MagicCityBurn’s New Adventures in Charcoal

So, I’ve largely used the same charcoal for years now. It’s an 80/20 Oak/Hickory blend and not some secret recipe like the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe Natural Lump Charcoal. Lately, ownership of my favorite local store changed hands and they’ve stopped carrying the good stuff in favor of the branded stuff from Kamado Joe. They assure me that it’s the same, but, especially, for low and slow cooks, any shift in charcoal can really impart changes to the flavor of your meat. And I’ve been reluctant to make a large scale change, preferring to buy small bags of whatever natural lump coals I could find at the grocery store. Anyway, I ran out of charcoal before┬ámy last NY Strip cook and had to sear steaks over apple wood chunks with hickory chips. It was a sad day in the Magic City (the steaks were fine, but it took a couple days for the smell to wear off).

Fogo

So, after some significant time reading reviews, I have begrudgingly accepted the newest member of the Magic City Burn family, Fogo All Natural Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal. It extols supposed virtues like a brown bag, mild, oaky flavor, no sparks (which may be worth the switch all on its own), and is apparently the #1 Best Seller for Lump Charcoal on Amazon. Of course, like all natural lump charcoal, it isn’t loaded down with chemicals, fillers and lighter fluid.

I’ve got 35 lbs of the stuff on the way. So I should be able to give it a good trial run. I may re-run through some old recipes or try some new ones to kick the tires and light the fires, so to speak. Stay tuned for rum and bourbon laced opinions.

 

8 Responses

  1. I use Royal Oak 100% All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal, which is available at our local grocery store (HEB). My understanding is that Royal Oak makes the BGE branded charcoal, the difference being that BGE is more uniform in size of the lumps.

    At any rate, I have tried other generic brands, but Royal Oak seems to work quite well and I don’t have to have it shipped in.

    1. Thanks! I didn’t realize that about Royal Oak. I’ve long been a fan of the brown bag lump and have used Royal Oak on more than one occasion. It’s been a trick to find in larger bags here though. The local hardware shop where I used to buy charcoal changed ownership and the new owners went out and became Kamado Joe dealers and stopped carrying everything else. They won’t even order the stuff I had bought there for years anymore. So, necessity being what it is, I found myself hunting a solution.

      There are several BGE retailers locally who stock the BGE stuff and other brands, but I really can’t complain too much about two day Prime shipping from Amazon. And it’s still only a little over a buck a pound.

      1. Yes, I’m buying the 5 lb bags two at a time – one to burn and one in reserve; when the reserve bag is opened, I buy two more. That size is convenient for me, as I don’t have much storage. I’m using the BGE two or three times a week, so five pounds last a couple of weeks for normal cooking – steaks, fish, chops, etc. And my supplier (HEB) grocery is around the corner, so to speak.

        I am also Amazon Prime. I hadn’t considered the free shipping angle. May need to look into that.

        1. During the winter, we mostly use the Egg for pizzas and steaks. Probably twice a week. Maybe a pork chop or chicken here and there, but way fewer ten hour cooks.

          From spring to fall in Alabama? Some weeks it ends up being four nights a week and a weekend BBQ.

          1. 35 lbs is a LOT of charcoal. I’ve got a water tight charcoal bin out next to my Egg table and I doubt I have 1/3 of that monster bag in it. Also of note, Amazon ships the monster bag of charcoal inside an equally monstrous box.

            Trying to figure out when I can cook ribs now.

  2. I don t know how anyone is getting this new coal even lit. After the starter fluid burns down it goes out on us. Match Light is the only one we can get lit for some reason. Anyone else having this problem??

    1. I never use starter fluid. Whether it’s true or not, I think it influences the taste of what you’re cooking. I do use the little match box size starters, which are completely consumed during charcoal ignition. BGE makes (or sells) their own brand, but the supermarket brand works just as well. I place that in a little hollow in the center of a mix of old and new charcoal. Over that I place a starter chimney, which looks like an oversized tin can. I put a couple of sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney and fill the rest with new charcoal. It takes about 10 minutes to get the charcoal going. When it is going, dump it out and spread the following coals around. Then close the vents on the BGE as needed.

    2. Same here. I don’t use starter fluid at all. I do use a Looftlighter (and used an electric element charcoal starter before that) to start my coals and it seems to produce a manageable fire in 4 minutes or so. I use it outdoors in the chiminea, for fire pits at friends’ houses and for the Egg. It’s a cool tool and will set just about anything on fire without lighter fluid.

      If you aren’t using a Kamado cooker, or at least aren’t using an Egg lighter or starter bricks, +1 on Jim’s suggestion to use a chimney starter. Before moving to the Egg, I used a chimney and natural lump coal to start all of my fires and had long given up on lighter fluid.

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