A. Charcoal produces a hot heat, so a little goes a long way. For food that will be on the grill a short time, such a hamburgers or hotdogs, use 20 to 30 briquettes for 4 to 6 servings. Use 40 to 50 briquettes (enough to form a solid bed of coals under the grilling area) for foods that need to grill longer, such as roasts, pork, whole fish, and poultry. For foods that take longer than one hour to grill, consult the grills instructions. If you are unable to locate the grills “owner manual” they are almost always available online. It’s important you don’t “overload” your grill.
Q. When are coals ready for grilling?
A. Coals will be ready to use when they have an even coating of light gray ash. I generally like to gauge this by the amount of time it takes me to mix a nice vodka and lemonade and drink it down. A good rule of thumb is: red coals are too hot and black coals will give off uneven heat. The amount of time needed for the coals to be ready can vary depending upon the type of starter you use and the weather conditions. Check the temperature by placing your hand, palm side down, near the cooking grill. If you have to pull your hand away in less than 2 seconds, the coals are too hot. When your hand can take the heat for 4 or 5 seconds, the coals are medium and ready for cooking.
Q. How can a smoked flavor be introduced to my grilled food without using a smoker or that nasty “liquid smoke” stuff?
A. Soak up to a handful of hickory, mesquite, green hardwood, or fruitwood chips in water for 30 minutes; drain and toss onto hot coals. These chips are readily available generally at the same stores you buy your briquettes at. The smoke adds flavor and aroma to the food while it cooks. You can also add yummy flavors and enticing aromas to your grilled foods by placing fresh herbs or garlic cloves on the hot coals. The herb technique works best for small, mild-flavored foods, such as fish or poultry pieces.
Grill on brothers and sisters!