Covered in dank grease and half-burnt matches, those rusty, weather-worn grills lurking in our backyards beg a serious question, the outcome of which may affect the enjoyment of an entire summer. Is this the year to get serious about grilling?
Grilling means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some, the grill is the outdoor centerpiece to family gatherings and holidays. (Who doesn’t fire up the grill on Fourth of July?) For others, grilling is just an easier, cleaner and quicker way to cook up a quick steak after a long day’s work. There are those who want the perfect outdoor culinary tool for making perfectly smoked meats. And for some, of course, a grill doesn’t represent the desire to cook as much as a means to brag – an excuse to say, “My grill is bigger than yours.”
Without resorting to big box stores, our region offers a plethora of grill styles, models, sizes, brands, and new technologies that will have outdoor chefs heads spinning with excitement – and tough choices. Whether your budget is $100 or $5,000, there’s something for everyone.
The first grill that caught my eye was the Landmann Big Sky Stars And Moons Fire Pit, which can be found at Montrose’s Inside & Out Hearth and Patio (2400, E. Main St.) and Park Avenue True Value Hardware (601 E. Main St.). Doubling as a grill, this fire pit sits low to the ground, allowing the evening meal to become a spectacle. Pull up a chair and watch as brats, steaks and chicken sizzle over charcoal briquettes or a wood-burning fire. Once dinner is served, toss in a few pieces of wood and you have an urban campfire to warm your guests during cool Western Slope evenings.
The grill has a 23.5-inch diameter bowl and comes with a full-size enamel cooking grate, spark guard cover and a fire poker. With its decorative night-sky cutouts, it also brings an aesthetic quality to the grilling/campfire experience. The Big Sky Fire Pit is as simple and inviting as it gets.
Simplicity is everything for some people when it comes to grilling. Anything more than turning on the gas and clicking the igniter might just be too much for the most laid back griller. If this is you, the liquid propane-fired Weber Spirit E-320 provides an easy-as-it-gets grilling experience, yet it gets the job done. This grill, along with other great Weber models can be found at Park Avenue True Value Hardware and at Timberline Ace Hardware in Telluride (200 E. Colorado Ave.).
Sparked by an electronic crossover ignition system, the Spirit E-320’s two stainless steel burners put out 26,000 BTUs per hour. This grill has 350 square inches of cooking space and a 108-square-inch warming rack. It’s a heavy-duty grill with a stainless steel work surface; some models come with an enclosed cart, painted black. If it’s a rainy evening and you’re rushing to get the grill started, this Weber won’t let you down. One click and it’s fired up.
Want a quick-and-easy grill that smokes at the click of a button? A line of innovative, wood-pellet fueled Green Mountain Grills impart true wood flavor into grilled foods with ease. Smoked ribs, brisket and pork loins are so easy with these grills, available at Colorado Fireside & Masonry Supply (4134 N. Townsend Ave., Montrose). Just fill the grill’s hopper with wood pellets, flip a switch, and 15 minutes later the grill is smoking and ready to go.
Besides the ease of smoking meats, perhaps one of the best features of these grills is the digital controller that can adjust the temperature in five-degree increments from 150 degrees to 500 degrees. It’s perfect for slow-smoked brisket and Thanksgiving turkeys as well as hot, fast and smoked N.Y. Strips. These smokin’-hot grills are available in two sizes to suit small decks and expansive patios alike.
Lately, backyard grill discussions have been largely focused on the new and popular versions of egg-shaped ceramic kamado-style (ancient ceramic cooker) grills. They smoke, they grill and they are fueled by natural lump charcoal. Inside & Out Hearth and Patio carries the Saffire Grill and Smoker, which stays hot longer than a typical steel smoker because of its thick ceramic walls. A similar version of the egg-shaped ceramic cooker is the Kamado Joe, which can be found at Colorado Fireside.
With natural lump charcoal and either a small firelighter square or an electric charcoal starter, the grill gets up to temperature in only 10 minutes. The temperature then can be increased for searing or decreased for slow smoking. But wait, there’s more: The grill’s heat radiation allows it to be used as an oven, as well. Drop in a pizza stone and moments later you’ll have a fresh, smoky, backyard pizza pie.
Backyard pizzas are just the tip of the iceberg when you have an outdoor kitchen fitted with the Quintessential Wood Fired Oven, available at Inside & Out. This easy-to-use outdoor oven is perfect for baking pizzas, breads and meats. While some outdoor ovens may overpower the food with their smoky flavor, this wood-fired oven draws most of the smoke around the food as its cooked, seasoning it with just the right amount of smoky flavor. Available in multiple sizes, the Quintessential oven can be installed in any style of outdoor kitchen. Sausage and basil pizza anyone?
Both Inside & Out and Colorado Fireside are the regional go-to places for all custom outdoor kitchen needs. Patios can be furnished with outdoor ovens, countertops, stovetops and the world’s finest grills. Inside & Out carries (and orders) a line of Alfresco open air culinary systems while Colorado Fireside carries a line of Fire Magic premium grills. Depending on your budget, the options are endless for creating your ideal summer grilling sanctuary. Stop by any one of the above retail stores to find out how your culinary dreams can come true.