Kettle BBQ FIRE MANAGEMENT

The basic Kettle BBQ is still one of the most versatile BBQ you can own.

You can set a kettle up for a long Slow cook, for Roasting or Baking or you can Grill.

Kettles work well with either Charcoal or briquettes.

Next time you see one out on the verge on Council clean-up day, pick it up and give it a new home!

There are a couple of ways to setup your fuel to maintain a reliable Low fire in a Kettle BBQ

The thing to remember about a kettle is that it will start off hot and the heat will reduce over time as the fuel is burnt.

You need to judge the charcoal you will need for the duration of the cook so you still have heat left at the end.

I always try to have something on hand that will use the remaining heat, baking bread is good for this.

A word on Briquette Fuels:

Briquettes can be made from Coal, Charcoal or a blend of Coal and/or Charcoal and Wood.

Some are compacted densely and are presented as an extruded “Log”, these burn HOT and last a long time but are hard to light.

Others take the form of “pillows”, these are usually lighter in density, light easily and burn with a moderate heat

Some Briquettes give off a tasteless volatile gas as they heat up.

Flame burns hotter than briquettes

Lighting briquettes with a flame (like a firelighter) will ignite the gas and can produce an acrid, heavy, bad smelling smoke.

Lighting briquettes from another, already lit briquette happens at a lower temperature, the gas is still there but it does not ignite and does not produce acrid smoke.

This is why they are fine to be used in a Snake, Fuse, Maze or by Minion method.

Here in Australia a popular fuel is Heat Beads®, they are similar to Kingsford, Weber and other brands but are made from Brown Coal

There is no Accelerant in Heat Beads® Original BBQ Briquettes.

Heat Beads® Easylight do have an accelerant in them, don’t use them for BBQ.

Heat Beads® Original BBQ Briquettes are made from coal dust, they also contain a binder, an oxidising agent, and a bulking agent to hold the heat.

Each of these materials has a very specific purpose and is naturally occurring.

The binder used to hold the briquettes together is food grade starch, it is included so they don’t crumble.

An oxidising agent makes the briquettes easier to light. This material is a Nitrate salt, often used as a food preservative. Without it, the briquettes would take a long time to light and require more firelighters. The Nitrate given of as the briquettes burn and assists in the development of the “Smoke Ring” on cooked meats.

The final ingredient added to BBQ Briquettes provides a thermal mass to hold the heat generated by the carbon burning, to ensure Heat Beads® BBQ Briquettes stay hotter for longer. This ingredient is Sand, it is also why you will occasionally get “Clinkers” left behind after the briquettes are burnt out.

Lighting the Fuel:

Rapid Fire Grate

Place a couple of firelighters down in the V indents inn the charcoal grate

Fill the baskets with fuel

Light the firelighters

Place the baskets over the lit firelighters

Sit down with a beer and wait for the fire to be lit.

Move the baskets to where you want them with a pair of BBQ tongs

Chimney Starter

A Charcoal Chimney is a great investment, it will make lighting the charcoal much easier.

Fill the chimney with fuel

Place some firelighters on a fireproof surface

Light the firelighters and sit the chimney over the top of them

Sit down with a beer and wait for the fire to be lit.

Pick the chimney up and pour the lit fuel where you want it

Leave a couple of lit pieces of fuel in the chimney, top it up with unlit fuel and it will light that batch for you. This is great when you need a constant supply of already lit fuel.

NOTE:

Never light your chimney on a concrete surface, the heat will shatter the concrete and can send hot coals flying everywhere!

Roasting Fire

For Roasting you will generally want an even heat.

Set the kettle up with a basket of hot fuel on either side of the Kettle and a drip pan in the middle

Place the food on the cooking grate above the drip pan

Grilling Fire

Bring both charcoal baskets together on one side of the kettle, his will give you a Hot zone for Grilling and a Medium zone for resting.

Baking Fire

For baking, I’ll either use the residual heat rom a Roast or I’ll get a moderate fire going in the middle of the charcoal grate and place a pizza stone on the cooking grate to deflect the heat and provide an Oven Floor

Hot Infrared Fire

For this kind of Hot Infrared heat you need a Vortex or Cone.

Low N Slow Fire

The Snake/Fuse and Minion methods are perfect for Low N Slow.

Both these methods employ a small fire of lit fuel which progressively light the unlit fuel to maintain temperature

The Minion Method
The Snake or Fuse Method
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