Meats like chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and veal are rich in proteins. And, there is nothing more fun and tasty than grilling those proteins in a fire on a warm summer day. But cooking with fire involves great flavors, smoke, and artistry. And if you use a charcoal model, get prepared with a few tricks up your sleeve. The best charcoal for grilling is necessary to enhance this culinary experience.
Why choosing the best is essential
As a novice, you may wonder why charcoal needs so much attention? Is it not a very easy and simple task to cook the meat with any charcoal? The charcoal has to burn and give heat. Beyond that, what could be the additional features that charcoal could add to a culinary experience? You may think so, but barbecue experts have a whole different opinion. They do not just stress the tools and cooking techniques, but also the type of charcoal you use. In a steak cooking contest, the charcoal choice is very significant. It can make the difference between sizzling, tasty meat, or an insipid one.
Unfortunately, the marketplace is full of products with unique names and confusing features. There is a lot of wrong information about smoking charcoal. So, please do not get lost in the myriad details, but focus on these key features:
Two main types of charcoal
This type is the best, as per the experts. The dense, dark lumps are made by burning hardwood in the kilns. The wood gets burnt for long periods without supplying enough oxygen. So, this variety has the potential to make the grill extremely hot, but in a clean-fashioned way.
You can use it with all types of grills, including the ceramic models. The lump charcoal facilitates authentic cooking and helps in searing the meat. You can also refuel without getting troubled by bad smell or excessive smoke in the vicinity.
Briquettes are the most commonly recognized form of charcoal. They are familiar to everyone due to their light-weight and affordable pricing. Thus, you can carry it with you for camping or picnic too. This variety of fuel can quickly start a fire for cooking the meat. Besides, they are from compressed sawdust and wood chips.
These briquettes also have coal dust and additional fillers. They are put together using a neutral agent to maintain the shape. However, this fuel is not the best if you worry about the food’s chemical aftertaste. But the charcoal is available in many flavors, so it is still a good choice. But it would be best if you got prepared to deal with maintenance issues like messy ash and more cleaning.
Role of additives in choosing the best charcoal for grilling
The best way to cook smoked meat is to go natural and efficient. But the charcoal may have additional fluids. These fillers are different types of wood flavors such as mesquite, apple, hickory, and cherry.
Briquettes have these supposedly authentic flavors, but they lack the classic taste of original charcoal. Besides, real chunks of wood in the griller have no equivalent in the market. However, if you use toxic chemicals to start the fire, then even premium charcoal cannot give you the best taste. Thus, choose charcoal with no additives, and you can manually add fluids to speed up the process. Be natural and rely on lighter fluids for making the fire. Or else, you will end up with chemically-flavored meats.
When you smoke the meat, be careful about temperature variations. The best charcoal for grilling will ensure a steady temperature. There will not be any ups and downs that affect the quality of cooked meat. Besides, consistent heat supply is necessary to grill different types of fleshy foods with class.
The lump charcoal burns much hotter than the briquettes. But it tends to break apart and loses heat quickly in the process. So, choose this variety if you require sweltering and fiery heat for the meats. The briquettes, on the other hand, offer consistent temperatures up to 600F or 315C for broiling.
The cost of choosing the best charcoal for grilling
The more you grill, the more charcoal is essential to cook the meats. But, the price is also a significant consideration. The cost of charcoal depends on the location or region in which you live. And if you have deep pockets, then you can opt for the premium variety in large quantities.
Generally speaking, the briquettes are much cheaper than lumps. They use recyclable materials like sawdust. So, they are ideal for those who are looking for inexpensive charcoal. But lump variety is also available at lower prices in regions that have hardwood forests.
Charcoal is a compact fuel that ensures very little smoke during cooking. It will also generate twice the heat for the same amount of wood. But you have to choose the best charcoal for grilling based on uniformity and cleanliness. Lumps are more hygienic, and the smoky flavor gets into the meat.
But, the briquettes burn for more extended periods assuring a steady temperature. Besides, they are inexpensive and available everywhere. Make sure you use a charcoal chimney to start the fire. Of course, there are Oakwood-based lumps that are very eco-friendly but also highly expensive. Also, if you pick briquettes, you can save more.
Select the best charcoal for grilling with care
The glowing red or orange hot coals are a sight to behold. The fire they spread inside the grill also looks very fantastic. But the aesthetics are not just enough for getting the meat taste, flavor, and cooking experience. If you are serious about smoking, then select a charcoal brand and variety with adequate care.
Negligence or carelessness will only result in poor-quality food. Besides, those who pay attention to the package will have all the information. Determine the right variety based on your cooking and cleanliness standards. Also, you should factor in the price, heat quality, and burning duration. All these criteria will influence the quality of your grilling experience.
Barbeque aces will also consider the type and quantity of meat. They suggest briquettes for thick pork chops and chicken wings. In contrast, the lumps provide searing heat for cooking sausages, skirt steaks, and burgers. But stay away from briquettes with “matchlight” labeling as they reduce the flavor.