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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 05-10-2013, 06:54 AM   #1
Higgledy
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Default Questions from new kettle owner

Last weekend I bought a Performer. This is my first charcoal grill. Before I owned gas grills. I have some basic questions about using my kettle.

1. How much charcoal so I use when starting the grill? The amount to grill (direct heat), not to smoke or indirect heat.

2. After the grill is lit, and I'm waiting for the coals to get hot, do I leave the lid opened or closed?
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Unread 05-10-2013, 07:05 AM   #2
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If you have the Performer with the propane starter, I usually fill them slightly over the top. If not use a full Weber chimmney. Always leave the lid open until the charcoal is well lit.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 07:18 AM   #3
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What Tiger fan said, and have the bottom vents open full.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 07:41 AM   #4
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Well, the amount of charcoal you are going to start with really depends on what you are trying to cook and how much. Say a couple of steaks or burgers for you and the wife, doesn't take a whole lot of charcoal for that. But if you're cookin' up steaks, brats, hotdogs and burgers for a big family gathering, then for sure a big ol' chimney full, and maybe then some. Also depends some on what you may be cooking specifically and how you want that cooked. If you're grilling a big thick steak and want a real good char on it, you may want more coals to get that really hot hot base going. On the other hand, a trout or salmon filet, you may want to be less aggressive with the heat, therefore not so much charcoal needed.
And then of coarse, you can get into the whole two and three zone cooking methods, whole nother technique, Check out the Weber website as well, I think they have a bunch of tips and tricks there too.

It will come with practice, just adjust your technique to your liking as you go and have some fun with it. Gives you a good excuse to grill and Q too, "need the practice".

Have fun,

KC
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Unread 05-10-2013, 09:08 AM   #5
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When I was learning to cook in a kettle my main resource is Steve Reichland's "How to Grill". Great book with a lot of good ideas, coming from using a gasser through my childhood it helped really teach the tricks of cooking on a kettle. I am sure the Weber how to grill book is full of great advice as well since they re-did it this year (on my buy list this year).

You could want a 3 zone fire (No,Low,Hot) direct grilling one of the best for veg and meat. Or a 2 zone for flare up control (give some room incase of a flare up). How hot do you want the coals? Lighting coals in a kettle is more based on your cook than the quantities. Grilling pork you don't want it as searing hot as with steak.

Cooking thick pork chops I would light a chimney full and wait till 75% is lit then pour over 2/3's of the grill bottom using a minion method variant to extend the medium heat cooking time. 2/3's gives 1/3 indirect heat for holding.

Steak; light the whole chiminey 100% and the chimney is glowing red and pour it in a tall pile on one side of the grill. Make sure the top grate won't hit the coals then wait 2 mins for the grate to heat then throw the steaks on.

1) So as for how much coal I can't provide a good answer.

2) Light it on the charcoal grate in a chimney. Lid open. I don't know what stage of ignition to tell you to pour the coals.

Grill on!
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Unread 05-10-2013, 11:38 AM   #6
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It really depends on what your grilling, Sea food requires less heat than a burgers hot dogs & chicken, Steaks & Chops need more. also the amount of food you will be cooking at once will determine how much your going to use and how you lay out the fire.

Shrimp on a stick, fillets and such cook fairly quick and need less heat, if your cooking for 2, 2 hand fulls is sufficient, if you cooking for a group about 1/3 of a chimney

Burgers,Dogs, Chicken, 1/3 of a chimney for a small cook 2/3 for a large cook

Steaks & Chops small cook 1/2 chimney, Large cook full chimney

Charcoal Briquette Heat>> 24 briquettes arranged in a 12 " circle will give you about 350deg each one added to that amount will increase the temp about 12 deg running with the intake full open. The more you spread them out the lower the overall heat will be, To maintain 350 you need twice as many coals in a single layer as the area covered in inches of cooking surface.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 12:16 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the replies and tips.

I have the Performer with gas ignition so the actually lighting is not really an issue. Plus, I bought a chimney that I use more for measuring charcoal than for lighting. I just did not know to open the lid or not. DUH! LOL

But how do I clean my cooking grate? With gas I'd crank all burners to HI and wait about 20 minutes. Then, come back and use my brass brush on my porcelain-coated steel grate. That brass brush ain't working very well on Weber's chrome grate. Plus, if I light a "chimney amount of coal", my fire is small, and only fills one side of the grill. It is not enough heat to burn the old food off the entire grate. Am I doing something wrong here?

I am sure that I am over thinking this, I always do that.

Thanks again for all the tips.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 12:31 PM   #8
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Weber has some great books for beginners with recipes and there web site is full of great info.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 12:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Higgledy View Post
Thanks for all the replies and tips.

I have the Performer with gas ignition so the actually lighting is not really an issue. Plus, I bought a chimney that I use more for measuring charcoal than for lighting. I just did not know to open the lid or not. DUH! LOL

But how do I clean my cooking grate? With gas I'd crank all burners to HI and wait about 20 minutes. Then, come back and use my brass brush on my porcelain-coated steel grate. That brass brush ain't working very well on Weber's chrome grate. Plus, if I light a "chimney amount of coal", my fire is small, and only fills one side of the grill. It is not enough heat to burn the old food off the entire grate. Am I doing something wrong here?

I am sure that I am over thinking this, I always do that.

Thanks again for all the tips.
When you are done cooking put the lid on or cover the grate with some foil, this will help burn off any big mess left on. Also, don't worry about getting the grates sparkling clean, the grates work better with a good seasoning on them. If that's not enough to clean it off to your satisfaction just put the grate on for a few minutes over the hot coals before your next cook and give it a good scrape with a ball of aluminum foil.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 12:51 PM   #10
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I have a Performer and use a weed burner to light my charcoal...much faster and easier, but still occasionally use the gas assist or a chimney. I don't use the charcoal tubs though, just pile it up on one side. I get the coals going good, when they start to ash I put the lid on and let the kettle warm up. I can easily get it to 450° to 500° with a nice little pile of 20-30 briquettes with about 20% lump charcoal mixed in. Lump will help you reach higher temps than straight briquettes.
After cooking, I will give my grate the once over with a Weber brush, then the next time I fire it up, when it gets to 200-300° I will brush it again then wipe it down with Grape seed oil.
One other thing to point out, when done cooking, shut everything down and choke out the fire. Then when you go out to grill again, remove your cooking grate and use your grill brush to stir up the leftover charcoal, dropping the ash below to clean out leaving remaining chunks...add some new charcoal to it and light it up again. This will save you a lot of $$ on charcoal.
Hope this helps and welcome to the addiction!
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Unread 05-10-2013, 12:59 PM   #11
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I can deal with not perfectly clean grates--what I can't deal with is a grate full of BBQ sauce from my last dinner. YUK!

Thanks. Great advice. Why grape seed oil?
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Unread 05-10-2013, 01:47 PM   #12
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Do yourself a big favor, I have been BBQing over 30 yrs and the absolute best piece of equipment I have bought besides a Weber Kettle is a Weed Burner. It lights your charcoal and sterilizes your grates by burning off any bits left on the grate in a single bound, It lights my cigars, Kills Rattle snakes, Copper heads & Scorpions and does fine job of charring veggies for My salsa.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 02:24 PM   #13
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Also, for a hotter fire, use lump or even better still, fire up a chimney of hickory chunks til they are in the coal stage. It'll get that kettle so hot it pegs my dome thermo at the max with the top on and all vents wide open.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 05:12 PM   #14
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I just use the Weber ss grill brush at the end of my cook or at the beginning of the next one. If cleaning at the beginning, after you dump your coals, put the lid on for a few minutes to let it hear up a bit, hit it with the brush and you're good to go. I grill bananas frequently and they leave a hard, caramelized mess on the grate. Using the method I described, it cleans up nice and quick.
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Unread 05-10-2013, 05:26 PM   #15
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We Weberheads generally measure charcoal by the Weber Chimney. It may be a full chimney, a half chimney, or whatever. It is a standard unit of measure.

So, get a Weber chimney. You can put it on top for your propane starter, or just use it to measure. They are about fifteen bucks, so not a big investment.

When I am looking for serious BTUs for something like a thick steak, I always use a full chimney. For something like chicken, a half to two-thirds of a chimney is plenty.

On any kettle, it is a good idea to make one half hot, and one half not so hot, which means you are putting your coals on one side of the kettle. Using a chimney to start your fire helps a bunch for that. Having those two zones lets you move meats back and forth, so you get a complete cook without burning your meats. It gives you a whole lot of control over your cook.

To smoke on a kettle, you need to learn the Minion Method (search), because you will be mixing a few lit coals with a bunch of unlit charcoal, to get a good low-and-slow temperature.

Once you gat the hang of it, a Weber Kettle is amazingly versatile.

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