Posts Tagged ‘charcoal’

Grilling Techniques

Everyone knows there is more to grilling than just tossing a piece of meat over the flame. Proper grilling techiques must be employed to ensure that your food comes out perfect every time.

Grilling Techniques overview

Grill masters use many different techniques in their pursuit of culinary perfection. Some techniques are simple and ought to be observed every time you use the grill. Some techniques are more advanced and take some practice to get the hang of. Remember that achieving perfection takes time. Keep working at perfecting these skills, remember that every grill is different so you can be sure that there will be some tweaking to do. Take a look at the more detailed posts about each technique to learn more.Grilling Techniques

Basic Grilling techniques

Perhaps one of the most basic grilling techniques to master is direct heat and indirect heat grilling. Simply put, direct heat means that your food is directly above and exposed to the flame of the grill. Indirect heat means that the food is not being exposed to the open flames. Both grilling methods have their advantages and disadvantages. On a gas grill, place your food above an active burner for direct heat. For indirect heat, turn off the burner directly below your food but leave the others on. For indirect grilling on a charcoal grill, pile all of the burning charcoal to one side of the grill and place your meat on the opposite side of the grate.
Direct heat grilling is typically used with the next technique of discussion: searing. Searing meat creates the appetizing grill marks and irregular coloring that we think of with grilled food. Because of the direct exposure to the flame, the surface of the meat changes on a molecular level, enhancing the flavor.
Indirect heat grilling is typically used with more delicate meats, such as seafood; or with longer cooking meats, such as pork shoulder. Another use for indirect heat is with smoking food. Smoke chips impart a massive amount of flavor to any food. Indirect heat is ideal with smoking because it allows the smoke to work into the meat without searing the outside so more smoke cannot get in.

Advanced grilling techniques

Braising is not something reserved for the indoor oven, it can also be accomplished on the grill. Typically braising refers to cooking meat in liquid in the oven. When used in the grill, it is important to monitor your temperature during the braise. Indirect heat should be used to keep the bottom of the meat from burning due to direct exposure to the flame.
Baking is also a technique that can be used on the grill. Most often we think of baking pizza on the grill, but you can also make a number of rustic loaves and even pan breads with the grill. When baking on the grill, once again, the heat ought to be monitored closely. Many factors are at play when baking, check out the baking post for a detailed discussion of these grilling techniques.

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Charcoal

At the beginning of human history, mankind made the earth-shattering discovery that the application of heat makes food taste considerably better, and so began one of the longest-standing cultural centerpieces of all time: cooking.

Charcoal Basics

It was only relatively recently in the human timeline that heat came from anywhere other than an open flame fueled by axe-felled firewood. Today, we have the gas and electric oven which domesticate the heat-to-food application, taming it so that cooking can be done indoors. However, the rustic and smoky flavors of food cooked over an open flame will never be domesticated and brought indoors. These are the wild flavors of the outdoors, as free as the nature they are derived from.

At some point in human development, mankind realized that the ideal fuel for a cooking fire would be relatively controllable, with low smoke and minimal flare-up potential. At some length, humans discovered that they could drive away all of the uncontrollable, smoky, flare-up prone elements of firewood by cooking them off ahead of time. After wood has been heated to burning temperatures for several hours and then cooled, what remains is only the burnable elements of wood. This became known as charcoal, the fuel that burns long and hot with minimal smoke and maximal predictability.

Charcoal

Charcoal Types

The first and longest-lasting type of charcoal is lump charcoal. This is, quite simply, wood that has been heated in a kiln to temperatures at which it would normally burn. Heating the wood chunks to this level for several hours causes the wood to shrink as water and other natural impurities are burned off, leaving behind only the carbon structure of the wood.

The second and more common type of charcoal in this modern age is charcoal briquettes. Charcoal briquettes are made in almost the same manner as lump charcoal, except the wood has been ground into sawdust and pressed together into uniform shapes. This sawdust is bound together by a number of chemicals that help it to hold its shape.

Which Type is Better?

Both lump and briquette charcoal perform the task of outdoor cooking superbly. Both light easily, impart great flavor, and burn controllably and predictably. However, most grill masters tend to prefer one over the other. Some maintain staunchly that the purity of lump charcoal clearly makes it superior to the chemical-pumped briquette. Others herald predictability imparted by the geometric shape of the briquette. Both sides can agree on one thing, however: no matter what type of charcoal you choose, it’s better than gas.

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Charcoal Grills

Summer family fun is the smoky flavor of  juicy hamburgers fresh off the charcoal grills. On vacation or at home, charcoal grilling adds an extra level of fun to any meal!

Nothing beats the flavor of food cooked over a charcoal grill, or the control you have when using charcoal. Forget the microwave and try your hand at real cooking!

Charcoal Grills: Features

[br]All charcoal burning grills have a pan for the fire and an adjustable grid for cooking. The height of the grid above the fire and the amount and arrangement of the charcoal control the temperature. Charcoal is more flexible regarding temperature than other grill charcoal grillsstyles since charcoal arranged closely together produces an incredible amount of heat.

Although the basic features of  charcoal burning grills are the same, styles and prices vary. Square grills have a shallow pan, an adjustable grid, and a lid with vents. They are simple and inexpensive, ranging in price from $60 to $100.

Kettle grills are round with a deep lower chamber, an adjustable grid, and vents in both the lower chamber and the lid. Both the depth of the chamber and ventilation system better control and circulate the heat than other styles of grills. Slightly more expensive, the price of kettle grills ranges from $70 to $140.

Cart  grills are the upscale version of these grills: similar in shape to gas grills and having an ash tray that makes clean-up easy. Like other grills, the grid is adjustable and vents help control the heat. These grills are expensive (but very nice), ranging from $2,000 to $2,800.

Charcoal Grills: Pros and Cons

[br]In a day of microwaves and fancy kitchen tools, charcoal grilling has an appealing simplicity and gives you control as the chef. You can use the wide range of temperature to your advantage. And the flavor charcoal adds to food is well worth the extra effort.

However, starting the fire can be difficult, and once the fire starts, controlling the heat may prove challenging. After grilling, cleaning out the grill and disposing of the cooled ash can be a messy job.

Charcoal Grills: Is it for you?

[br]The simplistic style of charcoal grilling requires extra effort, patience, and some skill from the chef, but also rewards that effort with a feeling of satisfaction when your family and friends bite into those juicy hamburgers fresh off the charcoal grill!

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Electric Grills

Feature rich electric grills are fast, efficient and safe. With all the different grills out there, how can I know if an electric grill is right for me?

Electric powered grills and smokers offer features that other types of grills and smokers cannot. Here are some tips that can help you decide if an electric grill can meet all your grilling needs.

Electric Grills: Features

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Electric powered grills are not as popular as gas grills and charcoal grills but they have a useful and secure place in the family of grills. Since they run on electricity, these grills have some features that gas grills and charcoal grills cannot offer. Electricity as a fuel for grilling is fast, efficient, clean and easy to use. However, the overriding feature of the electric grill is that it can used indoors and in places where other types of grills are often banned, such as balconies in multi-unit dwellings.

[myebay]Electric Grills[/myebay]

Electric Grills: Pros and Cons

  • Pros: There are several positive things to say about electric powered grills and smokers. Some of these features might temp you to start looking around for one.
    • Fast fire up time, you can be up and cooking very quickly.
    • Consistent, even easily controlled heat; even heat across the entire grill.
    • Low maintenance; no residue to clean up; no tanks to replace; no charcoal and ashes to mess with.
    • Good fuel for smokers; steady low and slow heat, easily controlled; set and forget it until the meat is done. Electric fueled smokers have grown in popularity.
    • Unlike gas and charcoal, can be used indoors; this is the biggest selling factor for electric powered grills.
    • For safety reasons, sometimes gas and charcoal grills are banned in some circumstances where electric powered grills are not. A common example of this is on the upper balconies of multi-unit residential buildings.
    • Smaller tabletop versions, such as the George Forman line, are readily available.
    • You can often get electric fueled grills for a fraction of the cost of other grills.
  • Cons: With all those positive features, you might think that everyone would own an electric grill. Well, electric powered grills and smokers are not perfect, and here are some things people do not like.
    • Though they are great indoors, electric powered grills can be awkward out of doors; you will need to run an extension cord or have an outdoor outlet near the grill.
    • Electric powered grills lack portability; because they need a power source, they are difficult to use on a camping trip or at the beach.
    • Grilling purist claim electric powered grills cannot produce the grilled flavors of the other fuels, especially charcoal.
    • It might be hard to put ones finger on it, but for some reason, when you are outdoors, cooking on an electric grill is just not as much fun as cooking on a blazing fire or white hot coals igniting the drippings from a juicy steak.

Electric Grills: Are They for You?

There are a lot of pros and cons with electric grills. They might not be for everyone, but there are many positive features, and many people who could benefit from those features. If you live in an apartment, trailer or like grilling in the dead of winter, an electric powered grill may be your best option. There are many people with electric grills who have learned to cook some delicious foods on them. Just ask George Foreman.
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