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  My excuses for raising a trivial concern at a time when there are so many suffering so much grief, but what happened to gas grills with lava rocks or ceramic briquettes? Just went shopping to find a replacement propane barbecue grill for the long weekend. All the gas burning models we looked at are straight gas grills; no rocks or briquettes of any kind. They have metal deflectors over the burners, but it's not the same. And this may be another example of a larger problem, which I'll get to over the jump.

   My understanding of gas grill theory is that the layer of lava rocks/ceramic briquettes that lie above the gas jets but below the cooking grill served several functions.
• They absorbed and spread the heat for more even cooking.
• They helped protect the gas jets from getting clogged by grease drippings.
• By catching and absorbing the drippings, the resultant vaporization contributed to the flavor of grilled food.
• They could be replaced when they became too cruddy or started to crumble.

    The kind of gas grills that used to employ rock/briquettes seem to have disappeared from the market place. Why? Is there any evidence the new designs work better? Was there some hazard with the older grills? Do the new designs cook food that tastes as good? Do they burn more or less gas to do the same amount of cooking?

   I don't have answers for these questions - what does everyone else have in the way of experience with this? Suggestions?

   I'm wondering if this is the latest consequence of the way consumer products seem to work these days: a few factories off shore make most of some product category and just slap different labels on them with minor style changes to 'create' the illusion of choice. This means a handful of places determine what an entire market will get - and when one decides to change something because it's easier/cheaper/more profitable, the rest fall in line. This consolidation in the supply chain ends up having very little to do with end consumer desires or needs. Take it or leave it.

   We've got a charcoal grill it looks like we'll be going back to for now. So it goes.

Poll

The new gas grill designs without lava rocks or ceramic briquettes:

35%368 votes
41%421 votes
13%143 votes
1%16 votes
1%12 votes
2%22 votes
0%10 votes
1%11 votes
1%12 votes
0%8 votes

| 1024 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    Like I said, a trivial concern - but life is made up of details.

    Are YOU grilling this weekend? Feel free to share some favorite recipes or traditions you observe that make it a special experience.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat May 28, 2011 at 12:19:12 PM PDT

  •  Well I Make Things for Sale & Export (11+ / 0-)

    and if you think choice and quality are sucky for your own uses, trying to make anything consistent in this 3rd world backwater is a real nightmare.

    Earlier this month an essential construction item everyone deals with changed the dimension it's labeled by, which resulted in several of my buyers of replacement parts finding they had things that didn't fit together. Crappy imported screw slots don't have the same shape as the crappy imported screwdrivers; imported adhesives let go; it's even getting hard to find North American maple dowel rods for crap sake, they're importing 3rd world junk dowels of course.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat May 28, 2011 at 12:28:00 PM PDT

  •  Oh and I'm Just Off to Fire Up My Metal Shield (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, BlueJessamine

    grill so maybe I'll have a follow up rant about that after supper.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat May 28, 2011 at 12:28:49 PM PDT

  •  Not trivial to me (5+ / 0-)

    hence the reason my buddy has kept alive, through multiple fixes, our 20 plus year old grill.  We also have a smoker with a grill so charcoal is a backup.  I don't want food cooked by a propane torch -- which is how I see the new grills.  We've replaced the briquettes a couple of times.

    I'm a charcoal/wood person over propane anyway.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Sat May 28, 2011 at 12:30:42 PM PDT

  •  you can buy the lava separately. (5+ / 0-)

    google for them, but Ace sells them.

    Run out buy 5 pounds.

    what it is is hidden inflation, where these were
    sold with Propane BBQs now they are a "Add On"
    and you have to pay

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Sat May 28, 2011 at 12:49:36 PM PDT

  •  I got one a couple years ago, to replace my (5+ / 0-)

    decrepit, lava rock version. After you've used it a few times, you don't notice the difference. I also started using wood chips in a smoker for flavor. Once they've been used a few times, they hold flavor, just like with lava rock.

    That said, even though it tells you not to, nothing saying you can't buy a bag and put them in anyway.

    Seen on Twitter: "This has to be the first time in history that old white men tried to take credit from a black guy for someone getting shot." ~@MikeDrucker

    by second gen on Sat May 28, 2011 at 01:12:30 PM PDT

  •  why even bother (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, akeitz

    if you aren't going to use charcoal?

  •  You should see the grills here. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Tinfoil Hat

    In this end of the UK we have grills that seem to have all the seconds that US distributors won't buy. Our grill is semi-pathetic, but it does have some crumbling lava rock and we just had some burgers.
    P.S. We put some damp mesquite chips in aluminium foil and poke some holes in it for some smoky flavour. I think you could do that with a deflector grill as well.
    Where do we get mesquite chips, you might ask. I ship my clothes back from the States and bring the chips back in the suitcase. We only use them for a special treat. You can go down to the Depot and get a bag any time ;-)

    •  P.S. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Gordon20024, ms badger

      I just told MrSylvania about the lack of briquette gas grills. He is now very bummed as he had been shopping for a new grill (who knew?) and could only find deflector ones. I think he had been thinking of moving back to the States just to have a decent gas grill and now his dreams are shattered.
      Have a good Memorial Day though, no matter what kind of grill you have.

    •  On the street behind my old shop on oahu was (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, akeitz, Bluefin

      a guy who did nothing but turn big chunks of wood into little chunks and bag it up for cooking / grilling .

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Sat May 28, 2011 at 02:31:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mesquite? How much do you need? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Tinfoil Hat

      I could chop y'all a bunch, but guess the shipping might be prohibitive.
      I periodically mow/shred thousands of baby mesquite seedlings, thinking about solid tires as the spines are tough on tires (and you, along with the damn prickly pears).
       They are pesky 'weeds', unless you're after the wood and have a looong time to wait...
      But if you ever see mesquite honey, try it, it's excellent.

      Try this place, they have lots of other neat mesquite stuff too.

      "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

      by Bluefin on Sat May 28, 2011 at 04:18:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One to avoid (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Rick Aucoin, ms badger

    I just bought a Char-Broil Red Patio grill from Home Depot  which was #1 rated by Consumer Reports in the portable or small category and it is disappointing.

    It has a solid curved underside that heats by infrared. There is no exposed flame. What you get is the equivalent of an indoor gas oven.

    Yes the food cooks very evenly as rated by Consumer Reports, but they don't mention that there is NO outdoor grill taste. It is like cooking indoors in a gas oven.

    For some flavor you need the drippings to occasionally flare up, burn and smoke to add some of that great grilled flavor. This does not happen with this design. In fact they brag about no flare ups.

    You must also preheat the thing for 15 to 20 minutes before you start cooking.

    I wish that I had known before purchasing and assembling the grill.

    The estimated assembly time is listed as 30 to 40 minutes.
    It took that long to unpack the over wrapped parts and prepare them for assembly.  There is a huge pile of cardboard and styrofoam to dispose of. Allow a good 2 hours+ for assembly.

    I am VERY disappointed with this unit.

    "Humankind cannot bear very much reality." - T.S. Eliot

    by fixxit on Sat May 28, 2011 at 01:20:43 PM PDT

  •  All the lava rocks were returned to Hawaii, (9+ / 0-)

    Pele was pissed.

    "The people I distrust the most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action" Frank Herbert

    by the fan man on Sat May 28, 2011 at 01:42:10 PM PDT

  •  I love my Weber Kettle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar

    I went grill shopping last year and decided to get a good old fashioned weber kettle but with a newfangled twist -- there are gas jets to light the charcoal /wood so it makes getting the fire going easy.

  •  I'm not sure the rock style is better. (0+ / 0-)

    I personally use charcoal, but a lot of no-expense spared high end propane grills don't use lava rocks. Some use ceramic briquettes and others use metal v shaped shields that keep the drips out of the gas jets. I recall the lava rock style getting pretty gross as drippings soaked the porous rocks, and this required really firing up the grill to extra hot to try to burn off the excess grease and whatnot.

    The low end grills built to a price are crap and probably wont last more than a season or two. The better Webers don't use lava rock and I suspect it's not because their current design is less expensive to produce. I believe they think the current design is overall better.

    Just another opinion.

  •  DOes this help?... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie

    How can the party of "God will Take Care of Everything" call themselves the "Party of Personal Responsibility"?

    by here4tehbeer on Sat May 28, 2011 at 04:12:39 PM PDT

  •  You know, with all the suffering in the world (0+ / 0-)

    you might wanna....Sorry, I see you already mentioned that. ;-)

    apparently due to ancient hardware and the transition to dk4 I can't recc tip jars or comments any longer so in lieu of the 'standard nod' you'll see a variety of replies until this gets fixed or becomes a mighty big fucking pain in the ass

    by oopsaDaisy on Sat May 28, 2011 at 04:54:57 PM PDT

    •  Actually working on a diary relevant to that... (0+ / 0-)

      but this came up today and I figured why not?

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sat May 28, 2011 at 06:51:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Porous rock materiel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar

    has an unfortunate way of transferring food flavors.  I grill a lot of salmon, so if I had lava rocks in the grill, beef steaks would cook up something fishy.

    "Welcome to Costco, I love you" -- Greetings from "Idiocracy"

    by martinjedlicka on Sat May 28, 2011 at 05:22:03 PM PDT

  •  I have a new one and I'm OK with it, but what (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar

    would Hank Hill say ?

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Sat May 28, 2011 at 05:48:02 PM PDT

    •  Probably something about God's Gas (0+ / 0-)

      and that things always go better with propane, rocks or no rocks.  

      But... would Jesus frack?

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sat May 28, 2011 at 06:49:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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