Getting ready for those summer picnics, barbecues, outdoor parties, beach parties and much more? Well if you plan on grilling at all, get prepped with our grilling guide right here! If you don't know how to grill with charcoal, this is the perfect time to learn.
The Difference Between Charcoal and Gas Grills
There are definite benefits to grilling with gas. The most obvious perk is how convenient a gas grill is. All you have to do is push a button or turn a knob and you have instant, adjustable heat. Novice grillers appreciate the control and ease of grilling with gas, but those who consider themselves masters of the grates will swear by charcoal.
There are a surprising number of reasons to try grilling with charcoal, but the most important one is flavor. The intense, ashy heat that comes from grilling with charcoal imparts a distinct smoky flavor to grilled foods that is hard to write off. In fact, grilling aficionados will go so far as to say that foods cooked on a gas grill aren't really barbecue. If you want authentic, mouth-watering ribs or the ultimate summer burger, you simply can't get the full effect without using a charcoal grill.
Charcoal Grilling Tips
The most important thing to understand about how to grill with charcoal is how to distribute heat. Hot coals are great for searing meat, but if you have a cut that is thick or large, cooking over direct heat will cause the outside to burn before the inside is cooked through.
How To Create the Perfect Distribution of Heat for Flavorful Grilling:
- First, pile the charcoal in the bottom of the grill in a pyramid shape. Use lighter fluid or newspaper to get the charcoal to light. There will be flames at first, but they will eventually die down. As long as you can see a column of shimmering heat above the coals, they are lit and burning.
- After about 20 minutes, the charcoal briquettes will begin to turn an ashy white color. Don't try and cook over black briquettes because they aren't hot enough yet. The coals in the center of the pyramid will be the hottest. Stir the pile of charcoal to evenly distribute the heat.
- Arrange the coals in a sloping pile with more at the back of the grill and few to none at the front. This will create three grilling heat zones. The rear of the grill is the hottest portion. The middle of the grill is a more moderate heat, and the very front of the grill is a warming and finishing zone.
Grilling on Your Charcoal Grill
By arranging your charcoal grill in the above manner, you've essentially given yourself heat zones that will work for cooking just about anything. With meat and poultry, begin by searing cuts on both sides at the back of the grill. Use the medium heat at the center of the grill to finish cooking larger cuts of meat or to grill fish or vegetables. The front section of the grill is perfect for keeping things warm before serving, adding sauces or glazes and toasting buns.
Don't let summer pass you by without learning how to grill with charcoal. You will be amazed at how much more flavor your favorite dishes will have thanks to the humble charcoal briquette.