The Advantages of Cooking with a Live Fire
Summer is just around the corner, and for those avid grillers among us, the gas versus charcoal debate rages on. The Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association announced last month that it will be another strong year for the barbecue industry; showing that over 85 percent of North American households owns a grill or smoker. They also noted that charcoal grill purchases have been on the rise over the past few years, accounting for 41 percent of all grill sales in the United States, second only to gas grill sales which make up 57 percent of the market.
Gas grills are easy to use and convenient - ideal for weeknights when you’re pressed for time (and patience). But grilling with charcoal is a much more artisanal experience. Cooking with a live fire is a primitive art that requires practice and skill. A lot goes into building the perfect fire, manipulating it to achieve the right heat, and tending to it as you cook. Not to mention there’s something a little bit exciting about playing with fire.
Roasting in embers, photo courtesy of FXcuisine.com
Some people say they love the “flavor” that grilling with charcoal yields; butthe biggest difference between gas and charcoal is the heat characteristics. Charcoal doesn’t necessarily flavor your food, because the majority of the wood flavor is burned out in the kiln during the process of making the charcoal. It does however generate a very dry heat that allows you to perfectly sear a piece of meat and achieve a gorgeous caramelized crust, or reach low heats gas grills can’t, perfect for low and slow cooking. A gas flame, especially one from natural gas, contains water vapor, producing a moist heat that doesn’t deliver the same perfect crust that we expect from charcoal. Another advantage of grilling with a live fire is the option to burn wood. Wood has its own heat characteristics that add more flavor to your food. A wood fire is definitely more challenging to cook with than charcoal, as it doesn’t burn as cleanly or evenly, but the flavors you can achieve are phenomenal.
The age old debate between gas and charcoal, continues, but why choose when you can have both? At Kalamazoo we’ve invented a grill that lets you use any combination of gas, charcoal and wood. Powerful cast brass burners are situated below a Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer which is designed to hold wood and charcoal. The drawer can be left empty for gas-only grilling, or filled with wood and charcoal for an authentic live fire cooking experience. The ability to cook interchangeably with three different fuels means huge cooking versatility. Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grills allow you to sear, cook with indirect heat, rotisserie roast and smoke – all on the same grill.
The Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Grilling Drawer
Whatever your preference, cooking with a live fire can deliver incredible results. And, from the searing, dry heat that’s typical of charcoal, to the earthy, wood flavor that smoking imparts, there is something deeply primal about mastering a live fire.