By Micheal Hiller
Cooking with charcoal requires a little more attention than firing up a propane grill, but the payoff is big, smoky flavor and a little more wow.
We’ve tested a lot of grills in the past few months and are more than a bit smitten with the PK360 charcoal grill, an outdoor cooker that ably doubles as a low-and-slow smoker.
Charcoal grills are typically built with thin steel; PK has designed its grills to outlive you. Devoted fans crow on social media that they’re still using ones made 40, 50, even 60 years ago. (The PK stands for “portable kitchen,” by the way.)
We love that the Little Rock, Arkansas, company stays true to the grills’ 1952 roots while modernizing a number of important features. The PK360’s core design preserves the original wide, rectangular, capsule shape and flat bottom. The heavy-duty chassis is still constructed with thick cast aluminum, which conducts heat more efficiently and evenly than steel. Aluminum doesn’t rust or corrode, either — a key to the grills’ durability.
We also love that the built-in lid thermometer is positioned just above the stainless-steel cooking grate. That leads to more accurate cooking than if the temperature probe sat near the top of the lid. A built-in ash cleanout channel at the bottom of the grill is another big plus. Two detachable exterior shelves and a quick-release base make the PK360 simple to transport or store, two boxes that similarly priced kamado-style charcoal grills can’t check.
A four-point air control system uses radial vents to dial in how much air feeds the fire from below and direct where the heat and smoke expel at the top. That’s a nice touch when you’re grilling chicken or burgers, but it’s essential for slow smoking a brisket or setting up two temperature zones for searing or roasting.
Our affection puts us in good company. Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin is a longtime PK grill fan, too. He tinkered with PK’s original design to create a Franklin-branded PK grill that’s smaller than the PK360 but includes extras like hotel pan storage racks and a slick teal exterior (the dark graphite color also is available). We’re partial to the larger grill, but we’re with Team Franklin for his choice in color.
Ready to give it a go? You’ll find Franklin’s recipe for a double-cut, bone-in rib-eye with charred fingerlings, anchovy butter and horseradish cream sauce on the website, too.