There are a lot of different shapes, sizes and types of charcoal grills. The grills with covers can serve dual duty as direct grilling cookers and slow cooking barbecues. Some of the more common styles you'll see are...
Table top grills can be used to barbecue smaller pieces of meat, like chicken parts and seafood. These grills typically have a small charcoal capacity, so for meats that require longer barbecuing times, additional charcoal needs to be added at regular intervals.
These can be rectangular shaped or round, and have a removable cover. The cheaper ones are made of thin metals, have poor finishes and may or may not have upper and lower airflow controls. A better choice will have solid steel construction and a thick porcelain finish. A tight sealing lid, along with upper and lower vents will help greatly with temperature control.
These are the least expensive of all. They are also the least versatile of the charcoal grills, good for only one kind of cooking. And that's direct grilling, with the food right over the hot coals.
If you'll be satisfied eating only steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled veggies, this is all you need. But if you crave a slab of barbecue ribs or a slow cooked brisket, stay away from this one. With no lid, this one is useless for barbecuing.
Large rectangular charcoal grills are great for barbecuing. In these you have room to cook a lot of food, and there's room for plenty of charcoal. Many of these have adjustable-level charcoal racks, which really help with temperature control.
Stainless steel charcoal grills with hinged lids are top of the line barbecue grills that are a pleasure to use. Less expensive grills can cook well, but may have a short lifespan without excellent grill care. All can be used for direct grilling or barbecuing.
The most common type of grill is the round kettle bbq style made by Weber and other manufacturers. They all have a domed lid that gives room for cooking large hunks of food, and vents on top and below to control air flow and temperature. Available in small table top size up to large Texas BBQ size,
The Weber grill is well made, having a tight-sealing lid to hold in the heat and good air flow controls for heat control. Webers also are built with solid materials for good durability and heat retention. These are a good all around choice for grilling steaks, seafood and vegetables, and for covered, indirect-heat bbq.
All types of charcoal grills can be used for direct grilling. Grills with covers can also be used for barbecuing low and slow. Heavy construction is desirable.
Look for a solid heavy-duty grate, and overall high quality
construction. With that, your grill will provide you with a long term
relationship filled with great cooking and tasty food.
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