Cooking on the Wild Side - Page 5

Sizzling summery secrets to turn an outdoor kitchen into a special space for all
  • Charcoal grills impart an intense, smoky flavor thanks to the charcoal briquettes or wood that you use. They usually heat for 15 to 30 minutes before cook time.
  • Gas grills, using liquid propane or natural gas, burn cleaner than charcoal and ignite quickly. After ten minutes or so of preheating, you’re ready to start grilling. Connect these models to a natural gas hookup to eliminate the chance of running out of fuel and the annoyance of replacing propane tanks.
  • Smokers come in charcoal and electric models and let you cook long and slow.
  • Wood-fired ovens are a popular addition to today’s outdoor kitchens. Although most people use them for pizza, they can also cook everything from meats, fish, and vegetables to pasta, breads, and desserts. While cooking with wood fire creates a distinct taste and aroma to foods, it also promotes a more relaxed atmosphere because they can take an hour or more to heat up.

“Wood-fired ovens are helping today’s busy families to reclaim the ability to relax around the table and enjoy each other’s company,” says Anna Carpenter, owner of Los Angeles Ovenworks, which imports wood-burning ovens from Italy. Typically, your food will cook faster in a wood-fired oven than in a standard oven in your interior kitchen. Carpenter says her ovens typically cook 15 minutes faster than indoor ovens.

Appliance manufacturers commonly create full suites of outdoor appliances so that every piece you buy is a size and finish that works well together. Readymade kitchen packages can also help ease the decision-making process. It’s a good way to fit in grills, burners, sinks, refrigerators, and storage without having to hire a designer. Each element is built into readymade all-weather cabinetry.

To create a true outdoor kitchen, it was important to design all the appliances that you would find in a well-equipped indoor kitchen, plus make them tough enough to operate and survive in an all-weather environment,” says Dale Seiden, vice president of Alfresco Grills.

For ease of convenience, opt for at least one refrigerator to hold meat, produce, and other ingredients that demand cooling. Choose from standard under-counter models with a door or a set of refrigerated drawers.

Don’t assume that an indoor refrigerator will work outdoors. Appliances that are branded as ‘outdoor refrigerators’ have more power, and are insulated to keep drinks and food cooler, even in sweltering heat. Look for a refrigerator that is 300-series stainless steel, which means it is rust resistant. Also look for the Underwriters Laboratories seal of approval, which means the appliance is safe for outdoor use. If you’re building the unit into outdoor cabinetry, opt for a model that is front-vented.

What’s a barbecue without an ice-cold beverage? For ultimate entertaining, consider a bartending center. You can order these as a built-in or a cart model that features distinct areas for ice, drinks, and bar tools. Danver’s Glastender Home cocktail station includes an ice bin with sliding stainless-steel cover, condiment cups, bottle well for iced bottle storage, sink, cutting board, and other bartending accessories.

The National Association of Home Builders estimates outdoor kitchens can range in price from $3,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the design, quality, and the type of appliances and materials selected. 


Photos: David Toerge, Domiteaux + Baggett Architects; and courtesy the participating manufacturers. Weber photo © 2012 Weber-Stephen Products LLC - used with permission.



Alfresco Grills



Domiteaux + Baggett Architects


Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet



Los Angeles Ovenworks




Saber Grills


Unlimited Outdoor Kitchens

Weber Grills

Werever Outdoor Products

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