Gas or Charcoal?

  OTT_B 12:48 29 Apr 2011

I'm struggling this year to find any decent charcoal for the barbecue. For some reason, even the 'non quick light' charcoal isn't lasting as well as it has in previous years, and is burning out in an hour, rather than lasting 2 hours+ like stuff I've had previously.

So is it time to switch to a gas barbecue? I've always rejected the idea of them in the past, but an article I read a couple of weeks ago in The Independent(?) put forward a pretty convincing argument in favour of them.

What's your recommendations? Keep in mind that the bbq spends its winters in the garage and is sometimes used even when freezing outside!

  wee eddie 14:30 29 Apr 2011

See if you can get one of the type that has ceramic lumps above the Gas burners.

The real barbecue taste comes from dripping juices hitting the hot medium, charcoal, rocks or whatever, burning and the smoke from this, flavours whatever it is that you are cooking.

  Forum Editor 14:42 29 Apr 2011

Most of "the real barbecue taste" comes from juices caramelising on the surface of the cooking meat, due to the searing heat. Some comes from smoke, and some from whatever marinade or sauce may have been used.

I doubt that most people would have a clue about whether something had been cooked over gas or charcoal. Gas is obviously easier to control, less messy (no ash), and faster to start. I've tried both, and tend to favour charcoal, but I'm not quite sure why, to be honest.

  daisy2bell 15:24 29 Apr 2011

We start the BBQ with charcoal, then add seasoned logs.Once the logs are burning well, that's when we add the meat. It smells and tastes lovely.

We do the same when doing a pork roast or chicken or a whole pineapple on a "spit" (rotisserie) with the grill in a vertical position.

The trick to proper BBQing is to cook it slowly.

  Housten 15:27 29 Apr 2011


Just to let you know, I would think you would be better off with a gas bbq! I must admit I am more than a bit surprised by such a statement. To explain, my wife and I visited my sister in Melbourne, Australia for Christmas 1981 and 1985 and not again until last September. My brother-in-law - Dutch-born but moved over there in 1958 - used to use an 'open' bbq and did so on our two previous visits. Last September I was very surprised to see he had got a very smart new gas bbq, and when we spoke about it he said he wouldn't be without it now. In fact he does some of the 'normal' household cooking - if I can call it that - and he is very good at it. We had some really wonderful meals he cooked, and he admitted that now he is retired he quite enjoys doing some of the cooking!!

  OTT_B 16:35 29 Apr 2011

It has to be said, I'm leaning towards gas. The comments here pretty well echo the article I read; gas is quicker to start, cleaner and should make no difference to the taste of the food.

But then there's something about the smell and feel of charcoal and the ritual of the barbecue that gas just won't be able to replicate.

Ok, any recommendations for a gas barbecue? £200 is approx budget. Needs to be fairly big, and have capacity for different cooking temps in different areas and hold a lot of food!

  OTT_B 16:39 29 Apr 2011

Just found This

  johndrew 16:50 29 Apr 2011

Normal 'lumpwood' charcoal does burn quicker than 'briquettes'. I have used briquettes for years and find it the best fuel to barbecue with and on.

Gas tends to be a pain at times and fails - in my opinion - to give the same taste. It is also more expensive, especially at the outset.

Good briquettes are sold by most of the larger stores including supermarkets. Before you spend £200 on a gas unit + cylinder I should give briquettes a try. Use a solid fuel fire lighter to get them going and let the whole fire surface get to a white condition before you start cooking.

  Chegs ®™ 17:31 29 Apr 2011

Having used both charcoal & gas versions,I do prefer the charcoal cooked food though any food eaten outdoors seems to taste so much better(once ate a full loaf as fried bread when camping)even the just add water & cook type freeze-dried catering packs my Mother bought wholesale for continental camping trips were very nice,yet tasteless when eaten indoors at home.The biggest advantage to gas is ease of use,turn on gas/light/cook/wipe clean when cool/return to garage till next time.The argument over whether gas/charcoal is not too dissimilar to the argument over open fire/central heating,both do the job just one more efficiently than the other.

  amonra 18:02 29 Apr 2011

Sometimes I tend to "start" the meat on the gas barbie then swop over to the charcoal one to get that burnt taste, delicious !

  morddwyd 19:32 29 Apr 2011

Doesn't matter if it's cooked on gas or charcoal, your keeper/minder will always ruin it by making you eat some salad with it!

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