• Infrared & Hybrid: Two innovative gas grill options for outdoor cooking.

    Grilling and barbequing is not a new pastime, and has probably existed since humans first began to cook within their cave dwellings. Some argue that barbeque really hit its stride in the smoke houses of ancient China. Others claim that it rose in popularity in Old Europe or the Middle East. Meanwhile, language experts point out that the word "barbeque" is derived from the Spanish word "barbacoa" which was found in the writings of 14th century Spanish explorers in the West Indies, Central America, and South America.  

    But one thing that everyone can agree on is that the options for creating backyard BBQ have certainly become more plentiful in recent years, thanks to innovations in culinary technology. A major step forward happened in the 1960s, when a fellow who worked for the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company invented the first natural gas fueled grill by converting an ordinary charcoal grill by installing a gas line. Since then the demand for natural gas grills has soared, and today there are several amazing cleaner-burning gas grill options on the market.

    A recent trend is the addition of an infrared burner at the back of the grill to provide evenly distributed intense heat of up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. With an infrared burner it is easier to quickly sear meats, for example, and fans of infrared cooking says that it leaves meats moist because it cooks them quickly with less drying. Horizontal rotisserie cooking over an infrared burner is also easy and delicious, and many cooks not that infrared cooking enhances flavor much like a charcoal or wood grill does.

    Prices for infrared grills used to be quite high, but since the original patents expired 10 years more competition between manufacturers has inspired much lower prices. So if you looked at them a few years ago and were put-off by the cost, you may want to give them a second look today.

    But perhaps the most intriguing option is the so-called hybrid grill. These are specially designed gas grills that can also burn charcoal or wood. So you have the benefits of low-odor, clean-burning gas plus the rich flavor of charcoal or wood. If you are cooking with wood your gas burners also ensure a quick start without delay - and without the use of any noxious lighter fluid products.

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  • Tips for Planning an Outdoor Kitchen or BBQ Area
    Cooking, grilling, and entertaining while enjoying the convenience of your own outdoor kitchen or BBQ area is tremendous fun. If you are considering putting in this kind of feature, here are some expert tips to help you plan it more creatively, effectively, and affordably.
    • The cost of an outdoor kitchen depends on how simple or elaborate it is. But the three essential components are 1) a grill, 2) refrigerator, and a 3) sink with an adjacent counter or prep area. Those on a budget may use an ice chest instead of a fridge and a portable grill instead of a permanently installed one, but those three elements are the heart of the outdoor cooking area. 
    • Entry-level kitchens can be built for less than $1,000, while more elaborate ones will likely cost $4,000 or more. Planning the project on paper is really important, because it keeps you organized and you can easily alter those designs without spending a penny.
    • Also use modular designs - those that can be gradually expanded without looking like a haphazard patchwork. That gives you the option of upgrading your outdoor kitchen over time, as your budget allows.
    • The biggest mistake people make when planning an outdoor cooking space is that they fail to provide enough counter space and other zones for placing or storing plates, food, and utensils close at hand.
    • To minimize the cost of maintenance all materials used should meet several criteria. They should be easy to clean, require little or no painting or staining, and not rust, peel, or otherwise deteriorate when exposed to extreme temperatures or rainfall.

    Start with an existing patio or terrace to avoid the expense of creating one, and then add an overhead shelter. Replace the portable outdoor grill and tables with a permanent cooking station that has built-in weatherproof counter space. Instead of using the backyard security lights or Tiki torches, invest in some soothing outdoor lighting with dimmer switch controls or install inexpensive solar-powered landscaping lights.

    For some great outdoor kitchen ideas - including a complete design guide and checklist that you can download for free - visit the resourceful website of Kalamazoo Gourmet (KalamazooGourmet.com). This company is one of the leading distributors of gas grills and their site is full of information to help anyone planning an outdoor kitchen or more tricked-out BBQ area.

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