In thekruser’s first post, he lists some of the things that you must conquer before you can call yourself a Grill Master. One of the things he mentions is fuel. You might be thinking, “Fuel? You’re supposed to use gasoline when grilling? This guy is crazy.” No, he’s not talking about gasoline, fool. He’s referring to charcoal and I’m going to give you a quick lesson.
Two common types of charcoal are available on the market today, charcoal briquettes and lump charcoal. There is a great debate on which type is better. Based on my own personal experience, I have found that both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Briquettes, like those made by Kingsford, seem to burn longer and more consistently than lump charcoal. The downside is that briquettes aren’t as easy to light and they don’t burn as hot as lump charcoal. A common misconception is that charcoal briquettes contain chemicals additives. While briquettes do contain binders to hold the crushed charcoal together, I’ve looked at the ingredients in Kingsford Original Briquetes and I don’t see anything that alarms me.
Lump charcoal, like briquettes, is made from pieces of wood that has been burned in an oxygen-controlled environment. The main difference is that once charred, the chunks are bagged and sold as-is. I’m no hippie, but I do like the fact that lump charcoal is natural. I also like that it lights faster, burns hotter and produces less ash than briquettes. The thing I don’t like is you don’t always know what you’re going to get in the bag. I don’t mean that you could find foreign objects in there, but you will find that the size of the chunks are inconsistent. In addition, lump charcoal seems to burn faster than briquettes, which means you will use more if you are cooking for long periods of time. The vents in your grill can control the rate of how fast it burns, but I’ll save that topic for another post.
So, which is better? Personally, I use briquettes in my smoker or in the grill when I’m cooking a bigger piece of meat, such as pork tenderloin. I prefer lump charcoal when cooking steak, chicken breasts, pork chops, etc. The higher temperature allows me to get a nice sear on the meat, which locks in the juices.
Next time I will give you some tips on how to properly light your charcoal to get the best flavor. Until then, please feel free to comment below. I know there are strong opinions out there about both types of charcoal. I would love to know what you think.