Get cooking with an outdoor barbecue
Many new homes, as well as home remodels, are designed to incorporate the outdoors in everyday life, including the tasks associated with food preparation. The outdoor kitchen is a popular concept, effectively combining entertaining out-of-doors with gourmet cooking. Especially on warm summer days, many homeowners appreciate preparing a home-cooked meal without heating up the kitchen.
The main feature of an outdoor kitchen is almost always the barbecue grill.
Trends in Outdoor Cooking and Barbecuing
While many backyards still contain a portable outdoor barbecue grill, the trend in backyard kitchens is toward built-in appliances, including the grill. Many designs incorporate an outdoor barbecue island, with countertops, cabinets, a sink and a seating area in addition to the barbecue grill. More elaborate outdoor kitchens might also include features like:
- An outdoor brick barbecue, which can add architectural interest and will last for many years
- An outdoor pizza oven, complete with professional baking stone, digital thermometer and smoking drawer for wood-fired flavor
- An outdoor barbecue pit, which can add an inexpensive yet attractive feature to the backyard, as well as provide functional space for outdoor cooking
- A shade structure, especially in warm-weather regions or when outdoor cooking will take place during daylight hours
Types of Outdoor Barbecue Grills
The biggest decision when choosing an outdoor barbecue grill is whether to go with a gas grill or a charcoal grill. About 80 percent of people buying a barbecue grill choose a gas grill, mainly for the convenience of instantaneous on/off switching and consistent heat. Charcoal grills appeal to those who like the process of actually building and maintaining a fire. Either option allows the use of wood chips to add smoky flavor to foods.
Gas barbecue grills are offered in two types: liquid propane and natural gas. Propane fuel comes in a tank and is generally stored underneath the grill. Natural gas is connected to the grill via a supply outlet from the house. Natural gas never needs to be replaced, but a propane tank will run dry and need to be refilled. A 20-pound propane tank should last for about 20 cooking hours when used with an average-sized barbecue grill.
Charcoal barbecue grills are fueled by charcoal briquettes, natural hardwood charcoal or wood. The use of a chimney starter makes lighting a charcoal grill easier, as it contains the charcoal and makes it much easier to light. Charcoal is ready for cooking when it is covered with white-gray ash and glows red-hot if lightly blown on.