Nothing says summer on the East End like hosting a barbecue in your backyard with friends and family. Hamptons professionals have the information to help you find your perfect grill.
Jeff Yusko of Southampton’s P.C. Richard & Son says that first and foremost you need to know what size grill you want. Consider the number of people you ordinarily cook for and the space you have available. For your family and small groups, 600 to 900 square inches of cooking surface should be plenty of room, though most portable grills provide only 200 square inches of cooking area.
This is the sort of information you’ll only get from experienced salespeople who operate their own grills at home. “You want a dealer that has knowledgeable sales people,” says Al Topping of Herrick Hardware in Southampton.
Yusko advises that you look for stainless steel grills. “You pay more, but get more longevity.”
There are two types of fuels for gas grills: propane and natural gas. Natural gas grills are less expensive than propane or charcoal, but require the installation of a dedicated pipeline by a certified professional to provide fuel to the grill. Also, with natural gas grills, once the gas line is installed, your grill will be immobile—so choose wisely.
Most grills on the East End use liquid propane, which requires a tank. A 20-pound tank lasts for about 25 hours of grilling time. Propane gas grills offer more flexibility with regard to grill placement because they don’t require a dedicated gas pipeline. “The portable grill with a cart is atypical,” says Yusko—but it’s a popular option on the East End.
Yusko recommends always keeping a spare tank of propane at hand. He says, “It’s not always easy to get a tank at the last minute.”
There are also charcoal and electric grills. With charcoal, you should look for grills that make it easy to regulate the heat. Electric grills are good for Hamptonites who have a small patio or balcony that has an electrical outlet. The benefits of an electric grill are that they heat up quickly, cook food evenly and are fairly easy to clean.
For charbroil grills, Yusko recommends getting one with a side burner, and to look at the British Thermal Units—btu’s. Yusko also suggests a sear burner. “The sear burner has become a big thing because it gets a lot hotter a lot quicker.”
Is charcoal or propane better? That depends on personal taste. “Charcoal takes more time and patience. Propane grills are fast and easy to operate,” says Topping. Both Topping and Yusko stand by the Weber brand because of its solid value and ease of set-up. “Weber is highly rated,” Topping points out.
For cleaning purposes, “Always coat the grill with olive oil,” says Yusko. This makes the grill much easier to clean after grilling. Brush the rack while it’s still hot. It’s a good idea to clean out the drip pan after each use.
“You should get a good brush, and it’s nice to have a toolset with tongs, spatula and a fork,” says Yusko.
Always cover your barbecue, to protect it from the elements, and to cook your food more quickly.
Yusko recommends that if your propane tank gets rusty, get rid of it. Never store a propane tank indoors, and when you’re finished using the grill, make sure the valve is turned completely off, and that you disconnect the tank. The most common thing to go awry with your grill is that the igniter wears out—Yusko says it can easily be replaced.
Have a fun-filled grilling experience this summer!