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The Ongoing Debate of Charcoal Versus Gas

David Altman

Visitors: 238

There has always been an ongoing debate of charcoal versus gas when cooking outdoors, whether it be with a smoker or grill. I like the ease of adjustment gas offers. I find it much easier to get and keep the ideal temperature whether I'm using a gas smoker or any of the gas grills.

There are a lot of people who say they enjoy the taste that comes from cooking over charcoal briquettes much better. I personally believe this is due to the meat drippings falling onto the charcoal. I have accomplished the same results by adding a second grate above the gas burners on my grill and placing charcoal flavored ceramic briquettes on that grate. During cooking, the meat drippings fall onto the hot ceramic briquettes and smoke up and back into the meat. I also drop wood chips in to add a hickory smoked flavor. I can smell that flank steak now.

If you are a charcoal aficionado, how do you get the charcoal lit safely and easily? NEVER buy the easy to light briquettes or anything soaked in lighter fluid. It has a recurring taste of petroleum. Some lighter fluids say that they have no taste, but they do.

The quickest way I found to light the charcoal was with an electric starter. It looked like a portable hot plate with an 18 inch handle. Sadly, it does not appear to be available any longer.

I then found the chimney. This is a good way to start the fire. This device looks like a large coffee can with no top or bottom, just a handle. Place the chimney in the smoker. Place some crumbled up paper moistened with cooking oil in the bottom and fill with briquettes. Light it with a match. Very quickly the fire will spread upward and the briquettes will be lit. Some chimneys have a handle to release the charcoal and some do not. Pick up the chimney (make sure you wear gloves) and spread the briquettes around. Then add some more briquettes. Make sure it is hot and you are ready to cook.

With gas, turn the valve on and push the starter button. Wait until the appliance is hot and start cooking.

To clean up the charcoal, wait until the charcoal burns out or spray with the hose. Then, clean up the mess. Be careful the coals are not still smothering and then get rid of the ashes.

With gas, turn the burner off, close the door.

For a great barbecue rub recipe we use on flank steaks and pork, go to

For information about DIY projects, please visit our website at - My wife and I have been remodeling homes for over 40 years. Our website is an informational one in which we share what we have learned over the years. It is for the first-time homeowner and anyone else who needs some help with a home project.


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