Turning Up the Heat on Outdoor Cooking

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

For decades, firing up the grill in the backyard has served as an almost primal pleasure. It’s easy to understand why. Outdoor cooking is relatively simple. Compared to the variety of different appliances and fixtures in the kitchen, a good grill is much less involved – it’s just you, some fire and some food, after all. But like any technology, there have been some significant advancements made over time. We spoke with Stacey Martin, store manager at Sutherland Hardware & Mercantile Louisville to get the details on the hottest trends.

“When I talk with a customer,” says Martin, “I often ask how much work they want to put into the grill.” Grilling, after all, is a skill, and while it may be easy to pick up, it is difficult to master. Whether or not the customer wants to become a grill master is entirely dependent on the individual and their goals, but Martin attests that whether the customer be a novice or veteran griller, Sutherland has a product for them.

DSC_0361Regardless of skill level, Martin has some basic recommendations that apply regardless of the type of grill the customer elects to buy. “We offer propane, convection and ceramic grills,” says Martin. “You want to have a constant, even temperature when cooking. ” Of the three choices, Martin elaborates that convection and ceramic grills are somewhat better and offer the most versatility. “They can cook anything from meat, fish, pizza, casseroles to even cakes and breads,” she explains. “The possibilities are endless with these grills.”

For the beginner, Martin suggests the Traeger: “Traegers are easy to start, and they use wood pellets.” When burned, the pellets add a smokiness to the meat that can be quite savory, and they even come in eight different flavors – alder, apple, cherry, hickory, maple, mesquite, oak and pecan – that correspond to what it is that’s being cooked. Cooking seafood? Try mesquite or oak. What about vegetables? Go for apple or maple. If you want to play it safe, go with alder, as its mild flavoring pairs well with anything you could put on the grill.

DSC_0369Another alluring feature of the Traeger is that it can often be used like an oven. “You set your desired temperature, put some ribs on and you can go about your business around the house,” attests Martin. “When you come back hours later, your food is done.” Martin says that a beginner griller will enjoy not only the Traeger’s aforementioned versatility when it comes to items that can be grilled but also the various temperatures that this grill can operate at as well. Whether grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, braising or barbecuing, the Traeger can do it all.

Sutherland has no dearth of products for the grilling expert either. “For a true griller, I would say go for the Kamado Joe,” offers Martin. “They use lump charcoal, and you need to learn how to adjust the airflow to maintain the constant temperature.” Overall, the Kamado Joe offers a much more hands-on approach to grilling that requires a more watchful eye and fastidious touch, but the benefits are bountiful.

The Kamado Joe boasts an energy-efficient design, so the time spent on getting a grilling temperature is considerably shortened. It can cook at a higher temperature than most other charcoal grills, and once some control is gained, the consistency of that temperature is unparalleled. “You can adjust the racks depending on what you are cooking, and you can also use chucks of wood in addition to the lump charcoal to get that smoky flavor,” informs Martin. With those features, the Kamado Joe is even more versatile than the Traeger, despite the slightly steeper learning curve necessary to operate it.

Martin also states that both grills come in different sizes depending on how much the customer cooks, so she asks that they consider if they are looking to cook just for themselves and a few family members or to entertain before making this important decision. “There are several extra features that are popular right now,” Martin adds. Sutherland offers pizza stones, salt blocks, smokers and a host of rubs and sauces. And for those wishing to create a more complete space for their new grill, the store also carries outdoor furniture, plants, outdoor heaters and decorative garden art. Whatever your grilling needs are, Stacey Martin and the team at Sutherland Hardware & Mercantile Louisville are happy to meet them. VT

Sutherland Hardware & Mercantile Louisville is located at 3620 Brownsboro Road Louisville, KY 40207 and can be reached at 502.893.4011. They are open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.