Every Pitmaster knows the secret to a great grilled dish is the charcoal. Cooking with charcoal produces a very different result from cooking with propane. One of the most significant differences in the taste, as meats cooked on charcoal absorb many extra flavors that you don't get with propane.
Most ordinary grillers never take the time to experiment with charcoal, which is a real shame since that is the one thing that can turn a good dish into a great one when grilling. To learn how to cook the best recipes with charcoal, consider these tips:
- Use hardwood over briquettes. Hardwood is easier to control, offers a higher heat, and gives your meat more flavor.
- Use woods chips for both aroma and flavor. Simply adding a handful of soaked hickory, cherry, or oak wood chips to your charcoal can make a big difference in how flavorful your meat will become.
- Distribute burning coals evenly across the bottom of your grill. Direct heat is essential to the cooking process, so avoid uneven coals.
- Cook over ashen coals only. Trying to grill meat over live coals that feature a flame will end in disaster. This will cook the outside of the meat too quickly, leaving the inside undone. You know you're ready when you can't see any flame and all of the coals are glowing red. If you start cooking too soon, your food will have a robust smoky taste which is usually undesirable.
- Before you put the meat on your portable charcoal grill, cut a bit of fat off and run it along the grill lines. This is the equivalent of adding some oil and will allow your meat to sear very quickly, locking in the flavor and juices.
- To get the best-tasting steak, quickly sear the first side, flip once, and then allow it to cook, and then flip only once more. A steak should be turned no more than twice to keep in the best flavor.
By starting with these basics, you are well on your way to cooking the best recipes with charcoal. Of course, a little experimenting with marinades, meats, wood chips, and cooking times will only enhance your results, making you a true Grillmaster. Wonderful recipes have been discovered by experimenting. You can fine-tune even a simple recipe just by experimenting with it.
Great recipes, like great inventions, happen only with a lot of experiments. It would help if you never were afraid to experiment in cooking. Trying new methods, using fresh ingredients, increasing or reducing cooking time are some approaches to experimentation in cooking food.