Erics Blog

Just an average guys thoughts

Review of the Ducane 4400

As promised, here is my review of my new grill.

I purchased this grill from Grillsdirect (Hayneedle) and after all was said and done, the price paid was $495.00 including shipping.

Arrival:
The grill arrived at 3:00 pm Friday. As others have noted, it came on a pallet. The bottom of one side of the box was damaged and I feared the worst. After going through the shipping issues, I would really have been upset if the grill arrived damaged. I ripped the box apart before the delivery person could leave to make sure there was no damage. Fortunately, there was none!

Assembly:
It took roughly one hour to assemble the grill. The instructions are nothing more than a bunch of pictures. A few pointers for those who purchase either the 3400 or the 4400.
There are 16 black bolts in one bag and 4 black bolts in another bag. All of the bolts in the 16 bolt bag are for the base/wheel installation. The 4 longer bolts are for the top of the grill.
Speaking of which, do not tighten any of the bolts for the frame until the doors are in. Also, when securing the top to the frame, place one bolt in and put the nut on just a couple of turns. Then put the other side bolt/nut in. After they are both in, then tighten them so the top is centered in the frame.
Another assembly tip, unscrew the bezel that holds the ignitor in place. Then, remove the ignitor and install the wires. Then, reinstall the ignitor. It is much easier to take it out and put it back than to try and attach those wires in a small space.

Firing up:
As I was putting the side trays on, I heard a loud bang from my garage. It appears as though the main spring for my garage door broke. I had to cut the broken piece off, re-thread the remainder of the old spring on to the new cone, and readjust the spring. This took about a half hour. Just enough time to burn in the new grill!
The grill fired right up (burners) and got to over 600 degrees in about 10 minutes. Heat doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Cooking the first meal:
The first meal was a few strip steaks. The grill cooked evenly and seared the outside and as you can see from the pictures, was cooked to perfection. My son seemed to enjoy it as it was the first thing he ate on his plate!


Second meal:
Rotisserie chicken. I put the chicken on the rotisserie, seasoned it, and let it spin for an hour and a half. The skin did not get a crispy as it did with the other grill, so, I decided to crisp it up a little by turning on the two bottom burners for 5 minutes. Do not repeat this mistake! There is no picture as the skin was burnt in a short period of time. Fortunately, the interior meat was still tender and juicy. I got lucky…again!
Third meal:
Hamburgers. I go to the meat market and get a bunch of ground chuck, add my seasonings and then place the meat in zip lock sandwich bags. One burger per bag, then freeze them. I usually have 10-15 burgers in the freezer at any given time. You never know who may show up!
I placed the frozen burgers on the grill and they cooked evenly on one side, flipped them over, cooked on the other side, flipped over again to get the “diamond pattern” on the burger, flipped over again.
Toasted the bun, and on they went. They were cooked perfectly, for me anyway, medium rare, just a pink line in the center of the burger, and were delicious.
Side burner:
Last night I made spaghetti with meatballs. As we got home a little late, and I took out too much meat for the normal number of meatballs, I had to cook two batches of meatballs. To boil the water for the pasta, I decided to use the side burner on the grill. It took about as long as it does on the stove to get the water to a boil, but, the grate on the burner is sturdy enough that when the 10 inch pot was put on it, it didn’t move around.

Cleaning:
After using the grill it was time for its first cleaning. Everything on the exterior cleaned up easily. The grates cleaned up fairly well. I may have to do a little more brushing.

Summary:
For grilling, this grill we do everything I want it to do. It is well designed (mostly, see below), easy to maintain, and after some modifications are made, will probably be the last grill for quite some time.

Issues:
The placement of the rotisserie burner ignitor.
Where the line comes out on the burner, it gets red hot when the burner is on and actually bends upward. I can see this failing in short order. As it is, the spark is very poor and I suspect that this is a wire issue as I switched the wire to several positions on the back of the ignitor. I’ll be calling Weber Monday regarding this issue.
The tube that feeds the rotisserie burner is exposed and all of the drippings land directly on it. This cannot be good in the long term. I plan on correcting this issue.

The side trays are an extra set of burners!
The side trays, as others have noted, get very hot. Too hot to touch! I have read about the heat sink modification, but, I am going to call Weber and see if they have a ready made solution for this.

Heat loss out the back.
Others have pointed this out and I plan on calling Weber to determine why they didn’t just extend the back metal piece up two inches to keep the heat in.

Planned modifications:
Depending on what Weber says, I will block off the rear panel to keep the heat in.
I will add some protection for the rotisserie burner tube.
I will add, again, depending on what Weber has to say, the heat sink modification for the side burners.
I like the way the lower portion of the grill, the drip area, is constructed and angled to the opening for the drip pan. I think that adding an inner liner of say one of those aluminum baking pans, to the bottom should keep that area from getting dirty.

As the paint has already splintered on the flavorizer bars, when I get a new set, I may convert this to a rack with lava rocks.

Favorite feature, a toss up between the drip pan and the “backstop” at the rear of the grill.

This grill is actually a little bit smaller than the Charmglow 4 burner. But, the cover still fits!

My one year review, which is overdue, will be coming out around the same time as the “Q” review.

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February 10, 2011 Posted by | Food, The Ducane 4400 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Running Day 14.

After yesterdays incident, I was a little concerned about today. As I awoke, my right calve is still a little tight, but there is no bruising and it has loosened up considerably. In the interest of looking toward the long-term goal, I am going to take the rest of the week off and return to the running program next Monday.

As to what caused this injury, my own stupidity! As I was in a hurry yesterday to get the run in before Marshall woke up, I didn’t bother stretching and just started running. As everything felt so good, I thought I was going to get away with it, apparently, my body had different ideas! I won’t make this mistake again!

As for the rest of the day, I have some running around, not literal running, to do and then the remainder of the day will be for rest. I think I am going to slither over to the meat market and see if they have a decent rib roast for Friday night dinner. I see the Ducane is getting “jealous” as the Q is getting the bulk of the work lately!

The Atkins diet has done its job. Although I did gain 7 pounds from the Tour de Bar, which I also noticed that the last time I had a binge, the weight gain was also 7 pounds, that weight is now gone and I am back to 225 pounds. Unfortunately, it appears as though when I took Marshall to the doctor, one of those sick kids has transmitted yet another disease to yours truly! Can the parents not read? Sick kids go on the other side of the wall, well kids go on this side!

The next entry for the running blog will be Monday, but, there should be something on the Q page.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Running | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tools of the Trade

This section will deal with the tools of the trade. Pots, pans, grills, if you need it to cook, it will be here…eventually!

When cooking or attempting to do almost anything, the proper tools make the task at hand much easier. I will list the equipment that I have used and had success with.

We’ll start off with  the basics, utensils. A basic set of forks, spoons, and knives can be found at almost any department story. Macys and Sears have a good selection and are reasonably priced. The set we currently use is for a 12 seat setting, as are our plates and bowls. We have an assortment of spatulas, both metal and plastic, whisks measuring devices, etc. This is all pretty much standard stuff and in most instances is a matter pf personal preference. I prefer heavier silverware.

Cooking devices. What you cook on is probably as important as what you are cooking. We use several different devices and they are listed below.

  1. The Ducane 4400 barbecue grill (See review here)
  2. The Weber Q 200 portable grill (review shortly)
  3. The George Foreman rotisserie oven
  4. The Masterbuilt 7 in one smoker

The Ducane does all of the “heavy lifting” when cooking outdoors. To date, it has never made a bad meal! . The Weber Q 200 is an excellent portable grill and can grill almost anything you need for two to four people.

The George Foreman oven has also never produced a bad meal. You can cook a whole chicken in it, chicken wings in the basket, which I also use on the grill, and a host of other foods.

The MasterBuiilt 7 in 1 could be one of the best gifts I have ever received. This unit can grill with gas or coals. Can smoke with gas, coals, and wood. With just the base it can be used to boil water, cook a gumbo, or deep frying. A versatile piece of equipment!

What to cook with.

After a rather lengthy search, we decided on the Emerill Lagasse 10 piece pot and pan set. It was $200.00 form the Home shopping Network. The pans are made by AllClad and are just as good as the more expensive version. They are seven years old and still look as good as they did the day we bought them!

Check back often as this page is updated frequently.

January 24, 2010 Posted by | Tools of the Trade | , , , , , , | Leave a comment