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Thyme for Cooking: Barbecue Grills

Gas Grill with lava rocks: 

Use for everyday summer cooking  The flavor is better with charcoal or wood, but the gas grill is convenient and quick. Use it for any type of meat, fish or vegetables. 

It is important to have a gas grill with dual burners, and an upper second shelf.  The dual burners are so 2 or 3 foods can be cooked at the same time with both direct and indirect heat.  The upper shelf is to keep things warm, or for slow cooking of vegetables or potatoes. 

Round, covered, Weber kettle grill 

Use this for slow cooking poultry or roasts - cooking time of 45 minutes or more.  Cook on this grill with indirect heat. 
Use regular charcoal or briquettes.  Charcoal gives off a little more smoke, is easier and quicker to light.  It does however burn much faster than briquettes.  Add bits of wood, oak, apple, hickory or mesquite, to give a smoky flavor.

Small, portable, charcoal grill

about 18" x 12"  (45 x 30 cm) and about 6" (15cm) deep.  Use for steaks and chops that should cook over a hot fire, and directly over the coals.  It produces a nice steak or chop with a slightly charred outside.  It requires careful attention to avoid burning.  The grilling grid is about 2" to 3"   (5 - 7.5 cm) above the coals.  The cooking time is normally very short. 

Briquettes are the best for this style of grill because charcoal pieces are irregular in size, and produce uneven heat.  With briquettes, the heat is even and hot.  Do not start cooking until the coals are completely glowing and put the cooking grid in place at least 5 minutes before cooking, to get it hot.  

The advantage of the small grill is that less charcoal is needed to produce a hot fire.  The bigger kettle grill would  use 2 or 3 times more charcoal, and the cooking grid on the kettle grill is several inches above the coal.

Smoker

This is a cylindrical, dome covered grill about 18" (45cm) in circumference and 30"   (75cm) high.  It has a pan for charcoal or wood on the bottom.  There's a pan in the middle for water to help control the temperature and catch the drippings.   Then, 2 tiers of grids above that, with a few inches between them. 

This is not a true smoker, as a true smoker does not cook the food.  This type of smoker cooks and smokes at the same time.  Use it for fish - particularly salmon, poultry and pasta.  The process is very slow, 2 to 3 hours or more, but produces lovely results.  The pan for charcoal on the bottom tier is dishpan shaped.  This was modified because the fire difficult to maintain.  Several 1/4" holes were drilled in the bottom and a small round grate added to hold the coals up from the bottom of the pan about 1".  This allows good circulation for the fire. 

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