Tantalize Your Tastebuds - Grilling the Perfect Steak with Mesquite

Choosing the best fuel for your barbecue

Searching the internet you'll find plenty of information on recommended meats to barbecue or the best marinade recipe, but there should also be emphasis on cooking with the best fuels. There is no question that cooking with a gas grill is faster and easier than using a charcoal grill, but the end product will not be as flavorful. If flavor is important to you, the best advice we can give is to barbeque with mesquite lump charcoal. There are many different types of mesquite on the market but we recommend Lazzari mesquite. It's also a healthy alternative to using commercial charcoal briquettes, which contain any number of unknown ingredients such as petroleum products, lighter fluid, sawdust and who knows what. Lazzari uses 100% hardwood and they gather the wood ecologically by selectively thinning and pruning mesquite trees. Mesquite also burns hotter than commercial briquettes means faster cooking and a juicier steak.

Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter

You'll need about 30 minutes to get the coals to an optimal temperature for grilling. One way to speed up the process of getting your coals ready is to use a charcoal starter which is far preferrable to spraying your charcoal with lighter fluid. Weber makes a great starter that you can use for either regular charcoal or mesquite. You can find one online for about $12. Scrunch up newspaper and place on the bottom of the starter. Pour the mesquite into the chimney starter and light the paper. Note: mesquite tends to 'pop' and sometimes throw hot embers so make sure that your barbecue is located in an open space, clear of low, overhanging branches. We live in an extremely hot, dry area so always wet the ground around the barbecue before lighting the grill.

Other Recommendations

We like grilling with the Weber One-Touch Silver Kettle Grill. They are available in 18 1/2" or 22 1/2" with the latter being the most versatile and big enough to cook 6 large steaks. If you already own a gas grill this is a great second grill for those times when you just want to cook with charcoal. It is also a basic, high quality grill that is fairly lightweight but sturdy.

We also live in an area where finding premium, hand cut steaks of our choice is not easy. That problem has also been solved by the internet. If you place your order early in the week (because there is no delivery on the weekends and the steak needs to arrive in 2 days or less), it ships the next day with a choice of overnight or 2 day shipping. They don't freeze the meat (and it has never been frozen which is not always true about supermarket cuts) and it is shipped with cold packs to keep it fresh.

Last, we found a great book called the Barbecue Bible which won the 1998 Julia Child CookBook Award, has 500 recipes that cover everything from drinks, salada, sauces, marinades and dry rubs.

"Buy Grilling Items Mentioned"

For the Visually Oriented - See our Photo Essay:

  • A favorite: the Weber One Touch Silver

  • A 5 pound bag of Lazzari Mesquite Charcoal

  • The Weber Chimney Charcoal Starter

  • Crumpled newspaper added to the bottom of the starter

  • Top cooking grate removed from grill and starter placed in grill. Charcoal added.

  • Extra newspaper placed under chimney starter and then set alight.

  • A smokey start.

  • Things underway. Note the embers popping from the mesquite charcoal. It's a good idea to wet the ground around the grill with water.

  • Hot coals are poured out of the chimney starter.

  • A little more charcoal added. We're cooking 3 steaks tonight.

  • Delicious steaks sizzling on the grill.

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