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I used the grill my parents got Jess and I for our anniversary for the first time tonight. I made burgers (ground beef).

Couple observations:
* Trader Joe's charcoal isn't briquettes. This is weird to me. I've never seen charcoal that wasn't briquettes. But it did smell pretty damn good.
* Charcoal Chimney? AMAZING. Seriously, if you've ever cooked with charcoal and dealt with the "how can we help it stay lit?" problem, the charcoal chimney is seriously incredible. No work at all.
* The grill we have is too big to have the charcoal we need to cook 'look right' for only two people -- we only need like 2 pounds of charcoal, and it ends up looking lonely in our giant grill :) However, if we were cooking for four or six, I think we would have needed to put a lot more charcoal in the chimney, and it would have looked closer. (Also, burgers don't really require a lot of heat compared to something like steaks, I don't think. So this is good.)

Kristan fried squash, and I cooked burgers, and they came out really well.

I'm very happy with the gift, and looking forward to using it more.

Pictures of the grill on flickr, and ones of the charcoal chimney are under 'fire'.

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I have the same Weber grill (green instead of black) and Weber chimney and yes they are awesome. I use newspaper stuffed under the chimney to start the real charcoal. The Weber fire starters (look like little cups of Crisco) work well but newspaper is just as good so that's what I use.

From your pictures it looks like you waited a little too long to dump the coals from the chimney into the bottom of the grill. I wait about 8 minutes and dump them. Then I throw on a few pieces of mesquite or hickory depending on what I'm cooking. The nice thing about a Weber is that you will never burn a steak as long as you keep the cover on. I flip the meat only once when I see the juice coming through the top of the steak or burger.

Charcoal briquettes are made mostly from coal which produces more heat than real charcoal made from wood but has mercury in it.

When you are done grilling close the bottom vent and the top vent and the charcoal will go out. You can reuse the charcoal another day.


I went with the newspaper -- it was (amazingly enough) the suggested path from the Weber Brand Charcoal Chimney(tm) Handbook, though it did mention the firestarters as an additional possibility.

So, I was going by some instructions that said something along the lines of "Wait until the top charcoal has just started going grey, and then dump it from the chimney." In this case, note that I'm using Trader Joe's "Cowboy Charcoal" or something like that -- instead of briquettes, it's actual wood (Maple/Oak/Hickory, I think is what it said). The smell was very nice, very campfirey and not at all chemical-y like I'm used to with the standard briquettes, so if you're looking at shape, that might be a difference. I'll keep an eye on the clock next time: I think I did end up waiting a bit too long, but not horribly so. I'll keep your advice in mind.

I think I flipped a bit too early on the first one -- still getting the hang of it -- but let the second one sit. I have some difficulties being patient enough in general in all cooking, and that applied here too. Still, I only ended up with the one extra flip, and both burgers ended up cooked all the way through, so that's good :)

Hadn't known about the ability to reuse once the charcoal goes out -- do you start by putting it back in the chimney again, then, or do you just dump hot charcoal on top and let it catch the other stuff, or what? Or do you just put it back in the charcoal bag, and if it comes out again, great?

We haven't been big red meat eaters around here for quite a while: I'm sort of hoping that I'll change that this summer, since I love me some red meat, I just don't really know how to cook it other than grilling :)

I use Cowboy Charcoal also. After you are done grilling I shut the vent (the one with the 4 holes) on the cover and turn the bottom vent counter clockwise. There will be no airflow and the charcoal will stop combusting. The next time you grill scoop the used charcoal back in the chimney and then top it off with new charcoal. Any used charcoal that is too small to burn will fall through the bottom grate and end up in the ash pan. I throw the ashes into my garden.

Grilling is easy once you get the hang of it. You really have to remember two things: don't grill over a yellow flame and only flip the meat once.

Some of my friends get together on Saturday night and have a cookout. One friend in particular lives on a cul-de-sac and has a fire pit that he lights with what seems like a half-cord of wood. This burns until sunrise Sunday morning. All the guys in the neighborhood sit around drinking beer and watching the fire, all night until sunrise. We call watching the fire - watching caveman TV. I guess that's what people did before they had television.


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Enh, I was uncomfortable enough grilling the meat. Grilling the squash would probably have been more than I could take :)

I thought about it, actually! But yeah, grills are ... enh.

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I'm glad you've owned up to your ... hm. Well, yes, cooking tips. I've definitely had and done the grilled squash thing before, just not with his, and he was all "ooh grilling meat!" about it. :p

Oh, and while I know how to grill stuff, Chris probably does not know that one can grill vegetables, or would attempt to do it minus foil, thus covering his vegetables in meaty coal grossness. So yay for Chris absorbing cooking information. I need to get him to watch Good Eats.

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