The Art of Cooking with Charcoal

Charcoal is a great invention that can be used in several ways. One way is through radiant heat, such as when you cook on a charcoal grill. The heat rising up cooks the steak. But are you aware that this same charcoal can be used to bake?

This baking can happen in two different ways. The first way is when you snuggle something like a potato in between the chard briquettes. The radiant heat surrounds the potato and “bakes it.” But another, little known way of using charcoal, is through baking.

Baking by definition is the process by which something is cooked with dry heat. This cooking technique typically is viewed as dealing with breads, desserts and such but it can also be used to cook meats and casseroles.

The key to using this cooking technique beyond sticking food in the coals is two fold. The first part deals with the container and the second deals with temperature.

When “baking” with charcoal, one must first use a container that can withstand the heat. Even in portable charcoal grills, the heat can be overwhleming. Cast iron is an excellent choice. Skillets and/or Dutch ovens with the lids work well. If you do not have a lid for your skillet, consider using another skillet the same size upside down or a metal plate.

The second thing one needs to consider is temperature. When baking temperature or the correct temperature is very important. A heat that is too hot or not hot enough can be disastrous. To prevent this, follow this simple formula. Each briquette that has turned white equals 15 degrees. An example of how this works starts off by reading the temperature that you will need. If your cake needs a 350 degrees F temperature, then you will need 24 seasoned briquettes.

The number of briquettes in this process is very important but so is the placement. When using this technique, place two-thirds of the seasoned briquettes on the ground and then place your heat-resistant container. Next, place the remaining one-third of the briquettes on top of the lid. Make sure to arrange them so that they are equally spaced.

Keep an eye on the briquettes and monitor their heat. These briquettes will cool down and will need to be replaced often.

Cook your dish the length of time indicated by the recipe. After that time has been reached, remove the lid and check the contents. If it is not done enough, resume cooking and check ever 15 minutes after that.

Cooking with briquettes is a time saving technique when it comes to radiant heat. It also works well as far as baking but keep in mind that while the dish is baking a constant supply of coals will be needed so keep the home fires burning.