by Melanie Yunk
Ok, I admit it. I’ve fallen in love with charcoal. I never meant to be unfaithful to my beloved gas grill.
It’s not my fault, really. Our sauce business www.bigacres.com focuses on helping people create simple, healthy, gourmet meals any day of the week. We’ve always believed we needed to use a gas grill to keep it simple. You know, a gas grill can be started with little effort, heats consistently, and doesn’t create a mess. We thought, “A charcoal grill couldn’t possibly be as simple to use, right?”
Last November, I attended the Kingsford University Graduate Grilling School in Northern California, where we learned all about Kingsford Charcoal, their charcoal manufacturing process, and how to cook with Kingsford Charcoal. My post about that event is called Kingsford University's School of Charcoal.
After learning about the charcoal grilling process for three days, I discovered how completely WRONG I was about charcoal grilling! Kingsford charcoal takes only 10 minutes to light, the charcoals burn consistently, and the cleanup is simpler than ever! Just this year, Kingsford created a new version of their charcoal that can be manufactured with less energy and which generates fewer emissions during the manufacturing process. The best news is that the new charcoals are smaller (less waste), yet they burn at the same temperature and for the same length of time as the larger version.
I openly admitted to a Kingsford representative that I’m a gas griller. He was calm and supportive—an unexpected reaction. He leaned over to me and said, “We’ll send you a grill and some charcoal so you can try it for yourself.”
So, here we are months later, finally coming out of denial. Hubby Kent and I set out to charcoal grill in our own backyard. We decided to christen our new grill during our second annual New Mexico Green Chile Roast. Each August, New Mexico harvests tons of the sweetest, spiciest, most flavorful chiles in the world. We purchased 25 pounds of these amazing chiles directly from a farm in Hatch, New Mexico www.hatchnmgreenchile.com and set about preparing them for our use over the next year, a task that takes about 9 hours.
|On the day of arrival, the chiles must be washed, roasted, seeded and peeled, chopped and frozen while they’re at the peak of freshness. So, I washed the New Mexico “Big Jim” chiles, while Kent built the grill.
||First, Kent constructed the grill without cursing! Then we loaded up the charcoal chimney starter. Using the starter eliminates the need for lighter fluid.
After 10 minutes, the charcoal was ready to go. We spread the coals evenly in the kettle, then started our roast.
We grilled the chiles for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until the skins turned brown and bubbly. We then placed the chiles into our giant “sweat pot” to allow the chiles to cool and the skins to separate from the meat of the chile. A large plastic trash bag may also be used to “sweat” the roasted chiles. Once cooled, we carefully peeled the chiles, seeded and chopped them.
Dave DeWitt gave us a great idea: place the chopped chiles into ice cube trays and freeze them. The frozen chile cubes can be put into freezer bags so they can be easily used. Each cube equals approximately one chile.
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Our first attempt to use charcoal resulted in evenly roasted chiles with a light smoky flavor. We’ve used the chiles in a tomatillo salsa made with fresh tomatillos, onions and tomatos from a local farm, in pork verde, and on chicken sandwiches. They’re so TASTY, and are more flavorful than those grilled over gas.
Since our chile roast, we’ve used the Kingsford charcoal grill with their new, optimized charcoal. I must admit that I’m a newly converted fan of grilling over charcoal. I’m anxious to try the Kingsford mesquite charcoal and their competition coals as well! Look out, all you Big Acres Gourmet Foods customers, I’ll be offering tips for grilling over charcoal in future recipes!
A great Kingsford Giveaway: Go to Kingsford's Facebook page, where you can sign up for a sweepstakes to win a Komodo Kamado grill. This ceramic grill retails for $4,000.
You can also go to Kingsford's Twitter page for periodic giveaways of Kingsford Grilling Gear.
Read more about cooking with charcoal:
Kingsford University's School of Charcoal
Book Excerpt: The Big Green Egg Cookbook
I Graduate from Kingsford University by Dave DeWitt
Melanie Yunk, President of Melanie's Fine Foods, is the creator of the award-winning Big Acres® Gourmet Sauces and Rubs, and is the distributor of gourmet goodies for kitchen and grill. A lifelong "foodie," Melanie is passionate about natural lifestyles and strives to help people make simple, gourmet meals any day of the week. During her previous career as an electronics engineer, she traveled worldwide and sampled many different ethnic dishes. She acquired a discriminating palate and a love of culinary experimentation. Melanie is a California native. She lives with her husband Kent in San Carlos, California.
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