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Our tips for cooking on a charcoal BBQ

Cooking on a charcoal BBQ can be a little more *complicated* than what you might be used to, especially if you are new to barbequing. We have 8 simple tips to help you master the art of successfully cooking on a charcoal BBQ.

  1. Use a chimney starter – these are an absolute must as they can light up to 100 charcoal briquets and have them red hot in just 20 minutes, using nothing more than a single sheet of newspaper and a match.
  2. Always use the right amount of charcoal, once you are comfortable using your chimney starter the next item to master is how much charcoal do you use? Your target temperatures are easily worked out in terms of how full your chimney is. For high-heat cooking – for steaks and thin cuts of meat use a full chimney. For medium heat perfect for chicken, vegetables and seafood you want a ½ to ¾ chimney. And finally, low heat – ¼ of a chimney is suitable for pork ribs, whole chicken, large roasts and smoking.
  3. Oil and preheat your cooking area. Oiling the grill ensures food doesn’t stick, and pre-heating is important – trying to cook a steak on a cold grill will cause you to spend too long cooking it, you also don’t get those lovely grill marks. For your own safety, oil the grill BEFORE setting it over the hot coals.
  4. Learn how to vent. You can’t adjust the temperature on a charcoal grill, but you can control how hot the coals will burn. You do this by controlling the flow of oxygen, by opening and closing the vents. The opening allows more oxygen in, which produces a hotter grill. Closing the vents cools the grill, but don’t close them completely or your fire will go out. Make sure your grill isn’t full of ash as this can obstruct the vents.
  5. Know the difference between direct and indirect heat. A certain amount of coals will produce a certain temperature and food will cook faster if it’s sitting directly above the coals rather than far away from them.
  6. Build a two-zone fire – load the charcoal onto one side of the grill and leave the other side empty, while it will still be hot on that side, it means you can move items from the hot direct heat side to the cooler indirect heat side. This cooler area prevents over cooking and allows you to cook meat and vegetables at the same time.
  7. Dealing with flareups. Flare ups are caused when juices dripping from the meat drops onto the coals, simply move the dripping food to the indirect zone – with no coals underneath the dripping juices won’t cause a flare up.
  8. Enhance flavours with wood. Whether you are smoking or simply barbequing, and you want to add some smoke flavour to your grill – wood is the key. For grilling soak your wood chips and then place them on top of your hot coals

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