When summer arrives, it’s time to step outside of the house and fire up the grill, with the busiest grilling day in America being July 4, according to KTLA. While it’s certainly simple to just turn a knob and have a fire going in your gas grill in a few short seconds, sometimes there’s nothing like the flavor of food on a charcoal grill. It may be old-fashioned and definitely more time consuming, as charcoal can take up to a half-hour to truly be ready for cooking, but your taste buds may thank you in the end.
That smoky flavor you get from a charcoal grill comes from its heat, according to Taste of Home. Charcoal grills get much hotter than their gas counterparts, and that heat helps ensure that sear that locks in flavor with both meat and poultry. Taste of Home reports you need a temperature of 600 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve that sear, and charcoal grills can easily reach 700 degrees. If you choose to use charcoal for your summer barbecues, there are some mistakes you need to avoid.
These simple steps make grilling with charcoal a magical and taste-filled experience
Before you place the food on the grill, you need to first preheat it and then clean it. Yes, you want to clean a hot grill and not an air temperature one, according to The Kitchn. Do this whether you are using a grill right in your own backyard or a public one at the beach or a park. Be especially careful with a public charcoal grill because you don’t know what food has been on it.
You also want to make sure to check those little vents at the top of the grill lid. Keep the vents open while pre-heating the grill, but once your food is cooking, you might want to adjust the vents a bit. You want your food to cook at a slow and steady pace for optimum flavor, but not too slow. So, if your food is cooking too quickly, close the vents. If those burgers are taking a bit longer than you’d like, open them for more airflow, which also produces more heat. You also want to make sure the vents are in the right positions so that the coals don’t burn out too quick (via The Kitchn).
More important things to remember when using a charcoal grill
You also don’t want to over obsess when grilling your food over coals. You can certainly be diligent and turn the steaks, burgers, or chicken every once in a while, but for the most part, keep that barbecue lid closed, according to The Kitchn. This is especially important when you’re cooking larger items like pork loin or a rack of ribs — the more consistent heat the better.
Using the right amount of charcoal for what you’re cooking also makes a difference in the final result, reports Chef Works. If you have a large gathering with lots of food to cook, don’t go light on the charcoal, or you might be left with uncooked food. Make sure to also place the charcoal evenly throughout the grill and not in one heaping pile.
Finally, if you are not using an instant light brand of charcoal, don’t go overboard on the lighter fluid. It might be tempting to add more, thinking it will make those coals light faster, but all it does it leave your food with a nasty aftertaste. After all that work creating the perfect summer grilled meal, the taste of lighter fluid on a good filet mignon can ruin the whole thing (via Chef Works).
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