The MAN Cookbook

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

    The standard in charcoal grills is the Weber grill. That's not to say that none of the other grills are good, but Webers are tried and true, and I will base these instructions on the assumption that you have a Weber or something like it.

If you plan to use newspaper to light the coals, which works surprisingly well, separate 5-10 sheets and wad them up into balls. Then put as many as will fit easily under the bottom grill that holds the coals. If you are going to use charcoal lighter fluid, then you don't need any newspaper and you can skip this step. CHARCOAL THAT SAYS IT WILL LIGHT WITH A MATCH IS LIKE A POLITICIAN THAT SAYS HE/SHE HAS YOUR BEST INTERESTS AT HEART. DON'T WASTE YOUR FAITH OR MONEY ON EITHER ONE.*

Put enough coals on the bottom grill to cover however much space the steaks will take up with a SINGLE LAYER of coals. If you use so many coals that they have to overlap to fit on the grill, you will burn your food.

Pile the coals all up in the center. You can stack them like bricks in a pyramid if you are so inclined, but it really isn't necessary. IF YOU ARE USING LIGHTER FLUID INSTEAD OF NEWSPAPER, WET THE BOTTOM LAYER OF COALS WITH IT BEFORE YOU PILE THE REST ON TOP.

Add lighter fluid (unless using newspaper). Don't be shy with it, but don't be ridiculous. Put enough on there to get most of the coals wet, and concentrate on the coals at the bottom because they will get no heat from anywhere else.

Make sure the bottom vent is all the way open, and light it up! Newspaper can be lit through the bottom vent. Leave the bottom vent open and the lid open.

Let it burn until the flame dies, or about 10 minutes. Then come back with tongs and flatten out the pile to a single layer. Arrange the coals so that the hot ones are spread out evenly and any coals not hot at all are in contact with coals that are. You can put the lid on now if you want to, but make sure the vent is all the way open.

Wait another 20 minutes.

Most of the coals should be covered with white ash by now. Don't worry if there are some stragglers that are still not red hot or ashed over; just move them next to coals that are burning and forget about 'em.

It's a good idea to put cooking spray like Pam on the top grill before you add meat, but take the grill off the coals to spray it. Cooking spray is a plus, but it is not necessary if inconvenient.

The grill is now ready to cook!


* One exception is the little bags of charcoal where you just but the whole bag on the grill and light the corners. They do actually get the coals going... usually.

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