It is nearly impossible to hear the word "barbecue" mentioned, and not immediately picture a bag of charcoal. This fuel source has long been associated with cooking outdoors, and for many people it remains the only option. Not only is it nostalgic; it gives the food a unique flavor that other grills simply can't deliver.
Cooking Tips for Charcoal Grills
The first thing that you need to know about charcoal grills is that charcoal gets considerably hotter than gas. So, if you are used to cooking on a gas grill and you are now switching to charcoal, you need to be prepared to shorten your cooking times or you will have a lot of charred food on your hands.
Charcoal takes longer to heat than electric burners do. So, unlike an electric burner that is ready to use within minutes, charcoal can take up to a half an hour. So, you will need to get in the habit of remembering to start it long before you are ready to begin cooking.
If the whole reason that you are sticking with using a charcoal grill is for the smoky flavor that you love, you may want to consider using a charcoal chimney. It lights faster than just placing the charcoal in the grill and it helps to preserves the flavor, so instead of escaping, more of it is absorbed by the food.
Features to Look For in a Charcoal Grill
If you are shopping for `charcoal grills there are a few ideas that you may want to consider:
Side Bench - This certainly is not a deal breaker, but having a side bench sure will come in handy when you need somewhere to set plates and utensils.
Grate Inserts - If you love the look of seared food then cast iron grate inserts will be high on your list of features you need. There are also some inserts that leave the seared marks in all the food that you cook, which is sure to impress your guests.
Cranks and Levers - These allow you to lower and raise the bed of charcoal for increased temperature control.
Thermometer - It does not matter what type of barbecue you get, having a built in thermometer is always a nice feature to have handy.