The FireDisc 36” Red is a 22” diameter heavy carbon steel disc which rests on a two-piece, interlocking, equally heavy steel stand with a single gas burner. The stand is 36” tall. It runs off a 16.4oz. LP canister and comes with a 20lb. LP tank adaptor hose. Portability and durability, coupled with rather large capacity are attractive attributes. However, manufacturer claims that this device is, “the most versatile outdoor grill in the market today”, are overstated. Yes it is a metal surface with a gas burner underneath that will cook whatever you place on it, but it is really not a grill or WOK. It is a Northern Mexican Discada.
The first Discadas were plow discs set over a fire and used to cook meats and vegetables in a simple sauce that could then be eaten with tortillas and/or rice and beans. They are popular along the US/Mexican border. The discs are inexpensive and can be purchased with welded handles for a small upcharge. Many people still make their own and several companies now offer pre-made models. FireDisc is one of the few discada manufacturers that incorporate a rim around the edge that prevents foods from slipping off the disc. They call this rim the Heat Ring.
A traditional discada recipe would include a mixture of meats chopped into bite-size pieces. Cooking often begins with fatty meats such as bacon. Like a WOK, and discadas are sometimes called Cowboy WOKs, the bottom center is hot. As items are cooked, they are moved toward the cooler outer rim. The rendered fat is left to enrich the subsequent meats and veggies introduced to the discada and sauce is created by adding spices and liquid, (beer and soda pop are commonly used). Ham, sausage and, of course, Texas BBQ beef are popular ingredients, as are lime juice, garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes. After all meats are cooked and moved to the edge to rest, the vegetables go in and ultimately the whole tasty concoction is blended together. Unlike a WOK, most discada recipes call for moderate heat, a task which the FireDisc burner cannot accomplish.
Although temperatures gradually diminish from the hot center to the cooler rim, FireDisc suggests we view the disc as having three temp zones, (see illustration). The burner has a valve control that adjusts the gas flow and one can see the flame increase substantially from the low to high setting on the dial, but the zone temperatures don’t change. The three zones just expand outward toward the disc perimeter on High or contract inward toward the center on Low.
FireDisc explains the controller function is for cooking capacity rather than temperature adjustment, providing maximum cook area on High and smaller cook area on Low. With an infrared gun, we measured approximate zone temps as 670° center, 360° mid-disc, and 180° around the edge. The FireDisc center is always searing hot and the temp cannot be dialed down. FireDisc says this is normal and temperature control is accomplished solely by moving foods around the disc. This is a serious flaw that really should be addressed. Other discada manufacturers have burner systems that provide variable temperature control.
Some popular BBQ items are not ideal for FireDisc. For example, we had a tough time with hamburgers. The center is so hot it seared the snot out of the meat before the inside was cooked. When we slid them up the side to escape, we had to constantly spin them around so the edge closest to the center didn’t overcook while the opposite edge remained raw. Furthermore, bacon fat in discada recipes is desirable, hamburger fat is a nuisance. Firedisc contends many owners, from caterers to children, happily do burgers on their discs. Be that as it may, we couldn’t help but wish we were grilling on a flat griddle with two distinct zones rather than a bowl steadily filling with grease that was super-hot at the center and gradually cooled toward the perimeter. Bottom line – it works much better with smaller chopped items that can be moved around randomly like the ingredients of traditional discada recipes.
Discadas do a good job frying and don’t require as much oil as conventional fryers. Here the FireDisc shines. The hot burner and 2.5 inch Heat Ring are an asset.
Plow discs are heavy steel or cast iron concave circles. FireDisc construction is indeed heavy, to the point that it may be considered overbuilt. While solid construction is a good thing, one wonders if a lighter approach could bring the price down. The first time I saw FireDisc, I was surprised at the $400 price tag, which is at the top end in the discada market. Still if one needs this level of durability, the cost is justified: it’s built like a BBQ tank and Captain America could use the disc as a shield.
There are two heavy steel handles on the disc that feature soft, fire-retardant rubber grips. You’ll need to purchase a WOK spatula as a standard flipper doesn’t conform well to the curved disc. Plans for offering an optional lid are in the works. A “FirePower Orifice” may be purchased to increase the burner output from 40,000 BTU to 50,000.
Our FireDisc arrived in a colorful box that was damaged in shipping by UPS. The inner packaging material did not hold the parts stabile and they had banged around in transit causing some minor cosmetic damage. FireDisc claims they have new packaging with molded styrofoam that holds all parts in place to prevent damage. Assembly was minimal, the two interlocking legs slid together, the regulator and control knob screwed into the burner and the disc went on top. No fasteners were required. It can easily be pulled apart and set back up in seconds for transport.
The red powder coated finish is also offered in black. Available in a shorter 24” tall version. Five Year warranty.
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Max Good, Full time grill tester - Max Good, AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max bottles his own barbecue sauce recipes and now sells them around the country.
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