This is the quintessential “charcoal” barbecue, and probably the one most people think of as their neighbour lights a barbecue across the garden fence, on a sunny weekend in the summer.
The basic premise here is to cook using solid fuel as your heat source and using the lid as a cover to trap heat, reduce flare-up and infuse your food with delicious smoky flavours. How you control the speed of the cook depends on how close, or how far your food is to the heat source. With your food directly over the fuel, the speed of cooking will increase significantly, and the type of food and results will be similar to those achieved in a frying pan or skillet. Placing food slightly to the side of the fuel, the food has the chance to cook through before being cooked on the outside; similar to cooking in an oven.
The addition of a lid allows a build-up of heat that surrounds the food and creates an oven-like atmosphere. The way to control the heat in a classic charcoal barbecue is by the amount of fuel in the barbecue - the more fuel you have, the greater the heat. The less fuel you have, the lower the heat; and the correct amount of fuel will give you the correct cooking temperature.
This style of barbecue is designed to have both top and bottom vents open at all times to keep the charcoal burning efficiently. If one or both of the vents are restricted too much, or closed entirely, the coals will go out.
Charcoal fuel setup
The following diagrams show a variety of ways to setup your charcoal barbecue. Master these individual cooking methods and it will expand your barbecue
repertoire, opening up a whole new world of delicious recipes.