Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekend Cooking... The Most Necessary Grilling Tool

Like many of you out there, I enjoy a bit of grilling, especially in the summertime. But when it comes to grilling, I am a purist. No natural gas, no, only charcoal will do. Yes, gas is very convenient, but to my mind it is sort of like you are using a kitchen appliance, but you are just doing it in the backyard. For me, it is charcoal or nothing! So as I stand in the backyard, with my not overly cold beer (see this post if you want to travel down that road) and stare at my slightly dented Weber kettle grill, the classic charcoal grill, I realize that I must share with you the wonderful thing that brought ease and speed and clean hands to my grilling..the Wonderful Weber Charcoal Chimney.

I remember the days before the chimney, days filled with the smell...and taste...of lighter fluid and the occasional burst of flame that endangered my eyebrows. There were the times those lighter fluid doused coals refused to fully light and then, at risk to life, the question arose of whether to add more of the dreaded fluid. Someone grab the hose!
But then, happily, somewhere, I read of the chimney and the rest was grilling heaven.

If you are not familiar with it, a charcoal chimney is a cylinder of steel, about 12-13 inches tall and about 7 inches wide. In the bottom of the open cylinder is a grate that hold the charcoal a few inches off the bottom and there are a series of holes around the bottom and up the sides. You put a sheet of rolled up newspaper in the bottom, under the grate. You fill the cylinder with charcoal. You place the filled chimney on the bottom grate of your grill and light the newspaper through the holes. The paper lights, draws air up through the coals in about 15 minutes you will have a big pile of red hot coals that you will carefully pour in your grill. Be hot.
Grab the burgers and dogs folks!

According to a recent Cooks Illustrated article, the best charcoal chimney in their tests was found to be the Weber. It is big enough to hold 6 qts. of coals, enough for the 22 Weber kettle grill, it is very well made, has two handles to help pouring the hot coals and at about $15 for something that I will testify will last years, very reasonably priced. Yes, a bit rusty, and a bit discolored from the intense heat it reaches, but in fine shape.
"In the end, our previous favorite model was still the best performer and had it all: sturdy construction, generous capacity, heat resistance, dual handles, excellent air circulation for rapid heating, and a low price."
Not one drop of nasty lighter fluid will ever near those lovely burgers, that fine, thick steak, that fresh, sweet Jersey corn, ever again.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

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