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RonaldBBQ

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Joined
May 17, 2024
Location
Southern California
Name or Nickame
Ronald
New user here, definitely appreciate all the experts here. I wanted to get your thoughts. Currently have Weber stainless steel gas grill and a 18” Kamado Joe. Barely use the gas grill anymore, so looking to something bigger primary to grill (family prefers things like kabobs, grilled food over the low n slow smoked food).

Was looking into getting a custom built Santa Maria/Argenrine style grill built by a local welder here.

1) I’m definitely getting stainless steel grates. Don’t want to deal with rust issues in the future.

Is it worth it making the whole exterior of the grill also stainless steel. As you can see from the first picture, the grill grates are SS. But the outside (black part) is heavy duty hot rolled steel. Is simply covering the grill enough to prevent rust issue on the outside? For those of you with carbon steel type exterior, how’s it holding up? I live in Southern Cali about 20 miles away from the beach, not sure if rust is an issue here

2) how do these grill work without any convection heat since they have no lids! Again I don’t plan to use it for low n slow long smokes (can use the Kamado Joe for that). But even for bigger cuts, you would think a lid is important?

3) on the other pictures, you can see some of these Santa Maria grills have adjustable vent. But most of these style of grills don’t have any vent/dampers, pretty much a closed box and the only air flow is coming from the top. Am I missing something here, shouldn’t all charcoal/wood burning grill have some sort of vent system for proper air flow and maintaining the fire? Or is simply the air flow from the top sufficient?

4) Argentine V grates look very cool. But isn’t better to have the fat drop on the coals below and create that nice smoke flavor? Since these grills can be vertically adjusted with the fly wheel, seems like flair ups can be managed? Are there some other advantages to v style grates that I’m missing?

5) any other suggestion to the design, I’m getting firebricks lined in the interior if I end up order this grill. I also recently saw these adjustable charcoal type grill like M1/Hasty bake/etc, so that’s another whole can of worms.

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Thank you!
 

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Stainless steel exterior needed? Not if you take care of it and take care of any scratches. Nice to have? Definitely, if you can afford it.

Lid needed? No, but it can speed up cooking. The only time I've missed a lid was when trying to get cheese to melt on some stuffed peppers - i haven't had that issue with burgers because i apply the cheese right after flipping but i couldn't flip the peppers without the stuffing falling out.

Vents need? Mine has them and I've not tried grilling with them closed so I don't know how much difference they make, but if you look at the grills in the Santa Maria, CA area where the style first became popular in the USA, you'll see that most don't have vents so they obviously work without them.

V grates? I have them and like them (except when grilling hot dogs - the dogs like to roll down into the collected grease). You still get some drippings but you don't spend a lot of time moving the grates up and down dodging flare-ups, especially with burgers.

This is my favorite way to cook!
 

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Stainless steel exterior needed? Not if you take care of it and take care of any scratches. Nice to have? Definitely, if you can afford it.

Lid needed? No, but it can speed up cooking. The only time I've missed a lid was when trying to get cheese to melt on some stuffed peppers - i haven't had that issue with burgers because i apply the cheese right after flipping but i couldn't flip the peppers without the stuffing falling out.

Vents need? Mine has them and I've not tried grilling with them closed so I don't know how much difference they make, but if you look at the grills in the Santa Maria, CA area where the style first became popular in the USA, you'll see that most don't have vents so they obviously work without them.

V grates? I have them and like them (except when grilling hot dogs - the dogs like to roll down into the collected grease). You still get some drippings but you don't spend a lot of time moving the grates up and down dodging flare-ups, especially with burgers.

This is my favorite way to cook!
Thanks for your response!

Very cool set up you have. Even though you don’t have a lid, it looks like you have a wall/lip around the back perimeter of the grill?

How old is your grill? Trying to figure out the maintenance part of a non stainless steel grill. Have you noticed any rust issues on the outside? Do you keep it covered?
 
Thanks for your response!

Very cool set up you have. Even though you don’t have a lid, it looks like you have a wall/lip around the back perimeter of the grill?

How old is your grill? Trying to figure out the maintenance part of a non stainless steel grill. Have you noticed any rust issues on the outside? Do you keep it covered?
I got it in 2021. No rust issues - the maker uses "pickled" steel which is supposed to help prevent rust but I really don't know what that "pickled" means. I try to clean the ashes out within a day or two of using it and then cover it, but I'm not too reliable on that during the summer.

The back and sides are relatively tall; that really helps keep the fire under control on windy days. If you look closely, you can probably tell that there's a brassero in the back behind the grates and the back is taller than the sides. A side brassero is probably more convenient but that would have either cut down on grate width or made the grill extremely wide.

I also have split grates so i can have then at two different levels, giving me the capability of managing temperature zones both by fire and coal distribution and two separate grate heights. I also have a griddle to swap with one grate but i don't use it much - the gas griddle is just so much more convenient
 

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I have a Sunterra santa maria grill.
I sometimes use a lid to help trap smoke and provide some convective heating.
The V-channel grates are good for fatty foods like chicken and ribs, but as mentioned cause problems with hot dogs etc.
I also have "laser cut" grates that I can swap out for the Argentinian grates.
Both sets of grates are carbon steel, and I have never had a rust problem with them or with the firebox itself.
Sometimes I even remove the grates completely and just use the firebox for kabobs or a Dutch oven or a rotisserie.
I always leave my vents open and sometimes even place a fan towards the front vents when starting the fire.

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Some great responses above. I would highly recommend lid and intake vents. Makes the grill so much more versatile especially with indirect cooking. I used to smoke ribs on mine.

Check out Kingman model with lid from Arizona BBQ Outfitters. They have great quality stuff. May give you some good ideas too. Sunterra as well although I don't think they have ones with lids.

 
I built a SM with v grates- and love it...for what it is. It is a chicken cooking machine- but for just about everything else I cook, It's just so-so in my opinion. Having no lid means you waste a lot of heat - straight up- it eats fuel. And there is no way to "shut it down after a cook" - so you have the right amount of fuel for the cook- or you add more coal /sticks to finish it out and they go to waste. Yes, you can lower the grate to eek out some remaining coals - and that might work- or not. After having it and cooking a ton of food on it- I'm glad I have it- was a fun project. But I don't know that a "slightly modified" "Chud Box" style cooker with a way to raise /lower the coal grate (instead of the cooking grate) would not be a better fit for me.
 
Some great responses above. I would highly recommend lid and intake vents. Makes the grill so much more versatile especially with indirect cooking. I used to smoke ribs on mine.

Check out Kingman model with lid from Arizona BBQ Outfitters. They have great quality stuff. May give you some good ideas too. Sunterra as well although I don't think they have ones with lids.

Arizona Bbq outfitters built mine. I waffled back and forth about a lidded model but ultimately decided against it in favor of the rear brassero, high back and sides, and brick-lining.
 
I built a SM with v grates- and love it...for what it is. It is a chicken cooking machine- but for just about everything else I cook, It's just so-so in my opinion. Having no lid means you waste a lot of heat - straight up- it eats fuel. And there is no way to "shut it down after a cook" - so you have the right amount of fuel for the cook- or you add more coal /sticks to finish it out and they go to waste. Yes, you can lower the grate to eek out some remaining coals - and that might work- or not. After having it and cooking a ton of food on it- I'm glad I have it- was a fun project. But I don't know that a "slightly modified" "Chud Box" style cooker with a way to raise /lower the coal grate (instead of the cooking grate) would not be a better fit for me.

This is all true. You can figure on 4-5 logs for a fire, more if it's a long cook. Plus it takes twice as long to start your fire than charcoal does. You also have all the smoke to deal with, and you can't just walk away while your food cooks.

But if you got the time and wood, and you like playing with fire and food, it's hard to beat the flavor of food cooked over an open fire.
 
This is all true. You can figure on 4-5 logs for a fire, more if it's a long cook. Plus it takes twice as long to start your fire than charcoal does. You also have all the smoke to deal with, and you can't just walk away while your food cooks.

But if you got the time and wood, and you like playing with fire and food, it's hard to beat the flavor of food cooked over an open fire.
I always wondered this, does cooking over an open woodfire really make any difference in taste compared to a traditional charcoal grill? Have you noticed any difference in flavor?
 
I built a SM with v grates- and love it...for what it is. It is a chicken cooking machine- but for just about everything else I cook, It's just so-so in my opinion. Having no lid means you waste a lot of heat - straight up- it eats fuel. And there is no way to "shut it down after a cook" - so you have the right amount of fuel for the cook- or you add more coal /sticks to finish it out and they go to waste. Yes, you can lower the grate to eek out some remaining coals - and that might work- or not. After having it and cooking a ton of food on it- I'm glad I have it- was a fun project. But I don't know that a "slightly modified" "Chud Box" style cooker with a way to raise /lower the coal grate (instead of the cooking grate) would not be a better fit for me.
Are you saying for bigger cuts of meat, it’s not really a good option? I assume something like chicken you can cook direct and grill it, no need for indirect heat unless you have a whole big chicken?
 
I always wondered this, does cooking over an open woodfire really make any difference in taste compared to a traditional charcoal grill? Have you noticed any difference in flavor?
Yes, there is a taste difference. No, i can't describe the difference - I'll give it some thought and post if I come up with anything.
 
Are you saying for bigger cuts of meat, it’s not really a good option? I assume something like chicken you can cook direct and grill it, no need for indirect heat unless you have a whole big chicken?
You can definitely grill bigger cuts of meat but it'll probably take longer unless you're comparing to low and slow smoking. Do a YouTube search for "Argentinian grill festival" to see some great examples. I've grilled whole chickens lots of times although I always spatchcock them for faster and more even cooking.

That being said, it does require more attention and work, both to manage the fire and to flip the food.
 
I always wondered this, does cooking over an open woodfire really make any difference in taste compared to a traditional charcoal grill? Have you noticed any difference in flavor?
I could never taste the difference for open grilling w/ wood embers versus charcoal, but most definitely smokier flavor when using a lid.

As a side note, I also learned there is difference between wood grilling Argentine style with wood embers versus open flames that you sometimes see with Cali Santa Maria-style tri-tips

 
Santa Maria grill is so much on my want list just glad is not on my need list.:unsure::unsure::unsure::unsure::unsure:YET!!!
 
Would never try to dissuade anyone from getting a Santa Maria- they are fine cookers- and a great addition if you have "cooker acquisition syndrome". I can't think of a grill that is more impressive looking than a fully kitted out SM- definitely a conversation piece. Mister Jeff is quite right- wood fire cooking is a different animal - very interactive, fun and rewarding. I built mine off a quick drawing I made- and it has somethings that I would definitely do differently if there was a next time. I'd do the dual / smaller grates- that feature gives temperature options other than rearranging the burning wood like I have to do. I would opt for swappable grates - so I could have v grates or bar grates depending on what protein was on the menu. (The permanent v grates are probably the sole reason prefer it as a chicken cooker - maybe sausage - but not much else.)
 
Thanks everyone for your input. After more research and thoughts, I bought more of an entry piece at $400 to get into this new style of cooking. Got the SM Grill from Costco (it’s from Santa Maria BBQ Outfitters).

Already have a Weber gas grill (that I’m now trying to get rid of lol, barely use that anymore) and a Kamado Joe. So figured this would be a good piece to start with without breaking the bank just yet lol.

Now in the process of thinking of making some modification like adding fire bricks to the bottom, maybe adding a rotisserie
 
Thanks everyone for your input. After more research and thoughts, I bought more of an entry piece at $400 to get into this new style of cooking. Got the SM Grill from Costco (it’s from Santa Maria BBQ Outfitters).

Already have a Weber gas grill (that I’m now trying to get rid of lol, barely use that anymore) and a Kamado Joe. So figured this would be a good piece to start with without breaking the bank just yet lol.

Now in the process of thinking of making some modification like adding fire bricks to the bottom, maybe adding a rotisserie
Enjoy it! A Santa Maria style grill makes for great theater when having people over. I always found people wanted to play with the wheel lol
 
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