Some people enjoy cooking, and each of them has their preferences when it comes to cooking styles and using different kinds of utensils and apparatuses. A few of them may be in favor of using utensils made of ceramic. Ceramic kitchenware like pots and pans will be able to retain heat much more effectively than any other materials available in the market. Most Ingredients and foods will also not stick on ceramic kitchenware since the material has a smooth surface, and it doesn’t have pores where food may sometimes get stuck.
While ceramic pans and pots are popular today, there is one specific type of ceramic cookware that is not as widely used as the others, and that is the Kamado grill. Cast iron and stainless steel are the more favorable materials for grills, but ceramic ones can be just as effective and sometimes even better because of the several benefits it can provide compared to most grill materials.
Benefits of Ceramic Cookware
As mentioned previously, the ceramic material will be able to retain heat on its surface, thus allowing the foods or ingredients to be cooked evenly while on the cookware. In addition, ceramic cookware is often considered the safest to utilize for cooking due to one reason; it doesn’t contain any chemical residues or harmful elements, unlike some materials.
For example, non-stick pans usually have perfluoroalkyl (PFA), which is a substance that creates the smooth and slippery surface on the metal petal pan. The non-stick pan can guarantee that your food won’t stick on the cookware for a short time, but after continuous use, the smooth substance would eventually peel off or turn to liquid again and might contaminate your food due to being overexposed to high heat. The chemical is said to cause severe complications in the body, such as organ failure and infertility.
Some stainless steel pans may also contain chemicals or substances that can be harmful to our bodies. This type of pan sometimes has copper at the bottom of the cookware, which is usually utilized to distribute heat evenly in the pan. However, some copper may accidentally appear on the surface of the pan, and once that is mixed with our food and consumed, it will cause problems in our body, specifically the digestive system.
Ceramic cookware is guaranteed to be the safest option for cookware material since it doesn’t contain any harmful substances since the material is normally only made using minerals found in the earth’s crust and water. Also, it is naturally non-sticking, which means that it doesn’t need any substances or chemicals to smoothen its surface.
You may not need the non-stick qualities of ceramic for the grills, but its ability to retain heat and cook food evenly is essential for putting out the best steaks and the finest grilled dishes for family picnics or get-togethers.
History of the Ceramic Grill
Now that we know the advantages of ceramic against other cooking materials let us now explore the history of how ceramic was first used for grilling and how it evolve to the excellent cookware that we know today.
The method of grilling using ceramic is an evolved form of a 3000-year old practice of grilling ingredients together in a clay pot that originated in China. It is believed that clay pots have great heat retention and can produce better-tasting dishes since most of the moisture or juices found in the cooked food are still present no matter how high the heat is on the pot.
The Chinese then taught the special cooking technique to the Japanese during 300 to 500 AD, and the incorporation of clay pots to Japanese cooking eventually resulted in the Japanese inventing another kind of cookware that uses clay, the mushikamado.
Mushikamado, which is referred to or translated as “rice cooker” in English, is cookware made of clay pot where the Japanese often cook their rice for better taste. Since clay pots retain moisture, the rice that the cookware produces is soft and fluffy, the standard texture for Japanese rice today.
After the invention of the mushikamado, the Japanese found other ways to use the cookware other than for rice. To cook meat, they began fitting grates or grills on top of the mushikamado, thus becoming the first Kamado grill.
When US soldiers visited Japan after World War II, they were so amazed by the mushikamado and how it was able to cook great-tasting food that they brought several mushikamado grills back to the US and started using it in their homes. These soldiers began calling the grill “Kamado” to shorten the name mushikamado.
A lot of people then began jumping on the Kamado bandwagon and started ordering the grill overseas. Due to the hype surrounding the Kamado, several companies have imported the grill to make it easier for people to buy it. One of these importing companies is owned by Ed Fisher, who eventually created his company’s own mushikamado so that they won’t have to import grills anymore.
However, he realized that the materials used for his Kamado grills were not high-quality and would crumble after a few years. He then sought new materials to use for his grill, and by 1974, Fisher has already decided what the material should be used for his new and improved Kamado grill. The chosen material is ceramic, which has the same, or sometimes even better, heat-retaining qualities as clay but is more rigid and durable.
The ceramic grill was a major success, with thousands or even millions of people buying the grill as an upgrade to their existing Kamado grill that is made of clay or cement mixture. Ed Fisher’s company soon became known as Big Green Egg, a name they got from the shape and color of their Kamado grill.
The Best Ceramic Grills
When the Big Green Egg’s Kamado grill became popular, the market became flooded with other ceramic grills made by other companies who wanted to replicate Ed Fisher’s success. Some of these companies became successful in their own ways, while some were not able to manufacture high-quality grills for them to stay in the market.
Today, there are still dozens of ceramic grills out there that you can buy in almost all appliance centers and online stores. However, only a few can be deemed as the best when it comes to cooking the tastiest and most savory grilled food. Keep in mind that most of the best ceramic grills aren’t made of 100% ceramic, as they may only have ceramic inside while their exterior is made of metal for better durability.
Here are a number of excellent ceramic grills that you can buy if you are just a beginner in Kamado grilling.
Kamado Joe is another company that is very popular among grill enthusiasts as they manufacture some of the best ceramic grills today, and one of them if the KJ23RHC that is better known as the Classic II.
The Classic II is 18 inches in size, which is perfect to fit any common grilling ingredient or food inside the grill. In addition, each Kamado Joe Classic II package comes with a cart that has wheels so that you can move the grill around the garden or backyard.
Along with the car, the Classic II also comes with a unique grate called the Divide & Conquer Flexible Cooking System that allows you to cook two to three dishes at once thanks to the grate’s multi-level design that separates the dishes.
Located at the top of the Classic II is the Kontrol Tower top vent that controls the airflow and heat retention abilities of the Kamado grill inside. You can set the Kontrol Tower from 225 degrees to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make it easier for you to take out the ashes at the bottom after grilling, the Classic II has a patented ash drawer that you can remove from the grill without dissembling the parts at the top and the middle of the cookware.
A mini version of the Char-Griller E56720 AKORN, the E06614 AKORN Jr is suitable for those who don’t have a space to store standard-sized Kamado grills but want to enjoy the grilling benefits of ceramic in a small package.
Like the Kamado Joe grill, the AKORN Jr also comes with an easy dump ash pan that lets you take out the ash and replace it with a new one without touching the top parts of the grill.
The AKORN Jr has two air dampers with one at top and one at the bottom that lets you control the temperature inside the ceramic grill. The damper can lower the temperature down to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can raise the heat for up to 450+ degrees.
The Louisiana Grills 61220 has a sophisticated appearance due to the shiny stainless iron used for its exterior, but the interior of the grill is still made of 100% ceramic for better grilling quality.
To add to its high-end look, the 61220 also comes with two solid bamboo side shelves that not only look elegant but also serve a useful function of carrying cooked food while you’re getting other portions of the dish inside the grill. These bamboo shelves can be folded down if you don’t need to use them.
The 61220 has a stainless iron tamper located at the top where you can manipulate the temperature while grilling. You can set the temperature inside the ceramic grill for up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
Another small ceramic grill, the Lonestar Chef SCS-K15B has 117 square inches of cooking surface that is perfect to grill food for four to five people, and it is portable enough for you to put it inside your car and use it in another house where a picnic or BBQ party is taking place.
Each package of the SCS-K15B includes an outside cover for secure storage and transport, and it also comes with an electric BBQ lighter that you can use to light the charcoal in your grill.
The SCS-K15B has a built-in thermometer found at the top of the dome so you can see the temperature inside the grill.
The Primo 778 has the biggest space for cooking out of all ceramic grills on this list, as it boasts 400 square inches of cooking surface, and it can be extended for up 680 square inches if it has rack extensions.
You can use the Primo 778 not only for grilling, but for roasting, searing, baking, and smoking as well. Furthermore, you can combine two cooking methods at the same time due to its large surface, which means you can grill and roast food simultaneously on the grill if you need it to.
Like most ceramic grills, it has a top vent for you to let out air and heat if it gets too hot inside the grill, and it also has a thermometer so you can monitor its temperature.
The ceramic grill is the way to go in cooking safe and chemical-free grilled food for you and your family. However, be wary of some grills that may be advertised as 100% ceramic, as a few of them may not even have ceramic but instead uses a material that is an imitation of the cookware material. If you are going to buy your first Kamado grill, you can get one of the five grills mentioned above, or you can read and watch reviews to see which ceramic grill is perfect for you.