There are a few types of grilling. You can grill with gas, with charcoal or over an open fire, at least these are the most common ways. Grilling over a campfire definitely has it’s fun side (when you are camping) and although I love the convenience of my gas grill, when I have the time, there is nothing like the flavor a hot charcoal grill. That is, a chemical-free charcoal grill… so not a fan of lighter fluid chemicals seeping into my food.
In today’s tutorial, I will take you through my favorite method for lighting my charcoal grill. There is a simple tool out there that I purchase about every other year for about $15 at my local hardware store, it’s called a Chimney Charcoal Starter. There are a few different varieties, but the concept is the same with all of them. Fill a canister with your brickets, pop in some newspaper underneath, light and wait… that’s it! It’s that simple.
Let me show you:
This is a Chimney Charcoal Starter.
Start by stuffing some crumpled news paper in the bottom… Now, you don’t want to over stuff, you need air to circulate here.
This is what you will see when you turn it right side up.
Now fill it up with some charcoal brickets, whichever kind you like… but, I try and stay away from the light a bag kind, it’s more expensive and not needed. Just plain run of the mill charcoal will do fine.
It’s best to over fill a bit because as they begin to light, they will shrink down.
You’ll want to make sure your chimney is on the bottom rack of your grill. Then, take one of these handy stick lighters and light the newspaper.
Pretty immediately, this is what you will see.
Then the smoke clears up a bit once all the paper is burned off and this is what you see.
As you can see they are starting to shrink down… These brickets are just about ready to turn out. I used to let them all turn white, but I found that I was losing too much of the charcoal to ash before I could start using it.
Be sure to use two pot holders at this point as this can be hot. With a pot holder you can use that stabilizing arm you see here. (That’s the thick metal bar thing.) One more tip for this part is to not stand down wind… this is very important as there will be cinders, lots and lots of cinders. I learned this the hard way when I got a cinder stuck in my shoe! Not fun.
And there you have it. You will want to be sure your brickets are more toward one side of the grill to create some temperature fluxuation… What you want to create is a “hot” side of the grill and a “cool” side. This will aid in cooking. Since I did not wait until everything was white, I give this another 5-10 minutes before I cook on it (otherwise your food will get ashy). But, at this point I do add the top grill grate on to start heating it up.
This whole process takes some time, about 45 minutes or so, but definitely the best way to light a charcoal grill I have found thus far. Then you are ready to grill up some great recipes like my Portuguese Style Grilled Chicken or my Low-carb Grilled Veggies! Give this simple way of lighting a grill without lighter fluid a try. Let me know how you do!