I'm in the process of breaking in my new gas built-in. You can see it on my profile - it's an Allegra which is a relative newcomer and fairly unknown at this point, but there's a variety of reasons why I went with that one. I've used it a half dozen times and have been very pleased with it so far, although as with any new cooking device it's taken some getting used to. Before the built-in I had been using a Weber Genesis for about the past 7 - 8 years.
There's one interesting phenomenon that I've noticed right away. It is taking about 20% longer to cook my food on the Allegra compared to the Weber, even though it's a considerably "hotter" grill. My Allegra is 87,000 btu vs. the Genesis which is 38,000. In fairness, the 87,000 includes the sear burner which is 10,000 in itself, so with all four regular burners on high I'm still pulling nearly double the btu of the Genesis. I could get the Genesis up to about 525 - 550 degrees with a good 15 minute preheat. The Allegra hits 525 in about 5 minutes, but the hood thermometer doesn't go much higher than that - it pegs out around 550 and I'm sure it gets much hotter than that just based on putting my hand 8" above the grates. I'm estimating it's north of 600 after a 10 minute preheat.
So far I've cooked burgers, steak kabobs, pork tenderloin, grilled pizza, and a couple of chicken dishes on it. All have come out great, but as mentioned above they have taken considerably longer to cook than on my Weber. I scratched my head over that for a few days but I think I understand why...
- Hood temperature vs. grate temperature: The Allegra has solid 304 SS grates, vs. the Weber which is cast iron. Even though the Allegra is theoretically hotter, it may be that the Weber's grates are hotter than the Allegra's when I throw the food on.
- Grill geometry: On the Weber, the grates are a bit closer to the burners than on the Allegra, contributing to more direct heat on the food. Additionally, the Allegra has a much higher hood, so even though the temperature at the hood thermometer is higher than on the Weber, that doesn't necessarily reflect what's going on at food level.
On the positive side, I've found that the Allegra has much better heat distribution than the Weber. My Genesis had a few hot spots, especially near the back of the fire box, and I had to take care to rotate the food to avoid overcooking one half and under cooking the other. The Allegra seems to be nice and even front to back and side to side. Even when I made my grilled pizza I didn't have to worry so much about rotating it every minute or so like I did on the Weber. I had a nicely cooked crust, where on the Weber I'd end up with a couple of charred spots if I wasn't very diligent about rotating frequently. So overall it's been a very positive experience with the new built in. It's just taking a bit of getting used to, and from my vantage point the stainless grates perform very differently than the cast iron grates. I have to leave things in one spot a bit longer to get nice grill marks - no biggie. The stainless is sure a lot easier to clean sticky marinades off of though!
Has anyone else experienced anything similar?