Charcoal is still the most common fuel used for outdoor cooking--particularly the popular briquettes. Of late, many of the brands are incorporating mesquite, recognized for its clean burning and high-heat properties. For best results when using this fuel:
--Store charcoal in a dry place. Dampness will prevent it from lighting and burning properly.
--As a general rule, estimate the number of briquettes needed by spreading them in a single layer, extending about an inch beyond the area needed to cook the food. About 10 briquettes an hour need to be added for foods that require longer cooking.
--Spreading coals farther apart produces a cooler fire than packing them close together. This also permits arrangement to accommodate different foods that are cooked at the same time.
Here are a number of techniques for lighting charcoal:
--When using liquid starter, pile the briquettes into a pyramid, sprinkle with fluid and ignite with a match.
--Solid starters may be piled along with the briquettes and ignited with a match.
--Electric starters are fast and convenient to use, if a power source is available. Pyramid the briquettes over the coil and plug it in. Once the briquettes have been started, 8 to 12 minutes, remove the starter to a fireproof place until it cools.