Monday, April 30, 2012

Saving Pennies

For years I have struggled with my grill. It was a cheapo that I had bought a decade and a half ago while broke and newly out of college. It held up well but had quite a few flaws. The tank holder underneath had broken the first season of use so moving the grill required holding the tank with one hand and moving the grill with the other. It had only two burners and the temperature control only set it at hot or flash fry. If I needed warm or moderate grilling temperature, I turned one side off and put everything over there but you didn't get that good char effect. You basically ended up with stuff that looked like you had baked it in an oven. It didn't have a drip tray so I ended up fashioning one out of some wire and a large can but still it was hit or miss if it caught everything. The pizzo igniter never worked out of the box meaning I always had to have one of those hand held butane lighters with long tips to light the thing. Finally, about three years ago the burners started crapping out with large sections caving in to rust and by last fall, I essentially had two blowtorches where the gas entered near the center of the grill because the burners had rusted completely off. I could have bought new burners for about half the price of the grill but they alone wouldn't address all the other issues so a few years ago I began saving my pennies to live up to my recent motto of buying it right the first time around even if this was my second.

Last summer I had thought about buying one on discount during fall but with a potential move coming and a poor selection left, I put it off. I honestly thought we would have moved by now but we haven't and grilling season was upon us so in March, I finally plunked down the cash and bought a new grill.

I apologize for the cloudiness of the photo from my cellphone which I only recently discovered was due to a gunked up lens from carrying it around in my pocket all day. The above grill is a Kenmore and one that took me an immense amount of searching to find. It met my requirements nicely. Those requirements were:

  • Stainless steel for better rust protection.
  • At least 4 burners for better temperature control
  • Better gas tank holding method
  • Larger wings for putting food, cooking utensils, seasonings and beer to drink while grilling
  • Heavier duty racks that could be removed for occasional cleaning
  • No side burners (don't ever use them and they just take up a lot of real estate and add more parts to go wrong.)
The no side burners requirement was perhaps the hardest specification to find in a grill that met the other requirements but I had a few to choose from and in the end, I opted for a smaller much more cost efficient grill than the other two. I have grilled on it several times already and probably a couple more by the time you read this post and it makes grilling such a joy instead of the battle it has been for the last 15 years. No longer do I have to eat sub par food. The meal that you see at the top of this post was the very first on the new grill way back in mid-March. Two steaks, a handfull of asparagus and some leftover frozen raw shrimp. Surf 'n' turf! Man was is good.


R. Sherman said...

I'm saving for a hybrid charcoal/gas grill which I can use for smoking and grilling. I need to find one that has the place for lava rock in bottom to catch the juices from grilled meats.

Yours looks great and I'm jealous.


PhilippinesPhil said...

Bout time you did your share to contribute to the economy. (pl) btw, got back from Thailand yesterday. Two weeks of nonstop doing "stuff," awesome fun stuff. I'm pretty sure its inspired me to put fingers to keys again... maybe if i just do a few nibbles at a time? To put it short, if you haven't been ya gotta go... They LOOK like Filipinos but they don't act like em... That country has it together big time...

Ed said...

R. Sherman - My last grill that I just got rid of had lava rocks but I never did care for them. Of course I wasn't using it as a smoker since I have a dedicated one for that which does a great job.

Phil - I've always wanted to go to Thailand someday. I am certainly in love with the food if for no other reason.

Vince said...

[chuckle] that will require it's own clause in the will.

I'm a bit lost though why if you BBQ that much you don't build a brick one.

Ed said...

Vince - Actually it was quite reasonable after I ditched the side burner option and only got one as big as I needed.

I would like a brick one but I really didn't have a paved patio area for one and I'm also looking at moving later this summer and I want to take the thing with me.

Vince said...

I had to look up the side burner. Seems a bit pointless unless you are out in the far outback well away from the kitchen cooking rings.

I was looking at the prices for here. WOW the prices have come down. You could buy a car for the cost of one of them three years ago.

warren said...

I bet it shines with a bit of turtle wax too!

Ed said...

Vince - Since we are planning on doing 99.9% of all grilling on our deck out back, twenty steps from our stove inside, we really didn't see the point of a side burner either. Yeah, the prices definitely are more reasonable these days.

Warren - Maybe, if turtle wax makes a high temp version!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Ed, I found just one simple dish over there that I made sure my wife got the recipe for. Its a simple broth filled with noodles, chopped cabbage and green onions. I'm pretty sure you are talking about the HOT Thai stuff which my screwed up stomach cannot abide.

Ed said...

Phil - Although I like spicy foods, I have found that Thai spice goes well off my scale of tolerance. At the local Thai restaurant they offer spice on a scale of 1 to 10 for each dish, 10 being the most spicy. A rating of 4 is about my upper limit. I can't imagine what a 10 is but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't survive an encounter.

Murf said...

Kenmores are great...although I give it a year before the igniter goes on this as well. Those things don't seem to last for very long. I do like the sideburner to grill onions and green peppers when you are doing brats or italian sausage on the main one.

Ed said...

Murf - I've found a sheet a tinfoil right on the grill grates is a perfect place to grill peppers and onions with the bonus of giving them a very nice smoky flavor.