Grills are as popular as ever right now, with nearly seventy-five percent of the American population owning one. Some grilling enthusiasts have traded in their charcoal grills for the convenient LP gas grills, but many people who love barbecued meats still use a charcoal grill. (I do!)
Cooking meat on a charcoal grill involves two basic methods. One is called the “Direct Cooking Method.” To do this, you’ll need to remove the cooking slotted grate. Then, completely cover the bottom of your grill with a layer of charcoal briquettes. These briquettes are then stacked one on top of the other to resemble a pyramid. The pyramid of charcoal is then lit. Once they have burned down and turned white, you need to carefully spread them evenly over the bottom of the grill. Finally, you’ll need to replace the slotted cooking grate and start to barbecue your favorite meat. The Direct Cooking Method works best for meat such as thin steak and hamburgers. It also can cook other foods such as baked potatoes and sweet corn to perfection.
Use this method of cooking for foods that need to cook at a higher temperature.
The second way to grill your favorite foods is called the “Indirect Cooking Method.” To do this, you’ll need to first remove the slotted cooking grate from your charcoal grill. Then, place a layer of charcoal briquettes around the sides of your grill. (Do not place any briquettes on the inside of the grill.) After the charcoal is properly arranged, it is lit. Allow the charcoal to burn down until they are white in color. Then, replace the slotted grate and start cooking. Once you have the grate filled up, place the lid of your charcoal grill on it. This will help to hold the indirect heat inside the body of your grill.
Because the heat of the grill is not as intense as it is using the first method, this is the best way to barbecue steaks that are thicker, lobster, spare ribs, chicken, and the like.
A meat thermometer is a handy device for determining when a meat should come off the grill. In general, though, thin steaks take about three minutes to cook on each side if you like them rare. Add an extra minute on each side for medium well, and two minutes on each side to cook them well done. The doneness of hamburgers can be judged by using these same times.
Thicker steaks need approximately six minutes on the clock, per side, to make them rare; eight minutes to make them medium well, and ten minutes per side should cook them well done.
Because it’s so large and thick, a Lobster takes longer to grill. You’ll need to allow at least twenty-five minutes. Check the color of its shell to determine if it’s ready to eat. The shell should be bright red in color.
Barbecued chicken and spare ribs take even longer yet to prepare on a charcoal grill. Allow and hour to an hour an a half for either of these two favorites. After that time, check for doneness. Both chicken and spare ribs should no longer be pink on the inside. They should also be tender when pierced with a fork.
And finally, here are some tips that will help you operate your traditional grill:
For safety’s sake, never let your food touch the charcoal briquettes. Make sure the charcoal is completely burned down to a white color before you start grilling your meat too.
After each grilling session, allow the white charcoal to cool down completely. Then, dump them out and dispose of them. Wipe the inside of your grill out with a damp paper towel to remove any residue.
In between each use, store your charcoal briquettes in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
And, to make clean up of the slotted cooking grate easier, cover it with aluminum foil before you begin grilling. Then, once you’re done cooking, allow the foil to cool down. Finally, remove it and dispose of it properly.