The Weekly Open Thread: What's Your Grill Philosophy?

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So this is the final open thread before we celebrate Independence Day, and I know a lot of folks will probably be firing up their grills for the holiday. So what better time to discuss backyard grilling?

OK, frankly, I'm using patriotism as an excuse. I really just want to pump y'all for grilling tips.

Truth be known, somehow I've managed to survive the last eight or so years without a grill of any sort. Yes, you heard me correctly — a guy who lives in the South, considers himself to be a lover of food culture and has not owned a grill for the past eight years.

Well, no grill until yesterday, that is. A friend of mine is moving to New York City, and offered to sell me a three-burner Brinkmann grill (nothing fancy) for dirt cheap, including two propane tanks. So I jumped at the chance. We fired it up last night, and inaugurated it with a vegetable medley — eggplant, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and three types of peppers (red, yellow and poblano). I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat a ton of meat, and I loooove grilled vegetables, and last night's meal was divine. That said, can't wait to get a good Porter Road Butcher steak on that sucker.

My last grill was a basic Weber charcoal variety, and though I loved the taste of charcoal, the headache of getting the fire going, cleaning, etc., meant I didn't use it often. And eventually it just kind of fell apart. I figure with the gas grill, I'm likely to use it more often. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised to find that last night's vegetables had a nice smoky grilled taste, despite the lack of charcoal or wood.

So here are my questions:

1. What's your grill style of choice? Gas? Charcoal? Fire pit? Big Green Egg? And why?

2. Do you have a favorite food to grill? A favorite marinade? (In the past, I've enjoyed Wishbone Italian dressing — horrible salad dressing, great marinade.)

3. What's the least conventional grill food you've tried to grill, and how did it come out?

4. Gas grill owners, do you ever use a smoker box?

5. Big Green Egg users, what's your verdict? I have a friend who swears by it, and I'm curious ... but it's a big investment.

What else is on your mind?

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