Grilling used to be a largely backyard endeavor, with a built-in brick grill or a Weber so huge, you could roast a Mastodon shank on it. A trip to the beach or the park left you with no choice but a Lilliputian grill or Hibachi that would keep the valiant chef sitting on the ground, engulfed in thick clouds of smoke for half of the afternoon. Like everything else, high-end grills have become mobile in a big way.
Coleman may have started the portable camping stove trend many moons ago, but Weber has truly mobilized the BBQ with their Go-Anywhere Gas Grill ($89). This dependable little beaut has push button ignition and uses disposable 1lb liquid propane cylinders (which can be adapted for refillables). Just throw it in the back of ol’ Suvvie and you’re ready to leave the ‘burbs in a cloud of dust.
L.L. Bean, that purveyor of the flannel uniform, has also come a long way from their old-timey cast iron Sportsman Grill. They’ve joined the chuck wagon with their repro 1950s Cast Aluminum Grill ($399). It looks very cool and this charcoal-powered number radiates enough heat to give an even, slow-cook, smoked flavored for large loads.
An unlikely source of grills for mobile chefs is the up-scale gourmet gear supplier Williams-Sonoma. Their Portable Suitcase Grill in rust resistant stainless steel is as close to Airstream as you can get ($299). Its Beaver Cleaver meets Mad Max. Pop on the propane gas cylinder, rev the temperature controls, and toss on the veggie burgers. When you’re done, snap the suitcase shut and you’re ready to ramble on. You might even be tempted to walk it around your neighborhood just to show it off!
If mobility is not a big issue for you, the Big Green Egg Smoker and Grill is worth a look. You’d think that Dr. Seuss had a hand in this one (it is green and egg-shaped, after all), but it started life about 3,000 years ago as the oriental Kamado cooker. The heat retaining ceramic and unique shape promotes circulation, so you use it as both a slow cooker and a conventional grill ($699).
Two small gadgets to take the guesswork out of how Billy likes his burger -- or wild boar: Brookstone’s Digital Chef Fork ($25) detects preferred doneness levels for your cooked meats: fish, beef, chicken, veal and lamb and displays them with LCD and LEDs. The Williams-Sonoma Probe Thermometer ($30) lets you walk away from the larger slabs of poultry and red meat while they cook. The probe stays in the meat inside the grill, the LCD display on the sideboard. An alarm reminds you when chow’s on.
Whether you prefer blowtorch barbecues or low-tech briquette burners, backyard or yacht deck, always remember to play it safe, and for heaven’s sake, eat some salad with all that cow!