Gentlemen, You May Grill

It’s finally that time of year—in the New York area anyway—when you can go home in the evening and your patio grill beckons you to go out and put fire to high-grade meat.

This reason I bring this up is that in the coming issue of Cigar Aficionado—August—the Good Life Guide will feature a piece on fantastic stainless steel grills for which Savona and I did extensive research (read: we called in grills from Wolf, Weber, Viking and Ducane and fired them up every chance we got to cook a panorama of different cuts). Now, far be it for me to complain, but what kept this experience from being ideal is that because of deadline constraints we started the process in the dead of winter in order to get the story to you by that day in July—or whatever—on which the issue actually comes out.

In a way that was good because we could test the grills under the most abject of conditions and really know how truly they heated without having to worry about ambient heat that might tend to make the grills cook more evenly. It also gave us an idea of which cookers fired up on demand and which let a little wind affect them.

On the other hand there were things we couldn’t test—or more accurately didn’t want to. Because it was so cold, sometimes I found myself visiting the grill in short spurts, dealing with the meal and then running back inside to stay warm. That’s fine, but I also associate the grilling experience with standing by the fire while I light up a big cigar and savor a highball—both of which I chose not to do in 15 degrees cold.

Now, the weather is perfect for savoring both cigar and drink grill side, but we’ve written the story and are unable to report on how the Weber had a handy little spot next to the control knobs that is just perfect for my cocktail or that I’ve taken to tossing my cigar butts in the Viking’s smoke box for a later experiment in barbecue. I’m sure Savona could also wax eloquent how the Wolf and the Ducane were good companions for his smoking revery.

In the meantime, do you use your grill as an excuse to sneak away for a smoke and a drink?
Michael Lovett Alexander City, AL May 26, 2007 11:38am ET
Jack,I enjoy your articles and look forward to this one. Although your upcoming article will be reviewing stainless steel grills, have you heard of a new ceramic grill called the "big green egg"? They are pricey, just wondering if it was worth the cost.Thanks...
Jack Bettridge May 29, 2007 10:58am ET
Michael. Thanks for your kind words. I haven't tried the Big Green Egg, although I have heard friends rave about it. It is basically a smoker, correct? The product I've been using for the last couple of years for that purpose is the Smoky Mountain Gas Smoker by Great Outdoors. It's a locker configuration in stainless steel about 3 feet high. It has a smoke box at the bottom with a gas element beneath so it's easy to light. The meat sets on racks near the top, so you can keep the temperature down for long-term smoking (with vigilance you can keep it down around 200 degrees for hours on end). A water pan separates the fire from the meat and catches drippings. All the levels are addressable from the front by simply opening the door (unlike the barrel type smoker where you have to take top off and remove the top rack to get to the lower meat compartment and replenish the wood chips). I can't remember how much it cost but I think it was like a hundred bucks and change at Costco.Jack

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