Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Is Charcoal "better" ?

I've always been a fan of charcoal, and over the years, I have gone through several different variations of charcoal grills. Cutting to the chase, I recently bought an Eco-Que from MEC. It's the 12" square version, so it does not really have tons of space. Nevertheless, I thought it might be interesting, and it sure was/is. The big claim to fame is that you only need to use 9 charcoal briquettes for each session. Also, there are 3 different methods of arranging the 9 that afford 3 different levels of heat. Recently, I employed the method of standing the 9 pieces up vertically, for the highest heat output;
As you can see, it's a neat and tidy arrangement, and with the pyramid shape, the heat is quite well distributed...
The foil liners are an available add-on that makes clean-up a bit easier. 
This method, however, produces too much heat for most cooking tasks, so I don't think I'll be using it again.
As you can see, it was difficult to keep the meat from burning. In future, I'll probably use the "middle" method, where you lay all 9 pieces down on their side. Actually, it's probably best to use a dozen or so pieces in this configuration, but it works well, with less intense heat.
Even with the high heat, the t-bones were quite "salvageable"  :)
The Que also comes with a nice cover, and with its ability to fold flat and store in a nifty carrying bag, I think it'll become a well-used addition.
 Pictures above and below show the medium heat method, which is by far the most suitable for burgers, steaks etc.

The only real drawback with this BBQ is the stainless steel grilling surface is difficult to clean. I think I'm going to try and fit some sort of replacement grill, consisting of several rods or something, in order to make clean-up easier.
For the low-heat method, you actually remove the holder that the 9 briquettes sit on, and place them on a lower surface. I used that method once but it took way too long for things to cook. I can't see a use for such a low-heat output...perhaps it might work for smoking something.
They also sell a 12" grill surface that can apparently be used to fry eggs and bacon etc etc. I'm a little skeptical of that, but mostly because I figure food will stick to it, but I might be wrong.
My final judgment is that this is a good unit, and while not light enough for a backpacking trip, this will easily find a home for car or canoe camping. The only real negative is that cleaning the grill requires work, but then again, most do.
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