Charcoal - Is it ready yet?

With a picture worth a 1000 words what better way to cover this topic.

There are many different ways to light your Charcoal, many different types, and grades of Charcoal as well. We will cover theses things in an upcoming article, but for now I thought it prudent to start with some basics starting right at the beginning.

When I first started cooking on Charcoal and not having a clue what I was doing, I remember trying to cook up some chicken thighs, what I didn't know is that these little guys are like C4 over a flame and is one sure way to loose your eyebrows if you think you can grill these things! All that I can say is "wow"! Can chicken ever make a hell of a fire on coals that are not burned down yet , not to mention the absorption of lighter fluid flavour! So put these two together and you get a wonderful meal that is remembered by my family as "Airplane Wreckage".
So step one; light your Charcoal! in this example I have started this Charcoal by first spreading the Charcoal out on the bottom grill, spraying evenly over the coals with lighter fluid, I then stacked the charcoal into a small mound and lit it. POOF, FIRE!!!

Charcoal on Fire

Here we can see that the initial flame has settled down, looking closely you can see the red glow in the center and the edges are beginning to turn white.

In time you will develop a keen nose and will actually be able to tell when the lighter fluid has burned off..

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At about the 10 minute mark its a good idea to poke your fire so to speak and move some of your briquette's around to ensure an even fire. Rotate the ones you can get to easily and move some of the less burned coals from the outside and place them on top pushing the center of the fire outward. If you are using lump charcoal this can be done with a small fireplace shovel.

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Now were really getting hot , as you can see the red orange glow from the center of the fire, almost there!

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DONE! Your coals are ready!, the outside of the briquettes have developed a white ash exterior, this usually take about 20 minutes. In this case being January it took me about 30 minutes till they were ready to go.

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Spread out your coals and get cooking!

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