Monday, July 7, 2008

Infrared Barbeques

This is an odd subject for a blog on service, but stay with me as I blog about barbeques. If you have one that’s long in the tooth and are thinking about replacing it, you may want to know about the new infrared barbeques.

Because my husband has great shopping genes, and because I’d rather serve as a Cub Scout den mother again than be forced to spend hours in a store shopping for anything, I simply announced that his Father’s Day gift was a new barbeque, and he was in charge of finding it, making the purchase, and hauling it home. Easiest Father’s Day I’ve ever done.

Thus began his odyssey to find the perfect barbeque. He spent hours on line and haunted the grilling sections of Lowes and Home Depot, trying to answer the monumental question: should I get a barbeque with infrared?

The answer turned out to be a resounding maybe. I couldn’t help him make the decision, but I hastened it along with an announcement that we were having guests and he was in charge of cooking the hamburgers. The next thing I knew, I was on the other end of a monstrous barbeque, helping get it off the trailer and onto the deck.

He got the infrared. So, here is my service for the day: I will tell you how we’re doing with it. Kind of second-hand pros and cons, because I’m the indoor cook, not the outdoor cook.

First a definition: Infrared cooking systems consist of a burner or series of burners at the bottom of the gas-fired barbeque, the same as the open-flame variety. On top of the burners sits a U-shaped pan that goes from rim to rim and covers about a third of the unit. Two identical pans cover the rest of the area. Porcelain-covered cast iron grates sit atop the pans and act as the cooking surface. The pans radiate the heat from the fire beneath. Makers of the systems claim that this sears in flavor and keeps foods moist and juicy, not dried out.

We have found that to be true. You need to cook at a lower temperature than with an open-flame barbeque. If you have it too hot, melting fat from the meat will start a grease fire in the pan, and it blackens the meat and affects the taste. The burgers we’ve done have been very moist and juicy.

We ordered the rotisserie and tried a roast last Saturday. I used a top round that I got at Costco. It was about six pounds, and we cooked it for 3 hours, though we could probably have stopped at 2 ½. You can see from the picture that it had a beautiful and tasty crust and was nice and juicy and tender.

I think we’re finding, as we learn to use it, that we like the infrared very well.

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