There's only one place you want to be during a long Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles — the beach, any beach. Well, almost any beach.
If you want to extend your stay without worry about leaving for lunch, losing your spot, or staving off hunger with concession food, it pays to pick a beach that allows for picnics. And that's what we did. But unlike other outings, one of my friends brought along something better than cold sandwiches and snacks. He brought a few EZ Grills, turning our time into an all-day barbecue.
The EZ Grill isn't necessarily new (founded in 2008), but it is new to me. The general concept is simple. It's a portable, pre-packaged grill for parks, beaches, and tailgate parties. It's especially good for people with apartments because storing a grill and grill gear (lighter fluid and charcoal) isn't always sensible or safe. EZ Grill, on the other hand, is 100 percent self-contained.
Convenience is the reason, but EZ Grill is eco-friendly too.
When most people write up or review EZ Grill, they stick to the obvious. Everything you need is inside the packaging: charcoal surrounded by an oil soaked tissue to help you start it. Once you light the paper, the grill flames up for 15 minutes before you start cooking. The grill is good for about 90 minutes. Here's one of the more recent video reviews.
But even better than what most people say about the grill, it's the eco-friendliness and taste of the food that stands out for me. The all-natural charcoal is soaked in mineral oil (same as the tissue), which means there isn't any chemical taste. According to the manufacturer, it's environmentally safe.
All of it seems to be green too. The charcoal is made from agricultural by-products (rice, corn, wheat stalks) and cornstarch. It doesn't use any sulphur, borax, petroleum, or sawdust. The oil is a natural mineral oil as opposed to chemical starters. The container is made from aluminum. The packaging is made from recyclable paperboard.
A few extra tips about the EZ Grill outdoors.
Most people just pour water on the grill once they are done. Then, double check for heat after a few minutes, fold it up, and throw it away. There is no other mess to clean up.
Two additional considerations for the EZ Grill. The coals do not seem to get as hot as traditional coals, but the grills make up for it by placing the food even closer to the heat. (Expect a slightly longer cook time.) This design also makes it more ideal to cook with the grill on colder or windier days.
Another helpful hint is that the coals work better spread around the bottom of the tray (avoid pushing them together). The general idea is not to make a mound of coals like a Weber grill. You want an even layer of heat instead.
Make outside grilling EZ and indoor grilling smokeless.
After being introduced to the EZ Grill, it reminded me how much I love grilled food but don't always have the chance to make it. The most well-known indoor grill is the George Foreman Grill. But the Smokeless Indoor Health Grill is a good choice for about same price. While the construction isn't sturdy, it creates a more convincing grill feel and is still easy to clean.
The two more important features to look for are the inclusion of a lid (unless it's smokeless like the one mentioned) or detachable top and bottom grill pieces if you purchase a contact grill. To make up for the loss of smoky flavor, pick seasonings and sauces that lend well to a smoky taste. Salt and pepper are fine (salt helps break down the fats), but liquid smoke, smoke salts, or mesquite seasoning adds to create a more believable barbecue taste.
The EZ Grill Cooks Up A 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
While I added in some indoor grilling options, the EZ Grill might create a compelling reason to grill outside much longer into the fall. Most people I know don't mind standing over a grill as much as they mind preparing and cleaning the grill in the cold. The EZ Grill is an inexpensive gadget that eliminates both hassles. Even better, the grill is ready to go wherever you are.
EZ Grill can be found at Buy.com for the best price (about $6). On Amazon, the company offers the EZ Grill cooler bag, which is wide enough to fit one EZ Grill on top (about $12). The indoor grills, George Foreman Grill and Smokeless Indoor, retail for around $80.