Gourmet grilling is getting a lot more portable these days, as major brands and camping-stove companies alike have started coming out with models designed to take the barbecue experience beyond the back deck. Earlier this month, PK Grills joined that trend, with a new portable stand for its classic PK Grill and Smoker. Lightweight and low-slung, the PKGO ($120 for just the stand, $350 for the stand plus grill body) offers a more tailgate-friendly alternative to the typical, chest-height grill.
PK’s basic grill capsule has remained largely unchanged since it was designed in the fifties. Rather than alter a product customers were already crazy about, the new leadership decided simply to offer new ways of mounting it. This summer came the PKTX, a collapsible stand on wheels that folds down to serve as a trolley for wheeling the grill body from backyard to truck tailgate to campsite. The PKGO takes the concept of grilling-on-the-go a step further.
The rectangular stand holds the PK body about four inches off the ground—just enough to leave the air vents exposed, enabling you to cook on the dirt, a flat rock, or a truck tailgate. I used it to cook chicken and veggies in my backyard and found that the simple design with big bars to grip on each side made the 44-pound grill relatively easy to carry. While the stand itself is light, four rubber feet lend it a sturdy feel. There’s no built-in tray to catch ash and embers that fall through the bottom air vents, so I put a baking sheet on the patio under the grill—a minor nuisance.
The grill itself, about the size of a large microwave, is by no means small, but it produced some of the best barbecue chicken I’ve had in a while: crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and flavorful throughout. Once the coals are going, the PKGO requires little babysitting, thanks to the four-point venting system, which makes it easy to achieve and maintain different temperatures on each half of the grill. In practice, this meant my chicken cooked in a quick 30 minutes while my veggies came out with just the perfect amount of char.
Luxury portable grills like this one certainly aren’t about to take the place of my regular camping stove, but the lower price and smaller size make them a welcome option for beginners or space-limited grillers who want the benefit of top-end cooking tools without devoting big bucks and precious yard real estate to a full-size model.