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People that know me a little know I like to do a little grilling now and then. And by “a little grilling”, I mean a lot. And by “every now and then”, I mean all the time. So I got the idea to put my grilling experiences here on the blawg. As I am a technical kinda guy, there is a lot of technical kinda stuff in these posts, but I’ll try to keep it easy breezy. And while I LOVE to grill, I am not a professional cook. There may be things I put in here that some real cooks out there will be all like, “WTH izzy talkin’ ’bout?!?” I welcome comments. But a lot of this stuff is about my preferences so don’t think I’ll be swayed too easily until you give me something new to try. I’m stubborn like that.

Enough about me, let’s talk about charcoal…

You take some wood and heat it up a LOT and what happens? It burns. The word “burns” implies oxidation. That means some stuff in it is combining with oxygen and giving off more heat than it is getting. So after you light it, it will supply enough heat to oxidize itself and continue “burning”. This is what we call a “fire”. So, what if we could heat up this wood without it oxidizing? This would prevent it from “burning” and allow it to cook out the stuff that would cause it to go into the cycle where it gives off a lot of heat really fast so that it can further burn and give off even more heat really fast. We can do this. We call it “Making charcoal”.

To make charcoal, you subject wood to heat that would otherwise cause it to burn in the presence of oxygen, but you don’t let any oxygen get to it. It then changes, chemically, to a state that is equivalent to a piece of wood that THINKS it has already burned, but still has a lotta goodies to oxidize – just not enough to go into an uncontrolled cycle of burning and making more burning. You have charcoal.

Charcoal is available in a couple of forms – briquettes and hunk. The briquettes are available plain and “Easy Start”.  “Easy Start” means it is already soaked in some nasty tasting lighter fluid – and by “nasty tasting lighter fluid”,  I mean “lighter fluid. It is ALL nasty.

“Hunk” or “Chunk” charcoal is a rawer form of charcoal that is made of hunks of wood subjected to the process to make charcoal without being changed in any dimensional way. I don’t think they make an “Easy Start” version of it, but if they do, it’s useless as tits on a boarhog so who cares.

Briquettes  are made by grinding up wood, “charcoaling” it and pressing it into little ‘pillows’ of even dimension, density, and composition.

I have friends who are gonna hate on me for this but I’m a man who lives in his own world and this is who I am –I like plain briquettes.

I tried hunk stuff and found it was not as predictable or consistent with the heat. Also, when clearing my fire grill, I run across a lot of “rocks”.  A big bag of hunk costs as much as a same size bag of bricks, but is lighter. Also, whatever in the hell those “rocks” are, they ain’t cooking my stuff so why da hellim I buying them?!?

People have always used charcoal to cook with because it releases the heat slower and lasts longer. It is more consistent. But you have to get it hot enough to start it’s slow cycle of “burning without burning” first. So folks usually douse it in some flammable liquid to get it going. Then they have to wait for the liquid to burn off because it tastes like ass if you cook over it. And all the while the liquid is burning off, the charcoal is giving off  tens of cubic feet of tasty smoke mixed with ass-tasting lighter fluid vapors. What a waste!

The Lazy D griller sees no point in wasting all this good, sweet smoke. It has been my experience that charcoal just getting hot gives off WAY more smoke than some that has all the lighter fluid burned off. Also, meat seems to ‘take’ smoke better raw. So if you get your raw meat on the grill as the charcoal is giving off maximum smoke, you are getting the best off both worlds.

Next, we’ll look at how to start the charcoal and how it should be placed for different types of cooking.



Typical blog format - chronologically, bottom to top. You are welcome to comment, but read "Da Rulez" first.

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