I have been a grill enthusiast for many years and I've owned a few grills in my life. For me outdoor grilling is done with real wood charcoal or natural wood. The real thing. Not briquettes or other compressed wood materials or propane or natural gas. I like the flavours that comes from smoking food low and slow or grilling meats at extremely high temperature. For that reason I purchased a Chargriller Wrangler unit 5 years ago. This is a charcoal grill/smoker that has few options. Chargriller makes other models like table tops, and dual fuel units, but at this time, all I required was the basic model. When it was delivered, it came in a large box, and some assembly was required. It went up in minutes because it is such a simple design and not having a gas component makes the process a lot simpler. My grill has a large grilling area where I could cook a dozen steaks or burgers if the need would be, but I use it mostly as a smoker. The large dome is great for bulky items, and it has side and top adjustments for heat control. It is light enough to move around the yard, and two wooden shelves help with food prep and handling. The unit also has a bottom shelf where I keep my chimney, racks and foil plates. The basic model I bought is still in great shape after all these years and spent all the winters outside under the snow with minimal maintenance. It is a real sturdy unit. The Wrangler has a large grilling surface and 3 cast iron grill pieces that allow me to cook with indirect heat source for low and slow cooking. I remove one of the grill panels so I can add more coals as the cooking process goes on. The cast iron grill panels are nicely seasoned and require a simple wipe when I'm done. The seasoning permits me to grill anything without risking the food sticking on the grill. They have become non-stick and maintenance free. The grills are solid with large rungs that produce fantastic grill marks when I do fish, steaks or burgers. I did remove the warming rack from the unit as I did not use it much and it was in the way when I did a beer can chicken or slow cooked briskets. Attachments that were available but not purchased were the smoke box, and the side burner unit. The smoke box attaches to the side of the grill and allows for a better smoking temperature control. Since I use the right side of the grill to place my coals, temperatures tend to spike at the start of the process. An independent smoke box does not have that problem. The side burner unit allows for saucepan cooking and also is great to start a chimney. One of the main drawbacks of having a charcoal grill is the prep time required to cook a meal when I'm pressed for time. Waiting 30 minutes to get the coals ready for a meal when all I'm cooking is a couple of hotdogs, makes it a bit a deterrent. Another thing to consider with a charcoal grill is outside temperature. Cooking times and coal adjustments change dramatically based on how warm or cold it is outside. On a cold and windy day I need to monitor the temperature constantly and ribs will take on average 50% longer to be done. When the hot summer sun bears down on my grill, cooking is faster and I require less wood. But when it's time for ribs, chicken, beef brisket and even sausages, low and slow cooking is the best way to go, and can't be achieved on a gas grill. As well as the extreme heat that wood can provide to cook steaks, and even pizza when I feel adventurous. I do wish at times that my grill would fall apart so I could justify buying the latest model from Chargriller. Some of the new models come fully equipped with a gas side and a charcoal side. I would get one of those and include the smoke box and side burner. This way I could enjoy all types of cooking without the wait or inconvenience that having only one type of grill has. But the way things are going, my Chargriller will be with me for many years.
Brook Park, OH