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Basic Grilling Book for Weber Kettle

Hello, I have a Weber kettle that doesn't see much use, and this year one of my main cooking goals is to learn how to use it. I hate heating up the kitchen during the summer and this year I would like to be able to cook dinner on the grill often -- even on weeknights. I am looking for a very straightforward book, with easy but satisfying recipes, and lots of pictures, to help with this. I think either How to Grill by Raichlen or The Weber Way to Grill book might serve this purpose. Does anybody have any opinion as to which is better in terms of (1) clarity of grilling instructions; (2) simplicity of recipes; and (3) deliciousness of results?

(Oh, I have a pretty good-sized cookbook collection, and many of my existing books have recipes for the grill that I would love to try. With this purchase, I am not so much looking for grilling recipes, but for learning the technique of grilling, which I can then adapt to any recipes. Also, I have two young kids, so if the recipes involve too much chopping, prepping etc. I will not be able to execute them. The recipes HAVE to be simple. As a point of reference, I do have a Schlesinger and Willoughby book but I never use it because for the most part the recipes involve too much prep, though I did make a very good grilled whole chicken once, but that was one of the most basic recipes in the book.)

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  1. I'm no fan of Raichlen but I think his books are probably pretty good.

    My advise? Get yourself a charcoal chimney and some lump charcoal, some chunks of wood (avoid those silly chips) and fire that baby up. Experiment, have some fun. There are no rules.

    6 Replies
    1. re: chileheadmike

      Thanks Mike. I do have a charcoal chimney and always use lump charcoal but have had problems with different brands burning at different rates, some burning out too fast, others seeming to take too long and not getting hot enough, everything taking forever, etc. This deters me from using the grill because the inconsistency drives me crazy. Which I realize is an issue that wouldn't be covered by these books, but I have a feeling I would be better able to gauge what was happening with the charcoal if I had a better understanding of grilling techniques in general.

      1. re: Westminstress

        Go to NakedWhiz.com and read their lump charcoal database and reviews. Find one brand that you can source locally and gets good reviews, once you find one you like stick to it.

        We use the Royal Oak in the red bag that is made in the USA and is pretty readily available at Walmart. We use 3 buckets and separate out the charcoal into small, medium and large for ease in creating the fire. Proper building with lump allows good air flow and a better burn.

        1. re: rasputina

          Thank you, this is a great resource. I think the one most commonly available near me is cowboy which I can see gets terrible reviews (and I did not care for it). Do you know of a good source that explains the basics of grilling with lump charcoal?

        2. re: Westminstress

          We've been very happy with Stubb's charcoal briquettes and when that's not available, with Royal Oak. They both seem to burn hot and long with none of that acrid smell that's so typical of Kingsford.

          1. re: CindyJ

            Actually, something has changed. I've been having a hard time finding Stubb's, so lately I've been buying Royal Oak briquettes with ridges -- and it definitely smells not good. Has anyone else noticed this?

        3. re: chileheadmike

          I agree with pretty much all of this. Not a big Raichlen fan either, but I second the book rec. Definitely a fan of the trial and error, and the wood chunks. I see it like this - if it can be baked/roasted in an oven, or can be cooked in a skillet or grill pan, as long as I can keep it from falling through the grates, I can grill it.
          As to the variations in burning lump charcoal, that is where the consistency of briquettes comes in. You will find them more controllable while you are learning. If you don't want briquettes, find a good quality lump, and use the same brand every time. That will help, though it will still burn hotter and faster than briquettes. I agree with the recommendation for Royal Oak, and I don't like the Cowboy brand at all, and will not buy it.

        4. Is the issue recipes or technique?

          1 Reply
          1. re: rasputina

            Oh definitely technique. How to build and control the fire, what methods work best with different cuts of meat (and veg of course). Really basic stuff like that.

          2. trial and error is the best, most grilling doesn't require chopping or much prep (falls through the grate) bamboo skewers soaked for maybe 1/2 hour opens up all sorts of possibilities for smaller things like chunks of eggplant or shrimp. a fish basket can be improvised out of old cooling racks.

            I've seen the Weber book and after the first few pages it goes into arcana of how to do just about everything on the grill and can get overwhelming/distracting (I'd skip the cakes). stick to the basics and be the master of your fire being mindful of manipulating direct vs. indirect heat. that is the key.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hill food

              Thanks -- so it sounds like the Raichlen might be better for me?

            2. I think both books are good intros, but I prefer the Raichlen book. Clearly illustrated, step by step instructions, and not too complicated recipes. Once you graduate from those, BBQ USA gives a good crossection of regional styles and Planet Barbecue does the same for global versions of grilling/bbq.

              Consistent burn times with lump charcoal is why I switched to briquettes for most grilling and only use some lump on top for searing. I recommend skipping the charcoal chimney and going with Weber Firestarter Cubes. Two parrafin tablets on a pile of briquettes and you have a pile of hot coals inside 15 minutes. No smoke. No flaming paper. Very easy to manages with tongs or a garden hoe.

              7 Replies
              1. re: monkeyrotica

                Thank you, this is helpful. One of my issues for weeknight cooking is definitely going to be getting a hot fire going in the shortest possible amount of time.

                I looked at BBQ USA and Planet BBQ but felt that it was more information and recipes than I need right now. The basic Raichlen seemed good based on Amazon sneak peek but I couldn't get a very good sense of the Weber book so as to compare.

                1. re: Westminstress

                  Old Weber recipe booklets that came with the grills in the 1960s and '70s are available for free download at the Weber Smokey Mountain site. Some of the recipes are pretty vintage, but grilling a steak still involves grilling a steak.


                2. re: monkeyrotica

                  flaming paper? I suppose if the chimney is pulled off too soon, I just layer a few briquets then some paper, then the rest of the briquets and raise it maybe half an inch (2 cm) to allow more oxygen to hit the coals, I still expect a waiting period later once spread to get all the coals going. If one chooses the parafin route, I would emphasize don't skimp on them, I bought some cheap ones once and holy cow. the smoke that poured out was so thick a neighbor called down from her window "do we have a new Pope or should I call the Fire Department?"

                  it's true - you do get what you pay for.

                  1. re: hill food

                    Since we stopped getting the newspaper, I found it more and more difficult to find something to stick in that chimney. I have three and only use them when I need a lot of lit charcoal at the same time. For the most part, I stick with the Weber wax tablets. I always take them with the Weber Jumbo Joe when I go on picnics and camping trips.

                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      camping - that makes sense, at home I use shredded credit card offers (Capital One mostly - thank you Falls Church!).

                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        We are always picking up the free one-day-a-week newspapers scattered everywhere around town.

                        Free chimney starter 'starter'. LoL

                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                          I've never used the paraffin starters, though I've heard good things about them. Like you, I don't get the newspaper regularly. I do have friends who do, so every now and then they bring me a bag of newspaper that was destined for the recycle bin, and I "recycle" it into good grilled food instead :-)
                          I've also found that opting for paper instead of plastic at the grocery store provides great starter for the chimneys.

                          I did just read this today:
                          and I think that I may try it for the chimney. It seems like a possibly similar thing to the paraffin starters. Maybe this is why I always throw corks into the drawer where the corkscrew is kept! There had to be a reason...

                    2. I am also a fan of trial and error but the Weber Cook books are quite good - http://store.weber.com/accessories/ca...

                      1. Serious Barbecue, best book out there. To learn the basics of cue Smoke & spice is a great choice.

                        1. I might be off topic .My question is when do you cover the Weber with the lid or leave it off ? I cook steaks with it off, but cover when using low and slow. Am I using this grill correctly ?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: emglow101

                            I actually use it all the time - with steaks it comes off and on quite frequently to check the steaks - but when cooking low and slow or for roasts or BBQ chicken I will leave it on - and check less frequently.

                            1. re: emglow101

                              emglow - are you being facetious? but yes you are doing good, if ya wanna go really low 'n' slow, bank the coals off to one side, food on the other and get all conservative on the upper and lower venting.

                              steaks? an open fire (no lid) sufficiently blazng to forge pig iron I say.

                              1. re: hill food

                                Just asking. It's always assumed to use the cover for the Weber. I find that it's not necessary to not cover while grilling. I scoff at my friends who tend to do so. Not being facetious.

                                1. re: emglow101

                                  sorry but I had to ask. (as much as I spill BS on others, you'd think I'd have a better sense)

                                  back on topic: sometimes cover sometimes not.

                                  1. re: hill food

                                    Most of the time I want to grill, not roast, so the cover stays off, except to help tame the flames.
                                    Trick is building a fire so there's a small area with two layers of coals, another area with one layer and the rest with no coals for indirect heat.
                                    For longer cook times like chicken, it's easier to use the lid so it doesn't flare up constantly.
                                    For low and slow, the WSM comes out.
                                    The virtual weber bullet site has mostly BBQ info, but the forum section on grilling is good.

                            2. Thank you everyone! We just cleaned up the grill this weekend. I now have How to Grill, a big bag of Royal Oak, and I have some nice grass fed steaks in the freezer. We are ready to grill next weekend for sure!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Westminstress

                                Have fun, and don't be too intimidated by the barbecue.
                                One thing I would make sure of is to always have a section without charcoal, so if you see things are cooking to fast, you just move them to the side

                              2. Just a quick follow-up for those that may come along later looking for some info ... this book has been great for me! Exactly what I was looking for. So far I have yet to follow a recipe from the book. I have employed the techniques though, with great results. I love how the book is organized according to type and cut of meat/fish/veg -- makes it really easy to adapt techniques to what I have available.

                                Yesterday, for example, I came home from the farmers market with fresh, skin-on bluefish fillets. I looked in the book which had great explanation for how to grill skin-on fish fillets. The recipe in the book was for salmon with a mustard sauce. But I just used the same technique for the bluefish and served it with Marcella Hazan's salmoriglio sauce. It was fantastic!

                                To cook the fish, we just put them on the grill over medium heat, skin side down, and covered the grill. No turning, no flipping! They cooked through in 6-7 minutes and were nice and moist with a good grilled flavor and crispy skin. I wouldn't have thought of this method on my own, but it was a great and very easy way to cook fish on the grill.

                                2 Replies
                                1. Not a book, but not really a recipe either. Just a darn good way to do a whole chicken with the technique fully explained.

                                  Don't think Kenji mentions it, but I did the (popular with roasting turkeys) "ice down the breast to give the dark meat a head start" trick - probably the best chicken I've ever done.

                                  As for books, I have enjoyed my 'Born to Grill' and 'Smoke & Spice' but the truth is that lately I just surf the web when I want to try something new.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                                    Thanks! Just did a whole chicken on the grill tonight. Came out great! If I can get over my fear of spatchcocking I will try this method next.

                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                      Sorry for the delayed response, I've been away. Good shears make spatchcocking a breeze. I use these:

                                  2. I see the thread has shifted to lump. Two things, look for a brand that has consistent size and very little to none of the the tiny trash pieces. Then popping, if it has been stored improperly and for long time in high humidity then it will pop. Could be the store selling last years bags. Other than that, pound for pound, lump should cook as long as briquettes. But, since lump doesn't cover with ash, the infrared will cook harsher any meat in line of sight. Briquettes cover with ash and cook more through convection.

                                    1. Well, after a summer of grilling, most successfully, we are using mostly Royal Oak charcoal in a chimney starter. We have to make special runs to Home Depot for the charcoal but it is worth it, as it seems to burn much more consistently than the brands sold at my neighborhood stores. Looking forward to keeping the grill fired up all through the fall and possibly beyond!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                        when you find yourself out there late at night in a blizzard or a hurricane, you will have truly arrived.

                                        we eagerly anticipate your progress.