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   GRILLING IN STYLE UPGRADING YOUR OUTDOOR COOKING AREA
 
 
 
2011 - Volume 2 Issue 2
Casas Bonitas
Outdoor Living
 
Article: Jessica Muncrief
 
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With over 300 days of sunshine per year, the southwest is perfect for spending time outdoors. And what better way to spend it than in your own backyard surrounded by the people you love and awesome food and drink? You've spent a lot of energy landscaping a beautiful desert oasis, so consider upgrading the rusted barbeque grill and cumbersome ice cooler to a complete outdoor kitchen, and you will have the perfect setting for hosting large outdoor gatherings and intimate family dinners.

    Photo Captions

1.) Wolf 54" Outdoor
     Gas Grill

2.) Fire Magic
     Echelon Diamond

3.) Fire Magic Echelon
     Magic Portable

4.) Fire Magic Aurora

5.) Weber Genesis E-320
   
  Resources

Builders Source
575-526-5200
builderssource.com

Embers
915-833-1452
800-479-1452
emberselpaso.com

Ferguson Enterprises
915-231-5836
ferguson.com

Morrison Supply
575-523-6494
morsco.com

Nash Patio and Garden
915-587-6000
nashgardens.com

Outdoor Fire Concepts
575-647-5840
outdoorfireconcepts.com

Rawson Builders Supply
575-524-3588
915-791-0100
rawson-inc.com
The grill is the centerpiece of your outdoor kitchen, so consider your options carefully. There is not a consensus as to whether charcoal or gas grills are better, so it comes down to personal preferences. Many outdoor cookers swear by the flavor that they say can only come from using a charcoal version. Charcoal burns hotter than gas and creates smoke which enhances the taste of the meat. Many charcoal aficionados recommend the Big Green Egg, which is a grill, oven and smoker all rolled into one.

However, you cannot beat the convenience of a gas grill. They light with just the turn of a knob, clean up is a breeze, and even a novice can set the gauges for perfectly cooked dishes. Plus, there are a lot more gas options that work for building into countertops and they come with a seemingly endless array of gadgets and accessories.

If your family is at odds over the charcoal or gas question, consider some compromises. Many gas versions include a wood chip smoker that promises a charcoal grill taste. Industry leader Fire Magic, recommends adding "fruit juice, wine or simply water to your choice of mesquite, oak, cherry or other woods for grilled foods enveloped in a delicate smoky flavor." Some charcoal models, such as the Weber Performance, come with a gas ignition for super easy lighting and a one-touch cleaning system, which virtually eradicates ashy messes.

If there is one thing that eliminates a lot of cooking stress, it is space. Naturally, that is the main reason you would consider building an outdoor kitchen; extra storage and space affords you the opportunity to mingle with guests instead of making multiple trips to the kitchen. A grill built into a countertop is optimal, but if you are not ready for such a large-scale project, many grills come with large side countertops, shelves, and drawers. Fire Magic offers a handsome prefabricated island made of stone or brick that provides lots of counter space, under-grill storage areas and a side burner.

As for actual cooking space, grills are measured in square inches. A model that is around 500 square inches will suit the average family, but if you plan to entertain, go for at least 1,000 square inches. Seasoned grillers say it is best to buy more than you think you will need. A good bet is opting for a larger grill with multiple burners and a warming rack. This will get you started and you can always add accessories later.

And there are so many fun and exciting accessories! Many outdoor cooking enthusiasts say they could not do without their rotisserie and skewer attachments. Extra side burners, infrared cooking systems and searing stations allow you to cook everything to your guests' preferences. For your side dishes, there are grill-compatible griddles, vegetable baskets, woks, and even pizza stones.

There are a lot of other amenities that will turn an outdoor patio from just a grilling area to a true outdoor kitchen. A refrigerator is a must for storing side dishes and condiments and ensuring food safety. You cannot match the convenience of a sink, especially during the dreaded clean up. A great option is the Fire Magic Beverage Center which can be built in, but is also available as a stand alone unit. It includes a faucet and sink with drain, heavy duty blender, bamboo cutting board, bottle opener, wine glass holder and an insulated ice drawer. Add some comfy patio furniture, a fire pit and great company, and you'll be enjoying more time outside than ever! ///
 
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