BBQ Pitmaster is a program about barely intelligible southerners from the USA tending to grilled meats in a competition that seems somewhat irrelevant in the context of the show. Sad indictment on the state of contemporary commercial TV or not, this is one of the best shows on television at the moment.
We love it so much at the Penthouse office, we thought we’d channel our inner hillbilly by slapping on a circa-2000s trucker’s hat, cracking out the grill and having ourselves an old-fashioned cookout – with a slightly modern twist. The boys on Pitmaster may prefer woodchips and coal, but we opted instead for the power and precision of infrared technology.
Though in some circles, barbecuing sans smoker is sacrilege, being accustomed to a life of sin, we transgressed.
The salespeople say the intensity and even distribution of heat on infrared barbecues produce juicy results and, of course, there’s the added advantage of having total control over the temperature. They also claim the tech is so good, the best examples are akin to traditional tried and true coal barbies.
So, in the heat of the Aussie sun, we donned our novelty apron that reads, “Real Men Rub Their Meat”, and fired up three different infrared barbecues to test whether they’re as hot as their supporters claim they are.
Heatstrip Crossray 4-Burner BBQ
Simply put, the Heatstrip Crossray 4-Burner BBQ is one of the best infrared barbies on the market. The result of 10 years of research, it features four laterally mounted infrared burners to evenly distribute heat across its huge grill space. A two-piece upper grill area adds 60 per cent more surface area, as well as providing room to slow cook large meats like chicken or ribs, as well as any delicate veggies or fish. The Crossray is the only BBQ on the market that gives total control over the grill’s temperature, from as low as 110 degrees all the way up to a scorching 400 degrees. Most of all, ’cos we’re lazy, we like how easy this thing is to clean. Just turn it up all the way for a couple of minutes and it incinerates any residual fat and grease
RRP: $1999 available from Harveynorman.com.au
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Heatstrip ‘Crossray’ 2-Burner Built-In BBQ
For the pitmaster pilgrim, vowing to barbecue in one place is a solemn and sacred commitment, and is not a step he takes lightly. But if you are ready to take the plunge and stay wedded – in under or overcooked food – to one location for the remainder of your grilling days, so help you God, then say “I do” to this 2-Burner built-in option from Crossray. It has similar bells and whistles to its portable 4-burner stablemate, just a slightly more compact grilling area and a smaller number on the price tag.
RRP: $1199 available from Harveynorman.com
Char-Broil Performance Series 2-Burner Gas Grill
If you’re looking to save space and money – the Char-Broil Performance Series is a great compromise. Retaining the core fundamental features of the other infrared barbecues on this list and coming in under $1000, this little beauty is a bargain. Also, its grill tray is deceptively deep, with enough space for the whole barnyard. The tradeoff? It doesn’t have as many features as some of the other grills on this list, and its build and design quality is somewhat lower.
RRP: $899 available from Harveynorman.com.au
WIN a Crossray 4-Burner Barbecue valued at $1999 as part of Penthouse's 40th Anniversary here.