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Marksharky

What's the hottest charcoal?

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Food for thought From CI cwm15.gif

 

 

Conventional wisdom dictates that hardwood (or "lump") charcoal flames up fast and furious, while charcoal briquettes burn low and slow. For that reason, most of the outdoor-cooking guides in our library (including our own) recommend briquettes for barbecue (cooking ribs and briskets) and hardwood for quick, direct-heat grilling (cooking burgers, steaks, and chops). Two dozen grilling gurus couldn't be wrong, right? We headed to the test kitchen's back alley to find out.

 

We filled 6-quart chimneys with either hardwood charcoal or briquettes. Just before lighting the match, we outfitted the cooking grate with seven thermocouples -- wire probes that feed temperature data to an attached console -- and set about recording heat levels at five-minute intervals. We ran the tests a dozen times and then analyzed our data.

 

The results were startling. In every test, the briquettes burned as hot, or hotter, than the hardwood. In the grilling tests, the fires produce nearly identical heat for about 30 minutes-enough time for most quick grilling tasks. From there on, the hardwood coals quickly turn into piles of ash, while the briquettes slowly lost heat.

 

As we've always contested, slow-cooking a pork shoulder for eight hours would be a high-maintenance affair with hardwood. Our briquettes took nearly three hours to fall below the 250 degree mark; in that time we'd have to refuel the hardwood fire twice. The slow, steady descent of the briquettes is perfect for this job.

 

So what about our old assumptions? Hardwood is, in fact, the hotter-burning charcoal, at least when comparing charcoal pound for pound. But most outdoor cooks measure out charcoal by volume (filling a chimney), and a 6-quart chimneyful of briquettes weighs more than twice as much as the same volume of hardwood.

 

And briquettes are cheaper: Filling a chimney with lump charcoal costs about $2 compared with just $1.37 for briquettes.

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Absolutely right-never doubted it.

Now it really doesn't bother me one way or the other, but do you want to cook with wood? or building scraps, coal dust, and kitty litter?

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VERY interesting test.

 

I've never tried hardwood charcoal - never even seen it on a store shelf. There are various brands of briquette out there, all of which now sell 18 lb bags where they were in 20 lb bags just a year or two ago (dammit), but no one seems to carry lump hardwood charcoal.

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View PostVERY interesting test.

 

I've never tried hardwood charcoal - never even seen it on a store shelf. There are various brands of briquette out there, all of which now sell 18 lb bags where they were in 20 lb bags just a year or two ago (dammit), but no one seems to carry lump hardwood charcoal.

 

 

Meat Farms carries it all the time. It's imported from Argentina.

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Kingsford for me, and ain't know one talking me out of it. I like the flavor it gives, especialy when I do a chicken bbq. I have tried many brands of charcoal and I like kingsford the best.

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View PostVERY interesting test.

 

There are various brands of briquette out there, all of which now sell 18 lb bags where they were in 20 lb bags just a year or two ago (dammit),

 

 

It's not as bad as it seems. Kingsford changed the design of their briquettes. They now have grooves in them to (supposedly) help them get up to temp earlier and they also burn hotter which should increase available cooking time. The briq's are smaller and lighter than the original but there are the same number of them in the bag, which hasn't changed. If you see a 20lb bag, it is old stock.

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I have been using Kingsford for over forty years mainly because its the only game in town and I do really like it but last week I was in Home Depot and picked up a bag of Rancher Briquittes and I am really pleased with them.Burns Hot and slow, lights fast, great flavor.I will keep a bag of them around the house from now on.I think the price was like eight bucks or so.

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I tried the Rancher this weekedn also after reading about them here. Definately burned hotter but my prok ribs came out great after about 3 hours. had the weber kettle going with the drip pan and water pan and ribs on indirect. even though the ribs were stacked on top of each other they tasted like they had been in a smoker. I may have to grab some more rancher before it disappears from my local HD.

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I tried the Rancher a couple weeks ago for smoking a couple Boston Butt's. The temp stayed consistant the whole time but the amount of ash that was being produced started clogging the air vent in the bottom of my firebox. This vent is only open an 1/8" at the most once the temp gets to where I want it, so I had to clear it out about half way through the cook. No big deal, I will still use up what I have and try soemthing else when its gone.

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