Grill like and expert|Charcoal brings out the best of flavors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This fall, take advantage of the cool evenings to enjoy one of America’s favorite pastimes — charcoal grilling. Using simple techniques and tools, it’s possible to grill like an expert in your own backyard.

Chris Lilly, head chef of the award-winning Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team, says to achieve competition-level cuisine at home, you must control temperature, adjust grill vents and utilize a two-zone fire.

“While competing, I have specialized equipment that helps me achieve optimal heat levels,” said Lilly, who has won two Memphis in May Grand Championships and eight barbecue grand championships across the Southeast.

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“But when I’m in my backyard, I use Kingsford Briquets, which give me the high heat of lump charcoal with the consistency of a charcoal briquet. This provides flexibility and perfect results whether I’m searing, slow cooking or grilling.”

Whether it’s a quick meal fired up for the family, or a big backyard cookout for the whole neighborhood, get outside and start grilling like a pro.

Grilling tips

Borrow champion pitmaster Chris Lilly’s grilling techniques for your next cookout:

Smoke the Competition. When smoking meat, pay special attention to controlling internal grill temperature. For an accurate reading, place a candy thermometer’s probe through the top grill vent. Maintain a temperature of about 225 to 250°. If the temperature rises above this range, slide the vent directly under the charcoal nearly closed while wearing heat-protective gloves. Continue to monitor and open the vent again as the temperature drops.

Sear to Perfection. When searing meat, place it over the hottest part of the grill. Cook for roughly 1 1/2 minutes on each side, only flipping once, and remove from the grill. This method provides doneness on each side while maintaining the rich, red color and flavors in the center.

Achieve Perfect Color. When applying a dry rub to chicken pieces, it’s hard to keep the rub affixed while keeping the chicken’s original, golden color. Try painting chicken pieces with yellow mustard prior to applying the rub. Not only will the rub stay in place, your final product will be visually appealing — without any trace of mustard flavor.

Split the Difference. To cook split chicken halves evenly, place the darker meat toward the hottest part of your two-zone grill. That way, the leaner white meat will not dry out and the chicken will cook consistently.

For tips, recipes and instructional videos inspired by new Kingsford Competition Briquets, visit