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How To Use A Charcoal Grill

Shutterstock / ronstik

Grilling is a wonderful way to sizzle your suppers in summertime—and year-round, too. Before you head to your backyard for some fresh-air cooking, refresh your grilling skills with tips for mastering how to barbecue with charcoal.

Yep, there’s a little more to charcoal grilling than turning the knobs on a gas model, but the depth of flavor you’ll get is well worth it. So relax, and learn answers to some common questions.

Not sure what to grill first? You can’t go wrong with our top 10 grilled chicken recipes.

Q: How much charcoal should I use?

A: Easy, just spread the briquettes (lumps) in a single layer just a bit beyond where your food will be cooked.

Q: How do you light a charcoal grill?

A: There are several methods. Pick the one you’re most comfortable with.

1. Pyramid Style

Light your charcoal grill pyramid-styleTaste of Home

Arrange briquettes in a pyramid in the kettle. Pour lighter fluid over briquettes. Recap the fluid and place away from grill. Light briquettes.

2. Electric Starter

Lighting a charcoal grill with an electric starter.Taste of Home

Arrange briquettes in a pyramid in the kettle. Insert electric starter in the middle of coals. Plug starter into an outlet. If using an extension cord, use a heavy-duty one. It will take 8 to 10 minutes for ash to form on coals. At that point, unplug the electric starter and remove from briquettes. The starter will be very hot, so place it out of the way on a heatproof surface. Continue heating briquettes until they are covered with a light gray ash.

3. Chimney Starter

Adding briquettes to a chimney starter to light a charcoal grill.Taste of Home

Crumple newspaper or waxed paper (yep, waxed paper—it’s good for all kinds of stuff) and place a chimney starter over the paper in the grill. Fill the chimney starter with briquettes. Light paper. When coals are ready, dump them out of the chimney starter and spread out. The Taste of Home Test Kitchen recommends this method.

Q: How can you tell how hot the coals are? 

A: Get a feel for things! Cautiously hold your hand 4 inches over the coals. Start counting the number of seconds you can hold your hand in place before the heat forces you to pull away.

If you can hold your hand above the fire for no more than 2 seconds, the heat level is “hot” (about 500°).

If you can only hold your hand above the coals for 3 seconds, the heat level is “medium-hot” (about 400°).

If you can hold your hand above the coals for no more than 4 seconds, the heat level is “medium” (about 350°).

If you can hold your hand above the coals for about 5 seconds, the heat level is “low” (about 300°).

Q: What’s direct heat?

A: Cooking directly over the flames is called “direct heat.” The exterior of foods will char quickly, so think small. Petite or thin pieces of meat or vegetables that cook quickly over high temperatures. Direct heat is also great for steaks, chicken breasts, veggies and fish fillets.

To prepare for direct heat, spread preheated coals in an even layer. Or, for better control, arrange the coals to create a hot zone, a medium zone and a cool zone. Accomplish this by raking coals into a double layer in one third of the grill, a single layer in another third, and by keeping them out of the final third entirely. Use the hot zone for searing, the medium for cooking, and the cool zone for resting food once it’s done cooking.

Preparing a charcoal grill for direct heat.Taste of Home

Q: What’s indirect heat?

A: Cooking slightly away from the flames, where temperatures are lower, is called “indirect heat.” Here, you should think big! Indirect heat imparts delicious flavor, sometimes over hours of cooking time. Think large pieces of meat, such as ribs, brisket or whole birds.

To prepare for indirect heat, bank half of the hot coals on one side of the grill and the other half on the other side. Place a foil drip pan in the center of the grill. Replace the cooking grate and place the meat over the drip pan. Cover and grill according to recipe directions.

Preparing a charcoal grill for indirect heatTaste of Home

Q: How do I clean a grill?

A: Use a stiff wire brush after cooking—the residual heat will help remove food residue.

Cleaning a grill grate after cooking while it’s still hotTaste of Home

Do you make these common burger-grilling mistakes? Here’s how to fix them.

Related Links:

50 Secret Recipes for Classic Diner Foods

33 Things Your Fast Food Worker Isn’t Telling You

10 Common Mistakes Everyone Makes When Brewing Coffee 


Article by Elizabeth Harris and Christine Rukavena from Taste of Home. View the original article here.

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A YouTube channel called How To Work At McDonald’s gave a behind the scenes look at how Big Macs are made behind the counter. Whether he was just showing off for the camera, or this is actually how things work back there, the guy made four of them at once and it’s fascinating to watch.

From the way he placed the buns, to his form when seasoning the meat, this guy actually looked like he enjoyed what he was doing, which you wouldn’t expect from a minimum wage fast food job.

Big ups to this guy and his technique, and shout out to all those who put in proper effort to make sure our food comes out bangin’.

*Previous version of this article said he made eight Big Macs, but we’re blind, and it was indeed only four. Still impressive.*

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So when we had the concept of creating the proper utilitarian video teaching the average home cook just how to properly break down and prep different kinds of seafood, Chef Cimarusti was our top choice to spearhead that tutorial. Helping him run the show is Chef Brandon Gray, culinary director at Cape Seafood and Provisions.

Watch as they drop gems on how to best break down and prepare various seafood like crab, fish, lobster, and shrimp. With a video like this, you’ll definitely be upping your seafood dish repertoire at home.

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Tym Bussanich, the fast food Da Vinci that made a cheeseburger-stuffed pizza, decided to share his secret to making the perfect cheese stretch.

Bussanich starts off with the fundamental components of a grilled cheese: bread, butter, and cheese. The mad genius then takes two slices of bread, cuts them diagonally, and butters them up.

The first bit of sliced cheese goes on top of the bread, followed by a layer of shredded mozzarella for stretch. Another layer of sliced cheese is placed on top of the mozzarella and the sandwich is cooked evenly on both sides.

Because he sliced the bread before cooking the sandwich, the cheese stretch is much more balanced than if he were to cut it after cooking. The result is a beautiful display of that we can only compare to a snowflake.

If you’re a fan of cheese pulls, there’s also a festival coming up that features plenty of explicitly melty items to get our hands on.

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Viewers even find out that the name “Butterfinger” comes from a public contest where consumers got to choose what the candy bar would be called.

From a vat of chocolate to individually wrapped bars, we get to see the entire lifespan of a Butterfingers candy. Check out the video while we go back and watch some of the old Simpsons Butterfingers commercials.

Ah, the memories.

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HellthyJunkFood, were among those who couldn’t wait for the new menu item to drop and decided to take things into their own hands by creating their own recipe.

A homemade batch of Cheetos Chicken Fries essentially uses white-meat chicken breasts that are cut into long even slices, which are then drenched in egg wash. Your chicken strips are next covered with a mixture of crushed Cheetos, flour, and the mix that comes in Mac & Cheese packets. The batch is then thrown into the deep fryer.

That Mac & Cheese sauce mixture was a pretty genius touch to the dish, as it seems to add that extra cheesy element to tie it all together. Check out the video for the complete recipe, in detail.