combination grill opens up the options for your backyard grilling.
Why The Heat Source Matters
Grilling works by two methods, convection cooking and infrared cooking. On a standard grill and most combo grills, the majority of the cooking is done by convection. Infrared cooking makes up a smaller part unless the grill is designed for infrared cooking. Both gas and charcoal are great at convection cooking but gas is also good for infrared cooking.
However, there is a more important aspect to the fuel source that directly impacts grilling than the type of heating. Charcoal does not fully undergo combustion thus leaving by products that can infuse with the food. This is that characteristic smoky flavor. By contrast, gas due undergo complete combustion and therefore there is no left over by products to produce that smoky flavor. Further complicating matters is that some foods are better cooked on gas than charcoal.
Why A Combo Grill
As mentioned some food tastes better under the different fuel types. For example, seafood that generally has an existing flavor is often better prepared on gas. That is of course, unless you are wanting that smoky flavor. However for seafood that is designed to be enhanced by specific spices and herbs, gas is the favored. For other types of meats like ribs, hot dogs, burgers and sausage, the charcoal grilling adds so much more flavor. By using a combo grill, you can use both at the same time to prepare seafood and burgers or just use one side at a time.
Is There a Downside?
Nothing is with out detraction and a combination grill is no exception. For starters, combo grills are a type of jack of all trades, master of none type affair. Dedicated grills that are designed to perform in specific ways will usually trump the performance of a combination grill but that really only matters if your are using it for commercial use. Combination grills are larger and usually are heavier, so if you have to move it around or have a small space, a combination grill can be difficult to deal with. If one side no longer works or performs well, you are left with half a grill, this alone is enough to create frustration.
The minor drawbacks to the combination grill pale in comparison with the advantages of using a combination grill. The first one is obvious, in that you get the best of both worlds, both gas and charcoal and thus this opens up your grilling options. Another advantage that goes along with that, is you can only use the part of the grill you need. Just grilling burgers, use the charcoal side. Want the burgers quickly, use the gas side. Since gas does not have as high a heat generation curve, you can fire of the gas side and get straight to cooking.
Another upside to combination grills is the size. While it is true this can be a drawback but often grillers love having space to get the job done and done well. Combination grills usually have more cooking space and it is easy to use the charcoal side to prepare the food and the gas side to keep the food warm, thus freeing up even more space on the charcoal side. Additionally, combination grills can be purchased with sear burners and side shelves that add even more space for the grilling experience. In a real sense becoming an all encompassing grilling station.
One final advantage is you can go with that you got. This means if you have gas but no charcoal you can still grill. The reverse applies, say you have charcoal but are low on gas. You can still grill and go to the store and get more gas later. The same applies if you run out during grilling. The versatility of the combination grill is the reason why it is on the market in the first place.
Overall, combination grills gives you more options, more versatility and this increases the opportunity for a better grilling experience. No only does this help the griller but those that get to enjoy the fruits of the grillers labor. Naturally, if you are on the commercial circuit using a specialized grill makes sense but for the average home griller, who loves delicious grilled food, the combination grill is the optimal choice.
With the demands of the modern lifestyle, having more choices means better able to meet those demands on your terms and when you consider that the combination grill does just that, it only makes sense to go with a combination grill.