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Old 05-17-2009, 04:36 PM   #1
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Default Uber Noob Charcoal Grilling questions

So, I normally cook food outside on my Weber propane grill, but have recently had the desire to cook over charcoal.

Instead of going all in and spending big $ on a charcoal kettle, I borrowed my parent's never used Weber Smokey Joe.

So, I've been poking around on line for fuel for this thing. Everything from Match Lite/Kingsford to big bags of mesquite charcoal.

I have a chimney starter thing, but am clueless as where to go from here.

Can someone with more experience recommend a charcoal for me and give me some suggestions on where the best place to buy this sort of stuff is?

Thanks

Matt

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Old 05-17-2009, 04:45 PM   #2
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I love natural lump charcoal, but be sure to close the dampers a bit when you burn it, or it will burn really fast. You don't need any lighter fluid, just use the chimney starter per the instructions.

You can buy it at any good grocery store or a grill/bbq specialty store. Avoid Kingsford and Cowboy lump charcoal. Big Green Egg brand is expensive but usually very good. Here's a link that includes some pretty thorough reviews.

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Old 05-17-2009, 04:51 PM   #3
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+1 to the lump charcoal. It works really well. I light it with sawdust/wax mixture blocks made in old egg crates. Or a #10 can as a chimney starter.

I love cooking on a weber kettle grill. I converted a gas grill given to me into a charcoal smoker. I fire it with lumps of hardwood and hardwood charcoal.

I do not like the briquettes... they burn fast and leave ALOT of ash. I load my grill, cook, then close the dampers and the coals go out and are ready for next time. I use at least 50% less lump charcoal than briquettes.

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Old 05-17-2009, 04:54 PM   #4
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With a chimney you will want to use briquettes. Lump has many small bits that fall through a chimney.

You do not need or want the match light type.

Other than that it's up to you. The Little Smokey is a fine grill.

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Old 05-17-2009, 04:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arturo7 View Post
With a chimney you will want to use briquettes. Lump has many small bits that fall through a chimney.
I use a chimney with lump. And Yuri is about to say the same thing.
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Old 05-17-2009, 04:56 PM   #6
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I often use lump charcoal in a chimney. It works just fine.

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Old 05-17-2009, 05:12 PM   #7
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awesome info guys. Thanks a million for the help!

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Old 05-17-2009, 06:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri_Rage View Post
I love natural lump charcoal, but be sure to close the dampers a bit when you burn it, or it will burn really fast. You don't need any lighter fluid, just use the chimney starter per the instructions.

You can buy it at any good grocery store or a grill/bbq specialty store. Avoid Kingsford and Cowboy lump charcoal. Big Green Egg brand is expensive but usually very good. Here's a link that includes some pretty thorough reviews.
According to the site you linked, the BGE brand is the same as Royal Oak, which is cheaper and widely available. In my part of the country, it is also sold as "Best Choice" which is the regional generic brand.

I agree with disliking Cowboy. It is all scrap from manufacturing, which is environmentally friendly and all and it has been kilned so there is no wood flavor.
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Old 05-17-2009, 07:28 PM   #9
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I use Royal Oak Lump, with a weber chimney starter. Pick the Royal Oak up at Walmart really cheap.

For grilling, Lump is great because you can get the hot temp needed to really sear the juices in.

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Old 05-17-2009, 08:49 PM   #10
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I am not in the lump camp when it comes to grilling. It's all the rage now, but so was John Tesh.

Briquettes are easier and more consistent. The only time I use lump is for smoking, where the meat will be subjected to the smoke for several hours.

Of course there are binders in briquette that are not in lump. But for grilling, where cooking time is less than an hour, the incredibly small amount of residue from these non-toxic and mostly odorless, flavorless binders that adhere to the meat is insignificant. Maybe it can be detected by lab instruments but not your nose or taste buds.

It is soooooo much easier to control temps with briquettes. Each briquette emits the same amount of BTUs and burns for the same length of time. With a given volume of briquette you know how long it is going to burn and at what temperature.

Because of the wide size range of the lump, from pebbles to honkers, there is absolutely no way way to tell how a given volume will burn. A given volume with a high bulk density (smaller pieces) will burn hot and fast. that same volume with a lower bunk density (larger pieces)will burn cooler and longer. It is always a crapshoot.

If you want a very hot fire for searing, start with a bed of briquettes and dump a ****load of smaller lump particles on top.

Lump is great for smoking but not for grilling. That's my two cents.

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Last edited by arturo7; 05-17-2009 at 09:00 PM. Reason: grammars
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