I am very curious and fascinated about food cooked over fire grilling, and so I have to embark on a journey to learn everything about
Catch a whiff of charcoal grilling, all rushing to your face with smoky goodness, the rack of ribs ribbing and oozing juices, and you are salivating. Nothing gets past the unmistakable aroma of a charcoal grill. I love watching the hot cracking food and the sound of sizzling steaks, Those juicy burgers, chicken and sausages also are a joy to reminiscent time of the outdoors and summertime.
The die-for aromas and the mouth-watering flavours it produces, can I say, no one can resist. Charcoal grills, I understand, it’s all about the art, the skill and the process of keeping the fire. There is something magic in cooking with fire, which is the deliciousness of other cooking methods. Those who love his barbeque will unanimously attest to it. Whether it is whole turkeys, steaks, hamburgers, brisket, chicken, or chops that you want to cook, you can charcoal grill.
Next, I went to the mall to get and understand more about grilling utensils. You will not be surprised there are no simple answers to my problems. There’s nothing complicated or high-tech about choosing the right charcoal grill but one grill is not the same as the next. As I combed through the array of charcoal grills with the salespersons, I find out there are different arrays in prices, options and features you can choose from, is blow me down.
The original and most often copied, the kettle grill is considered the classic grill by design. The kettle grill consists of a lid, charcoal grid, venting system, cooking grid, lower chamber and legs. The lower chamber resembles the shape of a kettle hence its given name. Its shape attributes to its cooking abilities and distributes heat more evenly. Its lid prevents flare-ups from dripping oil or grease and enables heat to circulate around the food as it cooks.
Another plus factor is that it holds in all the smoke enhancing the flavour produced by the dripping grease or from the smoking wood back to the charcoal fire.
Most kettle grill can also be configured for indirect cooking. We have the charcoal piled on one side or both of the lower chambers and a water pan placed on one side or between the charcoal. Food is then placed over the water pan to cook. The upper vent is adjusted to control airflow, the lower the air flowing in, mean that the cooking temperature is lower and when a high temperature is needed it is opened widely. Weber Original Kettle Premium 26″ Black Charcoal Grill Shop at Walmart
Porcelain-enamelled lid and bowl retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
The cart grill is mounted on wheels, and it has a rectangular or kettle in design. It is quite similar to a typical gas grill. It has a hinged lid, a grid for putting charcoal, a cooking grid and side tables.
To adjust the amount of heat for cooking, either you move the cooking surface up, the charcoal pan down and open and close the vent or a combination of the three.
It removes ash easily during cooking by collecting the ash in a drawer. The rectangular shape design allows indirect cooking by placing the charcoals at its side and the grilling grid on top of the water pan in the middle. Weber Performer Premium 22″ Copper Charcoal Grill Shop at Walmart
The electronic Touch-N-Go gas ignition system allows you to ignite charcoal with the push of a button
The barrel grill is shaped like a 55-US gallon steel barrel sliced in half lengthwise. It is divided into two halves – the lid forms the top and the bottom forms the charcoal chamber each with vents cutting into the top and bottom chamber for airflow control.
A chimney is attached to the lid and the charcoal grids and cooking grids are installed at the lower chamber, and the legs are attached to it.
Like kettle grills, barrel grills cook barbecuing well, with a charcoal pile on at one end and food placed on the other end. Opening the Vents and lid. heat can be controlled. Char-Griller Traditional Charcoal Grill, Black Shop at Walmart
519 sq. in. primary cooking area and 269 sq. in. warming rack
The ceramic grill is more versatile than the kettle grill as the ceramic chamber retains more moisture and retains heat more efficiently. They are good for smoking, grilling and barbecuing food.
A tandoor oven is used in cooking tandoori chicken and naan in Pakistani, Indian and Iranian food. In a tandoor, the heat source is placed at the bottom of the oven and the food is put on a long skewer inserted from an opening at the top so the meats are cooked from the fire below the oven. This gets both the high direct infrared heat and the heat of the air in the oven. A tandoor oven can reach an optimum temperature of 260 degrees Celsius (500 degrees Fahrenheit).
Which is better gas or charcoal grill?
Me, I understand why you must use charcoal grills where you can easily switch on the gas or plug in the electric grill, would seem much easier and convenient, right?
Charcoal grill food lovers will fully testify to the authentic fire-grilled flavour of food cooked over charcoal, and it produced an earthier, deeper and strong robust flavour, and it beats any cooking by the mile.
That’s if there is a race bet between a fire grill fanatic and a non-grill lover though! To enhance the smoking put some of your favourite wood chips to the fire to enhance the flavour of your food.
Grilling with charcoal uses the direct-heat form of grilling. You placed your food directly over the fire’s radiant heat to cook. There is something about charcoal grilling over gas or electric grills, is that searing or pan searing is used in charcoal grilling, the meat will roast, sautéing faster to a smokier flavour and nice brownish crust.
This is because carbon being pure carbon you can reach high temperatures fast. The only charcoal grill gives you the “charcoal flavour” also known as “charbroiled”. You will not get it from a gas grill. Cuisinart Petite Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill Shop at Walmart
Folding table base
What’s the best charcoal for smoking?
Briquettes are made of pressed sawdust and are probably one of the better choices for your smoker, provided you get the cleanest form because those cheaper ones add anthracite or coal to it. Avoid self-start charcoals that may contain lighter fluid additives, it will leave a bad taste when burned which can ruin your steak! Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquets, 18 Pounds each Shop at Walmart
Made with 100% natural ingredients and real wood
Alternatively, charcoal produces high heat consistently and the smoking lasts longer. Of course, the use of charcoal gives the food the “smoky” favour to it. Dyna-Glo Compact Charcoal Bullet Smoker and Grill – High Gloss Black Shop at Walmart
Stainless temperature gauge with “Smoke Zone” and “Grill Zone” indicators show ideal temperatures for smoking or grilling food
Charcoal is easy to be contaminated when not stored properly. Store it in an empty trash can or storage container and a lid for cover to keep it completely dry. Damp charcoal grows mould and doesn’t burn well and it gives a harsh flavour in the smoker.
Using the wrong heat?
The charcoal grill uses direct heat when cooking. It is similar to cooking over high heat on a gas gill. Some food is better off using direct heat while others cook best from indirect heat (low or medium). Hot dogs, steaks, burgers and chicken cook best under high heat whereas, pork loin, ribs and whole chicken are more suitable to indirect heat. Not using the correct heat source can ruin your food by overcooking, undercooking and worst – burning your meal!
My friend has just bought a house with a big garden and he invited me to his housewarming by having charcoal grilling steaks in his garden. You can see when the meat is searing up, it releases juicy dripping of goodness. These oils and fats I observed are dripping into and hitting the screaming hot charcoals, combust and vaporise and are absorbed right back into the meat. This is what gives the charcoal-grilled meat the uplifting flavour that would turn you into a meat lover.
How long do you let the charcoal burn before cooking?
20 – 30 minutes is all it takes to allow the charcoals to light and burn before you start your grill. Make sure the charcoals are hot and nice and glowing hot before you get rolling with your grill. If you use briquettes, let them turn ash-grey colour and you’re ready to cook.
My friend told me that’s a lot to learn to grill with charcoal than just simply striking the first match. From how the airflow, lighting and cooking. Then there is control of the flame, how much heat and the smoke, and all these you must master but a novice like me takes time. Make sure that both the top and bottom vents are opened wide. The top vent trap or releases heat and smoke to reduce the pressure within the grill. The bottom vent when closed reduces the supply of oxygen which will reduce the fire on burning and extends the burning time of the charcoals.
You must be thinking about how difficult is to keep the charcoal burning once it is lighted. You will be surprised according to my friend, the burning charcoals need to be moved around, adding more to ensure even fire and heat spread to maintain the correct temperature all around. Charcoal burns hotter than gas or wood and you need constant attention. Do not leave your grill unattended.
Does charcoal need to be GREY before cooking?
You know it is ready when the grill gets really hot before you start grilling. Cover the lid and let the charcoal burn and heat it up for at least 15 minutes, wait until it looks grey and ashy.
As I began to show more interest in a charcoal grill, my friend had to give me a few tips on the features to look out for should I want to start to fire up my own grill:
Thick materials like heavy ceramic, cast iron and cast aluminium are the most sought-after materials used due to it’s their durability to withstand intense high temperatures and robust heavy use. These are the top choice for the best quality of material or among the most expensive of its kind available.
I found out that there is also the lower-priced charcoal grill made of porcelain-coated and chrome-plated that can also do the job as well. As a beginner, I thought I could use this lower-quality charcoal grill, but my friend warned me that the thinner materials used will not stand up to the intense heat over time.
Size and cooking area
My friend had a big garden and it would not be a problem if he cooks for a lot of people. The problem lies if don’t have a large garden and you have to cook it on the patio. After finishing with your grill you have to find a place to store your grill when not in use.
Temperature control and management
Unlike gas fire, charcoal needs constant turning and tossing, feeding and fanning to maintain consistency in its fire. Make sure you know the heat required most grill models come with a manual and they teach you the recommended temperature to set for different categories of food to be grilled. Some models come with a built-in thermometer for easy monitoring.
How much charcoal do I need?
Naturally, the more coals you use the hotter it is. If you cooking burgers 15-20 coals are sufficient. If you are searing steak, you need more than that for that blazing hot fire. So follow the instructions on the labels.
Ease of use
User experience is top-priority when choosing your grill. It must, of course, looks good and have a thoughtful design. You don’t want your grill and racks that ain’t steady, air vents that are hard to open and hoods that won’t hang conveniently at its side? You don’t have a good grilling experience if things kept falling apart or you have a black face!
If portability, ease of use and convenience in a charcoal grill coupled with the best grilling performance and ease of transportation is all you want, nothing beats the one that you can carry with you when you travel, such as camping, cooking demo, or set up for your friend’s party.
A portable charcoal grill usually comes in a 250 square-inch cooking area, you can easily invite five to seven friends or family members to eat at once. If you don’t want to burn your hands, check if the handles are made of silicon. Ensure it has a porcelain-enamelled and heat-resistant grate and a dust-proof surface for easy cleaning. On the downside, a portable charcoal grill might not have sturdy legs but you can find one with a cart with tubular steel, and its body is built with heavy-duty steel.
I loved the cart fitted with large wheels in other models which made transport so easy,
As an added convenience, the portable charcoal grill, due to its compact size, is also foldable and can fit nicely in your car’s trunk. They also have a basket for condiments, a wooden side shelf with utensil hooks and a large wire shelf, together with a built-in temperature gauge. Cuisinart 14″ Portable Charcoal Grill Shop at Walmart
- 14″ Chrome plated grill surface – over 150 Square inches
- Durable enamel-coated firebox
How to get the distinctive smoke flavour?
Did I ask my friend, what gives the grilled food the distinctive smoke flavour? He patted on the grill lid and, nonchalantly said that is all in the grill’s construction that helps to keep the smoke and heat inside.
I am satisfied with what I learnt so far, and before I made my decision to buy my first charcoal grill, let’s see what I got:
- Expensive Grill – A gas grill is expensive, with some models costing more than $5,000! Charcoal costs between $50 to $450.
- Smoky favour – The charcoal grill still gives you the distinctive smoky favour and aroma over a gas grill. Most people can’t tell the difference but who’s to say?
- Cook at high heat – Charcoal grills can cooks above 500 degrees, so you can cook faster and sear better but you must not leave it unattended to prevent burning.
- Cook in a hurry – If you are not pressed for time, and you have all the time in the world, especially over the weekends of throwing a party, go for the charcoal grill. The gas grill is used when you grilling only a few items and you don’t have the messy job of lighting up the fire.
- Easy to operate – It’s very easy to light up a gas grill. Just turn on the ignition button, wait for 10 minutes or so and you’re done. The charcoal grill takes about 30 minutes to reach medium heat but I learnt that using a chimney starter can save about 15 minutes of your time. But the smell of the burning charcoal is irresistible!
- No experience needed – Control of temperature in a Gas grill is simple as turning the knob. The charcoal grill needs skill and experience in handling the optimum heat in cooking. Here’s the joy of manual control over simplicity.
- Round-the-year use – You can use a gas grill throughout the year whereas a charcoal grill will have difficulties when you want to cook outdoors during winter. That’s a small price to pay for a charcoal grill lover.
- Hard to clean – Charcoal grill requires more scrubbing to remove the soot, ashes and burning fat but that can be overcome easily.
- Plenty to choose from – Today we have a large
array of attractive grills to choose from. From high-tech, contemporary, gleaming and shining stainless steel to bright-coloured porcelainenamel. You will be spoilt for choice.
Are you satisfied with your grilling since you bought one?
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