From Season 3: Pork Chops, Two Ways
Update: April 2010
Since our 2003 testing, Weber relaunched Genesis as a high-end line and updated its mid-priced line with the Spirit E-210 and E-310 models. We tested the Spirit grills and have updated our results accordingly.
Gas grills deliver what 21st—century Americans prize most: ease. Turn on the gas, hit the ignition switch, and voilà—an instant fire of whatever intensity you need for tonight's recipe. It really is, or at least it really should be, a no-brainer.
Figuring out which gas grill to purchase, on the other hand, is a brain-bender. Discount and home improvement stores stock models as far as the eye can see, with burners of various number and type, overall sizes and cooking spaces from mini to maxi, and features ranging from automatic ignition to cup holders. And while no gas grill is cheap—prices start around $150—many constitute a substantial investment of several hundred, even several thousand, dollars. By grilling our way through almost $1,000 worth of groceries over high, medium, and low heat, we learned which designs and features affect performance the most.
All of the grills in our group delivered average high temperature readings were consistently in the range of roughly 600 to 800 degrees. Our high-heat cooking tests, searing both steaks and chicken thighs, put these numbers in perspective. What did we find? That you don't need enough heat to launch a rocket to give steak or chicken a good sear. We noted, in fact, that heat output was not necessarily related to price.
Covering the entire grilling surface with 1-inch-thick planks of eggplant and cooking them over medium-high heat helped us to assess how the grills performed in the moderate heat range, as well as how evenly that heat was distributed. As with heat output, we found that evenness of heating was not necessarily related to price.
Because gas grills allow precise heat control, they are especially well suited to barbecuing and grill-roasting. These techniques require low, indirect heat (in the range of 250 degrees to 350 degrees) for a long time to cook through large cuts of meat, fish, or whole fowl. All but one of the grills performed acceptably, maintaining the temperature at or near the target, with minimal adjustment, for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
Melted fat that drips from hot food down onto the burners causes both excessive smoke and flare-ups that can give food an unwelcome, slightly burnt, "off" flavor. The fatty chicken thighs and steaks that we cooked were reliable indicators of which grills tended to flare. We found that effective design for fat drainage limits this problem.
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.