Certified Creole BBQ’s Tips N’ Tricks in the Pit

The following blog post was written by our longtime ambassador James Llorens, Certified Creole BBQ, who is committed to perfecting his personal craft in the art of BBQ, while also having fun and sharing his journey. Truly a result of his learned expertise, he offers some very important grilling tips that help him out in the pit.

There are many things that go on while BBQ'n in the pit. I've listed various tips n' tricks that work for me along with explanations in order to help make BBQ'n easier and to produce delicious food.

Gloves in the Pit

When I first started BBQ'n, I rarely wore gloves to clean my pits or handle the charcoal. My hands were always stained with oil and charcoal from the grill, so I was constantly washing them and creating a mess in the sink. Now I always wear gloves while in the pit and highly suggest you do as well. It will help protect your hands from all the grill's oils and ashes, as well as prevent them from turning black from the charcoal. You're going to get some on your hands regardless, but this will help limit the amount. I recommend using Char-Griller's Grill Gloves when handling hot charcoal and the chimney. Otherwise, you can use disposable gloves or a solid pair of waterproof nitrile coated gloves.

Handling the Chimney

Prior to filling your Char-Griller Charcoal Chimney, hold it with one hand and place your other hand underneath. Move the plate that drops the charcoal inside the chimney up & down to ensure you will get a clean release when you initiate the trigger to drop the hot charcoal.

Filling the Chimney

When filling the Char-Griller Charcoal Chimney with lump charcoal, I begin filling it with smaller pieces and place the larger pieces on top. I do this to help ignite the charcoal when I light it using charcoal starters. The smaller pieces will light up quickly and help spark the larger pieces. It's also a great way to utilize the smaller pieces of charcoal that are in the bag.

Dual Fuel Grill Grates

When using my Char-Griller Hybrid Gas & Charcoal Grill, on the gas side I use the grill grates from the charcoal side of the grill. This helps give off some charcoal BBQ flavor.

Achieving Crispy Chicken

When smoking a whole chicken, wings, legs or thighs and they are almost done, crack the lid a little to crisp up the skin. The extra airflow lets the moisture out, producing crispy and delicious skin. I use the Char-Griller Grate Lifter to help crack my grills. 

Other Uses for the Char-Griller Grate Lifter

Not only is the grate lifter great for moving the grill grates around, it is also a great tool for moving the hot charcoal around in the pit without burning my hands. It's absolutely perfect and one of my favorite grill accessories to use.

Offset Smoking: Controlling the Smoke

When smoking meat of any kind, I always keep the smokestack located on top of the grill completely open. This causes the smoke to flow through from the side firebox over and around the meat, and out of the smokestack without suffocating the meat. I am able to control the temperature of the smoker using the damper on the vent located on the side firebox. Closing it decreases the heat and opening it to allows it to get hotter.

Offset Smoking: The Fire

Fire up one chimney full of lump charcoal to start. Your grill/smoker will run hot in the beginning, but this allows it to completely warm up and it cleans/seasons the grill grates for the cook ahead. Next, apply cooking oil to the grill grates to further clean/season them. I do this for about 20-30 minutes. This truly helps to keep my pits clean and the food tasty. When the temperature begins to decrease, I add to my fire using lump charcoal, mini wood logs or wood chunks. While cooking I maintain the fire from the side firebox and keep the top smokestack completely open. allowing the smoke to flow around the food, as not to suffocate it. Before adding food to the grill/smoker, as it's warming/seasoning up, I use both vents to get control of the heat/temperature by slightly closing them to lower it and opening the vents to get it hotter.

**If my fire is running too hot, I use my Char-Griller Grill Gloves and Grate Lifter to remove the larger pieces of charcoal from the fire and place them in my chimney that I keep located underneath my grill/smoker close to the side firebox. This will help bring the temperature down quickly but be careful. When the fire lowers, I drop the removed charcoal back into the side firebox.**

Reusing Lump Charcoal

It is definitely okay to reuse leftover lump charcoal and it's something I do often. Charcoal is expensive and I do not like to waste. After using lump charcoal, I wait until it is completely cooled off, before removing the larger leftover pieces and discarding the smaller pieces. I place them in the Char-Griller Charcoal Chimney and either reuse them for my next cook or to season my grills/smokers.

Burping the Grill Hood

Double pumping the grill hood before opening it allows the smoke that will be released to roll upward into the air and prevents it from getting into your face or your electronic device if you're capturing the moment for content.