April 21, 2009
The great thing about grilling is that you don't need too many tools to be successful. If you have a grill and a fuel source you pretty much have all you need to take a few ingredients and turn them into a delicious meal. We've already done a couple posts on grills and smokers so we thought it was time to take a look at charcoal (our preferred fuel source for grilling and smoking). The two main types of charcoal you'll see at the store are hardwood lump and briquettes and we believe your best bet for a great fuel source is hardwood lump charcoal.
HARDWOOD LUMP CHARCOAL
Lump charcoal is the end product of the process of burning chunks of hardwood in the absence of oxygen. It is almost like your sticking a piece of oak or hickory in the grill so it is the most natural and pure form of charcoal you can buy. We think lump charcoal gives food a much better flavor than briquettes and it lights easy (don't forget to use the charcoal chimney to light your charcoal - if you don't want your food to taste like lighter fluid don't use lighter fluid), burns hotter (and is very responsive to the oxygen flow you provide making it easier to control your fire's temperature), and produces far less ash than briquettes.
Charcoal briquettes are made from sawdust and other wood by-products that are compressed and held together with a binder and other additives (Additives that don't make your food taste very good like limestone, borax, mineral carbon, sodium nitrate, brown coal, paraffin or petroleum solvents!). Briquettes are cheaper than lump charcoal, but is a few pennies saved worth imparting your meal with a chemical taste and smell?
So next time you head to the store to stock up on charcoal give hardwood lump charcoal a try - we think you'll be pleased with the results.