Cookin’ With Gas

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Cookin' with gas on "Le Grille" gave our staff a chance to put it through its paces and enjoy a picnic!

Just about everybody loves a cookout, but broiling over
charcoal can have some real drawbacks. You’ve got to
wrestle with bags of sooty briquets . . . handle — with
caution — the smelly and dangerous lighter fluid (that
often ends up flavoring your food) . . . and then wait, as
the young’uns clamor, for the coals to reach the proper
stage for cooking.

Therefore, in terms of convenience, cookin’ with gas on a propane grill is
a pretty attractive alternative to charcoal. The fuel
used in such devices is safely enclosed in a compact
container . . . the burners light — and stay
lit! — on a single match … and the fire is ready for
broiling almost immediately. The problem with the
convenient cookers has always been price: The least
expensive gas grills usually cost well over a hundred
dollars, and many sell for twice that amount.

So, when we noticed an ad in MOTHER EARTH NEWS for a barbecue
grill that offers all of the advantages listed above and
still sells for under $80 (shipping included), we decided
to order one of the units and check it out. Called “Le
Grille,” the compact broiler has a 220-square-inch cooking
surface … comes with a sturdy base that adapts to three
heights (9 inches for tabletop placement, and 18 or 30
inches for backyard cooking) … is 100% cast iron . . .
runs off a standard one-pound propane tank . . . and
includes a free adapter for using an even more economical
20-pound fuel container.

You needn’t sacrifice that smoky charcoal-broiled flavor
when you cook with Le Grille, either. As you probably know,
the aroma and taste that we associate with outdoor cooking
is caused by the vaporization of fats dripping down onto
the glowing coals. The propane grill gets the same effect
with a tray of lightweight volcanic rocks that’s positioned
above the gas flame. As the “coals” get hot, the dripping
fat is transformed into the familiar–and
delicious–“charcoal” smoke.

What’s more, the propane grill isn’t just a convenience
item. One MOTHER EARTH NEWS staffer was mighty glad there was a gas
cooker in the house last winter, when a sudden ice storm
brought down wires and made the electric range about as
useful as wings on a pig! He just placed the grill in the
fireplace and opened the damper … lit a match and turned
a knob . . . and soon the aroma of sizzling lamb chops
filled the chilly darkness. A good hot meal can really make
a difference in your outlook when the power is off and ol’
man winter is howlin’ up a storm! (Of course, when you’re
using any open-flame appliance indoors, always provide
ventilation to maintain breathing oxygen for you and
yours.)