Cooking Advice

Setting Up the Grill | Charcoal Grilling Tips

Get expert charcoal grilling tips on how to achieve the correct temperature, plus a handful of barbecue recipes, from Boston pitmaster Andy Husbands.

By Yankee Magazine

May 18 2018

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Setting Up the Grill | Charcoal Grilling Tips

Photo Credit : keller + keller
With charcoal grilling (the starring technique in the 2017 Yankee feature “Grilling 101 with Andy Husbands”), controlling heat is the constant challenge. The following techniques, all of which are matched to a recipe, will allow you to achieve the correct temperature for your dish. Instructions for gas grills are included as well. Charcoal grilling tips are adapted from Grill to Perfection by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart (Page Street Publishing, 2014).
Setting Up the Grill | Charcoal Grilling Tips
Setting Up the Grill | Charcoal Grilling Tips
Photo Credit : keller + keller

SETTING UP THE GRILL | CHARCOAL GRILLING TIPS

HIGH-HEAT DIRECT GRILLING

On a charcoal grill: Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal (about one briquette or charcoal chunk deep) in the bottom of the grill, then fill your chimney with charcoal. Stuff 2 sheets of newspaper into the bottom of the chimney and light it. When the coals are fully engaged–you should see flames peeking over the top–pour them over the unlit charcoal. When you can hold your hand 5 inches over the grate for no more than 3 to 5 seconds, it’s ready. On a gas grill: Turn all burners to high. Recipe:Grilled Zucchini Salad with Almonds, Herbs, and Lemon

LOW-HEAT DIRECT GRILLING

On a charcoal grill: Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the grill, then fill the chimney 1/3 full with charcoal. Proceed as described above. When you can hold your hand 5 inches over the grate for no more than 8 to 10 seconds, the fire is ready. On a gas grill: Turn all burners to low. Recipe:Slow-Grilled Chicken Thighs with Alabama White Sauce
Grilled Zucchini Salad with Almonds, Herbs, and Lemon
Slow-Grilled Chicken Thighs with Alabama White Sauce paired with Grilled Zucchini Salad with Almonds, Herbs, and Lemon | Charcoal Grilling Tips
Photo Credit : Keller + Keller

TWO-ZONE (HIGHER HEAT/LOWER HEAT) DIRECT GRILLING:

On a charcoal grill: Pile a shoebox-size amount of unlit charcoal onto one side of the grill. Fill the chimney with charcoal and use newspaper to start the fire as described above. When lit, pout the charcoal over the unlit pile. One side of the grill should have an active fire going; the other side should have no charcoal at all. Cover the grill and leave the lid vents open all the way. On a gas grill: Turn the burners on one side to medium-high. Leave the other side off. Recipe:Grilled Ribs with Tangy Maple Basting Sauce

LOW-AND-SLOW BARBECUE

On a charcoal grill: Start the fire as described above, but bring down the temperature by partially closing the vents, about 3/4 of the way, during cooking. On a gas grill: Turn the burners on one side to low. Leave the other side off. Recipe:Slow-Roasted Beef Brisket with Garlic-Tomato-Fennel Sauce Do you have any charcoal grilling tips? Share them below! This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.