Charcoal "flavors"

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ces1948
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2011/06/19 16:41:30 (permalink)

Charcoal "flavors"

Haven't cooked anything on charcoal for many years but have always preferred  the taste of a  char grilled steak or burger went looking around yesterday and see many different varieties of charcoal available  along with some new (to me) ways of starting the briquettes. I saw hickory and mesquite charcoal as well as lump charcoal and the old regular type. Also notice a lot of these small chimneys for starting the coals. I would mainly be cooking items likes burgers, steaks, chicken but might like to try ribs and and maybe fish like salmon. also in most cases it would cooking for two people but occasionally a couple more. I even considered picking up one of those little Weber "Smoky Joes" to get started.
I guess I'm looking for a charcoal cooking 101 from you good folks.
Thanks
Charlie
#1

15 Replies Related Threads

    felix4067
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/19 17:04:48 (permalink)
    To me, the flavoured charcoal tastes fake. If you like liquid smoke, for instance, then by all means get the hickory or mesquite. I much prefer to toss a pan of wood chips on the charcoal after I get it going, and use just the regular briquettes. I've been eyeing those chimneys, but haven't tried one yet. I still do the standard "loosely crumple some pieces of paper, add charcoal, douse the whole thing in lighter fluid and set a flame to it" method of lighting. Seems to work just fine.
     
    But then, I'm apparently old-fashioned about some things.
    #2
    agnesrob
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/19 17:26:53 (permalink)
    I use an electric starter. It's essentially a heating element. I paid $10 for a new one this year. Then I use chunks of various woods for the real flavor. The electric starters aren't new, my Mom started using one about 40 years ago. No lighter fluid taste.
    #3
    chefbuba
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/19 18:39:08 (permalink)
    I use one of these....Lights anything quickly!

    #4
    ces1948
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/19 19:41:02 (permalink)
    Totally unhelpful reply but I hope you had fun. Pretty typical of the snarky attitude so prevalent on this site lately.
     
    chefbuba

    I use one of these....Lights anything quickly!



    #5
    mar52
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/19 19:51:35 (permalink)
    Hickory gives you that "BBQ" flavor that most associate with barbecue.
     
    Sweet woods like apple and cherry are great with chicken or pork.
    Nothing wrong with mixing woods, either.
     
    You have to be careful when adding hard wood because if you use too much your food will be bitter.
     
    I like lump charcoal the best because it doesn't have the additives that the briquettes have.  It also burns the cleanest and has a smaller amount of ash left when you are through.
     
    The wood mixed hickory/mesquite briquettes are not bad.  Great in a pinch or to add a few to a regular bag of charcoal.
     
     
    #6
    chefbuba
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/19 20:37:06 (permalink)
    ces1948

    Totally unhelpful reply but I hope you had fun. Pretty typical of the snarky attitude so prevalent on this site lately.

    chefbuba

    I use one of these....Lights anything quickly!



    What was unhelpful and snarky about my reply?
    I stated the fact that I use a propane weed burner to ligh my bbq . Works great on briquets, wood or lump charcoal. No paper ashes floating everywhere, no petrolium smell or taste to my food, and it will get 20lbs of apple wood burning very quickly.
    #7
    ces1948
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/19 20:46:56 (permalink)
    Ok glad you had success. I owned one of those and frankly it didn't even burn the weeds that well. Glad it's good for something. :) sorry didn't mean to be snarky myself.
    #8
    bartl
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/20 01:36:56 (permalink)
    I use a chimney starter. I took a tip from Alton Brown and put a little vegetable oil on the newspaper on the bottom. Works like a charm, every time.
     
    I use lump charcoal, and soaked chips when I want smoke. I use the large Smokey Joe; it has a good cooking area, but you have to watch it like a hawk, because the ventilation system is wanting.
     
    Bart
    #9
    Mosca
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/20 08:57:45 (permalink)
    Hey, a lot of people actually use propane burners and torches to start their charcoal grills and supposedly they work fine; consider that they're being used to start something that's already charred, rather than living weeds!
     
    I use either firestarters (the sawdust and wax things) or an electric firestarter. The firestarter is faster, but I never have any idea what to do with it while it's cooling down.
    #10
    rebeltruce
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/20 12:13:35 (permalink)
    I used to have a Weber that had a very small propane nozzle that lit the charcoal. That was my favorite....now I use a Chimney starter with oiled newspaper.
     
    I agree with staying away from the charcoal with the wood chips built in...they are worthless.
     
    Go with a good quality briquette or natural wood charcoal with soaked chunks or chips of whatever wood you'd like.
    #11
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/20 12:27:33 (permalink)
    I use a chimney with a firestarter, although if I'm in an area where I don't want any little embers flying about when I dump the chimney I just build a briquette pyramid around the starter and light them that way.
     
    Before he switched to gas my dad would light charcoal with his acetylene torch...
     
    Brad
    #12
    Cosmos
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/20 23:07:36 (permalink)
    By all means pick up a smokey Joe and a chimney. I have had a couple of Joes (smokin' josephus as he is know around the house). I started grilling in college on one. I still have one working one for camping and one for parts (the lid got smashed in a nasty fall). Its great for steaks, burgers, chicken quarters, shrimp, souvlaki and cornish hens, you can do a little smoking with it too.  The chimney works great...no need to be near electricity, and doesn't leave the petroleum flavor.
     
    My main grill is a Weber kettle with a propane starter. I love the thing. I grilled sate' last night and tonight I just tried my first attempt at grilled pizza (major fail).
    Regarding flavored charcoal, I pass on it. I once got the mesquite because that's all there was. Its OK, but I'm not a fan of mesquite anyway. For flavor I prefer apple or hickory chips for smoking.
    #13
    chefbuba
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/21 00:32:46 (permalink)
    Cosmos....what did you do to your pizza? I may be able to give you some pointers, I have made 100's on the grill.
    #14
    CCJPO
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/21 03:10:59 (permalink)
    Here, out in the sticks we use a propane burner to start our fires for grilling or pit cooking all the time. Although it does have a 250 gallon tank!!!!!
    #15
    baileysoriginal
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    Re:Charcoal "flavors" 2011/06/21 23:09:18 (permalink)
    agnesrob

    I use an electric starter. It's essentially a heating element. I paid $10 for a new one this year. Then I use chunks of various woods for the real flavor. The electric starters aren't new, my Mom started using one about 40 years ago. No lighter fluid taste.


    agnesrob - you are so right - this is absolutely the best way to start charcoal.  For years we used starter fluid and then decided to give that up because of the fumes and aftertaste - we tried the gel starters and they took forever to get the charcoal ready.  We tried the chimney with the newspaper but didn't like the paper ashes floating around and had to do two lightings if we were cooking for a crowd.  For a while we put the chimney on the butane burner to get it started which worked okay.
    Then we got an electric starter and what a difference - after only a few minutes the charcoal is lit and you can unplug it and wait for it to get to whatever stage you want for grilling.
    The first one we bought lasted for 4 years - and we grill probably 5 out of 7 days a week all year long.  The second one was maybe a year and a half before it burned out.  We're on our third one now and I wouldn't use anything else.
    #16
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