In the past, the grill divide was clear cut: You were either team gas or team charcoal. Gas grill people were all-in on the ease-of-use, push-button starts, precise temperature control, and zero clean up. Charcoal purists, on the other hand, would never cave to convenience, believing the added effort of lighting, tending and cleaning up after a charcoal fire, was a small price to pay for the pleasant smoky aromas, delectable hardwood flavor, and all-around better barbecue.
Today, rather than either-or, people are increasingly embracing both, and including gas AND charcoal grills on the patio.
The trend is to rely on gas grilling during the week, when the priority is getting dinner on the table quickly. Charcoal grilling is reserved for weekends, when there’s time to enjoy the charcoal rituals, experiment with different techniques, and savor the experience. It’s an arrangement that offers the best of both worlds.
A Case for Charcoal
The pandemic seems to have reignited the country’s passion for charcoal. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), between 2019 and 2021, charcoal grill ownership rose from 49% to 65%. While gas grills have consistently been the most popular type of grill owned, HPBA says when consumers are adding another grill to their patios, charcoal is their top choice.
Maybe it’s because grilling over charcoal is all about slowing down, being in the moment, and enjoying the cooking process and the food. The experience feels authentic and is a nostalgic reminder of simpler times and family traditions. It’s a high-touch antidote to a high-tech world.
A charcoal grill provides other benefits, too. It is super versatile and can accomplish a wide variety of techniques, including direct grilling, indirect grilling, searing, low-and-slow cooking, and smoking.
But many say it’s the flavor factor that really tilts the scales in favor of charcoal. Charcoal smoke imparts a delicious nuance to foods that’s hard to replicate on gas. And, the flavor can be amped up even more by adding a handful of soaked wood chips or herbs directly to the coals.
Choosing a Charcoal Grill
If you have a polished outdoor living space, you’ll want a charcoal grill that’s a step up from a standard metal kettle. A premium-quality, stainless-steel charcoal grill, that’s designed to look like a gas grill, might be the way to go.
The 32” Premier Series Charcoal Grill from Renaissance Cooking Systems can hold its own next to other high-end, stainless-steel gas grills and appliances in an outdoor kitchen. Made from stainless steel, it coordinates with RCS Premier Series Gas Grills for design symmetry.
The 32” Premier Series Charcoal Grill not only looks the part, it offers quality construction and excellent performance. The grill has a host of premium features on par with the gas grills in the line. A double-walled hood retains heat and has a built-in thermometer to monitor cooking temperatures. The grill comes with a heavy-duty, stainless-steel cooking grid, and a removable, stainless-steel warming rack, for a combined 720 square inches of cooking space. The cooking grid is cleverly designed with two hinged sections that can be lifted and locked in an upright position, using two provided hooks, making it easy to add more charcoal or wood chips during cooking.
Heat intensity and cooking temperatures can be controlled manually by adjusting the air-intake vents and Vari-Just charcoal tray. The charcoal fire in the tray can be positioned in desired proximity to the cooking grid by rotating an oversized wheel on the front of the grill; raise it for high-heat searing, or lower it for low-and-slow cooking and smoking. For convenient cleanup, a full-width, slide-out drip pan catches ashes and grease.
The RJCC32A model is a charcoal grill head, designed for building into an outdoor kitchen island. The RJCC32A-CK model comes on a freestanding, stainless-steel cart with side shelves and storage in the base. If the grill is part of an outdoor kitchen, you may want to also consider adding a built-in, pull-out Charcoal Storage Drawer to keep fuel at the ready.
For more information on Renaissance Cooking Systems Premier Series Charcoal Grills, including the RJCC32A built-in charcoal grill and the RJCC32A-CK cart-based charcoal grill, click here, or visit www.rcsgasgrills.com.