Are you allowed to have a BBQ in your small space?
Before we get too far into the article, we need to stop and look at the legal reality of the situation. It’s possible there may be bylaws or regulations in your area that you need to consider before you get a patio grill.
For example, many localities prohibit the use of barbecues on wooden decks. Others require you to maintain a safe distance from the nearest structure.
Even if there are no government mandates regarding grills, it may be if you rent a unit or own a condo, the landlord or condo owner might have his/her/own set of regulations.
For example: In London, U.K., the London Fire Brigade strongly recommends against barbecuing on any balcony. In New York City, it is prohibited to store a 20-pound LPG tank on a balcony or roof, but you can use a smaller tank for a short period. Charcoal is wholly forbidden on balconies and rooftops, and in a backyard or on a terrace. Electric grills are good to go anywhere in NYC.
To be sure it’s ok for you to own a patio grill, and what kind, consult the website for your municipality or give them a call. If you’re renting, or you live in a condo or townhome, speak with your landlord, or the property owner, or get in touch with your condo association to find out what’s allowed.
How do I choose a good grill?
So how do you choose the right grill? First, you need to determine what type of grilling you plan to do. For example, if your primary interest is in smoking large cuts of meat - ribs, pork shoulder, brisket - for many hours at low temperatures (120-170°F), then perhaps a charcoal kettle grill with a water pan would be best. If you're going to do a lot of grilling at high temperatures (350-550°F) or cooking many small items that can fall through the grates, then a gas grill with cast iron grates would be a better choice.
How about if your primary interest is low and slow - ribs, pork shoulder, brisket - but you also want to do a little direct grilling or searing? Then perhaps a gas grill with an infrared sear burner and cast iron grates would be best. How about if you plan to do some low and slow, some direct grilling at high temperatures, and a lot of grilling for many small items that can fall through the grates (veggies, s'mores, etc.)? Then a three-burner gas grill with cast iron grates would be best. Also, consider how much space you have available and how portable your ideal grill needs to be.
How do I choose my first grill?
I get asked this question all the time. How do I choose my first grill? How long should it be? How many burners? What brands do you recommend for beginners? How much can it hold at a time, and so on?
There are too many questions to answer in one post or even two posts so this is going to be a 3-part series: How to Choose your First Grill, How to Use your Grill and How to Cook on Your Grill
Before we discuss the features of grills let's just go over some basic types of grills that are available:
Hibachi. Hibachi is the Japanese word for "charcoal". These were the first grills. They are basically a metal box with holes in the top to put coal/wood/charcoal inside, and there's a grate on top of that for your meat. These were one of the original cooking methods used by nomads when they didn't have access to pottery or traditional ovens. A local variation of this is called an asador which you see in Central and South America.
Kamado. Kamado-type grills can be ceramic or just about any other material that will hold heat well but is not too dense so it doesn't absorb lots of oil and smoke (re: no burnt flavor). Most Kamados like domes and they're known for their smokey flavor, hot temperatures, and good sear. They're also really heavy.
Vertical Smoker. Vertical smokers are a great option for beginners because they usually have a water tray at the bottom which you can fill up with juice, beer, wine, or tea. The reason is that the heat will make your meat dry out if it's not protected somehow from the heat with either fat, marinade, or sauce. These grills typically have temperature control dials so you can set it to as low as 170 degrees Fahrenheit up to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit depending on how much smokiness you want in your food.
What makes a grill a good grill?
A grill is defined as an " outdoor cook stove having usually a metal grid and often adjustable burners that are used to cook food over charcoal or gas flames." A good grill should have some of these qualities:
It must be able to deliver intense heat. This means that it has to be big enough and well insulated so that the fire has room to spread inside. The grates need to be close together, which will prevent foods from slipping through, and they should have ridges on the bottom for searing meats.
Another feature that enhances its performance is either electricity or natural gas. This allows the grill to be heated faster.
The next feature is its cooking surface - this is where the food will actually cook. What kind of material should it be made out of? It can either be enameled or seasoned cast iron, enameled (or stainless steel), porcelainized steel (semi-enamel), enameled wire, or nickel chrome rods (nickel chromes are very expensive!). Enamel seems to give the best performance overall.
A lid or hood that covers the meat helps keep it tender and juicy while giving extra flavor because of the smoke it allows to contact with the meat. Even if a grill does not have its own lid, placing a metal sheet pan can do nicely.
A cover is not necessary but it will protect your grill from dust and unwanted elements such as rain or snow. It also helps regulate the heat on your grates by trapping in heat while restricting airflow - this helps with cooking on low heat. If the grates are slanted downwards on one side, then you can place hot charcoal underneath for an indirect method of cooking.
How do I choose an outdoor grill?
If you are like me, outdoor cooking probably sounds like a lot of fun. How nice it would be to throw your burgers or brats on the grill and enjoy an evening by the pool or campfire with friends and family!
The fine art of outdoor cooking is certainly not for everyone. It takes some serious patience, persistence, and dedication to maintain three key factors; Cleanliness, Preparation, & Cooking.
It's also important to have the right equipment in order to successfully complete this task. There are many types of grills available on the market today for both home use and commercial use. How do I choose an outdoor grill? Let's take a closer look at grills so that you can choose one that will fit your need and also your budget.
A Griller's How-To Guide: How To Choose An Outdoor Grill
What Is The Purpose Of Your Propane Grill? How do you intend to use your grill? Will it be used frequently, or perhaps only on occasion? How many people will be using the grill at a time? How much cooking space is required for what you plan to cook most often? These are all questions that should be answered before purchasing a new grill. Every model has its own unique features and benefits that may influence how much preparation and cleaning each one needs - if either. And of course, how much cooking space is needed can have a significant impact on price since larger grills cost more than smaller ones.
Buying Guide - What to look for in a patio grill for a small space?
Build Quality: Of course, you never want to buy anything you know is a piece of junk. While a small-space grill may not see as much service, you should assess your needs before you buy:
How often will you be grilling?
What kind of weather/environmental conditions will the grill be exposed to? Where will it be stored? If you know your grill is going to get heavy usage, you want parts made of solid, durable materials that are well put together. If it were going to be outside and uncovered most of the time, give some thought to rust resistance.
Workspace: Take a look at your space and think about where you’re going to be able to set down your utensils, spices and sauces, and the food itself before it goes on the grill. If there’s nothing handy, and no place to put a table or shelf, think about whether you might need a grill that has some shelves or hooks.
Stand/Bracket: If you have somewhere in mind to place your new barbecue, make sure it’s solid, steady, and not flammable. If you think you’ll be moving it around much, wheels are a must – even a light grill starts to seem heavy after shifting it about a few times.
Size: is perhaps the most critical factor to consider. Trying to shoehorn an oversized grill into a tiny space is impractical and possibly dangerous. Measure your space and think about how people will move around the grill.
Small grills: and accessories don’t always go hand-in-hand. But, just because you’re going with a more modest grill, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to go without any perks.
User Reviews: Don’t make a judgment based on star ratings alone! Often, people will leave a bad review just because there were shipping issues, and these are seldom a reflection of the quality of the barbecue itself.
Budget: Consider carefully before deciding how much to spend on a patio grill. Think about how often you plan on using it, and what you’re going to cook on it. If you plan on making a few burgers a couple of times per season, there’s no need to break the bank on a luxury barbecue. But, if you really want to get grilling some gourmet stuff on a regular basis, you might wish to loosen the purse strings just a bit.
Fuel Type: if you have a small yard or balcony to work with, you may not get to choose your fuel type based on personal preference. It may be necessary to choose what is allowed by your municipality or property owner.
Charcoal: is forbidden in the most apartment and condo buildings, or anywhere with a lot of wood. Unextinguished coals are an apparent fire hazard.
Propane or Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) allows you to have an open flame, but without the issue of needing to extinguish a solid fuel. LPG tanks are available in many sizes and certainly, they’re a leading choice for campers.
Natural Gas: A rare choice for small spaces, but certainly convenient when available.
Electricity: You might think of this as a last resort, but it’s a viable alternative when no conventional options are allowed, or practical. Although it’s not the same as cooking over a fire, at least it’s still cooking outside – you can even make grill marks! Before buying an electric grill for your balcony, though, ensure you have a suitably located outlet.
Thanks for reading – until next time. Now that you know the rules to follow when purchasing the best patio grill, you’re ready to start shopping, get out there and pick for you the best patio grill now.