Everybody who knows me, knows I like BBQ and has probably heard me exault the supremacy of charcoal and wood over gas. Well... I just might have to eat one of my hats on this one. The jury isn't out just yet but thanks to recession pricing I am giving a gas grill a fair burn.
It all started with our Russian River getaway 2 years ago. Out on the back porch, overlooking the river, they have a gas grill. Not anything high end, mind you - just a cheapo 4 burner Home Depot model that really didn't get hot enough - but the convenience!!! Click, click with the electric ignition, wait for it, 5 minutes, it's hot enough - you're cookin'.
What about the taste? - you might well ask. We didn't cook any "really" BBQ stuff like ribs or pork shoulder but for the hot dog, hamburger and chicken strips it did just fine - with the added bonus of Rachel being able to be the cook. And, it has been Rachel, the main proponent of the switch, that has been steadily drilling a hole in my stomach with:
"If we had a gas grill...",
"can't we replace the grill..",
"I would really like to cook for my friends on a gas grill...".
When we got back this year from our second stay at the Lollipop on the Russian river I saw the light or maybe my will was just broken.
First I was thinking of replacing the built in charcoal grill that came with the house. It's very old, creaky and without a hood - for serious BBQ I still have to use the 2 classic Webers I own.
Google "slide in grill", "built-in grills" and you get some nice choices but they are all $1000 and up, way up. To boot, 28" seems to be an unpopular size. Yes it's true Fire Magic, Lazy Man, Bull all have very nice looking grills but I can't justify paying $2000 just so I can grill up some hot dogs or hamburgers from time to time.
Enter Target and their end of season sales. Margo came home telling me they had a grill, half price, for under $100. The next day I went over and checked it out. It was an Amana 400 series, in a box for self-assembly. Not too bad but the BTU for it's 3 burners was only 40,000. Still I went back home, took out the old charcoal grill and measured the space. Back to Target with measuring tape and Rachel.
The assembled model in the clearance section seemed like it would fit. Maybe the cover would have to go. The price was right but we were just not exited - maybe it's the brown/grey enamel. I said yes we'll buy it but the words sounded hollow in my head as we headed for the checkout and some help.
In the garden section next to the Amana grill boxes was another grill - also on sale, also half price. They didn't have an assembled model but from the box we could see it was 70000 BTU, 4 burners, temperature gauge, a cute kangaroo logo and stainless steal hood - ahh shinny!! Only $30 more, almost the same size - "We will take this one." I said and the Aussie Vantage 6804S8-S11 box was delivered to my car. These things are heavy.
By now it was 6:45 PM. On my back porch, armed with a Stanley knife we began to cut open the box. The instructions were right on top. We took out the miscellaneous pieces and boxes and went straight for the central grill and hood assembly.
Will it fit into the built-in space? No it will not, damn, 3 quarters of an inch too wide. Rachel asked if we could chisel away some brick. Since she has no experience at chiseling brick, especially fire proof brick, I forgave her that remark. Have to re-assess the situation.
Can I re-engineer the unit? Can we re-do the enclosure? Yes and yes - but too much effort. Should I repack it and take it back or put it together and find a place? Rachel is already on my case - "We can move this here and this there and why do we need that anyway". - Ok, Ok - Lets put this thing together. I figure that once it is in one piece and working I can probably easily sell it for more than I paid.
Wonder if we will be grilling hotdogs for supper?