How to use a charcoal grill for the first time is a common question. It’s often asked by amateur chefs, right? Grilling is one of the types of cuisine where the person cooking the food takes the taste of the food to a different artistic level.
As a professional chef, I’m going to write down how to use a charcoal grill for the first time. And at the end of the article, I’ll also attach some essential tips that are somehow related to charcoal and grill.
So make sure you have read the whole article at least once from top to bottom.
6 Easy-to-Apply Steps To Use A Charcoal Grill:
As we have already mentioned, cooking can be one of the artsiest things out there; charcoal grilling can be the Starry Night of it. If you are passionate about such culinary experiments and eager to show everyone your actual cooking skill, then the charcoal grill is the thing for you.
To show true skills, an artist must know his way of using the tools to create a fantastic and amazing form of art. For such reasons, one should know the way and benefits of using charcoal. To start grilling, one must follow a few steps to avoid any kind of mistake. Here are 6 tips mentioned down here:
1. Choose A Safe Place:
First of all, it’s important to choose a safe place. You need to make sure you are not burning down the whole neighborhood! Make sure to cook in a safe environment where the grill is at a safe distance from trees, kids, or pets.
2. Starting Fire:
The first and most crucial step is to start the fire. As easy as it sounds, almost everyone struggles to light up the grill. A few techniques are needed to be followed to become the flame master.
3. The Perfect Coal:
Patience is the key to everything. In the quest of becoming the flame master, one needs to be patient enough. Choosing the right quality of charcoal plays a big part in firing up the flame.
Charcoal is basically of two types. These are:
- Briquette Charcoal: Charcoal briquettes are made of compressed sawdust and other wood material. These are artificial and can be found in super shops or markets. These are easier to find and easy to use. They are inexpensive, and their durability makes them even more convenient. The only negative side is that they do not give off that smokey charry flavor like the natural ones and produce a lot of ashes, which makes it hard to clean up later.
- Natural Lumps: natural charcoal or lumps are made of pure wood, which helps them to provide that classic smokey flavor to the food. They burn out quickly, which makes it a bit more expensive than the briquettes one. But hey, always go that extra length for that perfect artistic result!
4. Lighting Up The Grill:
The next phase starts with lighting the grill and knowing how to do it. There are many ways to light up a grill. Using the fluid from a lighter is a pretty known process of lighting the grill. People use the liquid from a lighter and spread it on top of the charcoal to light up the fire. It gives off a smell and adds an odd flavor sometimes, which many chefs don’t prefer.
Instead, they choose the chimney starter one as that is liquid free and the taste of the food is kept intact. In these methods, you need to crumple up some papers into the bottom of the chimney and fire it up to let the charcoal get heated. After waiting for 10-15 minutes, when the charcoals turn white, then you can pour them into your kettle and start cooking.
In our modern era, almost everything has gone digital, even cooking too. Nowadays, people prefer to cook on electronic devices such as electric stoves, electric ovens, rice cookers, toasters, etc. In such a way, electronic coal starters are now in trend. Gadget lovers love to use such kinds of coal grills starters. They just need to make contact with the device with the charcoal, and voila, your charcoal is hot and prepared.
5. Checking The Color Of The Coal:
After lighting the fire, one needs to know how hot the coals are, as it is an essential and crucial part of cooking on a charcoal grill. To know and understand if the coals are hot enough or too hot one needs to pay, attention to the colors of the coal.
Colors work here as a great indicator. By waving your hands over the grill, you can get the idea of the heat. But here, you need to be patient enough. Give it some time to turn into blazing red coals. The coal is ready to start cooking only when you look at it, and it reminds you of any pouring volcano or, even better if it takes you to the religious path and reminds you of hell!
Cleanliness is a significant point that many people tend to avoid. Amidst these covid situations, we all have become extra cautious about cleanliness. Before grilling the food items, the grilling net or sticks should be adequately cleaned. For extra seasoning, one can add some olive oil to it. But that’s optional.
Even without that, we need to keep the surface clean where we cook. It’s not an easy task to do, but to avoid problems related to hygiene or flames burning up from previously stuck food, the grill needs to be cleaned.
7. Sorting the Coals:
After preparing the food with seasoning of your own preference, you should arrange the coals accordingly. Not every food needs direct heat from that hellfire you created a moment back. Pour your artistic mind into your cooking to satisfy your inner passionate cuisine artist.
After following the steps mentioned earlier, your grill should be all set to cook your favorite protein-packed meal to tame that hungry monster inside your tummy. But before that, make sure you avoid some common mistakes to ensure that Jesus sent beef steak or burger of yours!
8. Cooking Too Much Food At A Time:
To avoid flare-ups, besides cleaning the grill religiously, one needs to cook small batches at a time. Too many food items at a time risk the rate of flare-up as it may drop too much protein or flammable substance.
9. Not Using Thermometers:
Some snotty cooks try to avoid using a thermometer as if using a thermometer is out of the chefs’ protocol, and using it will cause their banishment from the chefs’ kingdom. They think it’s a matter of great pride to use their eyes to detect if the meat is perfectly cooked or not.
But the recent pandemic has made us suffer, to learn that we need to ensure safety above anything and everything. We don’t want to risk our health anymore or take any chances with it. So to ensure the meat is fully cooked and free of bacterias, we need to use a thermometer.
10. Leaving The Grill Unattended:
After using the grill, we need to shut it down properly. If not, it can cause many accidents. Unattended hot grills can cause many kinds of accidents, such as kids going near them and burning themselves.
Charcoal & Grill: A Few Things You Need To Know
Finally, you are taking initial steps to use your charcoal grill for the first time. It’s okay. You’re now able to grill anything using a charcoal grill by following the 10 steps I mentioned above.
However, there are some necessary things you should have in your mind besides these steps. Some common ones are listed below. Let’s look at a glance.
The fundamental thing about cooking is to make it taste good. After all, who doesn’t like good food after a tiresome day at work or even any time of the day? It pleases our appetite and contents our heart as well.
Charcoal grills give a smokey, tender flavor to the food, which enhances the taste far more. Such kind of taste is impossible to get through other cooking methods. Though it is a very tiring process, but we all can go an extra mile for that tasty heavenly food, can’t we?
Reminiscence Of The Ancient Times:
Our great ancestors didn’t have ready-made gas stoves or electric stoves to cook food. They were hunters. They used to hunt food and grilled them in their way. As funny as it sounds but charcoal grilling gives the perfect vibe to cook food and taste the food close to what our ancestors used to eat.
Isn’t it a great way to go back to the past? Well, in my opinion, it is an excellent way till anyone of us invents the time machine and takes us to the past for real. Till then, tasting their food would do just fine.
The Money Saver:
It’s good to be a good artist, but it’s great to be a smart one. Saving money in all spheres of life is essential. It’s an excellent quality of a person, especially if he’s an artist. Charcoal grilling is a great way of cooking that is cost-efficient. Its portability and low maintenance make it more efficient than any other method by keeping the taste it gives in mind.
Fun Time With Family And Friends:
It is a very fussy and complicated process, but it is a great way to spend time with your family. Our lives these days have become so much busy that we barely can make time for our kith and kin. Having a picnic out there with a charcoal grill and making all those mouth-watering dishes with your loved ones can be a great excuse to get close to them and strengthening the bonds.
Before using any tool, we first need to know what are the parts it is made of. When using something, a device or any equipment getting familiar with the parts is the first step of using it properly. Especially when you are a beginner it is vital to know the parts to be able to work properly with the tools. Being a first time user of a charcoal grill one should know about the basic parts of a grill. Here are some parts mentioned below:
The bowl or Cooking Grid:
A charcoal grill must have a bowl-shaped surface for holding the coals. It is the source of heat from where heat generates, and the food is being cooked. It should be spacious enough to hold the cooking grid and cook a good quantity of food at a time.
Generating heat is the most essential part of cooking in a charcoal grill. By generating heat from the burning charcoal, the food is being cooked. So it is important to control and preserve heat. The way to preserve heat is by making sure the lid is well placed.
If the top is not tight fitted, air from outside will reduce the heat, and heat controlling will be disrupted. This will hinder the whole cooking process. To keep the heat inside, the lid must be tight and well fitted.
Controlling heat is the most important and crucial part of cooking in such a grill, as we have discussed. For this reason, as much as it is important to keep the heat in, it is also important to keep the heat controlled by venting some airflow and reduce the heat to prevent the grill from overheating. Vents should be on top and bottom both the sides.
One of the benefits of a charcoal grid is its’ portability. The way of a charcoal grill to be portable are wheels. Enough number of wheels are needed to move the grill from one place to other. The wheels should be of good quality. If it’s a metal grill, then the wheels must be of very good quality metal, or else it can get damaged or even get broken.
Cooking in a fresh, clean environment is as important as cooking good food. A clean environment is the first condition to cook any food. Restaurants are sometimes fined or suspended for not keeping their kitchen clean. For the same reason, an ash catcher should be with the grill. Ash catchers should be under the grill working as trash collectors.
Overall the grill should be well structured made with good quality metal. The stands on which it will stand on the ground should be firm and strong enough to hold it still. Fragile metals or cheap metals will get damaged easily, so it’s better to spend a few bucks extra to ensure longevity. It should also have ways to add more charcoal. Who doesn’t love some extra heat on a summer day?
Grilling is a process of cooking food that takes a lot of perseverance. Only those who value a true form of cooking; enjoy cooking with charcoal grills despite its’ hassle.