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Entries in Lump Charcoal (4)


Review: Frontier Lump Charcoal

Charcoal is charcoal, right?  Wrong.  Not only do you have the lump vs. briquette debate, but not all lump (or briquettes for that matter) is made equal.  And lump is all I burn in my Big Green Egg & Bubba Keg.

Now I don't believe in buying Big Green Egg brand lump charcoal.  I think it's pricey and no better than Royal Oak.  But over the weekend, I stumbled upon a huge bag of Frontier Lump Charcoal at Sams Club.  I'd only ever seen mesquite lump at Sams before so I was pleased to see that they were carrying something other than briquettes.  So, a bag came home with me.

However when I fired it up for the first time, I was struck by two things.  First, the pieces were huge!  I mean every bag has a few big pieces, but this was loaded with pieces as big as your fist.

Second, when I put the MAPP torch to the lump it sparked terribly.  It's not uncommon for lump to spark when you light it with a torch, but some sparks worse than others.  This was the.absolute.worst I've ever seen.  Sparks were flying like I had lit fireworks.  I'm lucky that I had a t-shirt on that I wasn't worried about.

Overall, I guess this lump is okay.  But I probably won't buy it again due to how badly it sparks at lighting.




Review: Stubb's All-Natural Charcoal Briquettes

On an impulse, I picked up a bag of Stubbs 100% All-Natural Charcoal Briquettes at my local Lowe's the other day.  I've used sauces from Stubb's and found them to be pretty good and I thought the charocal might be like the Kingsford Competition Briquettes that I've read so much about (but never seen in a store).

So when I got home, I fired up the cooker with a small pile of the Stubbs briquettes and had the cooker going pretty quickly for some pineapple shrimp kabobs.  My first reaction was that there's no difference in appearance or smell to any other briquette that I've used.  And, given that I cook on Kamado style cookers the last thing I wanted was the extra ash that comes from briquettes vs. lump charcoal.

In the end, the fire burned fine but didn't have the nice smell that I've come to expect from burning lump charcoal.  It also created the ash that I had hoped to avoid and did not extinguish cleanly with the ability to relight again.  In short, this was just charcoal briquettes that I'd expected something more from because Stubb's had put their name on the bag.

I don't know about you, but I'm sticking with all natural lump charcoal.



Recipe: Steaks on the Bubba Keg

BK SteaksNow I do a lot more lo 'n' slow than I do high temp grilling, but my daughter has been asking for steak so I obliged. And since the Bubba Keg is at its best at high temps, I fired it up Sunday night for steaks on the grill.  I had picked up 4 filets at Sam's for ~$17.

I raked the ashes out of the bottom of the BK and had it at 500 degrees in about 20 minutes with a fresh load of lump charcoal. The cast iron grate put really nice grill marks on the steaks and except for having to butterfly them (my wife and kids like their steak well-done), these came out perfect. They were juicy and fork tender.

Here's how I prepped them:

  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tablespoon of rosemary

I heated this mixture in the microwave for about a minute to thin the olive oil and help to dissolve the salt.  I wisked the mixture together and then poured it into a square baking dish.  I then dipped each steak into the mixture, taking care to turn each one over to get good coverage.  Then, I covered the dish with cling wrap and and let them marinate in the refrigerator for about 90 minutes.

This simple marinade had a great flavor to compliment the steaks grilled over a hot charcoal fire.  I see more steaks in my future!



The Long, Slow Burn

When I tell folks that the pulled pork they're enjoying cooked for 12+ hrs (or longer), I often hear comments like "Wow, how many times did you have to add charcoal?". People are amazed when I tell them that I didn't add any and that I got a good night's sleep besides. So here's an example to illustrate the burn times that can be achieved with the Big Green Egg.

Over the holiday weekend, I cooked pork butt on three consecutive nights. The last night, Saturday, I fired up the BGE at ~9:00pm for an all nighter. I filled the BGE with lump charcoal almost to the fire ring. The butts cooked until ~2:00pm the next day. At that time, we bumped the temps to 300 degree and put a load of ABT's on the cooker. At ~4:00pm, I removed the plate setter and continued to cook at 300-350 degrees while I put a couple of chicken breasts on.

All told, the cooker ran for ~20 hours on a single load of lump charcoal.  I accomplished this without the aid of an electronic draft device (i.e. a Stoker or BBQ Guru), just controlling temps with the vents and giving the coals a good stir when switching between smoking and grilling.

So how about it?  How long have you cooked a single load of fuel?  And gas doesn't count!  :)