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Discussion Starter #1
I just got this bad boy. It's a cheap-o Kingsford charcoal BBQ, $70 at Walmart.




I am not exactly sure what the difference is between an expensive and inexpensive charcoal BBQ. This has ALL the features I was primarily looking for which were, in order: height adjustable charcoal rack, large grill surface, catch pan, and grill standing at waist height. It also has some other basics as you would expect such as a warming rack and an adjustable vent on the hood.

My parents stopped cooking with charcoal a long time ago, maybe 15 years. I haven't seen, let alone cooked with charcoal since. Therefor, I haven't a clue what I'm doing. During my initial trials I've realized I have a problem with heat control. The burgers cook faster than I expect, and the salmon takes forever. Corn on the warming rack barely gets past luke warm.

I guess this is an open invitation to share any tips, tricks, advice, or what have you about BBQing with charcoal.

A few things I'm wondering about are: Do you wait until the coals are white before cooking over the charcoal? If you're going to be cooking for a while, at what intervals should you add more charcoal? Is there ever any reason for cooking with the lid up? Why does the catch pan have little slides on both sides of it? Are they vents?
 

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Wow. Dude.

You're asking a question that can only be answered by several decades of experience. There is no instruction book for this.

Dauntless, I'll do what I can to help.

First, yes, charcoal is best. Propane is cheating, so you're on the right path. I'm not digging that grill, however, as I'm a proponent of Weber kettle style grills - the round shape gives you even heat.

However, that said, every grill has its own idiosyncrasies, and you'll learn yours. It will have strengths and weaknesses.

Get a charcoal chimney - a tall cylinder you put the charcoal in, and prep the charcoal that way. Then when it's 90 percent gray, you dump them into the grill proper and go to town. You'll need a mitt of some sort - the heat is intense, but this gets you going fast and has your charcoals going even.

As for grilling, corn should be par-boiled first, chicken and sausages done on indirect heat, hamburgers fashioned in a torus-shape, steak on massive heat, salmon on plank, and everything timed with your phone's timer app.

Your skill as a grillman is tested by your sense of heat and timing. If you banmepleasebanmepleasebanmepleasebanmepleasebanmeplease up, you ruin everything. Get it right, you're a hero.
 

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Charcoal is okay to cook on, but in my humble opinion, a little out dated. It has it's problems, for one thing it takes a lot of charcoal if you want to maintain heat for any length of time. Best to cook things on it that require maybe an hour or less to cook. If you can taste the charcoal or lighter fluid in the food, then you have put the food on too soon. The match light charcoal burns up faster than regular charcoal and is a BS marketing ploy for lazy people. Once charcoal turns the gray color and you cook on it, which is how you are supposed to do it, it will not flavor foods. If you want smoke flavor in meats get some wood chips and add to it for flavor.

The most common mistake is to put the food on too soon and you can taste the charcoal or lighter fluid in the food. Get some beer and practice a lot, have fun!
 

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+1 on the chimney. You can make a make-shift one out of foil in a pinch, as long as you direct the heat upwards and not out. I use a a bit of newspaper and try to avoid lighter fluid altogether.

I use a mix of "starter" briquettes and generic charcoal to get things going. The starter charcoal (match-light) lights quick, but doesn't last. The generic stuff does the opposite (burns slower/hotter).

The coals should be white on one side, and mostly white on the other, while still being able to move them around without disintegrating into ash.

People will argue that true BBQ is done over indirect heat, while grilling is right over the fire. When I slow bbq, I put my coals over to one side of the grill and meat on the other side, lid on.

That way, if I time the food wrong I have some control over the heat.
 

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nice balcony to chill!

is that your hawt neighbour's bedroom/balcony?:cool:

^_^

love to bbq too but not doing often enough. i prefer amber heat with very little flame.

no lighter fluid or those supermarket packed 'bbq charcoals'. I prefer the old fashion wood dried charcoals.

oh do get the wahyu beef cuts :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
There is a half-hour show on PBS that gives grilling tips every weekend.
Maybe it will help. The guy cooks all sorts of stuff.
:unsure:

Edit:
http://www.bbqu.net/aboutsteven.html
Thanks! I was sold at BBQ UNIVERSITY. How cool is that? I don't get TV, but I do see you can stream these episodes online. It looks like I know what I'll be doing with my weekends from now on...

Wow. Dude.

You're asking a question that can only be answered by several decades of experience. There is no instruction book for this.

Dauntless, I'll do what I can to help.

First, yes, charcoal is best. Propane is cheating, so you're on the right path. I'm not digging that grill, however, as I'm a proponent of Weber kettle style grills - the round shape gives you even heat.

However, that said, every grill has its own idiosyncrasies, and you'll learn yours. It will have strengths and weaknesses.

Get a charcoal chimney - a tall cylinder you put the charcoal in, and prep the charcoal that way. Then when it's 90 percent gray, you dump them into the grill proper and go to town. You'll need a mitt of some sort - the heat is intense, but this gets you going fast and has your charcoals going even.

As for grilling, corn should be par-boiled first, chicken and sausages done on indirect heat, hamburgers fashioned in a torus-shape, steak on massive heat, salmon on plank, and everything timed with your phone's timer app.

Your skill as a grillman is tested by your sense of heat and timing. If you banmepleasebanmepleasebanmepleasebanmepleasebanmeplease up, you ruin everything. Get it right, you're a hero.
I was absolutely set on NOT getting a propane grill. The way I see it, you may as well broil food under the oven if you're gonna use propane. Nothing wrong with that... if your taste buds were previously burned off.
I hadn't heard of a charcoal chimney before. A quick internet search shows them to be proliferous and inexpensive. I'll order one tonight so I can have it in time for steaks next week. I might look into planks for the salmon. I've made a few filets on foil, which did the trick in a pinch.

Charcoal is okay to cook on, but in my humble opinion, a little out dated. It has it's problems, for one thing it takes a lot of charcoal if you want to maintain heat for any length of time. Best to cook things on it that require maybe an hour or less to cook. If you can taste the charcoal or lighter fluid in the food, then you have put the food on too soon. The match light charcoal burns up faster than regular charcoal and is a BS marketing ploy for lazy people. Once charcoal turns the gray color and you cook on it, which is how you are supposed to do it, it will not flavor foods. If you want smoke flavor in meats get some wood chips and add to it for flavor.

The most common mistake is to put the food on too soon and you can taste the charcoal or lighter fluid in the food. Get some beer and practice a lot, have fun!
I didn't know the charcoal taste was incorrect. I figured it was the draw to using charcoal in the first place. I think using a chimney per SE's advice above will fix any problem I have with premature cooking. I love the idea about the wood chips. What kind of wood? I'll make sure to avoid the match light charcoal, but to be honest, I had no intention of cheating by using that stuff. If I'm going out of my way to BBQ something on a charcoal grill that means I'm taking that food seriously. Love food :wub:

+1 on the chimney. You can make a make-shift one out of foil in a pinch, as long as you direct the heat upwards and not out. I use a a bit of newspaper and try to avoid lighter fluid altogether.

I use a mix of "starter" briquettes and generic charcoal to get things going. The starter charcoal (match-light) lights quick, but doesn't last. The generic stuff does the opposite (burns slower/hotter).

The coals should be white on one side, and mostly white on the other, while still being able to move them around without disintegrating into ash.

People will argue that true BBQ is done over indirect heat, while grilling is right over the fire. When I slow bbq, I put my coals over to one side of the grill and meat on the other side, lid on.

That way, if I time the food wrong I have some control over the heat.
What shape grill do you use? I think I might try some cooking with the embers moved over to the side. I suspect there is going to be a lot of red centers before I get the timing right.

nice balcony to chill!

is that your hawt neighbour's bedroom/balcony?:cool:

^_^

love to bbq too but not doing often enough. i prefer amber heat with very little flame.

no lighter fluid or those supermarket packed 'bbq charcoals'. I prefer the old fashion wood dried charcoals.

oh do get the wahyu beef cuts :cool:
Thanks. This balcony is my little sanctuary. A nice place to read a book. My cat is always vying to go out there, but then he eats all the plants like an idiot. The fine example of a balcony across the way is actually a little nicer than your average balcony in my neighborhood. An arab friend of mine says it reminds her of Iran. Every balcony around here has been converted to either an extra room, or mass storage. It's pretty gross.
 

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Most Ace hardware stores or similar will sell hickory or mesquite wood chips for your charcoal bbq - enjoy.

Practice makes perfect.

While you don't need to start out with cheap food (hot dogs) and move up to higher end steaks - its not a bad idea until you get a feel for your firepit. :D
 

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:lol:I can share my experiance...

Propane is heresy *cough cough*

Buy a Chimney Starter ~$10


Buy real charcoal ~$10


Step one
Light charcoal in chimney starter..its pretty strait forward....AWAY FROM Flamables...but since your in a balcony...buy briquettes (less flyin ashes) and same process, just light it on top of your grill

Step two.
Drop they Almost white/grey coal into grill and let it get completely ashy..(this will also clean your grates.
(then move it all to 1 side so you have a hot and cold side)

Step three.
Season you meat, or buy hotdogs
Hot side = sear/brown/caramelize/burnt watever you call it
Cold side = cook/tempure/hold/gentle heat, etc

(My way is require no grill!)


Last.

EAT

When you done, put the lid on top and let it sit for a day or 2...unless you want to set your house on fire

-Kiny

<-- this is bbq....one where you toss meat on flame is call GRILLING, though no one cares anymore .<_<
 

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Speaking of wood. Hickory is my favorite. Some like mesquite. There is also apple, cherry, and a few others. I couldn't tell that these fruit woods added any flavor to the food.

I know some people don't like propane or gas, I was like that for years, truth is that it's not the heat source that flavors the food. It's the smoke from the wood chips, and also the meat juices dripping down into the fire, marinades and sauces, and things like that will give the meat flavor.

Actually one of the best smokers that I've ever had is electric. It's a round Brinkman that I've had for 15 or so years. It has an electric coil in the bottom, it's about 2ft in diameter and about 3ft tall. It doesn't even have a heat setting on it. All you do is plug it up. It runs between about 250 to 300 degrees. I put the large hickory chunks directly on the coils in the bottom. It is tight enough that it can not draw enough air to support a fire, so it just smokes like crazy. Put a brisket in it, put wood chunks in it, it'll smoke for a couple of hours at a time on the wood before you have to add more. It even has a pan you can put water in to keep the food moist. Great little smoker, you can make great food with very little effort. Makes the best smoked turkey you have ever eaten.

A good cook can make great food with just about any kind of grill.
 

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What shape grill do you use? I think I might try some cooking with the embers moved over to the side. I suspect there is going to be a lot of red centers before I get the timing right.
For grillin' I use the Vortex, which is small/conical/round shaped. Back in scouts we used to do kfx123's trick - cooking right on the chimney. 1 match, 1 fire.

For BBQ'n I start my wood/coal in a chiminea (got it in baha Cali) , and then shovel it over to a large rectangular grill; meat on one side, heat on the other. If you're cooking some bird, it takes like 5 hours.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
For grillin' I use the Vortex, which is small/conical/round shaped. Back in scouts we used to do kfx123's trick - cooking right on the chimney. 1 match, 1 fire.

For BBQ'n I start my wood/coal in a chiminea (got it in baha Cali) , and then shovel it over to a large rectangular grill; meat on one side, heat on the other. If you're cooking some bird, it takes like 5 hours.

5 hours? Are you feeding more charcoal on the embers during that time?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
First of all, thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. There is no bigger pleasure in life than food, so it's important to get food right, if nothing else.

I bought a charcoal chimney, and it creates the most evenly toasted, hottest coals ever. It's already paid for itself as far as I am concerned.

I've also been using wood chips to make smoke. Everything tastes better smoked.

So, after a few practice steaks, I finally made something worth eating.



I noticed that smoking meat changes the color. It completely threw me off the first time, and I thought the steak was still rare, well after it had reached well done. I ended up with a well, well, well done steak. As you can see, I've finally got steak down to my kind of rare, but even this particular morsel was slightly well done for my tastes. Some more practice will result in perfect steak, I am sure of it. I've also found that grilled onion and mushroom make excellent sides. I sprinkle them with some chipotle seasoning. For the corn, Tapatio of course. The steak gets a sprinkle of Italian seasoning.

Now... time to move on to ribs...
 

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That meal looks awesome - even though I just ate, I am hungry again!
 
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