Let's talk grills and grilling


I have yet to pull the cover off our gas grill, but the last 2 springs I did it was like a stinkbug tenement in there. Couldn’t even catch them all the first time so I thought I’d just let the few who refused to leave roast when I lit it. Ackkkk. Big mistake. Dang did that stink.


Okay. I’m a terrible terrible person and didn’t take any pictures during the party. Managing the grill and trying to maintain conversations the whole time was pretty much all I could manage, bandwidth-wise.

That said, it went really well. Thanks largely to the advice you all gave me here.

We went ahead and did this. We did not need it, but I’m so glad you gave me this advice, just for peace of mind. I never had to worry about the possibility that we’d run out, and that let me focus on what I was doing with much less stress. It’s been a long time since I’ve hosted a party with this many people, and this took a huge weight off.

I’m really looking forward to finding a way to make this work. We have a hook-up out on the deck, that comes directly through the kitchen wall. I just don’t know how to convert the grill to use it.

So we had folks bring stuff they’d want to grill, and juggling that was weird. Because I’m thinking, “Wait, Sharon brought these cool chicken sausages, I have to make sure I grill them for her, and remember which ones are hers.” And of course another person brought a package of chicken franks. And somebody else brought a hunk of ground meat. So balancing all of that was weird.

But it all worked! One of the best bits of advice was @ArmandoPenblade telling me to keep my grill tools marked so I didn’t mix up veg and meat tongs and whatnot. That was a great bit of advice that served me well, and kept me in the mindset of reserving a side of the grill for veg and a side for meat and being really careful. I only messed up once, so I only had to go into the kitchen once to wash a spatula. Great bit of advice.

Almost everything turned out great. The corn was terrific, and really works as a leftover when heated in a toaster oven, of all things. It’s amazing cooking on a gas grill. You can control the heat much more effectively than with charcoal, as I’ve said elsewhere. Furthermore, if you want to just throw a couple more burgers and corn on the grill the next night–as we did last night for the actual birthday–it’s a snap. I love building a charcoal fire, but this is so much more doable on a weeknight.

What’s more, my girlfriend and her mom are really sensitive to smells, like fishy smells. So cooking salmon outside is a great solution. Her son is nuts about salmon, so this will work out just fine as I won’t have to stink up the house.

Thank you again. All of you, for helping me work through this. I feel great about how the party went and that is largely because you all made me feel much more like this was something I could do.



My Weber has one of these built-in. It’s the best thing ever.



I’m so exceedingly pleased that it all turned out well, man. Congrats to you, and happy bday to the SO :)


Great to hear! So what did you do with a hunk of ground meat?

If you already have a ready gas line, and it sounds like you do, there are a number of propane-to-natural conversion kits out there if you want to look into it. Quick guide below.


The guy who brought it for him and his kids is a real good guy. One of our gaming friends who plays the most complex games the way Neo fights Agent Smith at the end of The Matrix. His name is Kyle and he’s just got this awesome brain where he can figure stuff out while carrying on a conversation and probably writing a novel.

He wore a t-shirt to the party that has the entire text of “Call of Cthulhu” printed on it, if that gives you any indication.

At any rate, as I juggled the other stuff on the grill I asked him how he wanted the meat–ahem–and he just wanted little burgers. So I asked him to form them into patties the way he wanted them. I felt bad about this, but he jumped right in and did it, essentially forming sliders and doing the proper thumbnail impression so that they wouldn’t bulge too much. They came out perfect.

Awesome. Thank you so much, Chowhound!



Only a brave man grills indoors :)

Also, now that I am a homeowner, I am ITCHING to get a smoker. I got the classic weber kettle, but I really do want a gas grill. Charcoal is fun, but for weeknight grilling, waiting 20-30 minutes for the coals to light and ember up is not something you want to do.

I got so much other home stuff to buy though, grill is low on the list, and I still have the ol’ dependable kettle. Basically indestructible, and works like a charm every time.

I do want to buy a chimney starter though, as I hate the “pile em up and hose em down” with the lighter fluid.


No lighter fluid. No no no no no!



Look, I don’t have time to wait all day for those babies to light.

Plus, big flame = big fun.


Sorry. I wasn’t trying to be a snob. I’m just sensitive to the smell and the taste it imparts to the food, even if you let it burn off. I can smell somebody using that stuff–or even the charcoals impregnated with it–from a street over. And if I can, my girlfriend is going to be exponentially more affected as her sense of smell and taste is even keener than mine.

I guess I’m the opposite of this guy:




The good news is chimney starters take, what, 15-20 minutes to get you ready to cook. Plus they’re uncannily reliable, totally hands-off, and pretty much as idiot-proof as anything can be that involves fire. I love them. Such an elegant alternative.


Great point. I like the process of building a fire from when I first started to learn to grill on my Weber. I used something similar to the process my stepfather taught me about building a fire in our fireplace in Colorado–our main source of heat–and on camping trips. It kind of brought me back to build a fire that way.

But it takes planning and time. And newspaper has become far more scarce. So the chimney is a good alternative. If you squirt a little vegetable oil on the paper under the chimney it goes a bit more quickly.



You know how they keep delivering phone books every year? A set of white and yellow pages can be enough to light all of your charcoal for an entire season. Especially if you put a bit of cooking oil on them. I’d bet you end up with extra every time.


I was at Lowe’s this past Sunday, and saw a few hybrid grills there, from a few hundred to about $500.

  1. You made me laugh when I was having a tough night. Well done!
  2. I never thought of that. I posted a picture of one of those on my driveway like, I don’t know, two years ago, with the caption, “What is this thing and why is it here?” And laughter ensued.
  3. I now know that putting these things directly in the recycling bin is crazy talk.

Thank you again, Rich!




I use a chimney booster to start my charcoal machine. It’s basically a fan that blows air up into the chimney booster. It gets the chimney starter ready to go in 5 minutes.

The unit can run on batteries but I ended up hacking up an old modem AC plug and going directly into the unit.

Chimney booster


A chimney of hot charcoal is great for getting the perfect sear on your sous vide steaks.


Much less work to use a propane torch and a searzall. I guess you might lose some charcoal flavor but given that you’re just briefly searing and not cooking over the charcoal, maybe not.


I have nice older propane grill that was gifted to me. I no longer get gas to the burners despite changing the regulator and gas bottle. Any advice so I don’t reinvent the wheel? I am thinking of using compressed air and soap bubbles to determine the obstruction location.


I’ve grilled on Christmas Day in Pennsylvania the last two years running. Of course, that was before we moved; we had a balcony with a gigantic overhang that never got any rain or snow. Harder now that our grill is in its natural environment (that is, a deck).

A little over a year ago, my wife had a busy week at work, so I embarked on the grillathon, in which I did most of the week’s cooking outside. There are some excellent recipes in there.