Whether youíre grilling with natural gas, propane, charcoal or real
hardwood, there are pros and cons to each. Gas & propane are quick
and easy. They are a great heat source if you just want to throw a
couple of burgers on the grill, but they donít add any flavour to
your food. Charcoal and real hardwood takes longer, but adds a great
smoky flavour. Theyíre convenient and easy, but those self-lighting
briquettes are loaded with petroleum, not something you really want
to flavour your food. The best fuel for charcoal grills is natural
hardwood charcoal. It lights fairly quickly and imparts a wonderful
flavour to all your food
No matter what you
decide for fuel, one thing that is common to them all is allowing
the grill to heat up.
barbecues: Give yourself plenty of
preheating time so the grill is really hot when you start cooking.
Turn up all the burners to high when lit to get everything nice and
hot, keeping the lid closed of course. When the food actually goes
on the grill, itís now time to lower the heat as needed
The best way to start your coals is with a
chimney starter. With crumpled newspaper in the bottom and the
charcoal on the top, no lighter fluid is needed. Just light the
newspaper on fire and time will take care of the coals (about 30
minutes). Be careful loading the barbecue with these hot coals, the
handle will be hot. Without a chimney, just mound
the coals in the middle of the barbecue, and with the vents wide open on
the bottom, squirt some barbecue starter on the charcoal and light to get
going. Don't put the lid on, lots of air is needed.
A two temperature cooking
area is ideal for most circumstances. This will allow you to move
the food to the cooler section if itís cooking too fast, and move
the slow cooking things over to the hotter section. When wanting
direct heat, bank the coals to one side of the grill. This will give
you a hot area, and the cooler area is around the coals and towards
the other side.
An important ingredient to a fire is air. The more air the fire gets
the hotter it is. Therefore if you want a hotter fire, open the
vents below wider to allow more air in; and to cool the fire, close
them more. You can completely extinguish the fire by cutting off the
air all together. Closing both the top and bottom vents will put out
the fire and you'll have charcoal left for the next bbq.
How to use your
barbecue as an oven:
roasts and whole chicken require an indirect heat. To set your
barbeque up for this, remove the grate and set the coals up to
either side of the grill. Place a disposable aluminum roasting pan
in the middle. This will catch any juices that fall and can be used
for gravy if desired. Return the grate to the barbecue and place the
roast in the middle, above the drip tray. Itís a good idea to
monitor the temperature for something like a roast. Place an oven
thermometer that has been lightly covered with dish soap, at the
centre, where the meat is.
For a gas grill, have the heat (set
to medium-low) coming from one side and the food on the other. If
you have 3 burners, turn the middle one off and have the heat coming
from both ends
For less sticking:
Starting with a clean
grill always helps. Fire up the coals and place the grills over top.
When the grills are hot, now is the time to clean them. Use a stiff
wire brush to remove any softened leftovers.
Next, fold a paper
towel into a little square, grasp it with some long handled tongs
and dip it into some cooking oil. Quickly wipe the grill to clean it and oil it at the same time.
Return the cover to the barbecue to let the grills heat up again. Repeat
the oiling just before the food goes on if you plan on cooking
something that sticks, like fish.
reduce flare-ups by letting excess marinades drip off before putting
the food on the grill. This is especially true with marinades that
use sugar, oil or butter. When flare-ups do happen, move the food to
a cooler spot. Having a squirt bottle with water in it is also a
good idea to help with flare-ups.
natural charcoal, you may still want more smoky flavour. Soak some
wood chips in water for 1 hour before using. These may be hickory,
mesquite, apple or any other desired flavour. When the food goes on,
throw some of these chips directly on the coals. Youíre neighbours
will be jealous of the smell!
For a gas grill, smoke flavour can be
added too. Simply use the same soaked wood chips and wrap in
heavy-duty aluminum foil to create a small pouch.
Poke holes in both sides of the pouch. With the grills on
high for warming, and just before it is hot enough to grill, toss
the pouch below the grate. When you start to see smoke, its now time
for the food to go on
The vents to the lid should always be placed on
the opposite side of the wood chips, directly over the food .
Always brush the
sauces on near the end of cooking. The sugars in
the sauce will burn if put on too