A charcoal grill is a classic and the most popular type of roaster. Though the market offers us simpler and cleaner gas grills that suit even beginners (like Weber Q series BBQ), nothing can compare with the original smoky taste provided by charcoal only. Products acquire a golden-brown crust on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside.
Besides, such grills are also multifunctional. We have coals at the bottom, a lid at the top, and a grate between for cooking according to the high & quick principle, i.e., with high heat and a minimum of time. But if we remove the lid, we get a brazier or a barbeque.
Still, despite the simplicity of application, a charcoal grill requires proper installation and preparation for tasty results. If you follow several rules, your cooking session will go safe and successful. What are these rules, and which stages should we go through? Let’s find it out together!
After you’ve assembled your grill, it’s time to fill it with wood or charcoal and start preheating. Charcoal may lay on a special charcoal grate/in a chamber or just on the bowl bottom. Anyway, ignition in charcoal grills is usually performed manually. Here are the necessary steps:
- Remove or flip open the lid and take out the cooking grates. If you’ve cooked before, remove the charcoal grate too to shake out the ash from the grill that remained from the previous cooking.
- Reinstall the charcoal grate and open all vent holes to provide airflow and access for oxygen.
- Fold the charcoal chucks or briquettes in the center of the grate in a pyramid. If your grill features an external starter, charge it with charcoal.
- Spray the charcoal in the grill or starter with lighter fluid until the visible surfaces get wet and shiny. By the way, many manufacturers recommend using safer and more ecological ignition ways. Instead of special liquid, you can use paper or thin wood chips placed in the center of the pyramid to ignite.
- Light the charcoal with a long match or a special lighter. Take care of your hands – after the treatment with liquid, the coal will flare up instantly.
- Wait for all the charcoal in the grill to burn to an even red color and lightly turn into ash.
- The coal must lie evenly without voids. The size of the charcoal pillow should be about 4-5 inches (10 cm) larger than the dish you are going to cook. If there is not enough coal, add it.
- Remember that grilled food is cooked on direct heat until a crust forms, after which the coals must be shaken off from the center to the edges, so do not try to fill the entire grate.
- When charcoal or briquettes are glowing with an even red light, close the lid. We recommend preheating the grill for 10-15 minutes for better and faster cooking. In 15 minutes, the grill will be ready.
When you finished your delicious experiments, charcoal should be extinguished completely. This procedure is necessary to avoid accidental burning, fires and to prolong the grill’s service life.
The best way to extinguish a charcoal grill is to let it go out on its own but under your control. To do this simple thing, you should:
- Close the lid and all the vents. Thus, the main source of combustion, oxygen flow, will be cut from the charcoal. And it will start to extinguish.
- The grill will stay hot while the coals are still burning and will go out completely within 30-40 minutes.
- If you need to cool the grill faster, wait till the charcoal extinguishes completely, open the vents and remove the lid.
Please! Do not use water to pour burning charcoal. This will lead to grill damage and complicate the cleaning significantly.
It’s highly recommended to remove ash and remains of charcoal after each cooking or at least after every second cooking. This will reduce the cases of corrosion, allow air to flow during cooking, and improve grill performance.
- Wait till the grill cools down. Remove the cooking grate and scrub it with a tough brush. Please pay attention that cleaning will go faster and easier if the grates are warm (but not red hot!). Check whether their temperature is ok for you and start cleaning.
- Remove the charcoal grate carefully.
- Scrub it with a wire brush to eliminate carbon deposits. It’s better to have separate brushes for cooking grates and other grill parts that contact with charcoal.
- Remove ash from the bowl. If your grill has a special ash drawer, the process will go easier.
- Scrub the bowl interior with a brush.
- Also, don’t forget to scrub the lid inside.
- Put all grill parts back, close the lid, let your device cool completely, and cover it.
And here are several tips from experienced charcoal grill users and manufacturers that will help you make application and maintenance easier:
- Coal briquettes give more and evener heat than regular charcoal. But they use additives, binders, and combustible elements in their production. Therefore, please choose coal briquettes only from trusted manufacturers and well-known brands to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- As we said, it’s better and healthier to use paper or thin wood chips to ignite your grill—no toxic evaporations for your food and unexpected fire.
- Vents may get clogged with ash, so check them from time to time and just close and open them to remove extra sediments.
- Users recommend wiping the lid and grill bowl with paper tissues to minimize the accumulation of carbon deposits.
- When using your grill, consider the weather conditions such as rain, snow, humidity, and temperature. All these factors can cause corrosion. To avoid it, rinse the outside of the grill with warm soapy water, rinse again with clean water, and let it dry.
- If the outside temperature is low, you will need to add charcoal to the grill twice as often. Please mind it and keep fuel and tongs close at hand.
- Do not use abrasive cleaners and severe detergents to clean your grill. This may lead to cover damage both inside and outside.
As you see, there is nothing super hard in charcoal grills. All you need is to follow these steps recommended by the manufacturers. Also, please always check the user’s manual beforehand. So, enjoy your grill and food!