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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 05-04-2011, 06:15 PM   #1
BBQFuture
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Howdy y'all!

I have been BBQing for the past 6 years or so. My specialty is "rib roast". I also make a pretty good cedar planked salmon. I have gone through several grills, and have had the same problems with them over and over again and have set my engineer's mind to designing a better grill.

Heat Source: When researching current grill state of the art technology I often see "infrared" mentioned. Apparently, many have decided that radiant heat is the best cooking method for BBQ. This makes sense as it simulates cooking over an open flame rather than in an oven. So, my instinct is to use an infrared heat source. After looking into it, I have found infrared heating elements that are either gas or electric powered. I personally would prefer to use electric, as I am suspicious as to the contaminants released when burning either propane or natural gas. Charcoal/wood are unsuitable for me because one of my requirements is speed. The ability to turn the heat on and off instantly would be ideal. The problem it seems is that there is not a reliable way to achieve the power output of LP/gas using electric infrared elements. I've looked at the quartz elements that look like lightbulbs and the ceramic ones that look like a piece of tile with an oven burner running through it. Neither seem to be as powerful as gas.

Quick cleaning/durable: Most grills I have purchased are a pain to clean and last an average of about 2 years out on my deck.

The ultimate BBQ: What I have in mind is an electric infrared grill. The heat will come from above, inside the "lid" sort of like a broiler. The grill area will need to be able to absorb infrared, to be able to conduct heat to the food in order to provide the "grill marks" that everyone loves. There will also be a wood smoker box that will allow you to dial in some wood flavor into whatever you are cooking for that true BBQ experience. Underneath the grill will just be a pan for collecting grease, ash etc... The only parts needing to be cleaned will be the outside of the device, the grill surface and the pan. Having a non-stick grill surface that is durable and easy to clean is also key. Since it's electric, no reason why it shouldn't be light/portable as well.

Is there an electric infrared source that can produce enough heat to sear steaks and leave them rare in the middle within 10-15 minutes of startup?? What material should the grilling surface be made of that will absorb infrared and be durable and easy to clean? Carbon fiber? What other materials should I consider using?

BTW, if there is already an ultimate bbq that does all that I am suggesting, please let me know so I can buy it and get back to worrying about other matters :)

Thanks!
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Unread 05-04-2011, 06:30 PM   #2
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Interesting, but something like that would take all the fun out of BBQ'ing.
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Unread 05-04-2011, 06:34 PM   #3
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Why not invent a microwave BBQ/Smoker?
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Unread 05-04-2011, 07:32 PM   #4
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By definition, I don't think you can technically call it BBQ without an open flame, it would be some type of oven or cooker.
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Unread 05-04-2011, 07:42 PM   #5
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^^^ that, and technically barbecuing and grilling aren't the same. It would be a grill, not a smoker (for barbecue).

Our meat doesnt have "grill marks" because it's not grilled. The heat source should be indirect, not direct, and hold 220 to
260 (whatever you want) steady for a long time.

To me, simply, the perfect smoker (BBQ) would be a combination of a Lang and a Jambo.
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Unread 05-04-2011, 07:46 PM   #6
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Ok so for me this is all about the health, sustainability, green value of the cooking and the food it produces, including the flavor and texture of the food.

I thought BBQ required wood smoke, not necessarily an open flame. Is a Smoker not a form of BBQ? Not sure.

Microwaves... I don't know why but I have an inherent distrust of microwaves even though I realize that they are just another electromagnetic wave like IR. In some sense microwaves might be considered better because they only induce motion in molecules with a single specific bond angle (water) whereas IR may stimulate a much broader array of molecules or larger structures within the food. I remember hearing that microwaves were bad. I know generally the food I have made in them turns out dry and has an odd flavor.

I am not really sure I even understand the different kinds of heat and their effects on food even though I have been cooking for 30 years and bbqing for 6.

And yes, I know that heating any food and exposing it to smoke is probably somehow unhealthy, but of course we all love the flavor it produces, and I am willing to sacrifice length of life for quality in this sense.
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Unread 05-04-2011, 07:54 PM   #7
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cast iron would be good for your grates, it needs to be dark in color to absorbe the most energy. You will need a heat source under the grate though to get the best grill marks. A simple 220 volt oven element will give you the output you need. Infared heat is is just heat from light, as such it generaly needs to be combined with another form of heat. What you describe is an oven broiled with a smoke generator. might be good for grilling but not for bbq, infared cooking is a direct heat cooking and for bbq you want indirect.
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Unread 05-04-2011, 07:58 PM   #8
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As far as durability, my Lang is close to 20 years old, and my Brinkmann Stillwater is probably 18 years old. Both are probably at the mid point in their life... Electricity requires wires, and of course electricity. No thanks. I'll stick with with my old fashioned stick burners.

Actually, smokers are BBQ, grills are not (generally). I have two weber grills and another gasser grill. They aren't smokers and they dont really barbecue (well, the webers can, but there's no reason with 2 pure smokers right there).

If your grills are dead after 2 years, take a look at getting a good weber grill. My new one is about 10 years old, and the old one is probably 17 years old...
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Unread 05-04-2011, 08:13 PM   #9
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Green value? Huh?

How about health, sustainability, green value, clean coal, less dependence on foreign olive oil, and raising the UDS ceiling? I like where this is going! ;)
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Unread 05-04-2011, 08:38 PM   #10
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My Weber Kettles are probably close to 30 years old each, and they do a fine job. They've never been indoors or covered. Other than a set of replacement grates (cooking and charcoal grates) maintenance has been clean out the ashes, scrape the grill grate, and an occasional thunderstorm.

With a chimney starter and lump, I can have probably put steaks or burgers on the plate within 30 minutes of putting a flame to the chimney. I can add a wood chunk if I want smoke flavor, but I use a UDS for smoking.

To me, BBQ, as well as grilling, is not about speed.

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Unread 05-04-2011, 08:57 PM   #11
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You're worried about what might be released from the incomplete combustion of propane but are going to be burning wood chips that will release polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and searing fatty artery clogging meat to put on beautiful grill lines making heterocyclic amines in the process?

I'd get a weber gasser and call it a day. Ymmv.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 08:21 AM   #12
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The entire argument makes no sense. This guy is calling a grill a bbq.

That right there tells me he's a confused individual.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 08:38 AM   #13
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Awww....be nice now Cook....


Although I do agree that the argument is flawed.

1st: BBQ is not about speed. It's about knowing your pit, knowing how to manipulate the fire and smoke and making a cheaper, tougher piece of meat into something tender, juicy and delicious. This usually just cannot be done quickly. Even the so called "hot and fast" BBQ methods still take hours. Perfect Q still takes a great amount of time. Personally, I'd have it no other way.

2nd: What you're talking about is a grill, not a BBQ. At best, I'd call it an outdoor oven. You asked about whether or not a smoker is a form of BBQ, to which the answer is yes. Still.....what you describe sounds like an infrared grill. Now, they do, indeed have infrared cookers out there. BUT....at least to me.....it still ain't true, traditional BBQ. Some may disagree.

3rd: Green BBQ? What is more green than using wood or charcoal to cook with? It uses NO energy source other than the combustion of the fuel, which is indeed an energy source, but I mean I don't get a bill for it and it doesn't deplete the local energy supply. The infrared cooker you're considering will use multiple times more energy than all my charcoal and wood smokers combined, many times over. This goes with the whole problem I have with "green" technology anyway. I have no issue with the idea that green or clean energy is less polluting, but it AIN'T free. Electric cars are still powered by a source that is created by burning coal (generally). By having to plug in your grill/cooker and use electric power, there goes your whole green theory in my mind.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 08:42 AM   #14
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First, yes you are mainly talking about grilling, not BBQ. I would guess that your problem is buying a cheaply made grill. You get what you pay for. Infrared seems to be the new buzzword and may be superior in some ways. But to me, you either want to enjoy the experience and take pride in your efforts or you mainly want to be a gadget freak.

While I am of the opinion that they are silly extravagances except for competition types, the best BBQ gadget that you can pursue would be a pellet cooker with an automatic feeder system. I am also an engineer by trade and mindset, but I use cooking as a way of exploring my creative side while trying to understand the cause and effect of heat source and intensity, spices, chemistry and they effect my senses. It's the end result, not the stuff.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 08:52 AM   #15
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Wood; truly an inexpensive renewable heat source. Plus, while the trees are alive they're helping with photosynthesis. What's greener, than green? Electricity, 'round here anyway, comes from a coal fired plant. It ain't green by any sense of the imagination.

:-)
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