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Charcoal Grills for the purists

15 June 2010      

There is a real school of thought out there with the hard-core grillers especially, that charcoal grills produce far better tasting food than gas grills. There simply is nothing better on a hot summer day, than sitting in the backyard grilling over charcoal. The charcoal itself gives the food a distinct flavor. And there are a few different smoke flavored charcoals to choose from. If you go into any home improvement store or grill supply store, you’ll find that there is a large array of charcoal to choose from. But the flavors and smells given off by real wood charcoal are hard to replace. This type of charcoal is my favorite because of the flavors and aromas they put off. But, cooking with wood charcoal can be difficult, so don’t give up yet. There are a couple of types of charcoal starters; lighter fluid, electric charcoal starter, and a charcoal chimney starter.

The electric starter is basically a metal loop that plugs into an electrical outlet. You bury it under the charcoal, while it’s heating it lights the charcoal. They are similar to the element on an electric stove burner. Obviously, you need an electrical outlet for this method, and it may take a bit longer to start, but it is very easy and doesn’t change the flavor of the smoke like lighter fluid.

The chimney starter is my favorite way to start charcoal and it can be used anywhere, no electricity needed. These can be found in any grill store or home improvement store and I recommend the largest one. You put charcoal in the top and a couple pieces of crumbled newspaper in the bottom. The chimney has air holes in it and it works as a chimney does; drawing the draft and the fire up to light the charcoal.

Many people find that the charcoal soaked in lighter fluid is the easiest charcoal to use. Simply drop a match and the coal is lit, no worries on using too much or too little lighter fluid. To me, this style has the least mouthwatering flavor. But it is a good charcoal for the novice charcoal griller to begin with.

As for the grill itself, there are many different sizes and styles, and what sets them apart is more than just the price. Some have only one grate, while others have two on different levels which allows for more space and more control over the speed of cooking. But put the myth away, charcoal grills are easy to use and easy to clean.

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