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Gas Grills

Martha Stewart Living, June 2006

Ideal for
The most popular grill in the United States, a gas model offers ease and convenience, plus plenty of optional amenities, including warming drawers and side burners for steaming and boiling. If you spend a lot of time dining or entertaining alfresco, consider installing a built-in gas grill in a brick or stone island, making it the focal point of an outdoor kitchen.

What to Know
Powered by propane tanks or piped-in natural gas, these grills feature a barrier, such as lava rock or steel plates, between the flame and cooking grate for dispersing the heat. When cooking, juices from the food hit the barrier and flare, creating flavorful smoke. But some experts say this can't compare with infusing fish or meat with charcoal smoke. Most gas grills reach about six hundred degrees, so they don't sear as well as charcoal fire (which can get up to seven hundred degrees). If searing is important to you, opt for infrared burners -- these heat to more than a thousand degrees. Gas grills are sold according to their rating in BTUs (British thermal units), which are used to measure the grill's heat output. In general, a model should have about a hundred BTUs per square inch of cooking surface, says George T. Booth III, owner of Adventures in Heat, a grill store in Clarence, New York. But do not judge a grill exclusively on this number: Some models are constructed more efficiently than others and can reach a favorable cooking temperature using fewer BTUs, Booth says. Choose a gas grill made of heavy-gauge stainless steel or cast aluminum; both are sturdy and rust-resistant and facilitate the flow of hot air inside. Two or more burners are preferable, as this allows you to heat large items evenly or cook foods at different temperatures. Many companies sell the top portions of their freestanding gas grills -- the cooking surfaces and heat mechanisms -- for use as built-ins. Some stores will help you plan an outdoor kitchen and install your grill; hiring an architect or a contractor is another option.

Cost
$150 to $5,000 for a freestanding grill; built-ins are $500 to $3,000 (installation adds to the price).

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