How to Get the Flavor of Charcoal When You're Grilling with Gas
Gas grills: lots of people have them. They’re easy to start, they’re usually pretty big (translation: they can cook 40 burgers at once), and their heat can be tweaked with a flick of the wrist. The only problem? They can’t impart the smoky flavor of charcoal.
Or can they?
Although you’ll never get that exact charred taste without the real thing, there are some tricks that will get you pretty darn close. Below, BA Associate Food Editor Chris Morocco tells us how to take your gas grill to the next level. –Danielle Walsh
1. Crank It
We love charcoal for its natural ability to provide temperature zones–extreme heat directly over coals and more moderate heat away from the coals. Try to mimic the heat output with your gas grill by putting part of it on high, (as high as it will go–don’t be scared) and part on low or even turned off. This will create more maillard (browning) reactions in proteins, which translates to flavor.
2. Smoke It Out
Using a smoker box, which uses wood chips, (like this one from Weber) adds great flavor. Place it on the grill, throw down your meat and veggies, shut the grill’s cover, and let the smoke work its magic.
3. Build Up the Heat
Before searing that steak, throw tinfoil or an old baking sheet over the grate to build up extra heat for a really amazing char. The blast of heat only lasts for about 30 seconds, so be at the ready–slip your meat on the grate right as you remove the foil–and it will result in an unmatched sear.
4. Don’t Blow Your Cover
Whereas keeping the cover on a charcoal grill reduces its heat output (it thrives on airflow) the cover helps build and maintain heat on a gas grill. Remember, it’s all about the heat when it comes to a good char, so keep that cover on as much as possible–plus it helps build more smoke, which you want.
The conclusion? The convenience of a propane-powered grill is incredible. In the Test Kitchen, we have used one for 12-hour smoking projects and were able to sleep through the night with it set to low, putting out just the right amount of heat. But if I have a $50 ribeye, I am going charcoal all the way. –Chris Morocco
Article courtesy of Bon Appetit.