Note: This is NOT a sponsored article. We have no connection with Weber Grill. This is just a heartfelt article from a middle-aged dude waxing nostalgic about childhood summer cookouts where a Weber Kettle Grill took center stage.
It’s summertime, and that means cookouts.
When it comes to BBQ-ing around here, I’ve been using a gas grill during the 10 years I’ve lived in my house. It’s super convenient. Just turn the knob and light the grill. Bam. Fire.
Creating a three-zone fire on my gas grill is incredibly easy. A few twists of the knobs, and I can have a high-heat zone, medium-heat zone, and low-heat zone at the ready.
Yet, while I love the convenience of cooking with a gas grill, it does lack a certain charm that I associated with outdoor cooking growing up. Like a lot of American kids, my family had a charcoal-fueled Weber Kettle Grill in the backyard. With its black, porcelain-enameled lid and bowl, this iconic, spherical cooking device was a fixture of my suburban childhood. And getting that baby lit and going was like an ancestral ritual.
To my childhood mind, firing up a Weber charcoal grill had existential significance. It felt like an important, manly task because in my home, like I’m sure in many homes across America, my dad was in charge of it. It all started about an hour before eating time. First, Pops would wheel the grill out to the grass. Then he’d empty out the old ashes into a brown paper sack and hand me the cooking grate to go clean in the laundry room. When I got back, he’d pour a big pile of charcoal into the Weber’s shiny black bowl. Kingsford brand, natch. Then came a spray with some lighter fluid, and the strike and toss of a match.
After enjoying the sound of a newly birthed charcoal fire, we’d stand around the grill and watch the flame slowly get smaller and smaller, and the charcoal get whiter and whiter.
At a certain moment, Dad would decide that the charcoal was ready for cooking. On would go the grate, and an assortment of burger patties, hot dogs, and sausages were laid upon this culinary altar.
Once the victuals were hot and sizzling, they were eagerly placed inside soft Wonder Bread buns, slathered with ketchup and all the other fixins, and devoured with gusto. Each bite tasted of the charcoal-imparted flavor of smoke. Each bite tasted of summer. At least that’s how I remember it.
The other day as I was cooking burgers in a far more antiseptic fashion on my gas grill, I started waxing nostalgic about these Weber Grill-related memories of mine. I decided I wanted to try cooking on one myself, to see if it was as good as I recalled.
How to Use a Weber Kettle Grill
To get reacquainted with the Weber Kettle Grill as a grown man, I first went down to my local Home Depot and bought the classic model for myself. The grill set me back $120. Not bad for something that can provide years of use.
Then, I called my friend and resident AoM meat-cooking consultant, Karl Engel, and asked him to show me the ropes on how to cook with it. Here’s what he taught me.
Load Your Charcoal (You Don’t Need as Much as You Think)
Pick your charcoal of choice. You can’t go wrong with the standard Kingsford briquettes. Karl doesn’t like to use the Match Light variety, in which the briquettes are already coated in lighter fluid; he doesn’t think they burn as well,