Important steps you should consider.
- Ingredients: It goes without saying that finding the best quality ingredients are the first step in any great meal, but when grilling and smoking on charcoal, special attention must be given to selecting the right ingredients.For ribs, tri-tip, and chicken you should add your favorite barbecue sauce or basting sauce toward the end of the grilling or smoking process. For brisket, pork- loin, pork butt and turkey you should use your favorite barbecue sauce as a condiment after grilling or smoking.For grilling steaks or chops, thicker is always better – at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches is best for grilling results. Smoking is another story. Thickness isn’t relevant. Smokings requires low and slow.
- Tools: The most important factor is that the grill is clean and in good repair. You should always start by emptying any left over ashes from the bottom of your charcoal grill and cleaning the grill itself with a high quality wire bush, also make sure to clean both sides of the grill. Once the grill is hot clean it again.Next make sure that your utensils are clean and at hand. Usually you should have a long handled spatula; tongs and fork ready to go. Also keep a second, especially long handled, pair of tongs on hand reserved for moving hot charcoal into proper position.Next on the list are two types of thermometers a digital meat thermometer and a standard oven temperate thermometer. You need both to be sure that you can control cooking time and quality.
- Heat: Always plan to manage the heat in your grill by cooking area. If your preparing a very thick cut of meat or smoking a large bird, use indirect heat with charcoal lined up on the vent side of the grill and a drip pan placed directly under the product. If your grilling chicken, burgers, steaks or chops, pile the coal to one side of the grill and spread them just a bit, always making sure there is at least one forth of the cooking area with no coals under it whatsoever. This is important if you are to manage the cooking time and temperature for the best results. Use the oven thermometer to be sure the temperature of the gill itself stays somewhere between 350 and 400 degrees.Start grilling steaks, by placing them directly over the hottest coals, just long enough to sear them on each side to the point where they do not stick to the grill.Once you have accomplished this move them to a medium heat portion of the grill, cover but continue monitoring the temperature with your thermometer. If the meat begins to char on the outside but is still at room temperature on the inside, move it to a cooler part of the grill and cover. Also make sure to turn the meat often enough to allow individual surfaces to cool and avoid burning.
Preparing a large bird such as a turkey or roasting hen keep a second source of coals hot so that you can add them to the grill. This is necessary due to the fact that the long grilling times (up to four hours for a turkey) requires the addition of coals during roasting in order to maintain temperature. This is where the second pair of long handled tongs comes in handy indeed.
- Flavor: Try not to use charcoal lighter fluid to start coals. Lighter fluid will soak in and could spoil the flavor of the meal during the first critical minutes of grilling. A charcoal chimney with a wood or paper starter works well, just be sure whatever you use is certified safe for grilling.Andy’s “Grill On The GoTM” uses various types of charcoal and wood chips to impart the flavor. First of all always use 100% pure mesquite, hickory or well known flavored charcoal to begin with. It is a bit more difficult to manage than briquettes, but the results are worth it. Once you have a good start on your coals you may add other wood chips to deliver more flavors. Some favorites are hickory, pecan, alder, cheery, apple, and in that order. Don’t always use extra chips, but when you do make sure to add them before the meat is place on the grill and keep in mind that any additional flavor they add will be absorbed in the first 3 to 5 minutes of grilling. Soaked chips can be added to a foil pack for slow release, but just dropping them on the coals works fine.
- Timing: Once your have your grill up to the proper temperature plan on a grilling time of at least 30-45 minutes for a well cut T-bone, New York, Rib eye or Pork chop. As mentioned earlier, large birds can take four or more hours. For indirect smoking it is very important to maintain the temperature of the grill as described above.Chicken is also best done slowly. If speed is the name of game – think seafood, hotdogs or hamburgers.