There comes a point in every boy’s life when he must become a man – when he must cast aside his childish inhibitions, and undertake a certain rite of passage, if you will. Buying his first car. Joining into the union of marriage. Welcoming his first child into the world. It’s something that varies from man to man – in many cases, it may be a combination or all of the aforementioned milestones. But when it comes to becoming a man in the culinary world, there’s really only one rite of passage – and that’s the day he brings home his first grill.
Grilling is one of those things that brings out the raw, basic emotions that are hardwired into your brain. There’s just something inherently beautiful about seeing flames dancing around a tender piece of beef – it’s like there’s something deep inside you telling you this is the only way food should ever be cooked – over an open flame. And it very well may be. Beef, poultry, seafood, vegetables, even fruit – almost everything that you eat every day, if it’s cooked, can be cooked on a grill, and it almost always tastes better if it is.
My baptism by fire took place about 15 years ago with a small Weber charcoal. I’ll never forget the taste of that gorgeous, perfectly charred burger that was the first to grace my grill grates. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours seeking to hone my grilling skills. I’ve used charcoal and gas grills, numerous brands, numerous cooking techniques – and they’ve led me to a place that I would consider grilling nirvana. Throughout the summer I’m going to be sharing with you my experiences to help you pick a grill and improve your grilling abilities, all while avoiding the various pitfalls I encountered along the way. In the end, if you heed my advice, you will, in no simpler terms, encounter sheer grilling bliss, and you will be all the more happier for it.
Gas vs. Charcoal
When entering the world of grilling, the common methodology is that you must decide on either a gas or a charcoal grill, when in actuality, you don’t. Grilling isn’t like your marriage – you can have more than one love. Charcoal is what I started with – it gives a distinct flavor to what’s being grilled, it’s economical in comparison to gas, and there’s just something great about manually manipulating hot coals to cook your food. The downside is that charcoal is more labor intensive than gas as far as getting the grill up to heat and adjusting the heat; and it’s significantly dirtier to use. The one thing charcoal doesn’t do, however is give food a bad flavor. A common misconception is that charcoal adds a strange chemical taste to food, but in actuality, it’s when charcoal grills are used improperly (i.e., with lighter fluid) that the results become less than stellar.
Gas, on the other hand, is significantly more convenient to use. A few turns of the knobs are all that separates you from a perfectly seared Porterhouse. There’s no charcoal to get your hands dirty with, and as we’ll discuss, with the right grill, the flavor produced by gas is absolutely superb. The downside is that a gas grill is significantly more expensive, but as you’ll see, the cost is easily justified by the convenience of use. I own both, and I’m all the happier for it.
Selecting a gas grill
In selecting a gas grill, you’re looking for two key elements: power output and build quality. The secret to perfect grilling is having copious amounts of heat at your disposal, and the more power you have, the more heat you can produce. Secondly, there’s the build quality. Grills take a tremendous amount of abuse. They’re subjected to adverse climate changes and they have the ability to generate exceptionally large amounts of heat – both of which mean you need a grill that can stand up to the rigors of consistent use, both inside and out. All of this comes at a price. For a professional grill and professional results, the truth is you need to bypass the disposable grills found at your local home improvement stores and select a grill that’s capable of delivering your intended grilling results both now and years into the future. After struggling with multiple failed gas grills – none of which produced results I was happy with – my quest for the ultimate grill began.
Lynx Professional Grills
In my search for the superlative gas grill, it didn’t take long to discover Lynx Professional Grills. While there’s a variety of entrants in the high end grill market, Lynx’s defining principle of bringing commercial-grade kitchen products to the outdoors is immediately evident – more so than any other brand I encountered. Lynx Grills aren’t gleaming stainless steel showpieces designed to be shown off at catered outdoor dinner parties, although their gorgeously streamlined design may tell you otherwise. At their core, they’re pure business – robust masses of metal capable of generating scorching amounts of heat, designed to be used day in and day out. Exactly what a grill should be.
Separating Lynx from the rest of the pack, Lynx grills utilize what’s called a seamless heli-arch welded construction on the outside of their grills. What this means is that instead of mechanical fasteners, Lynx components are singular pieces of beautifully crafted stainless steel – increasing their durability while eliminating gaps and seams where moisture and grease are prone to live. But inside… inside is where the true magic takes place. Lynx grills utilize two unique heating components: cast brass burners, and the ProSear infrared heating system. By using cast brass, Lynx eliminated the hollow tubular steel burners found in most other grills, offering a substantially more rugged and corrosion resistant design while offering a higher, more consistent heat supply. And speaking of heat supply, did I mention that each Lynx cast brass burner generates a blistering 25,000 btu’s of power?
Complimenting the brass burners, Lynx also incorporates their proprietary ProSear infrared heating system into all their freestanding grills (it’s an option on the 27-inch). Unlike other brand’s infrared systems that utilize only “high” or “off” settings, Lynx ProSear is completely variable, meaning you can use it to sear a variety of different foods – steaks, scallops, or what have you. The best part? It generates an additional 25,000 btu’s of heat, which paired with the infrared technology, offers what may be the greatest grilling platform in existence. It also means that Lynx’s smallest grill – the 27-inch – still produces a grand total of 50,000 btu’s. Move up to the 36-inch Lynx Professional Grill, and power increases to 75,000 btu’s; whereas the largest Lynx grill – the 54-inch – tops out at a staggering 100,000 btu’s. Also available are 30-inch and 42-inch Lynx grills, which share the same btu’s as their smaller counterparts (50,000 btu’s and 75,000 btu’s, respectively).
One Month Review of the Lynx Professional Grill (36 inch)
I’m the type of person who does months’ worth of research on a product before making a purchase. I’m by all standards a perfectionist, and for any major purchase, I demand perfection from whatever it is I’m buying. In selecting a new grill, I looked and researched virtually every major brand of professional grill available, and it was Lynx that eventually won out in the end, based on both build quality and power output. After settling on the Lynx grill range, it then became a question of selecting a specific grill. At present I don’t have a dedicated outdoor kitchen, so I opted for a freestanding grill as opposed to a built-in option. As for size, I wanted something that I wouldn’t outgrow – this is going to be the last major grill purchase I make for at least the next decade, and with a family of four and occasional dinner parties, the two lower sizes (27″ and 30″) were out. While the 54-inch is a sheer work of grilling art, it’s size was a little greater than what I’d use on a regular basis, leaving the 36-inch and 42-inch. In the end, I oped for the 36-inch, as they both share the same power – but in hindsight, either option would have served my needs perfectly.
Unboxing the Lynx 36-inch grill, you’re immediately reminded of Lynx’s staggeringly beautiful build quality. The welded construction gives the grill an absolutely gorgeous exterior, so much so that it’s almost painful leaving it outside. Your first thought is to install some form of security to protect it – that is, until you try to move it. You’re then reminded again of the Lynx’s build quality – not because of its appearance, but rather it’s weight. The 36-inch Lynx grill weighs roughly 400 lbs., adding a heightened level of security in and of itself. Thankfully Lynx freestanding grills sit on high quality caster wheels, making moving the Lynx a relatively easy, one person task (assuming the correct foundation). Lifting the Lynx, however, is an entirely different story, and something that requires careful, well choreographed effort.
Once it’s in location, setting up the Lynx is an exceptionally straightforward task. My Lynx came completely assembled – the only setup necessary is removing the various cables and tie-downs throughout the unit that keep the various grates and burners in place. I opted for the LP version (natural gas is available as well), and connecting the fuel supply is equatable to any other gas grill. One key difference, however, between a Lynx and other grills is the use of electricity. Lynx grills need power for two functions – their interior and exterior lights as well as their ignition system – so plan your outdoor kitchen area accordingly. Once you’ve added your fuel supply and connected power, the Lynx is good to go.
Firing up the Lynx for the first time, memories of my first time grilling echoed in my head. No gas grill has ever brought me the same enjoyment as my first Weber, but I can say undeniably the Lynx has superseded any of my prior grilling experiences. The amount of heat generated by the Lynx is astonishing – searing a steak on the ProSear takes no more than a minute on each side to develop a incredibly delicious, charred crust while trapping all of the meat’s inherent juices. Using the ProSear without long-reaching tongs is an impossible feat – it’s so hot that if you even attempt to reach to the back of the grill you’ll feel the heat searing the flesh off your arm.
Christening the Lynx grill on its maiden voyage, it only seemed fitting to grace it with some beautiful cuts of meat – two ribeyes and two New York strips from the Texas Heritage Beef Company, to be exact. While I’ll extol the virtues of Texas Heritage Beef in another article next week, I will say that the company’s beef paired with the Lynx created a steak that would rival any of the nation’s top steakhouses. The outsides were perfectly charred, offering a perfect level of saltiness to the meat; while inside, the steaks were all incredibly tender with just a hint of buttery flavor present. They were without question the best steaks I’ve ever managed to prepare.
Since then, the Lynx has become our family’s primary cooking source. It’s prepared a variety of meat, poultry and seafood, and it has performed beautifully, delivering exactly what I ask of it each and every time. While initially it wasn’t something I gave enough precedence to, one of the things that has most impressed me about the Lynx is its extraordinarily even heat distribution. It uses a series of ceramic briquettes as well as what Lynx calls a heat stabilizer to provide steady heat throughout the grilling area, and the end result is heating so consistent you could likely use it for baking, if the need arose. It is truly a remarkable design.
A month in, and I can say wholeheartedly that purchasing the Lynx is a choice that I’m exceptionally glad I made, and I haven’t regretted it for a second (except maybe for the fact that I should have opted for the 54-inch, seeing how much I love the 36-inch). It’s also a choice that I should have made years ago, saving me the pains of using lesser products. Lynx Professional Grills aren’t cheap – pricing ranges from roughly $3,400 for the 27-inch grill up to about $8,600 for the 54-inch – but it’s a cost far outweighed by the results Lynx grills are capable of producing. Add to that the fact they’re made to last a lifetime, and Lynx Professional Grills are one of the best purchases you’ll ever make.