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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

Heating things up for dad on Father's Day

Sunday, June 11, 2006

(Photo)
Area businesses report sales of grills typically rise in June and there are a variety of grill styles available.
SIKESTON -- Some men like to fish. Some like to golf. And some men, like Mike Barnes of New Madrid, like to grill.

"It's just a passion I've had since I was a kid," Barnes said. "My dad was a dentist, and one of his hobbies was cooking."

With Father's Day and Fourth of July approaching, barbecue grills and their accessories are lighting up store aisles and displays everywhere.

David Eftink, owner of Double D Supply Co. in Sikeston -- a Traeger grill distributor -- said June is the biggest-selling month for the wood pellet grills.

"They (Traeger users) like that the grill lights automatically with the flip of a switch, controls the temperature, and you don't have to baby-sit while the food cooks. You can enjoy and entertain company instead," Eftink said.

Propane gas grills are also popular this time of year. Jeannie Fodge, assistant manager at Halter Gas Co. in Oran, said May is typically a really busy month for selling grills as is June.

"We've sold some for Father's Day," Fodge said.

Halter Gas is a dealer of Phoenix Grill Co. gas grills and sells them to residents in its service area -- as far south as Matthews and north to Perryville, Fodge said.

"They're no-flare grills, and you can cook on them in different ways. It steams, roasts, and you can use it for plain grilling," Fodge said about why consumers like the grills.

Over the past 20 years, Barnes has owned various charcoal grills -- from the regular-sized to his current custom-built six-by-six grill. (The grill tank is six feet long with six rotisserie trays.)

Barnes' custom-built grill, which sits on a trailer, is indirectly heated by coal and/or wood contained in a fire box located on the back side of the grill, Barnes explained. Barnes as well as other area residents purchased their custom-built grills from Ed Marrow of Kennett.

Barnes said he prefers using a charcoal grill because he thinks it creates the best flavor for the meats he cooks.

"It's a lot easier to control the heat. You can get it to whatever temperature you want unlike the smaller backyard grills. It's a lot more like an oven," Barnes said.

Among foods Barnes cooks with his custom-built grill include chicken, pork loin, Boston butt and shrimp scampi. He uses his grills to cook for his family about two to three times a week and the recently retired school superintendent also runs a catering service, Mike's Meats and More.

Barnes has also used his grill to cook at competitions in Memphis, Tenn., St. Louis, Columbia and Lake of the Ozarks.

Wood pellet grills work on standard household current (110-volt), which powers an augur and a draft induction fan, Eftink said. The heat is generated by burning natural, hardwood pellets. An augur carries the wood pellets into the middle of the grill, where a fan blows air to burn the pellets. The heating process is compared to that of a convection oven.

"What separates our grills from others is more or less, they are three-in-one as opposed to having a separate smoker, a separate grill and a separate slow cooker," Eftink said.

Dickie Dockins III of Sikeston said both he and his father prefer using the wood pellet grills because they're even-heat cookers, easy to use and have a thermostat.

"All I have to do is flip the switch and put the meat on it," Dockins said. "And after cooking on it, I know exactly how long it takes to cook a specific meat. It doesn't vary from time to time."

Dockins said he can cook anything on his grill -- from hamburgers and hot dogs to ribs and whole chicken.

"I could even cook an apple pie on my Traeger," Dockins said.

Of course, the type of grill a person uses should fit their cooking needs and costs. Some grills can cost several hundred or thousand dollars.

"It depends on what your goal is. I have a small grill to cook for my family and the six-by-six for catering," Barnes said.

Anyone thinking about purchasing any type of grill may want to consider what it is they intend to cook, how many people they might cook for and whether they want to use charcoal or propane, Barnes said.

Dockins suggested asking around to find out about the different options for grilling. "Ask other people how they like theirs," he said.

Dockins said he likes grilling because it's a time where everyone can get together and relax.

"There's just something about everybody getting together," Dockins said. Sure women can grill just as well and as often as men, but the hobby is typically thought of as one for men. (Just walk through store aisles and see all the barbecue equipment on sale for Father's Day.)

"I don't know if it's in our DNA or what," Barnes said about why so many men like grilling. "You put meat in the fire, and then you try to please people with your cooking."