Start a Charcoal Grill Fire That is Right for You

Foods & DrinksCooking Tips & Recipes

  • Author Rich Malinski
  • Published August 10, 2011
  • Word count 752

  1. Be sure you start with a clean grill. If you did not clean your grill after the last session, then do it now. Clean out the grate or pan and set aside the grill wire to clean it after the fire has started.

  2. If you are using treated charcoal briquettes, plain charcoal briquettes or hardwood charcoal chunks, the procedures are similar for starting a good fire in a Portable Charcoal Grill or Built-in Charcoal Grill.

  3. Selecting the correct amount of charcoal is very important for a successful cooking experience. Pour out enough charcoal on the grate or pan to build the type of fire you will need for cooking the food you have selected for the day. It is better to have a few extra pieces to ensure a successful cooking session.

A- If you have a smaller round or square Table Top Grill, then you may build a single level cooking area or possibly multi-level searing and slow cooking sections.

B- On larger rectangular grills and Smoker Grills, you could build a multi-level searing section on one end, a slow cooking section on the other end and an indirect cooking section in the middle of the grill.

  1. After selecting and arranging charcoal in the desired pattern, move all the charcoal to one side to clear an area to start the fire.

A- Start by crumpling up several sheets of old newspaper of the type that have a fold-over, not the tabloid type paper. Shape it into a square that fits on the open end of the grate or across the pan of a smaller grill.

B- Squirt some lighter fluid on the newspaper until it is thoroughly wet. (Some puddles are OK).

C- Now arrange the charcoal in a square or round pattern to build a pyramid with a small hole in the center. Be sure to leave the corners of the paper exposed for easy lighting.

D- With a long nosed candle lighter or long fireplace matches, light all four corners of the exposed paper.

E- The coals will be ready to arrange in your cooking pattern when they take on an ashen appearance. (About 10-15 minutes, allowing time to clean the grill wires).

  1. Using a long handle metal spatula or tongs, arrange the coals to fit your cooking style for the day. Tongs make it easy to stack up coals for the multi-level searing section or the slow cooking section.

  2. An alternative method for starting a charcoal fire is to use a charcoal chimney starter. This will hold enough charcoal for the smaller round and square Table Top grills. Use the same procedure to measure out the amount of coals needed by arranging them on the grate or pan.

A- Transfer the coals to the chimney starter after you have placed some crumpled up newspaper in the base of the starter. To ensure a quicker start, you may want to squirt some lighter fluid on the paper.

B- Place the chimney starter on the grate and light the paper in several places.

C- When the coals have a good start, they will have a light grey ashen appearance. Very carefully turn over the chimney starter to distribute the coals on the grate or pan.

D- Then arrange the coals according to the cooking style you will be using for this session and enjoy the experience.

  1. Some additional tips and cautions to enhance your cooking experience.

A- If you like to use charcoal that is impregnated with a lighting fluid, you can still use the crumpled up paper to get a quick and uniform start.

B- Flavored hardwood chips can be added to the coals when they are ready to start cooking. Hickory chips are popular for grilling steaks and burgers. Mesquite chips will add a whole new grilling experience.

C- Prepare the wood chips by soaking them in water for 4-6 hours or overnight. When the chips are added to a hot charcoal fire, there will be a very nicely flavored smoke that will penetrate the food. Enjoy.

Okay. You now have the steps and procedures to build a charcoal fire to fit your Portable Charcoal Grill or Built-in Charcoal Grill that will match your cooking style for the day. It may take a few sessions to perfect the procedures for your size grill, cooking style and charcoal selection. You may want to try the various charcoal types to find the one which is best for you on any given occasion. Good Luck.

© 2011 Rijo Enterprises Co. All rights reserved

Rich M

Phone = 1-877-511-8917

Rich has been using Charcoal Grills for cooking a wide variety of foods for more than 25 years. His experience with starting charcoal fires for Portable Charcoal Grills and Built-in Charcoal Grills has run the gamut from charcoal chunks, impregnated charcoal briquettes, plain charcoal briquettes, flavored wood chips and more.

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