If you are on this site, it’s a good chance you love to grill. Grills are wonderful members of our families and if you are anything like me, you spend a lot of time anchored in front of one trying to create amazing food. Sometimes though a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered so taking the grill on the road makes the experience even better.
Over the years the market has seen many “mobile” units come about in an effort to allow the joy of grilling to hit the road for any occasion. Being able to cook literally anywhere is a great American pastime that bleeds into camp grounds, sporting events and just about anywhere people need good food. I have mobile grills in my collection but nothing is like the Cook-Air unit.
First things first-what is it?
The Cook-Air grill is a tiny behemoth that is capable of temperatures of up to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes you read that right. Forget that measly 500 degrees your big grill can hit, it’s time to sear some steaks! You may be questioning that claim and honestly it’s natural considering the size of the unit so here is some proof:
In the box comes everything you need to get going right away, no running off to the hardware or camping store for supplies. In the starter kit you receive:
Retractable Warming Rack
120v Electrical Adapter
Vehicle Cigarette Lighter Adapter
Lifting Handle for Grill Surface
I was immediately impressed with how light the unit was, the entire package comes in at around 17lbs. Before first use I loaded the unit into the carrying case to test ease of movement and it did rather well. The cover fits snug and all of the accessories can be stored inside until needed. There is a strap on top that makes carrying a cinch.
It obviously passes the cosmetic test but can it cook? The grill has a cylindrical fire chamber with a fan underneath that keeps the flames rolling during the cooking process. You start by lighting a piece of the fire starter in the bottom then add any solid wood, the included disks fit perfectly but chunks would also do well. It took me a few tries to get the fire going but once you master the process it will only take a few minutes. When the wood is ignited you can kick the fan up to really get a nice burn.
I let an entire burn cycle run through to get rid of anything left on in the finishing process. At the end of the fire I was really impressed with how little residue was left over. There was at most a few teaspoons worth of dust in the bottom that is easily disposed of by blowing it off or turning the unit over. Once again this is where portability is a good thing.
Now that I’d mastered the fire lighting process and worked the fan to get a feel it was time to cook. I decided to go simple and grabbed some burgers and sausage. One thing to keep in mind for those that don’t normally use wood for cooking, you need to keep an eye on your fuel source. Using the lifting handle, you can periodically peek under the grilling surface to see if wood needs to be added. The last thing you want is for your fire to die in the middle of cooking.
The grilling surface isn’t going to feed 15 people but that’s fine, this isn’t the grill for mass food production. You will have no problem fitting in enough meat to feed 3-4 people. I’m not a fan of crowding a grill so if you are doing large steaks for four people, you may need two sessions.
I was very happy with my finished product. I had to add a second wood disk during cooking and the meat came out juicy with a nice sear. If you want to add a little smoke flavor, it also allows for short periods of smoking by adjusting the lid. Since the grill will work with any hardwood, you can find what flavors work best.
With any portable grill, the thing that usually annoys me the most is cleanup. There is always a ton of sauce or marinade left dripping from the grates and sitting in the burner area that needs to be taken care of before storing it away. Thankfully with over a thousand degrees of heat at your disposal, that isn’t a problem anymore. By letting the fire roll on after the cooking is finished, anything left in the grill is turned to dust. To get the Cook-Air ready to be put away I simply emptied the small amount of soot from the bottom, wiped around the top of the unit and gave the grate a quick sponging and rinse. Simple and easy.
For me this grill passes all of the tests. It’s lightweight, compact, can be powered by various sources (including 8 D batteries), packs a punch with heating capabilities and cleanup is a breeze.
This is the type of grill I can see having in my truck on a regular basis. It will be a hit for tailgating due to its portability. Even the laziest person can handle this, just slap it down in front of them and hand them the tongs. I also see this being hijacked by my kids for smores, it’s much easier than lighting the fire pit for a quick snack. If you really want to get creative, have some friends over and use it as a Korean barbeque. Prepare small meats and vegetables that people can cook themselves, no better way to bring friends and family together.
If you haven’t guessed by now, the Cook-Air gets my endorsement. I see many years of grilling enjoyment ahead of me and the joy is that I can do it wherever I want. If you want one for yourself, check out the Cook-Air website.