Three things for better grilling

You seriously suck at grilling. Let me help right your wrongs. It takes three free-or-cheap things. It’s easy.

A charcoal grill
I know you just spent $1,000 on your shiny propane grill with fold out range and adjustable racks. But that was really your dumb fault. I use a rusty Weber hand-me-down whose legs fall off every time I move it. Mine is better than yours.

Hardwood charcoal
The reason you bought that propane grill was because you hated the stench of Kingsford smoke every time the wind changed direction. Real wood smoke actually smells good. And that’s before you add maple wood chips.

An old aluminum can
OK, you also need lighter fluid, matches and some newspaper (a disappearing commodity), and starting a charcoal fire isn’t as easy as the click-click-click electric starter on your propane grill. But it is this easy:

  1. Get a commercial-size can. Every restaurant has tons of these from tomatoes, olives or whatever. Take the ends off the can. Now you have a chimney. Set it in the bottom of your grill.
  2. Instead of spraying lighter fluid all over the charcoal (which, unsurprisingly, makes whatever it’s used to cook taste EXACTLY LIKE LIGHTER FLUID), squirt lighter fluid all over an unfolded sheet of newspaper. Crumple it up and put it inside your can-chimney.
  3. Loosely pile the hardwood charcoal on top of the newspaper. Light a match and set the newspaper on fire from the bottom.
  4. When the flames are shooting out the top and there’s a whitish ash covering most of the charcoal, pull the chimney off the top, releasing the charcoal. Redistribute the charcoal, put the grate on top and wait 15 minutes or so before grilling.

See? Easy. Happy Memorial Day.

5 thoughts on “Three things for better grilling”

  1. You can replace the old aluminum can with a charcoal chimney starter.

    For less than $20, you’ll get years of service out of it. It’s basically doing the same thing as your can but it works great with any lighter fluid whatsoever. Another trick is to spray a little cooking oil on the paper. this helps it burn slower and essentially turns it into a wick

  2. The cooking oil is a good suggestion and does the same thing as lighter fluid. But I find that lighter fluid comes in a container from which it’s easier to dispense than most cooking oils.

    I’ll stick with my (rusty) aluminum can because it’s free, and I can just replace it when wears out. I’ll cheap like that.

  3. For those of you (and by that, I mean ME) who want zero lighter fluid & an almost "push-button" start for their charcoal grill, there's a neat-o metal coil thing-y that you can bury in the coals, plug in, and come back when it's all toasty…..

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