Infrared Grills are Becoming More Affordable, But Do I Need One?
The quest to cook the perfect outdoor meal has been a monumental task for some outdoor chefs while other grilling mavens can produce a scrumptious well cooked meal on a little charcoal hibachi. Grilling is an art that is constantly changing as new technology is developed to cook food faster and to keep its natural juices intact in the process. One new cooking technology called infrared grilling has been around for the last forty years, but it’s just being introduced to mass consumers at prices that make sense. Restaurants have been using infrared burners to cook juicy steaks and perfectly seared fish entrees for years.
Backyard chefs have been trying to achieve that form of cooking excellence for years, but old charcoal grills just don’t have the right stuff to reach that perfection. Even standard gas grills don’t measure up to infrared burners that can cost big bucks, plus for several years they were hard to find because there was a patent on infrared burners and only a couple of companies produced them.
The patent has expired so the flood gates have opened and the market seems to be flooded with infrared grills at all price points. It looks like the perfect steak is just a few hundred dollars away now, but the question in the minds of most people who love to grill is: Do I really need one of these new fangled cooking gadgets or am I just a victim of another marketing program that entices me with the golden fleece of cooking perfection while it drains my bank account?
Infrared gas grills cook food differently and that difference has convinced some gas grill lovers to abandon their old gas grills and jump into the waters of this relatively new home cooking technology.
Conventional Gas burners actually heat the air that moves around the food, but infrared burners are waves of light that carry heat through the food, but the waves don’t move the air. Cooking food using the old air moving method will dry it out which means the natural juices are lost in the air current. The infrared cooking method doesn’t move the air so the all the natural juices and seasoning stay in the food which enhances it flavor and tenderness. The other important feature of infrared cooking is the heat itself. Infrared burners get hotter faster so the ability to sear a steak or a piece of tuna without burning it is a big plus for some home chefs.
The strength of infrared burners is also a weakness. Infrared burners can get so hot that there’s no time for idle chi-chat. You must be focused on grilling when an infrared grill is being used. Some people just use the infrared burner to sear a piece of meat which seals in the juices and then they move it to a conventional burner to finish the cooking process. The finish product looks like a professionally prepared piece of meat when this process is used. Not everyone cares about that although a good looking piece of meat that has slightly singed edges and the grill marks that indicate the presence of doneness is more attractive to some of us.
Cooking burgers and dogs on an infrared burner can also be a challenge unless the temperature setting is right, so infrared cooking does require some thought before the cooking process begins. Some outdoor chefs like to wing it or be spontaneous when they cook so an infrared grill may not be perfect in their terms.
There are several infrared grill choices so do some research before you choose one. To some of us perfection may be a smoky flavored piece of meat or a slab of ribs cooked on a messy charcoal grill. After all, some of us are still using only land lines to make phone calls.