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A good grill is an essential tool for the modern cook, not just as a backyard diversion, but a second oven. What it does best is create meat, seafood, and vegetables with a unique flavor, and, because of the high heat, it can come closer to turning out steakhouse meat than anything you can do with most indoor ovens. If configured properly it can even smoke roast low and slow as well as a dedicated smoker.
Decide if you want gas, charcoal, wood pellet, or electric. Let’s do a process of elimination. Electrics do not impart the same flavor as grills that actually have combustion going on, like charcoal, gas, or pellets. Combustion gases create flavor. Nor do they get hot enough to get red meats to a dark brown surface without overcooking the interior. I recommend them only for people in buildings where gas and charcoal are not allowed.
Size matters. The first decision is size, which relates to price. Start by looking at the number of square inches of primary cooking surface. That’s the main cooking grate. Some manufacturers list total cooking area and that includes the warming rack suspended above the primary cooking area. Yes, you can cook up there, but heat dissipates rapidly the further you get from the flame, so food will not cook very quickly on the upper rack.
Burners. On gas grills, aluminum burners burn out and cast iron burners rust. You want stainless or brass burners. Stainless 304 is the best grade. If you will only have one grill, try to get one with an infrared or sear burner so you can do steaks properly. Also, pay attention to which way the burners run, left to right, or front to back.