Grilling time
These four high-end grills will make any back-yard gourmet proud.
By Ellen Florian Kratz, FORTUNE writer

NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - In the spring, any food enthusiast's fancy turns to thoughts of...grilling.

If you're in the market for an elaborate, gizmo-filled gas barbecue to take center stage on your deck, there are a few things to consider before forking out thousands of dollars for one of these high-end systems.

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"It's almost like buying a car," says Carol Kaplan of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. "If you're going to be spending that much money, find out what the options are and look at different ones."

Click here to see these great grills

What do you need to understand? First, determine how it's made. A welded cart will be much stronger and longer lasting than one that is screwed together. You also want to be sure that your new grill is made of 304-grade stainless steel, not the lesser 430-grade variety.

A simple way to find out: place a magnet onto any grill that you're considering. If it falls off, you know you have the high-grade stuff. If the magnet sticks, then you probably don't want to buy it.

Inspect the grates. "Better grills use porcelain enameled steel or porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grates," says Kaplan. "Nickel or chrome-plated steel can rust."

As for burners, lower-priced grills will have burners shaped like an H, a U, or a circle - designs that can create hot and cold spots so that the food isn't evenly cooked. Better systems will have elongated shapes that run the length of the grill and can be independently controlled.

And don't forget to look beneath the grates to see how the grease drains. "There are certain styles that will cause it to pool and flare up," says Kaplan. "That can burn what you're cooking. You want one that's properly channeled away from the burners."

There are dozens of grills that can sear a steak beautifully. But here are a handful that would make any patio proud.


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