Portable Kitchen Outdoor Cooker Review
PK is an Excellent Grill and Smoker
Dad's Old PK Outdoor Cooker
Brand New PK Grill
Burgers on the Portable Kitchen
Full Meal on a Hot Summer Day
Yummy Rib Eye Steaks on the PK
My Dad bought a Portable Kitchen grill so long ago that I don't even recall it being bought. The PK outdoor cooker was just always there and the grill we used at home and learned on. I'd estimate the grill was purchased 35 to 40 years ago, and I grilled for my Mom on the grill last summer - the first time it had been had since my Dad died in a traffic accident two years ago.
Why Does the PK Last So Long?
The PK Cooker has staying power, because it's cast aluminum. You may be familiar with cast iron skillets. They are made all in one piece from iron while the Portable Kitchen cookers are cast in one piece with thick aluminum. The big difference is that cast aluminum does not rust like cast iron. So, you get a super solid and sturdy charcoal grill and no rust problems. As you can see in the photo of my Dad’s old cast aluminum grill, the coloring seasons, but there are no issues with rust.
Where Did the PK Cooker Go for a While?
Hilton Meigs (also known as the Barbecue King in Texas) designed the Portable Kitchen grills and then loaded some up and crisscrossed over Texas showcasing the high quality grills. People liked them in Texas and soon they were selling nationwide.
During the 1970s and 1980s, companies began mass producing stamped grills which cost less, and ultimately the Meigs family got out of the grill business.
About 10 years ago, Paul and Sarah James wanted to buy a “real grill” like the one they had grown up watching an uncle grill on. But, the cast aluminum grill was not on the market. So, the couple got in touch with the Meigs family and got PKs back in production.
The New PK Grills
I have a brand new Portable Kitchen Outdoor Cooker. It's almost identical to my Dad's but is the Sportsman model of the series versus my Dad's is the Executive. I think the Sportsman may be a tad smaller, and the hinges are on the side rather than the back. Also, the older PK grill did not have the work table, or I never saw it anyway. Otherwise, the new PK is the treasured family grill but still shiny.
These Outdoor Cookers Really Crank
Besides being sturdy, the main thing I love about PK cookers would be the heat retention. With the thick metal, these get really hot. It's so easy to get a sear on a steak. And, you can offset the charcoal (just put it on one side) and lock the vents down pretty close to shut and smoke with this grill. I'm sure that's why it's marketed as a cooker rather than a grill. It does double duty as a traditional grill and meat smoker and does exceptionally well.
PK is Easy to Use Too
If you’re used to a kettle style charcoal grill, there’s just a little learning curve, since the PK grates are closer to the heat and since the cast aluminum absorbs and holds the heat. Basically, you cook faster and hotter on the Portable Kitchen although you can offset the coals (just put them on one side) and can also use the top and bottom slide vents to control flares and temperatures.
Another nice feature is that the grate is hinged, so you can add charcoal without taking up the food and entire grate. This is especially nice if you use the cooker as a smoker. Put the meat on one end and then use the hinge to lift the other end to add charcoal or wood as needed.
PK Grills are Not Really Tailgate Grills
One thing I'd mention is although it's called a Portable Kitchen, this is not really a tailgater. If you do have a SUV or truck, the cast iron cooker comes out of the cart. The cart does not fold though, so this is not going in the trunk of your small car. Also, it's pretty heavy with the high grade metal, but we do take the PK grill places in the truck from time to time, since it does such a great job on the food. With the cart, it’s really easy to move around the deck or yard or after unloading if you take the cooker on the road.
An Excellent Outdoor Cooker and Value for the Price
If you like to buy quality items and keep them forever, this is the grill for you. While the Portable Kitchen does cost more than a lot of the charcoal grills, average out the savings over time, and you've got excellent value in the long run. My Dad’s PK is still cranking along as good as ever even after my Dad is gone, and I would expect that my PK will outlast me as well.