For the Love of Charcoal

Q. I’m trading in my gas grill for charcoal because I love the taste. Any tips for making the most of flame grilling to set myself up for success? —River, Fox Crossing

A. I haven’t used my gas grill at home for at least two years for the same reason! Charcoal not only imparts a great smoky taste into the foods that we cook but it also provides an unmatched bounce-back flavor when the meat drippings hit the hot coals.
Here are two helpful tips: understand how and when to utilize direct and indirect grilling. Direct grilling is where your product is cooked directly above the hot coals. Direct grilling works best for quickly cooked products like hamburgers, chicken breast and pork chops. Indirect grilling is where your product is not directly above the coals, where the coals could be off to one side or buffered by some type of plate or deflector. Indirect grilling works best for larger items such as pork butts, beef briskets, and whole chickens and turkeys. The other tip is to know your charcoal. There is a big difference between the more natural lump charcoal, which is whole, pre-burned wood pieces and the less natural charcoal briquettes which are compacted pre-burned wood particles and often contain additives to help it ignite.

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