Cilantro

Cilantro

Saturday, July 27, 2013

BBQ: CHARCOAL OR GAS?



Dedicated barbeque cooks mostly believe in hot charcoal, not gas-heated grills. They claim the flavor of the grilled food is better. Unless you have both and taste test grilled foods prepared on both, it’s impossible to know for certain.

I grill my foods on charcoal and have done it so
for many decades. Yet if you like grilling and your cooking time is limited, there is nothing like turning on the propane heat which heats up in minutes. My charcoal, backed by many years of experience, heats up to very hot in about twenty minutes. I never use charcoal lighting fluid or instant charcoal that had been soaked in some chemical for quick fire. Nor the traditional chimney starter. And I don’t use the true charcoal made from wood that I found unpredictable. Plain, inexpensive briquettes work fine for me.

Since I live in a forested area, I use two pine cones or dry twigs to start the fire, both readily available. After removing the grill rack that holds the charcoal (I use two double-hooked wire made from two coat hangers), I light the cone or twig fire and when burning fiercely, I reposition the grill rack using my wire hooks, piling the briquettes over the fire. Having alively fire under them, they catch quickly and in no time they glow red.

Grilling outdoors is fun and eating the grilled food comes as a second enjoyment. Plus cleanup work is minimal (I never bother cleaning my grill unless charred food accumulation gets too thick—with the intense heat it remains perfectly safe).

Whether I grill meat, poultry or fish, I often add a few other foods to grill: thick rounds of eggplants, thick slabs of summer squash, thick slices of partially cooked unpeeled potatoes to name a few, all generously oiled to promote browning and prevent sticking. On a hot fire sausage, one-serving pieces of marinated meat or boneless poultry takes no more than three or four minutes per side. Fish less, two to two-and-half minutes. Vegetables take about the same, three to five minutes each side.

I haven’t found that using two-stage fire (one side hotter than the other) has any benefit—it’s just another unnecessary step.

In the winter I continue grilling, though less frequently, in my wood stove, setting a small home-made wire stand inside and above the glowing hardwood ashes.

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