Use charcoal made from quality hardwoods such as Redgum, Ironbark, Mallee, Gidgee, Oak, Pecan or Maple which tend to burn longer than other woods. This becomes increasingly important when you are cooking large thick cuts of meat over a longer period of time. A key recommendation is to experiment with different types of charcoal and to become familiar with them all. Or at least the ones available to you in your local area. You will find that some will perform brilliantly for one grilling situation and not as well for another. It takes time and money to trial different charcoals. Ultimately, the knowledge gained will help you determine which types of charcoal you prefer for each occasion. In addition to hardwood charcoal there’s an increasing amount of briquette’s made from charcoal, sawdust, and fruitwood on the market. Some of the brands available are Firebrand, Royal Oak, Kingsford and Truflame.
Firewood is the ideal barbecue fuel for grilling in an open pit style barbecue or in an offset style smoker. It produces excellent coals and a light smoke that adds a pleasant smoke flavour to the meat. Firewood will produce coals to cook on or can be used with a charcoal or fruitwood of your choice. In Australia there are a range of firewood used for barbecue, most commonly Ironbark on the East Coast or Jarrah on the West Coast. Different regions will have a variety of suitable hardwoods native to the area. By using firewood or hardwoods local to your area you will have economical and easily sourced choices when barbecuing. The amount of time the coals will last depends on the type of wood, size of the wood and the the hardness of the wood.
Fruitwood, as with firewood, is ideal for use in an open pit style barbecue or offset style smoker however can be used with most styles of barbecue or grill on the market. Some example of these grills are the vertical ProQ Smokers, Ferrabili charcoal grills, Kamado and kettle style grills. Most styles of barbecue are capable of being used with fruitwood wether using logs, chunks, chips or sawdust. A small amount can go a long way. Adding too much wood can make your food too smokey and unpleasant to eat. The idea is to have barbecue food taste like “it has been kissed by smoke, not dragged through a bushfire”. Common fruit woods available in Australia are Apple, Cherry, Pecan, Peach, Plum, Pear and Raspberry Jam,
Preparing the Coals
For direct grilling, wait until the flames have subsided and the coals are covered with a white layer of ash before placing your meat on the grill. This will assist you with an even cook and adding a pleasant chargrilled flavour to your grilled meats and vegetables. I tend to continually feed small amounts of charcoal to the barbecue every 10 – 15 mins or so. This way there is a constant supply of heat in the cooker. Waiting until the heat is beginning to die off before adding more charcoal can cause lengthy delays while you wait for the fresh coals to ignite and produce enough heat to continue grilling. A great tool to help if this does happen is the Looftlighter. It will increase the airflow and heat in the grill quite rapidly. It will take time to learn your barbecue and how to get the most from it.