I’ve been a griller since my youth and I love to cook!  While in Las Vegas attending the National Hardware Show in early May, I stopped by the outside Char-Broil booth for some education!

I was looking for answers to the questions, “Why am I here?  What’s new, different and unique about these products that distinguishes them from competitors’?”  Infrared was the most prominent answer!  And it was H-O-T outside, too, even under their awning.  Yes, hot and they were grilling over hot equipment yet still pleasant and smiling.

While hanging out, looking at their beautiful grills and Big Easy oil-less infrared turkey fryer, I was impressed by all I saw and sampled.  Plus, I liked the people, I must admit. These were good folks having fun grilling and talking about grilling and talking about their Char-Broil products with pride.  The proof of their pride was in the scrumptious samples I consumed.

This was great stuff!  The more I hung out, the more I was getting hooked.

I knew a little about infrared cooking from my experience a while back testing the Black & Decker InfraWave Speed Oven.  It was an education back then, learning about how infrared waves penetrate the food to cook and that infrared waves cook faster than by conventional means.  In that oven, consumers could go from frozen to dinner in almost no time.  Steaks cooked beautifully and even frozen whole chickens could be baked and tasty in only about an hour and a half, as I recall.  Infrared technology is a plus!  Besides, it is this same technology used in fine restaurants to cook some of the best tasting steaks at very high heat, searing in the juiciness while producing a wonderful exterior. Fast forward to the show and seeing what was new in infrared technology in grills for the home.

They were using an assortment of their products in addition to the turkey fryer, which, by the way, also expertly and without oil cooks rotisserie roasts, ribs and chicken, veggies and more.

I asked about trying one, and so it happened that the company sent their Quantum Commercial Series 580 Four Burner Infrared grill.  It arrived in a box, a very heavy box, wrangled by a FedEx driver using a palette mover into our back yard.  We tackled the assembly process a few weekends later.  After nearly four hours of assembly, it was ready to go, fresh propane tank attached and neatly tucked inside.  (FYI, this model is also a dual-fuel grill, easily converted to natural gas with a $70-ish kit.)  Self-assembly is fine and fun for those with patience and some mechanical aptitude.  May I suggest that if these are not in abundance in your home, opt for assembly before purchase, and then either arrange for delivery or have a pick-up truck at the ready along with a few strong bodies to get it into the bed and then have some way with which to fasten it steady for the trip home.   Don’t panic!  There are promotions that offer free assembly from time to time, primarily at the beginning of the summer season, along with discount pricing.  OR, you may know of persons with skill and ability as well as patience that you can ask for assistance. Make it the first party that culminates in using this grill to reward your friends’ assistance.

Speaking of pricing, this, too, was a pleasant surprise.  The retail price for this leading edge technology in a roomy, well-executed grill is only $499 with availability at many retailers, including Lowes.  Look at the competition and I don’t think you will find as much for less, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Permit me one last thought before moving forward.  I was SO ready for a change from our existing grill, a Weber Genesis Silver from a few years back.  It was fine for then, but I discovered an issue because of the placement of the three burners.  They are oriented from front to back instead of left to right across the grill surface, as is this Char-Broil grill.  This placement prevents indirect cooking and different temps across the grill. So, if you wanted to, say, indirectly cook a roast or a bird, it could not be done.  One would need to have the right or left side off so the food could be on the side with no flame underneath.  This, and the fact that the surface area was just too small to comfortably grill steaks AND veggies and more for more than three or four people.  When I saw these Char-Broil grills, I was more than ready for a change for the better.

What’s hot?

• Infrared technology can cook with higher heat than any conventional technology

• So, this grill is REALLY hot

• Dual-fuel design easily converts from native propane to natural gas with optional kit

• Four left-to-right burners across the grill, plus side burner with griddle plate

• Side burner large enough for any pot-heating chore or for use with supplied griddle

• Temperature gauges at each burner for more precise control

• Heavy duty casters – two fixed, two swivel and locking

• Warming rack at the rear of the grill surface

• 580 sq. in. main grilling area

• Stainless steel burners and grates for long life

• Electronic ignition, of course, plus hole for match lighting

• Design promotes little to no flare-ups

• Users may add real wood chips directly between cooking grates with NO cleanup, for authentic smoked wood flavoring

• Easy to clean with conventional wire brush for grates

• High heat setting useful for after-cooking pulverizing of stuck-on foods, grease and oils, leaving only ash residue to wipe away later

• Cooks faster than ordinary grills, or as slowly as desired, depending upon user choice

• Changes for the better user attitudes about grilling

• $499 price seems almost too good to be true

• Makes grilling more fun!

• Technology is a real game changer as compared to conventional grills


What’s not?

• May be extra cost for assembly (check with retailer) and a challenge for persons unaccustomed to product assembly

Now, friends, back to my story . . .

Now, it’s on to the grilling.  My experience has been exciting and lots of fun. This is a sea change in procedure from anything in the past.  The higher heat capabilities have me modifying my cooking times.  We love our ribeye and fillet steaks rare around here, just a tick above mooing.  Ditto for burgers.  For roasts, such as tri-tip, these are better off at medium rare.   For the rest of the meats we grill, chops, chicken and ribs, I follow the conventional wisdom and cook these meats until they are more done.

Formerly, I was accustomed to a visual check of doneness, plus poking around with utensils.  With chicken, I would wiggle the leg bone attached to the thigh and know the feeling when it was done.  This was my guide. For the rest, it was mostly visual.  With this new grill, however, it’s not as easy to know by looking or prodding, so I took the advice of a Texas friend who has been grilling on a very high end and expensive other-brand of infrared grill for a while.  He swears by his wireless electronic meat thermometer, a model from Chaney Instrument Company with the Acu-Rite brand on its face.  As it happens, I have this model, too, but I had rarely used it. Now, it does regular duty.

Find it with your own online search using “Wireless BBQ Thermometer with Remote Sensor 00869.”  Those numbers are the model number.  Why this one and why wireless?  This model has the distinction, perhaps not unique, of having a probe and wire that can withstand the higher temps generated by this grill.  As my friend pointed out, other probe wires simply melted.  This one is rated to 700º!  A discontinued model, it is still available online for as little as about $30.  Users may also wish to use an inexpensive, standard small-head meat thermometer of the type common to most shops selling these items.  The advantage of the Acu-Rite wireless model is that the probe may be set into a roast or bird and the remote portion can be placed indoors away from the grill. It can be set to sound off at a pre-set temp, alerting the chef that it is time to get on out there to attend to the food on the grill.  Of course, it can also be used without the remote component, plugging the probe into the main unit alone to get an instant read on the situation in multiple pieces of meat or fowl to detect the correct degree of doneness.

With one last piece of grill thermometer advice, let me just say that whatever you  choose, be certain that it can withstand the extreme temps inside this grill, to at least if not over 700º.

So, the biggest change is in my procedure. This change yields much more accurate results.  As for the food, well, I can only say I am never going back to conventional grilling!

I’ve made slow-cooked ribs that are so tender and moist. I may never order a steak in a restaurant again. I am spoiled by my own results. It just cannot be better on the outside, and I have eaten at some fine steak joints.  I’ve not had better tasting steak at Ruth’s Chris, not at Mastro’s, not in the Tuscany region in Italy, nor at my true favorite, Gibson’s in Chicago, all fine establishments.  Why, even my sleeper-of-a-favorite favorite place in the heart of California’s Santa Maria barbecue region, Jocko’s, in the little town of Nipomo, cannot deliver a better tasting steak than I can make on this new grill. And Jocko’s is a very special place, indeed (If in the area, GO THERE, but GO EARLY or make reservations).  My thick ribeye steaks (the thick Prine steaks from Costco) prepared by me on our new Char-Broil Infrared grill taste every bit as fine as anything I’ve had anywhere!

I’ve tried grilling veggies and even fruit.  Pears, pineapple slices and peaches turn out delightfully!

I also love grilled chicken, as does my family.  It tastes better than ever and it’s more fun and easier on the Char-Broil Infrared grill.  I picked up some wood chips to try.  My favorites are oak and hickory.  I drop the chips through the grates and let the grill do its magic.  Steaks and chicken benefit mightily from the flavor.  Start learning with Char-broil LIVE online.  Check out this Char-Broil grilling guide specific the Quantum grills to see more about how this grill is so different from other gas grills.  Also take the time to explore their recipes with lots to try.  The company wants its customers to love their grills!  Of course, they get you started by packing in their Sizzle on the Grill recipe book.  And here is a must:  Sign up for their Sizzle on the Grill newsletter from “CB,” one of the enthusiastic Char-Broil grillers I met at the show.  You’ll like his writing style and great information.  Just fill in your email address at the top right of the page linked above and click the “GO” button to the right of the name blank.  And then, read his blog, search to your heart’s content for information and recipes. You just cannot and will not go wrong here.

I also have to remind readers of my favorite specialty salt, the original Santa Maria Barbecue Salt, never duplicated and never equaled.  Please do yourself a favor and order some of this fabulous blend I’ve loved since the 1970s!  Use it not only for grilling meats and fish, but for eggs, cottage cheese and veggies.

I’ve also become accustomed to grilling over a setting previously thought to be too low. With the individual thermometers at each control know, I can dial in higher or lower anywhere across the grill surface.  This is especially helpful and useful for slow cooking ribs, but not too slowly, such as when using a smoker. I want low heat under those babies.  I heat up the adjacent areas and let the indirect heat work its magic, even when using wood chips.

When grilling is finished, I crank up the heat to burn off residue.  What remains is a powdery residue, easily brushed away.  With other gas grills, it is common to crank them up for five to 10 minutes after cooking, with the lid closed, to burn off residue.  I’ve never seen the powdery residue before on any other grill.  They just don’t get hot enough.  Information is in the Grilling Guide linked above. Then, I turn it off and park it.  The next time I fire it up, I use a wire brush on the grates after the grill has been on for about five minutes and then I am ready for the day’s grilling.  I’ve much more to try, and as time permits, that is exactly what I am going to do.  One luxury of living in SoCal is our fantastic weather, which allows year round grilling.

I’ve noticed that since foods tend to cook faster, I am probably using less gas!

The only thing I have not yet used is the side grill, but I will.

So, set your sights high and let your budget not suffer.  Get a Char-Broil Infrared grill, either the Quantum Commercial like mine or whichever model suits you best and enjoy the grilling revolution with infrared, Char-Broil, of course!

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