Compared to cooking on an electric or gas grill, using a charcoal grill is a bit more complicated because it is more “manual”. You have to exert more effort in building, controlling and maintaining the heat and fire. You also have to keep an eye on your food at all times. But if you can master a charcoal grill, using other types will be a breeze!
Follow these useful tips for all charcoal grill users:
Use a chimney starter
Starting a charcoal grill with lighter fluid is easy, but there’s a high risk of your food tasting like kerosene. Use a chimney starter instead – you’ll only need a sheet of paper and a match to light about 100 briquettes in less than 30 mins.
Start with a 6-quart model which is easily available in most home and hardware stores.
Know how much charcoal to use
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with using a chimney starter, you’ll be more at ease with controlling the heat of your grill. Fill the starter with charcoal for high heat, fill it 1/2-3/4 for medium heat and 1/4 for low fire, which is great for smoking and grilling whole poultry, large roasts and pork ribs.
Control the temperature through the vents
With electric and gas grills, you can easily adjust the temperature of the grill by turning knobs. That’s not possible with a charcoal grill. However, you can help control how hot your coals will be by opening and closing the vents.
This will help you control the flow of oxygen – opening the vent allows more oxygen, which means a hotter grill.
Deal with flare ups
Most grillers would use a spray bottle with water to deal with flare ups, but this will only blow ash into your food. Flare ups are usually caused by dripping fat or sauces into hot coals. Instead, move the meat into the indirect zone (no fire zone).
Use wood chips to enhance flavor
This is one of the best parts of using a charcoal grill – you can add wood to enhance the flavor of whatever you’re grilling. Add a delicious smoky flavor to your food by using fruit woods like apple and cherry or the classics, hickory and mesquite.
Grilling using charcoal takes plenty of practice and patience! Follow and practice these useful tips for charcoal grill users and you’ll be a certified pitmaster in no time!