Charcoal Grilling

grilling with charcoal

Every once in awhile I like to grill using charcoal. I picked up this small tabletop model for $3 and we grilled some burgers and cheeseburgers last weekend.

I didn’t use a top for 2 reasons: My grandson doesn’t like too much of a smoke taste and the little cheapie unit didn’t come with one.

But I just sat it on my woodburner and can easily put a top on anytime I desire.

You forget the delicious outside grilling taste you get from charcoal. It is different. I mean I remember when that’s all we grilled on back before gas grills. The gas grills make it more convenient that using charcoal but I still recommend you go out once in a while and toss some briquettes on the grill and grill away.

I use the charcoal that does not require fluid. I always hated the smell of it and you just know it can’t be good for you.

Does that picture make you hungry or what?

Grilling Vegetables

Traditionally, vegetables have been considered a side dish in most
meals, but at a cookout they can take center stage as the entree.
Almost any kind of vegetable is great for grilling. Complement your
meal by serving them over pasta, rice or polenta.

The intense dry heat of the grill caramelizes plant sugars, brings out the unique taste of vegetables and this makes them taste very sweet.
Veggies like corn, form a sweet outer shell. While onions, soften to a
buttery texture and bell peppers soak in the smoke and become almost
meaty.

Keep in mind that grilling vegetables takes much less time than meat.
Be sure to start with fresh produce because when vegetables age, they become dehydrated and end up tasting dry after they come off the grill. Don’t be afraid to experiment by using a lot of color when grilling. Mix peppers, such as, red, green, orange, and yellow.

You can grill just about any vegetable including; tomatoes, artichokes
and zucchini. All you have to do is sprinkle some olive oil and salt,
pepper some herbs and maybe some vinegar before you grill.

TIP: When grilling tomatoes use high heat and only turn them once then remove from the heat.

You can also make them into extraordinary sandwiches with a soy-
based cheese and some freshly baked rolls or bread. Cut the
vegetables lengthwise into thin slices in the case of zucchini and
eggplant, or into thick rings, in the case of onions, tomatoes and
peppers.

If you’d rather have your veggies in handy bite-size pieces for
serving with pasta and the like, try using a special pan for the grill with
small holes that keep the veggies from falling through the grill and being
lost. And probably the easiest way to grill vegetables on the grill is
shish-ka-bob style!

Tip: Soak wood skewers in water for an hour before use. They
are best used for foods that can be cooked quickly, like vegetables and
fruits.

CharBroiled Shrimp

3 lb Large fresh shrimp peeled and deveined with tails intact
1 c Olive oil
1/3 c Chopped fresh parsley
2 tb Fresh lemon juice
2 Cloves garlic – crushed
1 ts Salt

Combine olive oil with the remaining ingredients in a baking dish after putting a small amount to the side for later.
Be sure to stir well.
Add the shrimp and stir. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Remove shrimp from marinade and toss out the marinade.
Put the shrimp on water soaked skewers and grill over medium hot coals for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Baste occasionally with the marinade you had set aside.

Make sure you don’t overcook! I would try these first on your own before having guests over for a barbecue.

When Should You Marinate Meat

Marinades are flavorings that penetrate the meat in a liquid form. Generally containing acidic ingredients, for example, lemon juice or soy sauce, the acid acts as a tenderizer and slightly breaks down the structure of the meat.

As a result, marinades are used more often when grilling tougher cuts of meat that just cry out to be tenderized; whereas rubs, or even marinating for a short time only, are better for leaner cuts.

Having said that, it is very popular to marinate chicken in a salad dressing for the flavor it produces. That’s not something I personally do, but I know my brother in law does it regularly.

Meat Sticking to the Grill

I think one of the biggest problems I hear from barbecuers is their meat sticks to the grid. Unless you have a very old and worn grid, there are usually only a couple reasons you have this problem.

First off make sure not to put the meat on the rack before the grill is properly heated. I always allow the temperature to get up around 450 degrees and then open the lid and clean the grid. I close it to bring the temperature back up and then adjust the heat controls the way I like and put on the meat.

Now comes one of the biggest problems. Turning the meat too quickly. Many people like to turn their meats often. I guess it’s natural. I remember way back when doing the same thing and then bragging how many times I turned the steaks to get them delicious.

The fact is once you learn to barbecue you will usually get to the point where you turn the meat once. You may turn it a couple times to get cross grill marks.

But here is the key. DO NOT turn the meat until it releases from the grid! If you turn chicken too quickly you leave the skin behind. If you turn any meat too quickly you will be leaving some on the grid.

The meat will tell you when it’s ready. Gently attempt to lift it. If it sticks at all, leave it alone. Trust me on this. It works.

Barbecue Using Indirect Heat

barbecue ribs and chicken

Barbecue is really when you are grilling meats for a longer period of time. Generally you will be using indirect heat. Indirect barbecuing  is when you are cooking the meats beside the flames and not directly over them. It’s used for large or tough cuts of beef, such as whole chickens, turkeys, and briskets.

To cook indirectly on a charcoal grill, you rake the hot coals into 2 piles at opposite sides of your grill. Place a drip pan under the grate and below the meat so you can catch the fat drippings, which will keep the flames from igniting.

Using a gas grill, just turn off 1 of the burners and place the meat over the unlit burner.

Using indirect grilling, you have to always cover the grill so it retains the heat and acts more like an oven. Turn the meat when it is ready and don’t continually lift the hood to check on it. The idea is to keep a high temperature so the meat can slowly cook and when you are continuously lifting the lid to check it or turn the meat, you lose heat.

Actually you should not be continually turning meats even when grilling. We’ll discuss that later.

Barbecuing Chicken

barbecue chicken

Chicken and a barbecue grill seem made for each other. Nothing tastes better than a perfectly grilled piece of chicken.

One of the complaints I hear most often is that the chicken tends to stick to the grate. If you have a good grill and grate, you can easily prevent this.

Make certain the grill is HOT before you put the chicken on. I like to see mine get to at least 450 degrees, at which time I scrape the grate. Turn down the heat and put the chickens on.

Now the important part. Do not turn the chicken before it’s time. The chicken will let you know when to turn it just like other meats. If you start to turn it and it is sticking, it’s not ready. Do not flip it until it easily releases from the grate.

The time it requires to barbecue chicken will depend on the size of the poultry.   An entire chicken is going to take any where from one to one-half hrs to cook. In addition, if you would like the chicken to get done quicker you will need to be sure you keep the cover closed on the grill.

Do not under cook your chicken! The inside temperature of the chicken needs to be about 165 degrees F or till the juices from the poultry run clear. A meat thermometer will be beneficial to make certain you reach the correct temperature. I do not use one on steaks and such but poultry and pork must be cooked properly on the inside so buy one and use it.      Never consider a chicken done when the juice is pink. Never!!

If you did not marinate your chicken, you will probably be adding barbecue sauce. Do this when your chicken is just about finished. Adding it too soon will cause it to burn.

Marinating Your Meats

Marinating meat before grilling helps add more flavor to that meat. Actually though, scientists have shown that it only affects the outside of the meat and not the inside.

That’s OK. It does add a good flavor when you are not going to use a rub.

When I marinate my chicken, I generally do it the day before using  a mixture of honey, paprika, a small amount of pepper, garlic powder and mustard… (mustard tends to make any meats tender and juicier). I use other marinades as well but this is one of my favorites. My sister loves to marinate hers in a salad dressing.

Various ingredients achieve different tastes when used in a  marinade .  The most typical reasons why you would marinate anything would be to bring flavor or make your meat juicy.   There are numerous methods to marinate a dish, but a few typical ones are using an acid-based marinade, for instance  vinegar , or using a dry marinade, made using a range of spices or herbs.

One of the most common ways to marinate your meat is to place the meat inside a heavy zip-top bag with all the air pushed out and turn it frequently to be certain all surfaces benefit from the marinade.

Making use of an assortment of ingredients to marinate meat works  similar to sprinkling your meat with pepper and salt, however it more consistently distributes the flavors.

Dry Rub

A dry rub is different from a marinade as a dry rub is dry. There’s no acidity or vinegar or oil, although some people might folks may possibly rub a small amount of oil on the chicken before they put the dry rub on, and that can help the rub adhere a bit more.

But typically we simply want pour it on and pat it in. The dry rub has a tendency to work somewhat faster, due to the fact there’s no water or moisture, and gives you a delicious taste. You would not want to apply a dry rub if you have marinated the meat.

Cajun dry rub mixtures are similar to those in traditional deep-South cuisine, but use a number of different ingredients. Together with chili powder, pepper and salt, Cajun mixes generally include  cumin , coriander and dried sage or  thyme .

In combination with using these on meats, these dry rubs are a perfect way to add flavor to homemade French-fried potatoes as well as being an all-purpose spice mixture for soups or stews.

Barbecue Tips

Men have been cooking over fire since way back in the caveman days. It remains one of the favorite ways to cook and with all the barbecue tips now available, it’s become like an art.

Many barbecue purists will tell you it’s barbecuing when you slowly cook meats on your grill, such as barbecuing ribs, and it’s grilling when you fire up the grill and cook your meat at a higher temperature so that it cooks faster.

Hogwash! I am going to intermingle these terms on this site. Listen, you are probably most like me and you call your friends or family and invite them to your barbecue. You fire up the grill and grill up burgers and hot dogs. Who has time to worry if you barbecuing or grilling? You are just enjoying cooking over an open flame and that is the main purpose of this site — to help you have fun and to teach you some tricks that will make your next barbecue sizzle!

You will find the best videos and barbecue tips on the web, along with websites and articles of interest.