BBQ Equipment: Cooking on the Charbroil Tec Gas Grill
When we last talked about the Charbroil TEC Grill, I let you know about the packaging, the construction and ease of setup. So what about cooking on the thing? Well here goes.
The Charbroil TEC Grill that I was given has two traditional high-output gas burners, one TEC gas burner, an infrared rotisserie burner and one external high-output gas burner.
As I mentioned before, I've never owned a gas grill before, but I have cooked on them a few times. Please keep that in mind when you read my review.
Since this was a new grill, I decided that we'd put it through all of it's paces utilizing every burned and all the grill space we could. We (my brother and I) decided that we were going to make clams, chicken, fajitas (flank steak and London broil), onions, peppers and corn on the grill. The only thing we weren't going to do, was use the rotisserie for this cook. (Why? Because the rotisserie is an optional piece of equipment that needs to be purchased separately.)
We fired up the grill and I was a little taken back by the effort required to light it. The TEC grill and the external burner lit without a hitch. The rotisserie burner lit, sputtering out flames. Lighting of the the rotisserie reminded me of lighting an old Coleman lantern. You could hear and smell the gas gather and then the flames burst out. We let the rotisserie burn for about 20 minutes until it burned off all its packing and manufacturing materials.
We put out the other burners and tried lighting the traditional gas burners. On other gas grills I've used it is a matter of simply turning on the gas and hitting the ignition switch. Not so with this grill. You need to hold down the igniter for at least a minute before the gas lights. At first I thought I put the flame tamers in wrong, I removed them and the burners lit easily. Replacing the flame tamers, the grill would not light quickly. I checked the manual and adjusted the igniter wire which allowed the burners to light with the flame tamers installed. But they still didn't light as quickly or easily as expected.
First on the grill were the stuffed clams. They cooked quickly and became our snack as we played with the rest of the grill. Next up were the onion slices and peppers for the fajitas. I learned a long time ago that wood or charcoal fires have hot spots and cool spots, and I assumed that the gas grill would as well. By grilling onion slices, it would be an easy test to see where the hot and cold spots are on this grill.
The hottest spot by far is the TEC burner. That was to be expected. Next came the gas burner and the other side of the grill, with the burner in the middle putting out noticeably less heat. I don't have a problem with this, but my brother who is a gasser in more ways then one, tells me that this is a flaw in the construction. He feels that all burners should perform exactly the same.
Next up came the chicken and beef. I used the TEC burner to sear the meat, which provided some lovely grill marks. I should have left the beef on the burner longer, but I was anxious to see how quickly the TEC burner would provide grill marks.
I felt that the grill overall took a little longer to heat up then I expected. We placed a pot of cold water on the external burner for the corn and that also seemed to take a long time to reach the boiling point. Remember, these are just observations coming from a cook who is used to wood and charcoal fires. I just assumed that a gas grill would heat up much faster.
Is the Tec Grill the ultimate grill? Probably not. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good grill. It's possibly great but I haven't had it long enough to make that statement. I really enjoyed cooking on the grill. Would I recommend you purchase one? Yes. In a New York Minute.
As you know, I'm a charcoal and wood guy at heart, but this is definitely one of the better gas grills I've ever used. I found it to be sturdy, well put together and I was unable to find any areas where Charbroil obviously cut corners to save money.
As I already told you, it was packed and shipped beautifully. I've never seen better packaging for the hardware needed to put a grill together. The assembly instructions were clear and easy to follow.
The Tec grill has some issues. It takes a long time to light and heat up, or at least longer then I expected. The mid-burner on mine doesn't seem to get as hot as the other one. (I've spoken Matt Fisher at The Hampton Smoker who doesn't have this problem with his Charbroil grill)
I don't see how you can attach the rotisserie and operate the side burner without removing the rotisserie brackets. There's a large opening on the back of the hood which I haven't figured out yet. I assume it's for ventilation, but I've never seen this on other grills.
I also expected a cook book or some sort of instruction manual for using the Tec burner and the grill. I know there's information on the web, but I want something I can look over while I'm at the grill, not at my computer. For the money, I also expected the rotisserie attachments and a cover to be included.
So, if you're in the market for a grill, go take a look at this beast. Even with it's minor faults, I think you'll be happy you did.