Grilling is a year round way of cooking for us Southerners. All across the nation, outdoor cooking has taken off in the last 10 years, leaving cooks with many different options. Today our Food Editor Anna will take a closer look at charcoal grilling.
When it comes to charcoal grilling, you have two options: briquettes or natural lump charcoal.
Natural Lump Charcoal
Charcoal at its most raw state, is also known as natural lump charcoal, and can be purchased at any big box store. Often a bit pricier than its well-known counterpart, lump charcoal lights quickly and burns hotter and faster than briquette charcoal. There are no fillers or additives in lump charcoal, which can attract purists and barbecue aficionados alike. Another great quality of lump charcoal is that it does not create as much ash as briquettes, which makes clean up a little easier.
Briquette charcoal is created by pulverizing raw charcoal (100% carbon) and binding it with cornstarch and other additives to form the classic briquette shape. When using, the briquettes are burned until covered in white ash for two reasons: first, to reduce the amount of chemical smell that could ultimately transfer to the food if used too soon, and second, to ensure the charcoal is hot enough to cook with. Additives aside, briquettes have a lot of great qualities. They burn consistently and longer than lump charcoal, and are often a bit cheaper to buy.
So, which charcoal should you use? If you’re new to smoking, I would recommend using charcoal briquettes. You won’t need to use quite as many as lump charcoal and your heat will stay consistent through your cook time. If this isn’t your first rodeo give lump charcoal a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.