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Nothing compares to the smell of a charcoal grill being fired up when tailgating.

There has been a raging debate over the years on which is the best grill to use for tailgating: charcoal or propane?

Some people prefer propane grills over charcoal grills because they are easier to start. But propane can be expensive.

Charcoal is affordable and easy to find in stores making it the ideal choice for budget-conscious individuals. It is also easy to use. Furthermore, if you want great food flavor, charcoal should be your number one choice.

Obviously, you know where I stand on the charcoal versus propane debate.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill at your Next Tailgate Party Games

Starting the Charcoal Grill

Traditional charcoal briquettes are steady, inexpensive, and easy to light.

If you want a smoky and more intense flavor on your meat, go for hardwood charcoal, also known as lump charcoal. Hardwood charcoal tends to be blazingly hot, and it burns out much faster.

Here’s how to start the grill:

  1. Use a charcoal chimney to start out the grill. It is by far the fastest technique to get the charcoal burning. Lighter fluid is not needed with a charcoal chimney.
  2. Loosely stuff old newspaper at the bottom part of your chimney and fill your chimney with charcoal.
  3. Light the newspapers in several spots and ensure the flames light the edges of the charcoal above.
  4. Allow the charcoal to burn until it is covered with grayish ash. Then spread the hot coals out.

There you go! You’ve started your first charcoal grill.

Grilling on High Heat

The coals should take between five and ten minutes to get to the highest heat. This is perfect for grilling dense vegetables, burgers, and steaks. High heat grilling ensures you get a perfect sear on the outside of your meat as you enjoy fun tailgating games.

  • In high-heat grilling, you should have two fire zones. One side should have more coals for higher temperature grilling, and the other side should have less charcoal for low-heat grilling.
  • Always start by searing your foods on the high-temperature side. Then, move them over to the low-temperature side to cook the food without burning it.
  • Allow your meat to cool for around five minutes on the cutting board.

Now you can feast my friends, feast!

Grilling on Medium Heat

It normally takes between 25-30 minutes to get a charcoal grill to a medium high temperature. Medium heat is ideal for cooking proteins and vegetables such as:

  • Chicken wings and breasts
  • Pork chops
  • Sausages
  • Hot dogs
  • Fish
  • Delicate vegetables such as eggplant, pineapple, and scallions

Many medium heat foods burn off when heated for a long time. That’s why they are often cooked using marinade. Marinate these foods overnight using a ziplock bag. The bag can easily fit in your fridge and fully envelops the food.

Heat control on a charcoal grill involves building a small fire when starting out. Determine the heat temperatures by placing a hand above – but not close enough to burn yourself – the charcoal grill cooking grate and start a second’s countdown.

  • One Second – Crazy Hot
  • Two Seconds—High
  • Three Seconds—Medium High
  • Four Seconds—Medium
  • Five Seconds—Low

Following this step saves you from food preparation hassles and you can have more time for other fun tailgating activities.

General Grilling Tips When Using a Charcoal Grill

One of the greatest things about barbequing is getting the most out of your meat. Try not to work against yourself by making sure that you don’t dry out the meat by accident. To avoid this, you can:

  • Place a water pan under the low heat zone. The humidity will assist in ensuring that your meat remains moist.
  • Do not – at any time – squish the hamburger patties using the spatula. Doing this will make the juices run out. Your food will, therefore, end up being very dry. It can also leave an untidy mess on your charcoal grill.
  • Ensure you have a bottle of water close by at all times. The water can be used to extinguish any flames that may flare-up.

Cleaning Your Charcoal Grill

Charcoal grills should always be cleaned immediately after your tailgating party games. It is recommended you clean off all the grease while the grill is still hot. A stiff wire grill brush will do the trick.  It’ll easily remove all the food particles on the cooking surface.

If you like barbecues, then you need to go the extra mile to ensure that your charcoal grill is always in good condition. After cleaning your charcoal grill, store it in a cool and dry place for your next tailgate party.

Have fun tailgating!

Image Source: Adobe Stock

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