Electric barbecues on the grill
for barbecuing purists, electric models are heresy: without dedicated fuel (wood, vine shoots or charcoal), this very particular flavor, specific to this cooking method, would be missing. Charcoal barbecues still take the lion’s share with 60% of sales, but electrical appliances still represent 30% of total sales, because they have many arguments in their favor and the possibility of using them on a balcony n is not the least.
The beautiful days return and with them the desires of good pieces of meat grilled on the barbecue. According to an OpinionWay survey for Campingaz – Observatoire des loisirs en plein air, 75% of French people practice this culinary activity that rhymes with conviviality and good times. It can also rhyme with use in an apartment (for example on a balcony) thanks to electric barbecues when those with fossil fuels are considered as persona non grata in most buildings. So how do you choose an electric barbecue? What are the criteria to take into account? What is the difference between a low-cost device and a high-end model?
The electric barbecue: an alternative with advantages
We understand that electric barbecues leave fans of charcoal barbecues unmoved. There is no pleasure in preparing the embers – yes, yes! for some it is not a chore! -, there is no taste of smokeless indoor grill … But sometimes, for example when living in collective housing, charcoal or gas barbecues are not allowed. Choosing an electric model therefore constitutes an alternative which has its shortcomings, but also has some advantages.
The first lies precisely in the fact that they pass everywhere. Since there is no combustion, it is possible to use electric barbecues wherever the use of their coal or gas counterparts is prohibited, for example on balconies or terraces. When they are not municipal by-laws, condominium regulations often prohibit cooking over charcoal because of the odors and fumes that can annoy neighbors. Gas barbecues do not give off as much smoke, but the risk of explosion leads lawmakers and condominium trustees to be wary.
But beware, the absence of a flame does not mean that there is no risk: an electric barbecue (open or closed) remains a device that gives off a lot of heat and which must therefore be handled with care.
Another advantage is their design, which provides results quickly and very easily. These devices are equipped with a resistor which heats up as soon as an electric current crosses it. Users only have to turn a button to quickly have a heating surface at the desired temperature. When you know the difficulty that the formation of good embers can represent for a neophyte, the simplicity of use is a real asset.
Of course, gas barbecues are also easy to light and adjust. But they are much more bulky because of the bottle they need to operate. An electric appliance makes it possible to dispense with gas cylinders, and there is no need to store coal, small wood, various and varied fire starters … a real plus when you lack space.
And this is where another advantage comes in, especially for people who live in apartments: electric models are often small – some are more cumbersome, but most can be moved and stored easily. Fortunately, since they are much more sensitive to bad weather than their coal counterparts because of their electrical circuits. You might as well take advantage of this maneuverability to store them at the end of the meal and not have to buy one every year, even if the higher quality models are better able to stay outside.
Points to check
Several elements must be taken into account when choosing a device.
Open or closed?
Electric barbecues can take many forms. Open devices with the traditional grid placed above the resistance are the most affordable models. Often provided with removable feet, they can be placed directly on the table since the smoke emission is less (in the absence of combustion). It is also possible to install them outside, but of course near an electrical outlet.
Devices with a cover are more bulky. It is difficult to place them directly on the table gathering the guests and it is better to dedicate a service table to them when they are not mounted on legs.
Closed models generally heat up better than open models. The energy loss is necessarily less with a cover. These devices with covers therefore have significant advantages compared to their open counterparts. Heating takes place more quickly; cooking is also more controlled and more homogeneous, the food remains soft and does not dry out. Finally, the cover avoids splashing greasy … and painful grease.
Power and resistance
To cook well, you have to heat it well. Manufacturers have perfectly understood this and are focusing on several areas to optimize cooking. First, electrical power plays an important role in the quality of heating. We can find devices whose power does not exceed 1000 watts. However, unless they have a cover that limits heat loss, it is better to bet on a higher power: a minimum of 2000 W seems necessary to have a heat suitable for gripping a workpiece. meat properly. The higher the power, the faster the temperature rise.
It is logical that a long resistance, which makes twists and turns under the grid, cooks food more homogeneously than a shorter resistance and which does not offer sufficient density. This is fairly easy to verify, but you have to think about it.
Cast iron rather than steel
The materials of which they are composed contribute to the general quality of the barbecues and their robustness. Entry-level products made of stainless steel and plastic will inevitably be less shock resistant than cast iron models. Barbecues have to handle high temperatures, which plastic does not necessarily withstand over the long term. We should also not forget that it can happen that a barbecue, even an electric barbecue, stays outside. The more solid the product, the better it will stand this test. The manufacturers still recommend bringing the devices open when they are not in use.
The materials that make up the appliance also contribute to the quality of cooking. The least expensive barbecues often have a stainless steel grid that is less able to conserve heat: most of the time very thin, it only serves to prevent food from coming into contact with the heaters. If the budget allows, it is better to favor a barbecue equipped with a cast iron grill, thicker and made of a more efficient material for cooking food since it conducts heat better.
Ease of cleaning
Cleaning a barbecue is often a chore: the juices cling to the grids of the grill, the resistors are often smeared with meat and grease … To make things easier, it is best to make sure that the appliance comes apart easily so that the chore of cleaning does not turn out to be too painful. The ideal being of course that certain elements pass directly to the dishwasher. To facilitate this tedious operation, some manufacturers have thought of equipping their appliances with a cooking grid made up of several parts.
To know: there are “multifunction” models
Some electric barbecues play the versatility by being sold with a plancha. This, often treated with a non-stick coating, is an accessory that is simple to use and clean, but which differs completely from barbecue cooking proper. There are also plates designed for cooking on the grill, which are also treated so as not to attach. These accessories can be disassembled and spend most of the time in the dishwasher.
Which barbecue for which use?
Designed for urban use and of a limited size to limit their electric consumption, electric barbecues try to get out of the game by going where the flame models can not put the wheels. There are very basic entry-level devices from around twenty euros when the most elaborate can reach more than 350 €. From the most affordable to the most expensive, here are a few products that can calm the carnivorous desires of barbecue fondues.
A basic product for barbecue lovers in a small space