Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summertime Grilling: Gas or Charcoal?

This is a simple blog. The answer, is obviously, both.

There are so many unique advantages of both, that it's silly to restrict yourself from using one or the other. Charcoal, especially hardwood lump, can burn much hotter than briquettes or any home gas grill. It can impart flavor and smoke. Gas is convenient, but also offers a combination of radiant and convective heat that is perfect for longer-cooking items, like chicken pieces.

In these pictures, the ribs are being reheated for service. They were smoked in a smoker for 4-6 hours at 230F, using hickory chunks. I like to pull them a bit early so that I can reheat and finish on the charcoal grill, usually at a later time when I'm ready to serve.

Two favorite techniques that make grilling work better for me:
1) Use a chimney starter for your charcoal. After years of fooling with lighter fluids, electric starters, etcetc - I found that nothing is simpler or faster than a couple of crumpled up pieces of newspaper under the chimney full of charcoal.
2) I love the rotisserie attachment for my Weber 22" kettle. In conjunction with the intense heat from two piles (one on either side) of hardwood lump, I can get the crispiest, deepest maillard crust, without burning, and yet keep the middle rare, on leg of lambs, rib roasts (bone in or out), and pork loins.

And don't forget the vegetables!

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