Barbecue grills are as American as John Wayne, eccentric muscle cars and, of course, American football. However, even when we have gladly stuck to our tradition, just a few of ardent lovers of well-grilled, marinated steak can actually grill like professionals. They only know the basics; light the grill, bring the already-arranged meatballs and have the spatula, on one hand, tongs on the other.
Truth be said, purists sincerely enjoy the best of our summer delicacy because theirs are a couple of spicy, smokey portions of meat, often at an exotic spot. Grilling with charcoal is undoubtedly the most pleasant summer pastime one can even have with meat. Although wood BBQ grills have what briquettes and electric grills lack, it only takes an expert to prepare tantalizing bites when everything is ready.
If you have never grilled using charcoal, or have little know-how regarding how to cook flavorful, mouth-watering meats, then this post is for you.
Sure, we all agree that charcoal grills don’t suit the impatient BBQ lovers. But then again, if you start lighting the grill early and ahead of time, making the tastiest of all ribs in the world will not be hard, after all. Both the gas grills and electric grills offer the advantage of lighting up a bit faster, but without the flavor that’s present in Charcoal Barbecues.
Straight off, always start grilling when you are not feeling hungry. Smart grilling gurus can even light the charcoal grill in the morning, right after having their breakfast. This is because it has been proved that hungry cooks are impatient and will most probably serve half-cooked meat pieces.
Many of those who dismiss the superiority of charcoal grilled bites perhaps never observed this rule. However, when done right, it can be a lifelong experience since the flavor is what is responsible for the supremacy.
Pangs of hunger while grilling further heighten the urge to taste the meatballs and that will automatically mean that use of spices, dry rubs and marinades is forgotten altogether. So, it’s better to start grilling when you are not feeling hungry.
Do the following, and your meat will inevitably be juicier
- Find a charcoal chimney starter – the larger, the better
Firstly, it will save you the hassle of buying lighter fluid, which virtually means that you will save time lighting the grill. More substantial Charcoal Chimney Starters come with the benefit of accommodating more briquettes, and this translates to the grill getting hotter faster. Again, lighting using a charcoal chimney starter is a breeze – you just need a small wad of paper, and the coal turns cherry red in the center quickly.
- Do buy cheap charcoal – be economical
At this point, purchasing any fancy and expensive stuff should be out of your mind. The chimney is designed to take care of all the needed work and will keep the grill hot for longer. However, you will begin to learn the right amount to buy as you become accustomed to using the grill.
Don’t feel afraid to experiment with big chunks of wood too.
Amongst those who use both charcoal and firewood, the glamour is how tasty the meat often turns out to be. Large chunks of wood like Hickory, Maple, and Mesquite have been documented as the best companions for charcoal grills and also bring the benefit of making the grill cook faster.
Remember, while there’s no problem experimenting on the two fuel types, both can also ease the process of cooking independently. Wood charcoals burn hotter on their own, but the heat cannot last longer than the total duration of cooking with firewood.
- Control the Temperature
To increase the heat, just have the grill’s vents open. However, to gradually decrease the amount of heat on the surface, shut the vent. There are an extraordinary variety of barbecue grills that come with built-in thermostats to regulate the amount of heat automatically. Of course, they come at a cost.
- When the heat becomes too much to bear, apply some creativity
A soup bowl with a little hole drilled on its top side, some water, and a metal wire will help quell the scorching heat. Essentially, what the soup bowl will be doing is to hover over the hot coals and regulate the amount of heat while the burgers, chops and such, cook.
The soup bowl can be of better use if you divide the entire burning grill into two sides: cool side and hot side. That is to say; you will be pouring water on the one side of the grill, perhaps a place where foods that don’t require extreme heat can be cooked.
- You are responsible for the taste and flavor as well
The main reason charcoal grills are greatly revered all across the world today is their distinctive smokey flavor and aroma that’s hard to replicate. But it is important for you, the chef, to know that careful grilling (and not in the briquettes) inherently result in the flavorful taste.
As you grill and the fats begin to drip off the meat with a lovely tsss sound, the super-hot coal burst into flames. The flames cook the steak, making them a bit smokey, dry and delicious. So, it will be upon you to monitor the fire and how the meatballs cook. Do remember that as the fats drip and the flames burn the meat portions, more flavors builds.
That’s not all.
A simplified, step-by-step way of grilling with charcoal
(1). With the BBQ grill clean and ready, pour the coal on one side before adding a few wood chunks on top for quicker and longer burning.
(2). Perfectly place the grate on its position and make sure that the vents are open and the Barbecue pit’s lid is shut. You should be able to observe the grates heat up and the temperature is rising.
(3). A temperature of 200-250F should be about enough to start adding food, although doing so for the indirect heat would be reasonable.
(4). Now close the lid and keep the vents half-open. You should keep a close eye on the food so that it ripens well. If the pit cools off, just add a few more wood and let the cooking continue.
(5). Remember, basting too early can be detrimental in creating the flavor. Overcooking the sauce too makes the meat taste bitter. So, just baste when the grilled pieces of meat are almost ready so that the flavor is retained.
(6). Would you love to marinate your near-ready delicacy?
(7). Marinating is a cheap way of enhancing the taste of your meat. There is no other perfect way of doing it, but as long as your technique is sure to give the food a mouthwatering taste then try it.
(8). A well-grilled steak should be delicious, even when you don’t marinate it. However, if you must do it, then make sure that you dip the meat lightly.
(9). At this point, do bear in mind that hot dogs are a special breed and their preparation is quite different from this. Basically, heating is done indirectly and on the furthest side of the grill. The entire process may take five or more minutes, and the delicacy is ready.
Never Make the Following Mistakes
- Do not spread the coals on the grill unless they are completely gray. Disturbing the balls will inevitably result in premature and inconsistent heating which affects flavor build-up.
- If you fail to preheat the grates, meat pieces will stick on the surface. That is why grilling should only start right after attaining the right temperature.
- Always use a clean charcoal grill and more so a well-scrubbed grate.
- Avoid constant opening of the lid as it hurts the methodical cooking process. Again, unnecessary opening results in inconsistent temperatures, flares and can give the dish a bad taste.
- Don’t grill too many different foods at once. Normally, ribs and steaks require high temperatures and take longer periods to cook. Hot dogs, burgers and soft meat need as little as five minutes to be ready. But when you cook all of them at once, cross-flavor contamination will give your delicacy a foul taste.
- You can never attempt to cook your favorite dish without having a meat thermometer. It is the biggest crime in grilling!
- Don’t use lighter fluid yet there is a far much better and hassle-free alternative called a chimney.
- Do not slice the meat while it is freshly hot from the grill. Let it rest off the grill for one or two minutes before cutting it into smaller chunks. By so doing, no juice will be lost and, of course, you will enjoy it.
- Use your favorite sauce when you know everyone is comfortable with it. Again, don’t use any sauce to marinate the meatballs.
- Never smoke foods that had been smoked in the first place. Re-smoking any “naturally smoked” meats ruin the flavor.
The Parting Shot
Charcoal grills can only be supreme when they are handled well. If you would like to treat your inner circle of friends this summer, just have all these information at the back of your head. Remember; light the grill and when the coal balls are grey-hot, start cooking. Observe all these, and you will enjoy your delicacy!