Our ancestors got it right when they chose to cook over hot coals. Today, charcoal remains the single best method for grilling to perfection.
The Flavor Factor
All charcoal started out as wood and can greatly affect flavor. Lighter woods include alder, apple, beech, and birch while the darker options include cherry, chestnut, hickory, and oak.
Wood pairs with meat just like wine. In other words, lighter woods go well with fish and chicken, while darker varieties go well with red meats and pork.
Not all woods burn at equal temperatures. After choosing the wood that will pair best with your meat be sure to research how hot those coals will burn to ensure your grill time is just right.
Natural lump charcoal burn hotter and longer and works great for steaks and burgers. Briquettes meanwhile burn consistent med-high heat making them great for chicken and fish.
Every grill master knows you need temperature options when you grill. That’s why you should load 75% of your charcoal on one side and just 25% on the other to give you as much heat control as possible.
How to Char Like a Pro
5 Steps to Fire up Your Coal:
- Fill a chimney starter with charcoal
- Light using natural wood starters or newspaper
- Wait until coals are white and ashy (~20 mins)
- Pour & spread inside your grill using tongs
- Lighter fluid or "Easy Light" briquettes. You don't want your food to taste like chemicals.
Quality charcoal is a terrible thing to waste. If you have remaining lumps or logs, remove them using tongs from your YAK into a charcoal bucket and cover with a lid. To speed up cooling gently spray them with water & allow to thoroughly dry before re-use. How cool is that? (sorry...)