Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WFMW: Easy Charcoal Grilling

I originally posted this tip last year, but since grilling season is in full swing, because I love the flavor of charcoal so much, and because so many people are intimidated by cooking with charcoal (takes too long to start, lighter fluid tastes horrible), I thought I'd repost this (for your grilling pleasure).

Make sure you head on over to We're That Family for more valuable tips.

(Originally posted: June 25, 2008, modified slightly for today's posting)

Nothing says summer like a beautifully grilled fat, juicy, hamburger, steak, ribs, chicken... well -- you get the picture... And, while a gas grill is easy, it just doesn't taste as good as a charcoal grilled slab o' meat.

We own both a charcoal grill and a propane grill, but we rarely ever use the propane grill. In fact, we grill year round -- with charcoal. Yup! It's that good! Well, actually, "we" don't grill, my husband grills, and that's who this tip comes from.

Most people don't like to grill with charcoal because it takes so long to start, takes too long for the coals to get perfectly hot, and if you use fluid lighter -- well, it tastes nasty. So, here's a tip to all the charcoal grill lovers that have been living under a rock... and I say that lovingly.

The easiest, quickest way to get your charcoal lighted and hot is to use a charcoal chimney (or starter). It's a metal cylinder with a grate a few inches from the bottom, and a handle on the side. You fill the cylinder with charcoal, and place about two or three pieces of crumpled newspaper on the bottom part of the cylinder (under the grate). You light the newspaper through the holes on all sides. Remember not to use more than 3 pcs of newspaper, because it will smother the fire.

The charcoal on the bottom lights first, and then ignites the rest of the charcoal. It smokes away for about 10-15 minutes until the coals are turning ashy white and are red hot. Perfect. Then, you just dump the hot coals in the grill (carefully, of course), and grill away! My husband is an EXPERT at this, but I did find a video on You Tube so you can actually see it being done (below), and I've included pictures of our chimney in action.

This year, I picked up two bags of Kingsford Competition Briquets at Costco, but for really delicious tasting meat use Cowboy lump hardwood charcoal, which we get at our hardware stores and grocery stores. One thing we've noticed... hardwood charcoal burns hotter and tastes far better than charcoal, but doesn't last as long.

One last thing: Here's a delicious new grilling recipe (last year, I posted Marinated Flank Steak - check it out!). It is a delicious Cilantro marinade for chicken, but can be used on seafood, fish, or beef!

BBQ'd Cilantro Chicken

One large handful cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup soy sauce
Juice of 2 limes
5 plump garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 hearty pinch of sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup olive oil

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut up

Blend soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, cilantro, salt and pepper, white wine, and oil in a blender or food processor.

Marinate chicken:
Set aside about 1/4 of the marinade for basting. Put chicken in a large sealable bag (I used one of the zip loc 2-gallon bags) and add remaining marinade. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator 8 to 24 hours.

Grill chicken:If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom and lid of grill. Light a large chimney starter full of charcoal (preferably hardwood). When coals are lit, dump them out along opposite sides of bottom rack, leaving a space free of coals (the size of the quartered chicken) in middle. When you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grill rack directly over coals for 3 to 4 seconds, coals will be medium-hot.

If using a gas grill, preheat all burners on high, then reduce heat to medium-high.

Remove chicken from bag and place on grill skin side down. Discard remaining marinade. Turn after 15 minutes (maybe sooner – you don’t want your skin scorched). Grill until cooked through, a total of 30 to 40 minutes.


outdoorgriller said...

That is a good way to start your charcoal.I like to use lighter fluid then let it burn for about 20 before I put the food on.If you want to look at the collection of tips and recipes I have for grilling you can visit

Linda @ My Trendy Tykes said...

I love the taste of a hamburger cooked on charcoal! I was just telling my dad this yesterday.

Thanks for the tips!