Everyone loves barbecue! Whether you're from the South (famous for barbecue) or New York City, there's nothing like a delicious grilled steak. As city and state laws have changed, though, how you can barbecue has changed too. Years ago, an everyday barbecue cooked on charcoal briquettes was the norm. Today, although you can still buy charcoal and an inexpensive grill, laws limit the use of starter fluids. People also have less time to barbecue these days and as a result, many homes have transitioned to the gas grill.

Propane or LP gas grills are quick and easy. You turn them on and instantaneously you’re ready to put the meat on the grill. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of barbecue; it works for a lot of people. But if you like the smoked wood flavor of the charcoal flame, you’re not completely satisfied.

Or maybe you have turned on the TV and seen those fantastic cooking shows where they are showing smoked brisket or fall-off-the-bone ribs done with wood flames, and you wish you could do that. Since you have neither the time nor the skill set to make that happen, though, you settle for getting your “smoked barbecue” out or when you travel to the South.

Welcome to the new world of barbecuing! It is several years in the making, but maybe you have not seen or even heard about them yet. Introducing the “chip” barbecue—a new revolution in barbecue grills. Now, you can get the smoky flavor of oak or apple or mesquite woods without having to chop wood or figure out how to get it started. Now in just about as quick as it takes to get a gas grill started, you can have your own wood-fired barbecue.

These barbecue smoker-grills come with a hopper that holds wood pellets (we’ll talk about them next). There is an auger that delivers the pellets to the center of the grill into a hotspot that causes them to catch fire and burn just like a chunk of wood, without the starting hassle. The grill, controlled by a thermostat, uses a fan to circulates the air-smoke inside the grill. The thermostat also turns on the heat to the firebox and then turns on the auger that begins to feed the pellets into the firebox. Most of these grills have temperature settings from 0 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. As the grill reaches the chosen temperature, it stops the augur from feeding pellets to the grill. Once the temperature begins to cool, it starts back up.

Now you can grill like a professional

You can set the temperature to 95-105 degrees—the perfect “smoking” setting, and you can slow smoke your meat as long as you want to. Or, you can set it at the highest temperature. When it reaches that setting you can throw the steaks on and grill them just like you did when you had a fresh hot bed of charcoal.

There are a plethora of ways you can use this grill other than grilling or smoking meat. You can make wood-fired pizza, bake bread and desserts, cook vegetable skewers or place the veggies directly on the rack. You name it; someone has a recipe for it. All this is possible because you have control of the temperature and the flame created by burning wood.

Not all wood pellets are created equal.

Look for pellets that are bored out of wood, and not compressed wood. Bored pellets give a hotter flame and have very little dust. Those that are compressed are mostly dust, and so they fall apart very easily, and they can clog up the augur. Having to take the auger apart to clean it is not fun. Finally, while summer is the regular barbecuing season, that has changed as well. You can now buy heat blankets that fit your grill, allowing you to smoke or grill even when it's snowing outside or -10°F. The blanket keeps that heat inside so you have the same temperature control.

Happy smoking/grilling year ’round!

If grilling is what makes you do your happy dance, make sure your real estate professional knows to find you a home where you can grill to your heart’s content.