How to Pick the Right Charcoal for Your Cookout

How to Pick the Right Charcoal for Your Cookout

Charcoal grilling can be intimidating. You don’t have knobs to immediately adjust the flame, there’s no ignition button to magically start your fire, and unlike universally consistent propane, every charcoal burns differently. While these compounding variables might sound like a flame-induced headache, with a bit of fundamental charcoal knowledge you can grow to embrace—and eventually leverage—these irregularities to become a much better griller. Let’s bring you up to speed.

From Our Shop

Charcoal Briquettes

These are what’s inside that big Kingsford bag at your grocery store. Made by compressing bits of wood, sawdust, and additives into uniform nuggets, briquettes are often the cheapest and most accessible form of charcoal. Because they’re densely packed and identical in size and material, briquettes are known to burn longer and more consistently than other charcoal. However, there are drawbacks: Briquettes produce a lot of ash, burn comparatively less hot, and the additives can impart a chemical flavor onto your food.

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is nothing but good wood that’s been burned until it becomes charcoal. Free of binders and additives, the pieces vary in shape and size, burn hot, and produce little ash. Lump is made from a variety of woods—although oak and hickory are the most common—that can each carry their own distinct, smoky flavor onto whatever you’re grilling. Often produced locally, lump charcoal helps incorporate the flavors of a specific environment into your cooking, while likely carrying a much smaller carbon footprint due to decreased shipping distances and the relatively less greenhouse gas it produces when burned. There are some cons, of course: Lump is often more expensive, and it burns shorter and less consistently than briquettes.

Step One: Look At Your Grill

There are three main types of charcoal girls: kettles (the basic Weber grill), barrels (which look like an oil drum turned sideways), and ceramic kamados (think: Green Egg). Kettles and barrels are flexible—they’re good with either briquettes or lump. For ceramic kamados, lump is strongly recommended, as the grill is not designed to take on the amount of ash that briquettes produce.

Step Two: Note the Temperature & Duration Of Cooking

If you’re cooking something quick and very hot—like skirt steak, asparagus, or flatbread—lump is your best bet. If you’re taking on a larger project (like beer can chicken) or plan on grilling for an entire afternoon, opt for briquettes.

Step Three: Find Your Flavor

If you enjoy incorporating a natural smokiness in your food and are willing to pay extra attention to your coals, go for lump. If you’re indifferent to a slightly chemical flavor and prefer to keep grilling as laid back as possible, grab a bag of briquettes.

How do you set up your charcoal grill? Let us know in the comments below!

This post was originally published on this site (link)

Leave a Reply