Tips For Cooking On A Charcoal Barbeque
Charcoal grilling is a LOT of fun; you get to watch food cook AND enjoy the sound of steaks sizzling while those coals warm you up. Charcoal grills also can cook a range of foods that taste great!
It doesn’t matter if you want to cook a whole chicken, steaks, hamburgers, sausages, vegetables or chops – you name it, you can cook it on a charcoal barbeque. For fish and vegetables simply cook them on the solid plate, or, you can use your favourite flavoured wood chips to enhance the flavour of the food you are cooking.
When you cook on a charcoal barbeque, you are employing the *direct grilling method* – this is where the food is placed over the heat source to cook. It’s the heat that is conducted through the cooking grill that marks the food.
Charcoal barbeques burn hotter than wood or gas, which means its harder to control the heat on a charcoal grill, but it can be done successfully. Remember though that generally charcoal barbeques are light and can be easy to tip over, so always use your BBQ on a flat level surface and keep an eye out for furry friends and small children
NEVER Leave Your BBQ Unattended.
- Lighting – the fuel used is either charcoal briquets or lump charcoal. You can light the coals directly on the grill, though the best way to do this is to use a charcoal chimney – or chimney starter. Stack the right amount of coals in a pyramid shape in the middle of the grill – this allows for maximum airflow; the coals will burn more efficiently and create less smoke. Spray a light coating of lighter fluid or starter fluid on the charcoal to soak them (keep the starter fluid away from the grill!). Always use a long-neck lighter or match to start the fire, try to quickly start both sides of the charcoal stack and allow them to light and burn for 20-30 minutes. Make sure before you start cooking that the coals are hot and glowing – when they turn an ash-grey colour, they are ready to use. With gloves on, use long-handled tongs to spread the coals and wait for flames to die down before placing food on the grill, lightly oil your grill using a brush or wad of paper towels before cooking, this way your food won’t stick and cleaning up will be easier.
- Temperature – you will need to *learn* how to control the temperature as it doesn’t have a temperature setting, you use the dampers on the top of the lid and at the bottom of the grill instead. To start, make sure the vents are wide open at the top and bottom. The top vents are used to trap or release heat and smoke. You can also control the temperature by opening the lid. Cover the grill, and the fire dies down, removing the lid allows oxygen into the coals – increasing the fire.
- Cooking – cooking temperature is different for different foods – this is important to know when you are cooking fish, thin steaks or chicken – you cook these foods on a HIGH heat, for a short time, usually 30 minutes or less. If you cook them for a long time, on a low heat, they dry out.
Always use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your grill, this will avoid burning your food. There is a delicate balance between cooking your food and cooking it without it burning.
Try the *indirect grilling* technique with less heat to cook larger food items such as roasts, legs of lamb or whole chickens, and you need to lower the temperature, so the outside isn’t burnt while making sure the inside is well cooked.
Cooking foods at the right temperature isn’t complicated on a charcoal BBQ, just make sure you keep to the recommended temperature range and cooking time, and your food will turn out just the way you want it!
It Is Important To Clean Your Grill Properly After Use – A Clean Grill:
- Works more efficiently
- Is not susceptible to fire hazards
- Prevents food taking on the flavour of items cooked before
Cleaning – close the vents on the grill and lid, use a wire brush to remove any foods that may be stuck on the cooking grill, it’s a lot easier to do this when the grill is still hot, cover the grill with the lid and let the coals burn down gradually.
If you want to give charcoal grilling a try, the Weber Compact Kettle is a great entry level charcoal BBQ – with ash catcher, Kettle cookbook, no rust vents, aluminium drip pan, crack proof wheels, enamel lid and a 5-year limited warranty.