For a lot of people, the grill is a great place to gather. Everyone gets to take their turn sharing stories, replaying old jokes, and reconnecting in the perfume of smoky, fire-kissed meat. All of it harkens back to ancient days when our ancestors gathered around fire pits roasting hunks of beast jammed onto the end of green sticks.
Of course, grill manufacturers are aware of the gathering power of burning grill. Many offer units in their line that allow for a little extra elbow room. Especially, when people want to sample some of the pieces of meat that get done early or simply to share a popular recipe.
Most people think that you need a large grill to host a gathering. While some serious square inches are certainly nice for a home-based grill, there are a lot of tailgaters who will tell you that even a small flame can still have the power to attract a large crowd.
Best Portable Tailgating Grills For Entertaining
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t need to have an outdoor grill to entertain. These days an increasing number of grill manufacturers are offering tableside grills and cooking appliances that are designed to let everyone cook their own meat at the same time. Some even include a built-in shabu shabu hot pot, or enough cooking space to accommodate one.
This type of tableside dining is somewhat new in the West but has been a social staple in many Eastern cultures for centuries. Today a lot of these tableside cooking appliances use electricity, which makes them even more appealing for people who live in apartments, condos, or townhomes where traditional charcoal and propane grilling simply isn’t allowed on the deck.
Some of these tableside grills have nichrome elements inside them. When electricity passes through the alloy metals it encounters resistance, which produces heat that transfers to the nonstick cooking surface. Though there are some that produce radiant heat for direct grilling things like kabobs and yakitori.
Many of these indoor electric grills have some type of smoke capture system built into them. This might be a fan that draws smoke down into filters or a water trap that simply needs to be replaced after each use.
Though there are a few indoor electric grills with absolutely no “Smokeless” feature. With these units, you need to be mindful of ventilation. Especially if you are going to be grilling something with a lot of fat or sloppy marinade. If you have any concerns about the smoke detector going berserk, you should think about opening a window, turning on the range hood, or setting up to dine on the deck.
Best Tableside Grills For Entertaining
One of the new trends gaining traction in the grilling industry is the concept of fireside grilling and frying. These units are a little more popular at the cabin or family campground. They let individuals stand around charcoal, wood fire, or a gas flame to cook their own food in a traditional way. This is sort of the hybrid position between tableside grilling indoors and gathering around an open-flame grill.
Large gas and charcoal grills are, of course, the most traditional way to host a grill-side gathering. With these there are a few things to look out for, depending on the number of people you are trying to feed.
Obviously, size is helpful. If you are going to be cooking for four or more people you don’t want to be huddled around a 200 square inch grill grate. If you are going to be grilling for say five or six people or you are hosting an event where small groups of people will take turns “Grazing” at the grill, then you probably want to prioritize a unit with more than 500 square inches of primary grate space.
At the same time, you also want to have someplace to holdover pieces of meat and vegetables that happen to get done early. A warming rack is always nice. It’s raised up people passing by to grab something to eat can get at it with a pair of tongs, rather than sticking their hands down by the fire.
Though if you do fall in love with a grill that doesn’t have a warming rack, or it seems to get in the way when cooking tall pieces of food, you could simply leave one section of the primary rack on low heat. A heavy-duty aluminum foil pan could then improvise as a warming area.
Another option to keep an eye out for is a grill with side tables that are large enough to hold a serving platter. This lets guests grab the tasty treats you offer up without having to go anywhere near the flames, or perhaps a cohost can grab the platter quickly to pass out appetizers.
Best Charcoal And Propane Grills For Entertaining
Built-In Grills And Outdoor Kitchens For Entertaining
Of course, the ultimate grill for entertaining comes in the form of an outdoor kitchen, or cooking station. Drop-in grills are sort of the hallmark that a lot of people think of when it comes to an outdoor kitchen station. Though there are a few all-in-one units that come with the grill, counters, and cabinets included. As well as a few portable grill stations for setting up a pop-up grilling demonstration.
The obvious benefit here is that you can grill right on the spot while your diners enjoy a little extra elbow room. As things are ready, you can set the grilled meat and vegetables on a serving platter that you can slide onto the counter for other people to enjoy, without crowding you at the grill.