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Uncover the thrill of the grill in rare and well-done form

By: Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published May 29, 2019

METRO DETROIT — Warm up to cooking outdoors with these tips from folks who know their way around the grill grates.

Pellet grills are popular with those who like a smoky flavor to their barbecue, said Maria Bourlier, of Bourlier & Sons Inc. in Clinton Township.

She explained that a hopper holds the pellets and feeds them into the fire to cook meat and vegetables “with a slight smoky flavor, not overpowering. The pellets come in a variety of flavors, not just mesquite,” she said.

Those who like their barbecue rare are warming up to grills with infrared burners.

“Temperatures reach up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit,” Bourlier said. “Rare steaks are seared within two minutes, locking in the juices.”

She noted that while most of their customers use gas grills, a few are charcoal aficionados, and others use gas in the winter and switch to charcoal in the summer.

Some popular options are LED lighting on barbecue grills, where the lighting changes colors, and an option where a blue light indicates that the burner is off and a red light indicates that the burner is on.

Many outdoor chefs place a barbecue mat under the grill to keep the area clean, Bourlier said. She advises grillers to replace the bristle brush they use to clean the grill grates every year.

“Otherwise, the bristles get into the food because you kept it too long,” she said.

Also, clean the burners of any debris, especially in high-spider areas.

“You don’t want backflash,” she said.

Kurt Craven, general manager of ABC Warehouse-Hawthorne Appliance in Rochester Hills, said the Big Green Egg grill and smoker, which features different temperature zones, is a hit with customers and great for grilling and smoking. He reported that they sell more gas grills, 90%, than they do charcoal grills.

Erin Bert, of Shores Fireplace & BBQ in St. Clair Shores, said that ceramic charcoal grills are growing in popularity.

“They offer more versatility in wood/charcoal cooking, and they retain 35% more moisture in the food than a gas or electric smoker,” she said via email.

“They are slow cookers, cold smokers, hot smokers, searing (grills) and pizza (ovens). Primo just launched a gas burner application in their ceramic grills. That is a first in the industry,” Bert said.

She noted that outdoor pizza ovens can take up to three hours to reach the proper temperature, while the ceramic models do so in significantly less time.

Bert said that pizza stones are popular add-ons.

“They are not just for pizza — they are great for adding a final sear to a rolled flank steak, they char and crisp veggies better, and (they are) a great deflector plate when cooking fish,” she said.

She said that some customers create outdoor kitchens that incorporate both gas and charcoal cooking in their grilling spaces, and also add tabletop fire pits, heat lamps and gas fire pits.

“Read and be familiar with your grill’s owner’s manual,” Bert added. “Maintenance and routine cleaning is key to grill longevity and cook flavor, regardless if it is a Weber or a Lynx. Making sure your food is close to room temperature before putting (it) on (the) grill will help prevent the food from sticking to the grates.”