You know what they say about smoke. It’s toxic. It’s carcinogenic. It makes you choke. All those things are true. But boy, does it taste good! That came home to me again, in spades, when cooking the other day atop the roof of my new apartment.
Now, it’s not that I’m against gas grills without reason. I just think you lose a lot of the flavor you’d otherwise enjoy from grilling with charcoal. Charcoal itself is a labor-saving device, an easier alternative to wood. Of course, the charcoal I use is real wood; it’s simply real wood that has been burned down and starved of oxygen, so it doesn’t get completely consumed. But even if you use briquettes, you’re still going to get that wonderful smoke flavor.
To my way of thinking, the more smoke flavor you get in barbecue or even grilled meat, the better it is. Period. When you cook with smoke, it’s inevitable that the taste will visit you even before you actually try the food. For that reason, you have a tendency to taste more smoke in the meat than your guests might. They haven’t been standing there, bathing in hardwood fumes for hours. But you definitely want them to feel like they did.