Written by Matt Slowey

Spring is in the air with motorcycles roaring, a hint of fresh cut grass, and the wonderful wisp of smoke from the BBQ. Dig out your flip flops and commit to making this the year of your backyard culinary awakening. The easiest way to step up your game? Start cooking with Fire and become a charcoal pit master.  Already the king of Kingsford you say? Then, it's time to talk about fuel quality and Lump Charcoal.

One of the characteristics of lump charcoal is the vast number of selections available. These variations give each brand its own unique cooking qualities. The selection of wood species along with size and shapes of the lump are what drive the experience and determine when or why they are preferred. Some are easier to light and are great for beginners, while others offer extended burn times. Most charcoal imparts its own signature flavor profile and others burn nearly smoke free, are flavor neutral, and are great for baking. Yes, I said baking.

Big Green Egg 100% Organic Lump Charcoal

Big Green Egg 100% Organic Lump Charcoal is an American Hardwood blend. Made in the USA, it is primarily Oak and Hickory. This charcoal is very easy to get started, burns hot, and produces smells and flavors that always remind me of my Grandfather's July 4th BBQs. It is available in 20 lbs and convenient 10 lbs bags as well.

BriquetteVSLump

All of this talk about lump charcoal doesn't mean that briquettes should be avoided. Natural lump certainly has some great benefits. It produces less ash, generally performs better, and has some unique flavors. However, it can be a rather irregular product. Briquettes, on the other hand, offer reliability by being uniform in shape, size, and consistency. It is common among BBQ Competition teams to use a mix of lump and briquettes in order to build a fire with the right balance of flavor, control, and duration.

John Wayne All Natural Briquettes are American made and are available in 8 lbs bags. These briquettes use corn starch as the binder and contain none of the petrochemicals found in other brands of briquettes. This charcoal is great for use with smaller outdoor cookers, afternoons in the park, and competition team rigs alike.

Cooking with charcoal not only connects us with ancient ancestors, it unites the backyard gourmet with the Michelin Star chef. Developing your own methods and techniques is an added bonus to the results only charcoal can produce.

  • These few tips can make your Cooking with Fire experiences successful; Store charcoal in a cool, dry place. Avoid moisture, it will affect the performance. A Rubbermaid type bin works best.
  • No lighter fluid! Electric lighters, wax, sawdust firestarters, or newspaper fired charcoal chimneys are preferred.
  • Don't skimp. A common mistake is not fully loading the cooker. This will result in slow starts and general poor performance. Remember the lump charcoal easily re-lights so you won't be wasting any of this wonderful fuel.

Once you have gained the tao of charcoal, you will be ready to begin using aromatic wood to enhance your recipes. Chips, Chunks, and Planks... Savor the Flavor will be my next post, Stay Tuned!


Salesman Matt Slowey

Matt Slowey

Read Matt's Bio