They say when you want something that has great quality and is worthy of the price tag, you should first look at the brand’s origin rather than its present. A brand’s history can tell you a lot about how it has fared in the market. Alright, enough with the metaphors! What I was trying to tell you about was Cuisinart Portable Grill or Cuisinart grill. Yes, an indoor cooking appliance (a poor choice of words for something so cool) that literally makes you the ‘man of the house’. There’s this rule in my house my wife has set: she cooks on the weekdays and I cook on the weekends.
At first, I didn’t find any fault with the arrangement. In fact, it got me a little excited and I would download pretty weird recipes from the internet and incorporate it into my own recipe. Some days it was a disaster and some days the taste was adequate. It was pretty much hit and go for the first few weeks.
However, it soon got old because I would always make a mess and cleanup sucked. I salute my wife for taking care of our four kids, doing all the domestic chores, working a business from home and still managing to put a wonderful and delicious meal on the table when I arrived from work. I knew I needed to find an alternative or I would get crazy soon.
So, sitting at the office and making this highly important presentation, it hit me, “Why not buy a grill?” I finished my work fast and rushed home because I was a man on a mission. I had some idea about grills because whenever I and my family used to visit my dad in Florida for vacation, he would host this huge party in his backyard and the centre of attention was his grill. Now that grill was a work-of-art and pretty big and I was looking for something small and compact.
I called my dad and asked for his advice about my specifications and he said to check out the Cuisinart grills. I had never heard of this brand but my dad said it was one of the best in the US. Thus began my search for a small family grill. After hours of scouring the internet, I finally paid a visit to Cuisinart. I wanted to make sure that I was getting a better deal as compared to the other grills I had researched. There I found the perfect grill, with exact specifications I was looking for: the Cuisinart CGG-180 Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill with Versa Stand.
So here’s a little history: Cuisinart is the origins of the household food processor, which was discovered in 1973 by Carl Sontheimer, the founder of Cuisinart. Today, the brand is so popular that it is endorsed by famed culinary connoisseurs like Hubert Keller and Jacques Pépin. They cover a broad area of kitchen hardware and appliances—from bakeware to grills, espresso maker, and blenders, to glassware, hand mixers, slow cookers, etc. They also have unique designed can openers.
So, the reason why I chose this grill is that it was ranked by Outdoor Gear Lab as the “Editors’ Choice Best Grill”. You cannot argue with that now can you? The grill is a small piece of art that is pretty easy to operate and has all the basic features that one requires for grilling.
Let’s start, shall we?
What does one look for in a grill? It must have a large cooking station that can accommodate a family meal complete with sides, a high BTU burner, a sturdy stand and easily cleanable grates. That was exactly what I was looking for too. The truth is I have seen grills with those prep stations, sear burner, a dual grease management system and more. This is more maintenance than I asked for. So, I went for something small and compact. With the Cuisinart CGG-180 Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill with Versa Stand, it’s all about the portability: This is its best and biggest unique feature.
The grill is perfectly sized for a small family that can be placed indoors, as well as outdoors. Imagine moving your grill inside without any fuss when it’s raining. How convenient is that!
You won’t find a more portable grill than this. Once assembled, you can easily set it up anywhere you want. I mean it, any corner will do! You don’t even need any help to manoeuvre it around. You might find a little trouble in placing the porcelain enamelled cast iron grates but other than that, it’s a smooth ride. The grill weighs 17lbs, which includes the stand.
It folds in like a briefcase and you can carry it anywhere. Since I bought it, I have gone camping with some of my friends and this grill came in real handy. As long as you are sticking to the small stuff such as the baby ribs, a medium steak and some veggies, you can cook it perfectly and in less time. In total, you can cook around eight steaks, whatever way you want. I already have a feeling that when it will be vacation time or just a trip to the beach, I am going to enjoy myself.
Now let’s get critical with the features:
Cooking Capabilities – Porcelain Enamelled Cast Iron Grates
So, as I mentioned earlier, don’t try to cook a masterpiece. Stick with the hamburgers, chicken breasts, small steaks and hot dogs. The cooking area is 145 sq inches and works best when the food is evenly spaced. You might read reviews about how you can stuff whatever you want on the grates but I would suggest that you place as minimum food as possible. You might not get that sear you were hoping for but it does cook the food perfectly.
Like all the other grills I checked out, the Cuisinart CGG-180 Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill with Versa Stand also has porcelain enamelled cast iron grates. It gives these nice lines on your steak, which makes picture perfect food. The grate keeps the flavour in the food and does not create a mess. This is one of the features worth mentioning because there is always less grease because of the less cooking space. I can’t stress enough but you will be disappointed with this grill if you are thinking of it as a high BTU grill that will work wonders within minutes.
There are no hot or cold spots, as the heat distributes evenly; but there were small flare-ups when I placed a steak dripping in sauces. The smoke is fine but the flare-ups can go a bit high, so be careful.
The grill has a single burner, which is more than enough for the small space. While some might see this grill’s features as not that good, I need to say this, “It’s made for a small family and outdoor trips!” It has a single stainless steel knob that does not require an ignition button to start. The ignition is built and lights up immediately. It has a loop burner that covers the entire surface of the grate and has 5,500 BTU.
Cuisinart Grill takes about five to ten minutes to get the temperature to 500° F and then you need to wait a few minutes more for the cast iron to get hot. It might feel like that the grates are not hot enough to cook but it will do the job in a reasonable time.
Cuisinart Grill: The Box
As mentioned earlier, the grill is folded into a briefcase that you can carry place anywhere. The Box lid is made of painted stainless steel that retains heat quite well and due to its small size, there’s no heat loss. My two boys keep fighting on who gets to carry the grill even though they can’t even pick up the box. It’s always a mad dash towards who will open the lid and help dad in setting up the grill. The grill is covered with the stainless steel lid from both sides and has a plastic latch. The plastic latch is where Cuisinart made a big mistake.
For something as heavy as a grill, a plastic latch just doesn’t cut it out. The first time I got to know about this was when after two weeks, the latch went loose. Then, when I took it out to our country house club, halfway through the dock, the box unlatched itself. Thankfully, there was no damage to the grill. However, it made me realise that if I had been walking on the road, the grates might have gotten damaged.
Now, I carry it in a bag that I ordered online. I am thinking about fixing the latch myself when I get the time from my hectic work schedule.
Cuisinart Grill: The Versa Stand
The legs of the Versa stand are made of aluminium and are quite easy to open. When you open the box, you will see the legs horizontally placed beneath the grill. Pull on both sides until the legs are extended. Now, hold the grill from the top and let the legs slide down. Once they are down, try to push the legs together to see if they are locked in place.
The closing mechanism is quite easy too. All you need to do is put pressure on the legs with your feet. Now, grab the grill from the top and let the legs close. Bring the legs back into the same horizontal position as you did when you were opening it. Now, hold the release button and push in the legs.
It is not the best the grease management system but for a small, portable grill, it works quite well. The grease management system consists of a single tray that catches the drippings and food debris. You can remove the tray and clean it with water. The tray is dishwasher safe and can be washed with dishwashing liquid.
As for the porcelain enamelled cast iron grates, here’s how you clean it:
- Make sure the grill is warm to touch (cold grill is hard to clean because the leftover food can get stuck between the grates)
- Pour a little warm water on it and scrub it with a mild abrasive pad
- Make sure you dry the grates by lighting the grill once again to check there’s no grease on it
Note: The Cuisinart CGG-180 Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill with Versa Stand grate’s size is small enough that you can take it off from the grill and soak it in the kitchen sink overnight.
If you have a wire brush, then that will do the trick too but I found out that a soft bristle brush cleaned the grill better. You can even use a cloth dipped in warm water to clean off any residual grease. Just make sure that the surface of the grates does not get scratched.
The body of the grill can be cleaned with a dish cloth and warm soapy water. The area that is hard to reach is underneath the burner. You will find instructions in the manual on how you can clean that area. However, it’s a long process because you will have to remove some parts.
You can expect a 16.4 oz propane gas tank to last around three hours that is if you run it on the highest setting. I kept a 14.1 oz as a backup and thankfully didn’t find the need to change. You don’t need a specific hose for connection as the output is pretty flexible.
Here’s my pros and cons list for the Cuisinart CGG-180 Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill with Versa Stand:
- Perfect for a small family
- Can be setup anywhere
- Easy storage
- Can be set up as a standing grill or a tabletop grill
- Flimsy latch (gets loose with use and can pop anytime)
- Cooking surface is low of about 29 ½ inches
- The box handle is made of plastic, which can melt if you close it when grilling
The pros far outweigh the cons but there are some things that you need to keep an eye on like the latch and the lid handle. Say you are grilling and you need to move away for a minute. You close the Cuisinart grill so that your kid does not touch it and burn himself. However, what you don’t know is that the handle has heated to such a level that it is ready to melt and might burn your hand when you try to lift the lid. This is the only area that you need to be concerned about.
The CGG-180 Petit Gourmet Portable Gas Grill with Versa Stand is definitely worth the price if you are a beginner. The single knob and the easy grease management system allow you to cook and clean easily. Of course, you are going to compare many grills to this one but trust me; this is a really good Cuisinart grill for a small family. I have four kids between the ages six to eleven. They are picky in what they eat. One thing they love the most: Finger food that is crunchy. So, there’s really no trouble in cooking fish and chicken strips with baby veggies, the latter of course I have to force feed them. My wife does what she can but she has a soft heart, which means I have to be the bad guy. Afterwards, I can always bribe them with ice cream so, all’s good.
I would definitely give this Cuisinart grill 4.5 stars because of the latch. I mean, every feature is strong and they forget about the latch? A bit confusing but all in all, I am happy with this grill. I think it has about five years in it, which is more than enough.