How to make the charcoals very hot for searing?


 

Jyaku Lee

New member
I purchased a kettle grill last week and I'm very happy I'm not burning my food compared to the go-anywhere grill. The investment has been awesome for low and slow cooking and indirect cooking.

I'm better able to control the fire and keep it going for longer but I'm at a loss for one thing.. how do I make it very hot so I can sear steaks? I prefer reverse searing so the keeping them warm over a long time is not a problem.

Do I have to add more charcoal or just open the lid to allow more oxygen in or do something else?

Thanks if you're able to help!
 

JLHillman

TVWBB Fan
Air, you need air. Take the lid off and let the charcoal get hot. Open the vents all the way. I have gotten my Kettles so hot you suffered getting near them. If it's a longer cook just set the lid off one side, temps will rocket up.
 

T Waite

TVWBB Super Fan
The biggest drawback to a Weber Kettle is the distance from the coals to the cooking grate. The second problem is the inability to adjust that distance

Hopefully your using a chimney to start the coals? Pour the hot coals into the middle and leave them mounded up, then sear away. After they're seared, use a stick or something to spread them around. I keep an old piece of rod around for just this reason. I can poke it between the grate rods.

Another way is the Vortex, probably one of the best kettle accessories you can get for grilling.

 

Chuck_B

TVWBB Wizard
Easiest way is to chimney start and pile the coals on top of each other when you dump them so they are closer to the cooking surface.
 

T Waite

TVWBB Super Fan
Here's another trick. Start the chimney and let the colas get hot. Set a small cooking grate directly on the chimney and sear the stakes, the dump the colas and finish the cook.
 

Tommy B

TVWBB Pro
How do arrange your charcoal in the grill? If you spread a thin layer it won't be very hot but if you create a tall pile where the pile is will be screaming hot. I always use the Weber charcoal baskets. On my 22'' grill I dump lit charcoal in them and push them together and slide to one side of the grill. That creates a two zone fire. One to sear and the other to cook slower. If the lit charcoal is almost over flowing out of the baskets the lit charcoal is pretty close to the grate.

I have never had a need to get it any hotter then doing that method. Also try lump charcoal. It burns hotter.
 

Jyaku Lee

New member
Earlier I would spread the charcoals to a single layer all over the charcoal grate and it would just be good for low and slow and I'd have to put more charcoal. Tried your stack the charcoals in the middle and it worked beautifully for searing and I just moved it to the side later for the indirect cooking. Made some smoked chicken legs like that earlier today.. worked wonderfully.
 

T MacGreggor

TVWBB Pro
I always use the Weber charcoal baskets. On my 22'' grill I dump lit charcoal in them and push them together and slide to one side of the grill. That creates a two zone fire. One to sear and the other to cook slower. If the lit charcoal is almost over flowing out of the baskets the lit charcoal is pretty close to the grate.

I'll second that. Those Weber charcoal baskets are a must have. The make both direct and indirect grilling so much easier, while simplifying clean up at the same time.
 

Craig Wallace

TVWBB Member
There is a lot of distance between the charcoal grill and the food grill. I use a couple fire bricks and cut the kettle into thirds. This way you can stack the briquettes higher, only using a minimum amount of briquettes. this method works great for a couple of steaks.

 

Darrel Williams

TVWBB Super Fan
All of the above are good methods. I use Craig's method above. A hot corner for searing and a cooler section for indirect.



My $0.02 is to remember that lump charcoal burns a lot hotter than briquettes.


I have had my grill hot enough to partially melt the lid bail rollers.
 

Matt H.

TVWBB Super Fan
I just take a full chimney of lit and dump it on one side. also leaves an area for indirect if it's too hot.
 

ZoranM

New member
Use Lump charcoal, it burns hotter than briquettes and less ash. I find that south american lump burns even hotter, but sparks a lot in the beginning. Gotta watch the kids around it. Fill up the chimney, get them all lit, then dump it to one side to have direct and indirect zones. I wait a bit more for the lump to get all grey, sometimes I'll put a chunk or two of flavour wood like apple and wait for blue smoke. I start cooking on the indirect side to about 120F internal temp. Open the lid, wait for the lump to glow. With the south american wood it's probably over 1,000F. I then put the meat on the direct side (reverse sear). Cook to desired doneness. I can get the bone charred black without the meat burning.
 

Kyle

New member
Off topic a bit, but when using these methods on foods like steak, are you adding wood at any time?
 

ZoranM

New member
Off topic a bit, but when using these methods on foods like steak, are you adding wood at any time?

Yes, sometimes, not always, I'll add a chunk or two of Apple wood. I use chunks, not chips. And I don't soak them. Some say you should soak them for an hour. I don't bother with the soaking as I usually don't remember it ahead of time.
 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Like said above do a two zone fire. Place your hot coals on one side of the kettle for searing and the other side for indirect.
 

Sam Houston

New member
I use the charcoal baskets http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000WEMGM4/tvwb-20 to build a 2-zone fire.

I used to pour both baskets full, then pour the briquettes from the baskets into the chimney because the chimney holds more than I need for both baskets. Light the chimney as normal, and pour back into the baskets when the charcoal is ready.

Recently, I got myself a Performer with the gas start and have started trying to use natural lump charcoal. I fill both baskets and fire up the gas start for about five minutes. I can definitely tell the lump burns hotter and lights faster.

Depending on what I'm cooking, I then push both baskets to one side, leave them in the middle, or push them to opposite sides and put a drip pan in the middle.
 

T MacGreggor

TVWBB Pro
One of my favorite things about the Weber charcoal baskets is how they make the kettle cleanup and reusing old coals so much easier.

When done with a cook just shut all vents to extinguish the coals. Then the next time you're going to cook, move the half circle baskets together to form a circle, grip them in the middle with one hand and lift all the old coals out of the kettle with ease. Still using only that hand, shake and/or bang the baskets on top of a garbage can to dislodge the white ash from the remaining coals.

At that point there's two methods I use. For a longer and/or indirect cook, return the baskets with the used coals to the kettle and dump a layer of freshly lit coals on top for the Minion method. For a high heat direct cook put some fresh, unlit coals in the bottom of a charcoal chimney and dump the left over coals out of the baskets on top of those & fire up the chimney.
 

Bob Correll

R.I.P. 3/31/2022
Happy to see some basket love here.
I use them on my Performer about 90% of the time.
They can also help make a fast snake set up.

IMGP0956.JPG
 

 

Top