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Thread: Trying to get back into charcoal grilling ...

  1. #1
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    Trying to get back into charcoal grilling ...

    I switched from charcoal to gas more than 15 years ago and haven't used it except for dutch ovens or a small upright smoker once or twice a year. Basically I have not grilled with charcoal in 15+ years with the few exceptions of a camp side charcoal grill.
    Now I am trying to get back into it. Found me a cheap kettle a few weeks ago. Everything works. About two weeks ago I was trying to grill some meat on the kettle. I got the lump char coal nice and hot with the chimney starter. But as soon as I closed the lid the coals died off. Although all vents at the top and bottom were completely open. It somehow didn't get enough air to keep the coal going.
    After a while I was frustrated and packed all the food back on the gasser and completed grilling on the gasser. What is the best way to keep the heat up high with the lid closed? Or I am doing it all wrong and should the lid on the charcoal grills only be used for lower temperatures? On my gasser I always have the lid closed. No matter if I am running at 250 degrees or 600 degrees. I am feeling like an amateur again using coal.
    Genesis Gold C, 22" Kettle and 2 x Genesis Silver B under restoration.

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    There is actually only one thing I can really think of here and that's lack of airflow.
    This could be because of the vents not being fully open (which you say they were, so that's out), overloading (the meat basically obstructs the airflow), the coals not being lit thoroughly.

    Having said that:
    With my old old 18", I find the fire diminishing when I put the lid on, and that's (partly) what I use the lid for. If I see flames, I close the lid.
    You don't want flames, you want the charcoal heat.
    So for short cooks, I don't use the lid. For longer cooks, I do use it and remove it towards the end, so I can fine tune that last bit (char/crisp etc).
    Easiest with charcoal is to use a 2 or 3 heat set-up (can't remember the proper expression: one part without coal/one part on medium heat/one part hot hot heat).

    I suggest you use a thermometer to check the heat. I think you might just be surprised

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    TVWBB Guru James N's Avatar
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    What kinda kettle did you get ?

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    TVWBB Emerald Member Dustin Dorsey's Avatar
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    I typically grill with the lid on these days. I used to do my searing mostly lid up with charcoal. I think what finally converted me was using my gas grill. I'm agree with Anne. You don't want flames you want that radiant heat from the charcoal, and trust me, its usually plenty hot.
    22.5 WSM, 22.5 OTS, Smokey Joe, Genesis 1000, Smokenator 1000, Old Country Pecos, Thermapen, Smoke, Maverick ET-732, Igrill 2

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    Ok guys. I will try it again. Yes I need get the thermometer out. I also want to install one in the lid. And the grill is a 22". Not sure how old. Bought it for $10 a few weeks ago.
    Genesis Gold C, 22" Kettle and 2 x Genesis Silver B under restoration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan H View Post
    I switched from charcoal to gas more than 15 years ago and haven't used it except for dutch ovens or a small upright smoker once or twice a year. Basically I have not grilled with charcoal in 15+ years with the few exceptions of a camp side charcoal grill.
    Now I am trying to get back into it. Found me a cheap kettle a few weeks ago. Everything works. About two weeks ago I was trying to grill some meat on the kettle. I got the lump char coal nice and hot with the chimney starter. But as soon as I closed the lid the coals died off. Although all vents at the top and bottom were completely open. It somehow didn't get enough air to keep the coal going.
    After a while I was frustrated and packed all the food back on the gasser and completed grilling on the gasser. What is the best way to keep the heat up high with the lid closed? Or I am doing it all wrong and should the lid on the charcoal grills only be used for lower temperatures? On my gasser I always have the lid closed. No matter if I am running at 250 degrees or 600 degrees. I am feeling like an amateur again using coal.
    One possibility is that you may have left the lump in the chimney too long, and by the time it was dumped it was all out of calories left to burn. Lump can be like that... it gets really hot quickly but burns out quickly too. It depends on the brand of lump. Try again with good briqs. I like k-comp, but you should try a few brands that you can get your hands on. In Chicago, I mostly only come across K, RO, and generics. Or if you want to continue with the same lump, get half a chimney started, dump it, and then layer on more unlit lump on top of the lit lump. Keep doing this every 15 minutes or so to keep the heat going.

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    TVWBB Pro Jon Tofte's Avatar
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    Stefan,

    I think Darrel may well be on the right track for your problem. I use lump charcoal in my Green Egg, but I almost always use GOOD charcoal briquettes in my Weber kettles. I have had great success with the fairly new Weber brand charcoal, but also like KW competition (as mentioned) and Stubbs. I think you would have a better go with these. As long as you stay away from the really cheap charcoal with questionable fillers, I think you will get a quality grilling experience. The better brands use natural fillers rather than junk, and they do burn more reliably than lump charcoal.

    Jon
    Genesis 330-SE Genesis Silver C Q3200 Q1200 Performer 1 green kettle. Projects: Genesis Skyline 4000 one redhead and one maroon Genesis 1000 Summit 650.

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    Stefan I like you decided I wanted to cook on charcoal again so I rehabbed a performer as you know since your on the gasser thread I have a 1000 also. I am not an expert but already cooked on it 5 times and its kind of been my go to grill cooking for the family on fathers day.

    However I have a smoker and this is me talking I was never a fan of lump and like Jon I use the Kingsford Competition for that actually, been using it in the performer cause I had it lying around. It burns hotter and longer but I just did a cook with just regular KB the last time since on memorial day they had a double pack for under 10 bucks. Not sure I would spend the extra money to grill steaks and such by the way Costco has a double pack of the competition for a very good price at least they used to.

    There are people so no right or wrong answer who love lump not for the kettles I don't think but smokers sure.

  9. #9
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    If you use too much charcoal you can starve for proper air flow,cut back on the amount of lit charcoal and put some in not lit then add the hot coals and let it catch on minion style

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeCantell View Post
    cut back on the amount of lit charcoal
    I'm not aware that we know how much or little he used. There's quite a bit of surface area for fuel, though. When I grill, my goal is to start with enough lit fuel to complete the job. But, yeah, if I'm doing a long barbecue then I need to periodically add handfuls of unlit throughout the process.

    I normally keep the lid on when grilling but may sometimes crack it open a tad when I want to bump the temp up for, say, searing meat.

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