The other day I hosted a customer who had seen my videos and wanted to take the Alfresco 42 ALXE-42SZ for a spin. He was intrigued by the power that the grill generated through the 28.5K btu burners and was focused on the Alfresco Hellfire sear zone. If you have not read or seen my other blog postings / videos, the Alfresco sear zone may be the hottest of all the premium gas grills, reaching an infernal temperature of 1800F. Do you really need to sear a steak at a temperature that you could probably forge steel at? No, but it certainly is cool talking about that number : )
What he did not realize was that the Alfresco solid fuel insert, which is the drop-in accessory that allows you to cook with wood or charcoal, is the BEST way to sear your food on an Alfresco grill. He brought a well-marbled 2.5″ thick ribeye to my house, rubbed it with kosher salt and pepper and we ran a test where one side was seared on the Hellfire sear zone and the other side was cooked on the solid fuel insert. Results – the solid fuel insert did a better job as we developed more of a bark on the side of beef and it imparted a tasty, woodsy flavor profile that was multi-dimensional. Picture biting into a piece and the first sensation is a little bit of char and grit that suddenly hits you with some wood / smoke and then suddenly you get the sanguine lusciousness of the medium rare interior. It was off the charts!
So the Alfresco solid fuel insert is an ABSOLUTE must have accessory with any Alfresco grill as it will fit every size. Here are my top 5 reasons why you need it:
1 – It sears better than the infrared sear zone
2 – Food tastes better when you cook over a live fire!
3 – It does more than sear – customers have taught me how to do 2-zone cooking with it where you bank your coals in the front or back. This will leave enough room to sear two large steaks and have a sufficient area in the front for a different temp zone
4 – It’s portable – if you don’t want to use it, pull it out. You can’t do that with a sear zone burner that is taking up 33% of the grill surface
5 – It’s easy clean – just take a shop vac to the solid fuel insert and you’re done. Or, lift the solid fuel box out of the grill, dump put the ash, and you’re good to go.
BONUS – if you cook with lump charcoal you can reuse your coal for your next cook, so you prolong the life of your fuel and save $$.
Ribeye steak on the Alfresco solid fuel insert SFI-POD
If you are shopping for a grill and the salesperson tries to sell you on said grill’s ability to completely negate flareups, then my advice is to walk your ass out of that store or off the phone PRONTO.
There is a silly misconception that flareups are the bane (not this Bane) of every backyard griller .
I wholeheartedly disagree. Especially if you are using a gas grill.
What is a flareup?
It’s fat, juice, marinade or some other cooking byproduct that is hitting a very hot surface on your grill. The result is smoke, or flame that rises, WITH FLAVOR, sending it back to the food. Since a gas grill does not impart any flavor to food (gas = colorless, odorless, tasteless), then the flare up or FLAVOR BOMB/FLAME KISS, is actually a positive thing.
The problem is when your grill is too hot, or filthy, and you can’t harness the inherent beauty of the flare up, and it becomes sustained, and ultimately burns the shit out of your food.
It’s like any other cooking fire, it delivers the goods (man,is there anything better than cooking over live fire?) but it needs to be harnessed or that beauty it delivers to our olfactory senses can go sideways real fast.
So what you need is the tool or toolkit to be able to handle this heat/fire and channel it for the good as you cook on your limited (taste-wise) gas grill. That’s why the Alfresco is the way to go – the ceramic briquette system it uses is off the charts good. Watch the video for the details, but if you want a vehicle that will allow you to cook at a high temp yet control the inevitable flareups, the Alfresco ALXE series delivers.
Over the years I have lost too many good pieces of meat to the insidious grip of untamed flareups. While I squarely blame myself for those issues, it didn’t help matters that the grills I was using using capitulated in the face of these meal-ruiners.
That was until I started grilling on an Alfresco ALXE 42 Grill
Because of Alfresco’s brilliantly designed ceramic briquette cooking system, my flareups have been transformed into “flame kisses” that aid in flavorizing my food, instead of turning it into a shade closer to obsidian and leaving it with the taste of a fireplace.
Alfresco Grills Have the Best Flare Up Taming System!
Proof is in the pudding…
My wife gave me a few skirt steaks that had been sitting in an Asian marinade bath for a few hours. When they were brought to the white hot Alfresco 42 grill, they were undoubtedly fodder for a serious flare up outbreak.
As you can see from the images below, flames did start to erupt, BUT WERE SUPPRESSED IMMEDIATELY. Because of the close concentration of the briquettes (if you look at Alfresco’s ceramic grid vs the competition there are very few gaps that would allow flames to shoot through) the flames may get through, but they are smacked down after allowing for a brief flame kiss which is a flavor enhancer. More on that next…
Flare Ups are a Good Thing. No, Make that a GREAT Thing.
Flare ups are caused by drippings.
And drippings are what flavors our food.
The folks at GrillGrates feel that the drippings and their byproduct (flareups) are the most instrumental factor in giving your good it’s kick a$# taste. Yes, more important than the wood pellets, chunks, charcoal or (with a gas grill) the chips in a smoker box. We WANT flare ups, but we don’t want sustained flare ups. Instead we need to recontextualize them as “flame kisses” or “flavor bombs”.
BTW, no matter what cooking system you are using, if you don’t clean your grill gates and briquettes, you will be slowly creating a flare up factory.
I clean my Alfresco 42 Grill regularly and make sure to burn away any buildup on the briquettes.
If you have any Alfresco Grill questions please give us a holler and remember we ship Alfresco nationwide…for free! Call us at 1-800-966-2878 to order today!
The Alfresco 42 Grill’s ceramic briquettes knock down the flareup.