Grill on Charcoal, Panties

This may be a wildly unpopular opinion, but cooking on a gas grill is a hoax. There is something both primitive and humiliating about cooking over an open fire that you have lit yourself , but you have to let go of a little of your ego and accept that fire is the one that sets the rules here. (Let’s be honest – relinquishing control can be the most difficult thing in almost any scenario.)

Unlike gas ovens and stoves, which we can bend to our will, we have much less control over open fires. Perhaps the wind is interfering with your airflow, or there is more moisture in your wood than you would like. Be that as it may, the best thing you can do is observe and react. But the reward is worth it.

So now I implore you to throw your food into the fire and watch it burn.

Campfire feasting has its origins all over the world, so I’m certainly not the first home chef to be obsessed with open fires to throw whole ingredients onto hot coals. Dwight D. Eisenhower did it with his steak, aptly named Eisenhower Steak . Lennox Hasti, chef and owner of Firedoorin Sydney, Australia, calls for this in many of his open fire recipes. More and more cookbooks are appearing calling for the “caveman” grill. Assadine in Argentina and Uruguay, grillata in Italy, churrasco in Brazil, barbacoa in Mexico, and low and slow barbecues in the United States — you can find grill masters on almost every continent using this technique to create completely unique flavors.

Once you get past the initial indecision, you become obsessed as this frighteningly quick grilling style quickly changes and reveals the flavors of every ingredient you throw at the pit. And no, you won’t get the same result from a stove or brazier flame. Hardwoods contain sugar, which comes from higher levels of hemicellulose , and the smoke rising from these woods will give a sweet smoke to almost anything you put on super-hot coals. You can smell the sugar escaping from the corn kernels, watch the steak crust form in seconds, and watch the hot coals paint the perfect charcoal on your vegetables. Break up those crusts and you’ll find the smoky, delicate version of each ingredient. All you need is fire, good ingredients, and a minimum of tools.

How to Prepare for Charcoal Greatness

You don’t need much for this style of grilling, but a few things you will need are extremely important:

  • Charcoal grill or campfire
  • Lump charcoal or hardwood
  • Grill potholders (I’m not talking about potholders. It’s hot. Approximately 400 ℉ to 1000 ℉).
  • Long Handled Pliers
  • Optional: chimney starter

What you don’t need are briquettes. They can be used for cooking on the wire rack, but cooking directly on them will give your food a distinct synthetic chemical flavor.

Creating a different kind of fire

One of the most common grilling mistakes is pressing burgers, sausage poker, which causes flashes, all their pressing and poking. Do not cook food over a high flame. You want dangerously hot embers converted into pure carbon and sugar chains. They are beauties that provide the clean and lasting warmth that we want.

If you are using lump charcoal, fill and light two chimneys with charcoal and let them heat until they are white-hot. If using hardwood, let the fire reach hot coals. Smash them with a fire poker if necessary. Spread the embers evenly over the bottom grate.

If your coals contain soot or ash, now is the time to fluff them up and blow away any dust that can stick to your food, but you don’t have to be meticulous. The warmth of the coals forms a protective crust of delicious charcoal on your food, and the remaining ash can be brushed away.

After you have prepared the fire, you are ready to cook. Here are just seven of my favorite ingredients to get you started.

Charred beets

If you’re just getting started on your charcoal roasting journey, beets are a great starting point. The protective film should be blackened and burnt so they don’t cook too quickly.

Prepare the beets by peeling them and chopping off the stem and leaves. Place them in the embers, turning frequently until they are charred evenly. When they’re done will depend on the size of your beets and how hot your coals are, but a medium beet will take about 20-30 minutes in hot coals. (These are great to add in the beginning if you are grilling more than one dish.) Once you can easily pierce them with a fork, pull them out and let them rest for at least ten minutes before slicing them for a smoky-sweet flesh. Some prefer to peel off the skins, but I think the sweetened charred look is the best part.

Corn on the cob (husked)

Speaking of vegetables that are difficult to spoil: Cooking corn in husks protects each kernel from charring too quickly and creates a barrier to give them a natural steam bath. The result is a particularly sweet smoky corn on the cob.

To prevent the husk from burning too quickly and provide additional moisture for steaming, soak it well beforehand and cut off the excess silk. Spread them evenly over the coals, rotating often until all sides are evenly charred. If you want the kernels to form a nice charred one, you can even leave them on long enough for the husks to start to fade. Rest for ten minutes (corn will continue to steam even outside the fire) and peel off the husks for perfect charcoal-cooked corn.

Roasted peppers

The intense heat of these coals will deeply enhance the sweetness inherent in your pepper. Place them on the coals and turn them over frequently. They’ll cook quickly, so keep an eye on them. When they turn black evenly and blisters start to appear on the skin, pull them up and let them rest. Remove the skins if you are going to eat meat in salads, sauces, and stews, or keep some of the skins if you are going to mix them with grilled salsa.

Bubbled leeks

Leeks are often the misunderstood stepson of the onion family. I was one of those who refused to cook with them – until I fried them. Now I realize that I have never eaten properly cooked leeks before.

Leeks are notorious for their mud, but the goal is to keep them intact so that the outer layers can be damaged by the charcoal and the inner layers can be steam. To peel them off without cutting, simply trim off the excess root, rinse off the outer layer of dirt and sand, and then cut a longitudinal cut through the top third of the leek. Soak the leeks in water for 20-30 minutes so that any dirt that might be inside falls to the bottom.

Leeks are cooked in the same way as corn in husks, so feel free to add them at the same time. As with corn, soak the leeks beforehand to keep them dry. Spread them over hot coals, turning them frequently, until they are completely blackened and warped – a clear sign that a tender heart is exactly what we want. Remove them from the wire rack and let them stand, wrapped in foil or newspaper, for 10-20 minutes. Once they’re completely steamed, trim off the roots, scrape the charred outer surfaces and slice them lengthwise to get to the oily inside of the flesh.

Charcoal baked potatoes

Another easy starting point for charcoal frying is whole potatoes. Wrap them in foil with a little salt, pepper and butter or olive oil, or simply toss them naked and rotate every five minutes or so until they are easily pierced with a fork or skewer. Of all the food I’ve thrown into the fire, potatoes take the longest. If you are working with hot coals, this will take about 35-45 minutes. For a slower roast, wait for the embers to decompose even more into ash, and let them rotate frequently for an hour to an hour and a half. Let them cool before chopping up the fluffy entrails.

Fried clams

In fact, shellfish are easiest to cook over charcoal because they literally open their mouths to tell you when they are ready. Rake the coals evenly and place the clams among the coals. Do not be alarmed if they open slightly and foam your mouth a little, but be careful not to let too much of the brine spill out. They are not ready until they fully open up. If some clams refuse to open, you are working with a dead clam. Don’t eat this clam.

Remove and serve immediately with your favorite sauce, or eat straight from the shell for a smoky pickle flavor.

Eisenhower steak

New York Strip Steak is a perfect candidate for charcoal-frying because it doesn’t have as much fat as the thicker cuts, so it’s fairly smooth, but feel free to try it with a porterhouse or ribeye when you feel comfortable. … A simple rub or even a marinade can give this steak a beautiful, protective crust with charred edges. Just as steak rises from a cast iron skillet or grill rack after charring, the same is true for white hot coals. Any stuck on coals can be easily removed with a brush. You can see flames here and there as the fat is rendered, but with no air space between the meat and the coals, there is no room for fire or fire.

As for timing, all I can say is that this steak will cook faster than you think. I opted for a medium-rare steak and ended up with a medium-rare steak with even three minutes on each side, but it all depends on the thickness of the slices and the temperature of your coals. A quick way to measure temperature without a thermometer is a manual test . Place your hand on the coals 12 inches. If you can keep your hand there for 2-4 seconds, you are probably working at 450-550 ℉, but keep in mind that your grill can heat up to 1500 ℉ with this cooking style. With the manual test, I lasted about a second, and my thermometer showed 800 ℉. With this heat, two and a half minutes on each side should bring you to medium browning, but the best way to determine this is to use an instant reading thermometer and aim for an internal temperature of 125-130. As always, let it sit for ten minutes before cutting into a crust to reveal a beautiful, evenly cooked interior.


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