We’ve officially entered grilling season, a time of year when friends and families gather outside to cook and enjoy one another’s company. Grilling is one of the most beloved American cooking techniques because it imparts a smoky flavor to any food you place over the fire. Of course, you won’t get very far in making an amazing meal if you can’t get your charcoal grill blazing. Before you even so much as marinate your meat, study this guide to learn how to start your grill:
Tools you’ll need
The first step to lighting the perfect cooking fire is to gather all the necessary tools. Bring this list with you when you head to the store if you don’t have the items already:
- Charcoal: You can purchase charcoal in bulk and keep it around for the next cookout. Charcoal is a carbon-based substance most commonly made by heating wood in an environment with very little oxygen. Doing so removes water and excess gas from the product.
- Chimney starter: These metal cylinders heat the coals quickly by concentrating a large amount of charcoal and fire in a small space.
- Brass-wire brush: This tool allows you to scrape excess food or soot off the grate in your grill.
- Oil: You’ll use cooking oil to wipe down the grate.
Starting the fire
Use your chimney starter to get your fire going. The starter has two levels separated by a grate: The top portion is where you’ll place the charcoal, and you’ll stuff newspaper on the bottom. Start by grabbing newspaper and separating the sheets into stacks of two – you’ll need four sheets in all. Take two sheets and lay them together then roll them diagonally. Once you have your tube, bring the ends together to form a doughnut. Repeat this step with the next two sheets. Place both doughnuts in the bottom of your starter. The hole in the center lets oxygen flow into the chimney, which is necessary for combustion to take place.
Next, flip the starter over and place charcoal in the top portion. Light the newspaper in multiple spots and wait. Generally, the coals take about 10 minutes to light. They should appear ashen and the starter should emit an orange glow from the flames. Dump the coals into your grill once they’re ready.
Cleaning the grate
While the chimney starter is working its magic, you can clean the grate upon which you’ll cook your food. Scrape it using your brass-wire brush to get rid of excess debris. Then pour some vegetable or canola oil on a paper towel. Use the wet towel to wipe the grate.
Once your coals are in the grill and the grate is clean, you’re ready to cook.