Most helpful positive review
204 of 206 people found the following review helpful
Hard to beat
on March 9, 2006
When it came time for us to get a new charcoal grill I searched every site and checked out dozens of different grills, some costing many hundreds of dollars, all promising some advantage.
Some units were really interesting, and not too expensive, but upon close inspection many of these proved to be tinny and cheaply made. The very expensive systems were very nice, but did not offer rotisseries and other useful accessories and were just too expensive for us anyway.
So, we ended up with another Weber, the Gold Model. In the many years since our last Weber, there have been a lot of improvements that kept it attractive. The ash catcher really does make cleanup much easier and the vent system is more functional. The grill itself has the new flip-up hatches that allow you to add more coals and move them around without having to lift up the grill. I did that all the time with the old grill.
The optional little bent-wire style of charcoal retainers do help to keep the coals out to the side when you want to use a drip pan in the center.
Others have recommended the chimney style charcoal start for ecological reasons. It is also just plain faster to use as well, and it is made of heavy gauge metal that is both attractive and long-lasting.
I love the optional rotisserie (see those reviews) and it comes with an extension ring that is also useful for other cooking options.
We got the green colored kettle and it looks very nice on the patio. The general design and those odd white-wall tires give it a kind of vintage look.
This is a well-made and very functional grill with all sorts of interesting available accessories that really work well. There is a reason for the popularity of the Weber. I looked, I bought. Hard to beat.
Update 7/2012. Still good, used daily all summer and even in the rain under my porch cover. Something I came up with that could be interesting to the more dedicated user. I essentially bought a downed oak tree and have been splitting it for firewood for next winter. Had a lot of small, crooked, knotty, twisted pieces that couldn't easily be split. I cut them up into 1" cubes on a band saw, hoping to use them as briquettes in the Weber. A newspaper sprinkled with cooking oil got them started in the Weber chimney starter quite quickly. The secret is to be a bit patient so that they stop flaming and turn to glowing coals. And then you have a genuine oak BBQ, just like on a ranch. Very good, but a lot of work and dangerous enough even on a band saw. And it messes up the blade and rollers. The other more accessible method would be to simply start an oak campfire in the Weber, using regular old pieces of oak like you would in a fireplace. It would take some time to burn down to coals, but even more of an excuse to drink too much and then burn the food because....well, everyone has done this. Right? Anyway, flaming oak imparts a kind of bitter taste while glowing oak coals make it delicious. I do this research for you.
Update 2, on cooking an expensive steak. This works and requires no skill. I went out and bought the most expensive steak ever, an organic, grass fed, free range whatever ribeye at a boutique market and the attractive butcher girl probably had her thumb on the digital scale besides. I about died when I saw the price. Hmmm, can't afford to cook this any way but perfectly.
I once saw a YouTube video on how to properly cook a steak using high heat and this is my BBQ grill interpretation of that.
Use the coal retainers to block off a section of the lower grill and fill up that smaller portion with lots of hot coals. It cannot be too hot in this case.
Put on the cooking grill and let the previous session's grease flame off, which of course also heats it up hotly and is somewhat entertaining and makes you feel guilty about what you are eating...
Put on the steak. Having those long tongs helps a lot. You can rub it with olive oil if you want, but it is unclear to me if that is necessary and it causes more flame-ups. No BBQ sauce though. Lid off! Deal with the flame-ups by maneuvering the steak around. Some people use a water spray. This is hands-on, attentive work.
Stand by. It will cook fast. Have your other food well under way. Within minutes the down side will have that crust of goodness, short of burnt of course. Turn it over and do the other side. When that side is seared, remove the steak and insert a digital cooking thermometer, taking care to place it in the very center, from the side (not stabbed in from the top). I use a Polder and the line from the sensor to the display seems to hold up in high heat, but don't string it out over the coals. Run it out the back. Set the alarm for 130.
Put the steak back over the un-coaled area. The effect now is that this is a very hot oven, not a grill. Put on the lid, make sure all vents are open. Watch the temp rise, amazingly fast so don't wander off.
Remove the steak, with tongs, to a plate and cover it with aluminum foil, resting it as they say on cooking shows. By the time everything else is served up, maybe 10 minutes or so, it should be ready to serve.
This gives you a steak that looks exactly like the ones in advertisements, medium rare with a great crust. You can throw it back on and in a couple of minutes the temp and doneness will go up. There is no shame in putting food back on the fire, but there is shame in over-cooking it! If you paid the big bucks for your meat, burning it will make you cry.
BTW, this works for other meat like thick cut pork chops (thick ones are easier to cook properly). Use the same method, but run the temp up to 140-145 (145 being the new govt standard, and in fact it is the standard for all meat other than poultry. If you were brought up on thin, over-cooked pork chops (we all were) you have a revelation coming. Chicken parts don't require the high heat, but a quick sear and off the the oven part works very well for them.
It is suggested that the steak be served with salt and pepper, applied after it is cooked as it may be a bad idea to subject the salt and pepper to high heat. The more expensive the meat, the less you should put on it. Cooks always suggest kosher salt and it is indeed very good for this, and ground pepper is better as well. I really think BBQ sauce is too much for expensive beef, but if you want to fancy it up, slowly heat up some butter and garlic and let it meld together. Strain it and serve it on the side, or simply pour it on. What the heck, you have already gone well over the fat grams or whatever for the month anyway...
If you have to cook more than maybe 3 or 4 large steaks, you could fill the entire bowl with coals and then finalize them in the kitchen oven set very high, like 450, and with the temp probe stuck in the most representative steak. This gives you 90% of the grilling experience and taste.