DONNIE FERNEAU USES ONE. So does Scott McGehee. So do the folks at Eggshells Kitchen Co. So do farther-flung foodies, like the folks behind Austin’s Franklin Barbecue and Fort Worth’s Woodshed Smokehouse (and y’all, they know how to grill meat in Texas). National media loves it, too—it’s been written up everywhere from Bon Appétit to Outside. Even Alton Brown’s weighed in, tweeting that “this is the best charcoal grill made in America, and no, they don’t pay me to say that.”
The grill in question? The PK Grill, made right here in Little Rock.
By now, you’ve surely heard the story: PK Grills got its start in Texas in 1952, but then moved production to Arkansas in the ’60s, only to close a decade and a half later. Twenty years later, a Little Rock attorney happened upon a “Portable Kitchen Grill and Smoker” at a yard sale—still pristine, still capable of churning out perfectly seared steaks and unctuous, falling-off-the-bone smoked ribs—and a new generation of PK Grills was born. This is all probably old news. Good news, but old news.
But did you know that last year, the company introduced its first new model in 40 years? A grill and smoker—called the PK360—which took all that was good about “the best charcoal grill made in America” and made it even better? An all-in-one backyard cooking machine that can not only char the best filet of your life but can also make perfect chocolate chip cookies? A grill that you can pass down to future generations of meat lovers?
We didn’t. But now we do. And consider us believers.
1. Key to a good sear? Consistent heat. Cast aluminum conducts heat more efficiently than your average grill’s material (porcelain-coated steel, usually), and it’s heavier too—when a PK Grill’s closed, it functions almost like an oven.
2. This hood-mounted Tel-Tru thermometer is super precise—guaranteed to be accurate within one percent.
3. This thing’s got 360 square inches of cooking surface—that’s about 2.5 square feet. That’s, like, a lot of steaks.
4. Sleek shelves extend 12 inches on either side. Great for holding your marinade (more on that here) or your margarita.
5. She’s portable! A quick twist of this knob and you can take your grilling machine to your friend’s barbecue, just in case they have a sub-par set-up. Steak is life.
6. The PK 360’s four-point venting system allows for two-zone cooking. By adjusting the vents, you can sear a steak on the hot side over direct heat, and then finish it over indirect heat—the grill works kind of like a convection oven. Or set all 4 vents to the same airflow for even, direct heat cooking.
7. She’s sturdy! This is the last grill you’ll buy—folks are still using their first-gen PKs from the ‘50s.