Board index Barbecue Board General Discussion NEED HELP WITH PREHEATING CHARCOAL!!!!


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Post Wed Jul 30, 2003 7:37 pm


I'm a HUGE fan of Steven's books. A lot of the recipes (especially the indirect grilling ones) want medium or sometimes medium-low heat. It seems like I'm letting too much of the coal burn away before putting it in the grill (I'm using a chimney starter). So, by the time the cooking has barely started, the heat is slipping away. Also, b/c I'm not sure how long to let coals burn to reach medium or medium-low, the food is sometimes going without proper heat while the second batch of coals is getting (over)heated. Unfortunately, I'm not having much success using the "hold your hand over the coals" trick either. The result is, I'm getting really really frustrated, and am gun-shy about even trying indirect cooking.

Can somebody PLEASE give me some tips on accurate pre-heating of charcoal in a chimney starter? Should I just leave them in the starter just long enough to catch, and then dump them in the grill? I'm almost defeated enough to go back to a gas grill. Thanks a lot.

Post Thu Jul 31, 2003 9:00 am

I control high, medium, low direct heat with the amount of charcoal and how it is spread out in the grill, not how long the coals have been burning.

Two things:

1. Leave the charcoal in the chimney just until they ash over.
2. What type of charcoal are you using? Only use quality charcoal. I always use Kingsford and never have a problem.

Good luck!


Post Thu Jul 31, 2003 10:12 am


I used to have that problem of controlling charcoal grill heat.
I have both charcoal and gas grills but always use charcoal grill.
Here are my suggestions:

1. What grill do you use? I have a Weber Charcoal Round 22".
Buy a Weber thermometer for $9.95.
If you have a vent (usually aluminum, drill a tiny hole just to allow the thermometer to stick in) as this allows you to monitor temp.

This is how I control heat with charcoal grill:

* Too hot (above 450F): slightly wedge open the lid with a small piece of rock (or something similar) so the lid is about 1-2 inches ajar.
But not more than 2 inches as you will have a draft and cool the meat.

* Too cool (below 300F): close the lid so it is only 1/2 inch open etc.

You will experiment and learn how to control temp through trial and error.

2. Use Charcoal Lumps, NOT briquet as briquet tends to ash over and "shield" the coal heat.
Charcoal Lumps are available at Menards Hardwar (Chicago area) and Hardware Stores for the same $ as briquet.
Briquet is a by-products of construction wastes etc and may contain impurirties etc. Charcoal Lumps are natural wood that is turned into coal: start quicker, burn hotter and longer.

3. Remember Indirect grill temp varies between 350-450 and it is OK.

4. Budget time to make fresh coals. As soon as the temp starts to drift below 320F, I make fresh coals in a chimney starter, which takes 10 minutes to ash over, then replenish it.

These tips work EVERY time for me.
Any problems you can email me directly.


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