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The Best Charcoal Cooking Methods

The Best Charcoal Cooking Methods

Ah, what describes summer better than the smell of just fired charcoal grill! Unfortunately, using charcoal as a fuel can be quite a hard task sometimes. Most people do not know what to begin with. How do you start a charcoal grill? Where should you put your food? And so many other questions especially if you are new to charcoal barbecuing. Worry not, we have got you covered!

How To Start Properly A Charcoal Grill

Traditional briquettes are relatively cheap, light easily and burn steady for a long period of time. If you desire a smoky flavor, you should choose lump charcoal.

Note to open the grill’s vents before you light up your grill. As you know, the fire needs oxygen to keep going. After placing the charcoal into the barbecue, you can easily control the internal temperature by adjusting the air vents – wider means hotter because it results in more oxygen, while smaller is equal to a cooler temperature. Do not close the vents all the way down because you will let the flames go out.

Always start your grill with a charcoal chimney – this is the easiest way. Stuff some papers in the bottom of the chimney and then fill it with charcoal. Remove the top grate from the grill, place the chimney inside and light up the papers.

Let the charcoal burn until they are covered with white/gray ash. The next step is to take off the top grill grate and to pour the charcoal into the grill, holding the chimney by its handles – do not do it without wearing protective gloves. Then spread some oil over the grate – that way you prevent the food from sticking to the grill.

How To Clean Properly A Charcoal Grill

Always, I repeat, always clean your grill right after cooking while it is still hot. The best cleaning method is to use a stiff-wire grill brush every time to remove any left food particles from the cooking surface.

An alternative option is to rub your grill with a peeled half onion, according to pitmaster Megan Day. She says that the onion’s juices will produce the needed steam in order to remove the bits and charred debris.

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What To Cook On Low Heat

It is not very recommended to grill at low heat on a charcoal grill because the protein in most cases dry out. Speaking of there are some foods that need to be cooked on high heat and then moved to a grill area, which operates on low heat. You can do that with larger pieces of protein such as fattier fishes and pork chops.

What To Cook On Medium Heat

Usually, it takes between 25 and 30 minutes for a charcoal grill to get to a medium heat – about 500 degrees F. Suitable foods/proteins for medium heat are pork chops, chicken, uncooked sausages and hot dogs as well as some different fruits and vegetables.

Keep in mind that a lot of medium-heat meats use different marinades for a better,  more delicious flavor – they will burn off if you cook them on high heat.

What To Cook On High Heat

Burgers, steaks and thick vegetables like onions and corn on the cob are ideal for high heat.

Cooking meat on high heat results in that all-time favorite perfect sear on the outside while keeping the inside of the meat fresh and juicy. If you want to increase the temperature, simply open the vents so you can let in more oxygen. To decrease the temperature – close the vents but as we have already mentioned not completely.

A tip most BBQ enthusiasts forget about when cooking on high heat is to create two different fire zones. What do we mean by that? It is very simple – just stack more coals on one side of the grill so you can create a higher temperature while keeping the other side of the grill operating at a lower temperature. When you start grilling, sear foods in the hot zone and then move them to the cooler one to prevent burning.

After you finish grilling, let the meat rest for at least five minutes on a cutting board – a cutting board with a groove is recommended because it collects the juices that the meat releases.

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Do Not Forget To Oil And Preheat The Cooking Grate

Always oil the cooking grate so you can be sure that your food will not stick to the grill. Preheating the grill is an important step as well. If you try to cook meat on a cold grill it most likely will result in a longer cooking time, which naturally results in overcooking. For maximum safety, always oil the grate before you put the hot coals within.

Do Not Pour Coals Until They Are Fully Ready

Always wait until the coals are fully gray before pouring them into your grill. Patience is the key here. If you put the coals while they are still black you might have a difficult time controlling the temperature – this is because the black charcoal will naturally continue to heat.

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Enhance Your Flavor With Some Wood

The last tip to achieving the best results is to incorporate wood. No matter what is your final goal – full smoke, low-temperature BBQ or just want to add the familiar smoke flavor, wood is always the answer.

Most of the famous pitmasters use fruitwoods like cherry and apple. According to them, for smoking and barbecuing, the best option is chunks of dried wood. If you are just grilling, simply add some wood chips on top of your already hot coals. Always remember to soak the wood chips first!

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