4 tips for charcoal grilling perfection
On Memorial Day, we gather with friends and family to celebrate our nation and what makes it great.
On Monday, many families will gather for a cookout.
If you’ve been faithful only to the gas grill over the years, do yourself a favor and invest in a charcoal grill. With a few simple steps, even the most novice chef will impress the family. We’ve picked up a few tips from Kingsford, “king” of charcoal, to help you out.
For safety, and to ensure even cooking, empty old ash out first, clean the grates with a steel brush then (skip to this step if your grill is new), then preheat your grates for a few minutes once the fire is going. Here’s the magic step: Dip a paper towel in oil, hold it with tongs and rub oil on the grill grates.
Burn baby, burn:
This is the step that scares most people. It’s simple, really. You can use lighter fluid on your coals or use pre-treated coals, but the method that works best takes only a minor investment.
Get a chimney starter, which is a cylinder with a space under it for paper to help ignite the coals. Add the coals to the starter, ignite newspaper in the chamber below, and those coals will be ready to go in no time. When you see the flames on top of the starter, it’s time to pour the hot coals into a pile in the grill. When the coals are gray, spread out the coals and start cooking. Weber Aluminum Charcoal Chimney, $14.99 (plus Cash Back), Lowes.com
Grill to perfection:
For the sake of economy and time, we suggest keeping it simple. The classic fare? Burgers and dogs. A jumbo bag of potato chips, potato salad and slaw from the deli, and you can call it a party. Hot dogs are a snap to grill. But burgers tend to turn into hockey pucks for those who don’t bow to the ways of the best grill masters.
First, forget that diet. For grilling, you don’t want the leanest ground beef – or steak, if you’re splurging. Look for meat that’s about 20 percent fat. Resist the urge to form dense patties. In other words, only lightly handle the burger – just enough to give it shape, before tossing it on the grill.
If you’re worried about all that fat, don’t fret: it will burn off. It’s also likely to drip into the grill and causes flare-ups, but don’t panic. Just move the meat to the side until the fire gods have calmed down.
You’ll feel more secure with a long-handled spatula, not to mention a good set of tongs to grab those dogs off the grill. A good barbecue set will include a fork and a brush to clean the grill with after the meat is off. Perfect Chef 4 Piece BBQ Grill Tool Set, $18.54 (plus Cash Back), Homedepot.com
The bonus features:
Once you have the basics down, you’ll be tempted to dive into smoking briskets and grilling whole chickens. A few things you might want to consider picking up: A set of grilling mitts, skewers for kebabs, wooden “planks” for fish, and finally (actually, we’d put this first on the list), a really good meat thermometer, because while you want your meats safely cooked, you don’t want to serve up leather. Weber Style Barbecue Thermometer, $29.99 (plus Cash Back), Target.com