The Secrets to Great Charcoal Grilling on the Weber: More Than 60 Recipes to Get Delicious Results From Your Grill Every Time

The Secrets to Great Charcoal Grilling on the Weber: More Than 60 Recipes to Get Delicious Results From Your Grill Every Time

by Bill Gillespie


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Be the Master of Your Charcoal Grill with Juicy, Smoky Recipes from a Champion Pitmaster

Barbecue champion Bill Gillespie is a master of smoke and flame—and he’s back with his third book to help you become king of your Weber kettle grill.

Inspired by memories of grilling with his father, Gillespie poured his heart into this comprehensive guide that opens up a world of barbecue possibilities. He starts from the ground up, giving beginners to advanced grillers all the information they need, including the best ways to start the coals, how to get the perfect char, how to time things for exact doneness and ultimately how to get incredible flavor the easy way. Inside, you’ll find delicious recipes for The Perfect Burger Every Time, Skirt Steak Cooked Directly on Hot Coals, Beer Can Chicken and many more.

Whether you aspire to be a pitmaster or simply want to host incredible backyard barbecues, Gillespie has all the tips, tricks and insight to help you up your grilling game. From grill setup to final bites, this is your go-to guide for grilling like a champion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624145063
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 436,526
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Bill Gillespie is the bestselling author of Secrets to Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and Other Smokers, which has over 100,000 copies in print. He’s also the pitmaster of Smokin’ Hoggz BBQ, an award-winning barbecue team that has claimed top prize in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue and the American Royal Invitational, as well as capturing hundreds of other barbecue awards. He lives in Abington, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt



Congratulations on taking your first step on a new adventure in backyard grilling! While I'm not a chef by training, I've had a lot of success at grilling and barbecue contests. As a kid, I used to like to dunk my McDonald's french fries into my strawberry milk shake. If I can go from that to winning the two biggest contests on the competition barbecue circuit, then I think I can help you become a better backyard cook. This chapter contains information about your Weber kettle grill, basic culinary techniques, smoke woods and some tips and best practices. In this chapter, you'll learn about two basic cooking techniques: direct and indirect. If you master these two techniques, you can cook almost anything.

I realize a lot people reading this book might not necessarily be interested in the information pertaining to competition barbecue. The competition barbecue chapter essentially takes what I do at a contest and breaks it down into a process you can use on your Weber kettle grill. Before we get to that, I really want to make sure you develop an understanding of the various ways you can configure the Weber kettle. Understanding the different cooking configurations is a key part of becoming a better backyard cook. Enough of the talk, let's get down to business!


The Weber kettle is made up of three sections: the stand, the base and the lid. It's pretty much a porcelain-enameled metal sphere on a tripod that is easy to clean and highly resistant to corrosion.

At the bottom of the base, there is one three-hole vent. The interior of the base contains a heavy, premium-gauge metal grate the holds the hot charcoal. The amount of oxygen that flows through the vent and reaches the charcoal ultimately determines cooking temperature. As more oxygen reaches the hot charcoal, the temperature increases. The interior of the base also contains the cooking grate where raw, uncooked food gets turned into something delicious.

The lid securely fits atop the base and contains one air vent. This vent typically remains fully open and is crucial for channeling air and smoke through the grill. Airflow into the grill sustains the heat source. If you completely close the top vent, airflow through the grill is severely limited, and the hot charcoal will slowly burn out. The lid is a spherical shape that reflects heat back toward the cooking grate, an important concept to understand.

I'm not endorsed by Weber, but I think their products are outstanding. The thing I like most about the Weber kettle is the versatility it provides. It's quick to set up, easy to use and simple to transport. It's also easy to configure in different ways, in order to take advantage of a variety of cooking methods. Some people might think Weber kettle grills are a little pricey. To me, for what you're getting, it's worth the $150.


Some people like to get into the superscience of backyard cooking. Not me; I like to keep it simple. For me, cooking comes down to flavoring food, controlling temperature and transferring heat. In the Weber kettle, charcoal acts as a fuel source that generates heat. The heat spreads in three ways: conduction, convection and radiation. The way I like to explain it goes something like this:

* Conduction is the transfer of heat by direct contact, such as placing raw food directly onto a hot cooking grate. Essentially, heat travels from the hotter object to the colder one by way of physical contact.

* Convection is the transfer of heat by air molecules, such as the airflow channeling within the kettle.

* Radiation is the transfer of thermal energy without direct contact, such as the heat bouncing off the lid and reflecting back toward the cooking grate.

When you cook on the Weber kettle, you're utilizing all three methods to transfer heat from the hot charcoal to the food. Essentially, you're bringing heat to the outermost surface of the food, and when the food's surface heats up, it then conducts heat inward toward its center. That's basically all there is to it. Not so bad for science stuff, right?

As a chef, the challenge of cooking is not only knowing the best way to transfer heat to different foods — the challenge is also being able to identify when food is properly cooked, so you know when to remove it from the grill. In the end, what you really need to understand is that there are two primary cooking methods you'll use in different ways: direct cooking and indirect cooking. The versatility of the Weber kettle allows you to take advantage of both methods, and we'll discuss them in just a little bit.


One of the things many people enjoy about cooking in the backyard is that they get to play with fire! When cooking on a Weber grill, charcoal acts as the fuel source that creates heat. You have two types of charcoal to choose from: lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes.

Lump charcoal is essentially burnt wood, sold in bags. There are several brands of lump on the market. A lot of people consider lump charcoal to be a cleaner fuel source than charcoal briquettes. Lump charcoal typically burns a little hotter than briquettes, but it has a shorter burn duration. Typically, bags of lump charcoal contain chunks of varying sizes, which produces slightly inconsistent burn times.

Most backyard cooks are already familiar with charcoal briquettes. Essentially, briquettes are made from lump charcoal that is pressed into squares. As a result, briquettes contain binding agents to help them retain their shape. Some people prefer to light charcoal briquettes and let them turn gray before cooking on them. This helps prevent the chemicals that act as binding agents from adversely flavoring food. Several manufacturers sell what are called natural briquettes. These products tend to use natural binding agents, such as corn starch, to help the bricks retain their shape. One advantage to cooking with briquettes is that their uniform shape helps provide a more consistent burn time. As a general rule, I prefer to cook with natural briquettes.

Some backyard cooks like to use the same type of charcoal each and every time they prepare food. This is a good idea, particularly as you're learning to cook on your Weber kettle. Not only will you become familiar with the burn time the specific charcoal brand provides, you'll also get better at estimating how long foods need to cook. When I cook in the backyard, I prefer to use a charcoal chimney to light the charcoal. A charcoal chimney is easy to use. You simply create a small fire at the base of the chimney, and in about fifteen minutes the charcoal is ready to use. To get the fire going, you can light a piece of crumpled up newspaper, a few paper towels drizzled in olive oil or any camp fire starter tab available from a variety of manufacturers. When you see fire shooting up above the charcoal at the top of the chimney, that's usually a good sign the charcoal is hot and ready to use. I never use charcoal lighter fluid to initiate the fire, because I think the fluid infuses a nasty flavor into the food I'm cooking.


Direct cooking is what most people think of when it comes to backyard cooking. You like grilling burgers and dogs, right? This is a form of high-heat cooking, where food is placed directly over red-hot charcoal. Direct cooking generally works well for thin cuts of meat and similar proteins. One advantage of this method is that food cooks quickly. It's a preferred way to cook lean meats, as they'll be less likely to dry out.

Configuring your grill for direct cooking is ridiculously simple. Just light up a charcoal chimney, and when the edges of the charcoal at the top of the chimney start to turn gray, dump the hot coals into your grill. Using metal tongs, form an even layer of charcoal to help eliminate hot spots and create a uniform cooking environment. Direct cooking works well for the following food items:

* Burgers

* Chops

* Drumsticks

* Shrimp

* Steaks

* Scallops

* Lobster

* Vegetables

* Fish

* Lamb

* Venison

* Bison

Ideally, you want the cooking grate about six inches/15 cm above the heat source. When I use the direct cooking method, I usually try to fill the bottom of the grill about twothirds full. This is more than enough fuel to cook various foods. You should get 50 to 60 minutes of burn time from one chimney of lit charcoal.

Something to keep in mind about this cooking method is that it is prone to annoying flare-ups. A common source of flare-ups is fat drippings. Although these drippings can smolder and create smoke that helps flavor food, the shooting flames can become unwieldy. One way to help prevent flare-ups is to keep the lid on the grill. Another way, and the way I prefer, is to use a different cooking method for fatty meats.


When you configure the grill for this method, the food you are cooking is not directly above the heat source. This cooking method is less prone to flare-ups and creates an enhanced flavor in food, particularly if you cook using smoke wood. There are actually two different ways to configure your Weber kettle grill for indirect cooking. One way enables you to cook using indirect heat at a high temperature. This method is great if you're cooking large, lean proteins, such as a beef rib-eye roast, pork loin, a whole turkey or whole chicken. The other way enables you to cook with indirect heat at a low temperature for a long period of time. This is the best method I've learned for making traditional Southern barbecue right on your Weber grill. While it takes a little time to get used to each of these methods, believe me when I tell you they're certainly worth learning!

High-Heat Roasting, Indirect (The Devil's Den)

Use the high-heat indirect method to cook at temperatures around 320°F to 350°F/160°C to 177°C. It's easy to maintain and will produce excellent results for various roasts, whole turkeys or whole chickens. To use this method, simply fire up 54 briquettes in a charcoal chimney. As soon as the bricks at the top of the chimney start to turn gray, dump the chimney into the grill. Using metal tongs, form the hot coals into two piles, on each side of the grill, with 27 bricks in each pile. Make sure the center of the grill contains no hot charcoal. Adjust the vents so the bottom vent is halfway open and the top vent is fully open. Every 35 to 40 minutes, add 8 unlit bricks to each pile of hot charcoal.

This method works well for the following items:

* Whole turkeys

* Whole chickens

* Pork loin

* Beef rib eye

* Roasts

High Heat, Indirect (The Plus Method)

Another option for indirect high-heat cooking is what I like to call the plus method. This method is easy to use and allows you to cook at a hot, consistent temperature over 300°F/149°C for about three hours. All you have to do is arrange the charcoal, two bricks wide and two layers high, into the shape of a plus sign on the charcoal grate. When forming the plus sign, I like to place a Weber charcoal starter tab in the middle of the bottom layer to make starting the fire easier. Because this is an indirect method of cooking, you'll need a heat shield. Place at least two bricks, ideally four, in the empty regions of the charcoal grate. Place a pizza pan or cooking stone on top of the bricks, so it acts as a heat shield. Light the center of the plus sign so it burns in all four directions at once. Place the cooking grate and lid on the grill. Adjust the vents so that the bottom one is halfway open and the top one is fully open.

Low Heat, Indirect (The Snake Method)

They key to making traditional Southern-style barbecue is to cook at a low temperature for a long period of time. Slow, indirect heat is the preferred cooking method for large or tough cuts of meat that have a high fat content. Over time, this cooking method slowly softens tissue (like collagen and sinew) and melts away layers of fat, basting the meat, which helps create a finished product that is tender and flavorful.

You like ribs that are tender and moist with a sticky, candied glaze? This is the technique that will get you there. It's also great for pork butt, beef brisket and shanks. You can configure your Weber kettle grill for low-and-slow-style cooking using what's known as the snake method. For the snake method, you form a row of charcoal two briquettes wide, along the side of the bottom of the kettle. Then, on top of that row, add another row that is one to two bricks wide. If the outside temps are a little cooler, less than 50°F/10°C, use two bricks for the top row, otherwise you can use one brisk for the top row. DO NOT form the charcoal into a complete ring or circle. Basically, you want to end up with two horseshoe- or C-shaped rows of charcoal. It is important to leave a 6 to 8-inch/15 to 20-cm gap between the two ends of the stacked rows. When you light the double-stacked row of charcoal, the fire will slowly burn from one brick to the next, snaking its way around the base of the grill.

Now, the next part of this technique might seem a little crazy. But stay with me here, and I think you'll be happy to get your hungry on. The secret to making the snake method work is a 21-inch/53-cm pizza pan! Why? Because it acts as heat shield and helps maintain an ambient cooking temperature of about 250°F/121°C. Cooking this way creates a long, slow burn that should easily last for six or seven hours.

To configure your Weber kettle grill so you can cook using the snake method:

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE FIREPLACE BRICKS, one alternative is to use two charcoal baskets to hold up the pizza pan. The charcoal baskets take up more space than the bricks, so just make sure you place them on the grate first and then lay out the charcoal.

FOR AN EVEN LONGER BURN, you can try using the S-shape snake configuration.

1. Adjust the bottom vent so that it's halfway open.

2. Adjust the top vent so it's fully open.

3. Arrange a horseshoe- or C-shaped row of charcoal, two briquettes wide, that utilizes about 80 percent of the space in the grill.

4. Arrange a row of charcoal, one briquette wide, on top of the previous row of charcoal. If it's cold or windy, you can arrange the snake in two rows, each of which is two bricks, but on warm summer days, the cooking temperature is likely to rise too high.

5. Add about three pieces of smoke wood.

6. Light thirteen briquettes in a charcoal chimney.

7. Dump the hot charcoals on one end of the snake. DO NOT place them on both ends or the snake will burn too fast.

8. Place two fireplace bricks in the kettle. DO NOT use paving bricks intended for walls or walkways. Fireplace bricks are more resistant to heat.

9. Wrap the 20-inch/51-cm pizza pan in aluminum foil.

10. Place the pizza pan on top of the bricks.

11. Place the cooking grate on your kettle.

12. If you're cooking with a temperature probe, place it on the cooking grate close to where you lit the charcoal. This will create a temperature spike very early in the cooking process, but as the snake moves away from the probe, the overall cooking temperature will stabilize. As a result, placing the probe near the beginning of the snake will actually provide a more accurate reading throughout the cooking process. If you place the probe towards the middle of the snake, the temperature will slowly rise as the fire gets closer to the probe.

13. Place a water pan on top of the cooking grate.

14. Place the meat on the cooking grate.

15. After 20 minutes, close the bottom vent so it's open about one-quarter to one-third of the way.


Two-zone cooking uses a combination of direct and indirect cooking methods. Basically, you configure the grill so it has two regions. One half of the grill contains a pile of lit charcoal and acts as a hot zone, while the other half contains no charcoal and acts as a cool zone. With your grill configured this way, you can easily sear meats using direct heat from the hot zone, then move the items to the cool zone, where they finish cooking from indirect heat. Similarly, you can use this setup to slowly cook meats in the cool zone, then, in the final minutes of cooking, finish them off in the hot zone, so their surface becomes slightly charred, crispy and flavorful. Two-zone cooking offers a versatile setup, and one that I think you'll use frequently as your cooking skills improve. This cooking method works well for the following items:

* Chicken thighs and drumsticks

* Chops

* Steaks

* Pork tenderloin

Something to keep in mind about this cooking method is that you have to learn how long different proteins have to remain in each cooking zone. While this might seem daunting at first, I'm pretty sure you'll get the hang of it. Several of the recipes in this book use the two-zone cooking method, so you'll be a pro in no time!


Excerpted from "The Secrets To Great Charcoal Grilling On The Weber"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Bill Gillespie.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword 6

Introduction 7

All Up In Your Grill 9

Setting Up Your Grill 9

How a Charcoal Grill Works (Science Stuff) 10

Charcoal and Fire 10

Direct Cooking 11

Indirect Cooking 12

Hight Heat Roasting, Indirect (The Devil's Den) 12

High Heat, Indirect (The Plus Method) 13

Low Heat, Indirect (The Snake Method) 13

Two-Zone Cooking 15

Crilling Tips, Tricks and Best Practices 15

Eliminating Flare-Ups 15

How to Tell When Meat Is Done 16

USDA Recommended Cooking Temperatures 16

Cooking with Sauces and Marinades 17

Brining and Injecting 17

The Role of Rubs 17

The Maillard Reaction 17

Smoke Woods, Chips and Chunk 18

Grill Accessories 19

Grill grate 19

Vortex 19

Rapidfire Chimney Starter 19

Charcoal Baskets 19

Hinged Cooking Crate 19

Rib Rack 19

Firebricks 19

Pizza Kettle Accessory 19

Essential Equipment 19

Burger 21

The Perfect Burger Every Time, Plain and Simple 23

Grilled Buffalo Turkey Burger 24

Jalapeño, Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed Burger 27

Meat Loaf 28

Moo (Beef) 31

Rib-Eye Steak 33

Skirt Steak Cooked Directly on Hot Coals 34

Reverse Sear NY Strip Steak with Garlic Butter Sauce and Grilled Onions 37

Tinfoil Stew 38

Chicken (Fowl) 41

Chicken Drumsticks 43

Beer Can Chicken 44

Chicken Breast 47

Wings 48

Pork (Swine) 51

Baby Back Ribs 53

Apple Glazed Porterhouse Pork Chop 54

Country Ribs 57

Perfect Pork Tenderloin with Maple Chipotle Glaze 58

Cubed Pork Belly Nuggets 61

Pork Loin 62

Game Meats 65

Grilled Duck Breast 67

Lamb Chops 68

Mustard and Herb Crusted Grilled Rack of Lamb 71

Turkey 72

Grilled Loin of Venison 75

Sausage and Tube Steaks 77

Grilled Hot Dogs 79

Perfectly Grilled Brats and Sausage 80

Stuffed Sausage Fatty 83

Finz and Shellz 85

Grilled Cod Loin Blackened 87

Grilled Lobster Tail 88

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail 91

Perfect Salmon 92

Grilled Scallops 96

Competition Barbecue 99

Competition Chicken 101

Competition Ribs 105

Competition Pork 108

Competition Brisket 115

Simple BBQ Rub 120

Simple BBQ Sauce 121

Brisket Rub 122

Brisket Injection 122

Brisket Marinade 123

Pizza 125

Basic Cheese Pizza-Two Cooking Methods 127

Raspberry, Mascarpone and Chocolate Drizzle Dessert Pizza 131

Grilled Sandwiches 133

Grilled Chicken Caprese Panini 135

Grill Bologna Sandwich 136

Giant Boneless Rib Sandwich 139

Roast Beef and Caramelized Onion Sandwich/Panini 140

True Grilled Cheese Sandwich 143

Apps, Sides and Veggies 145

Grilled Onions and Peppers 147

ABTs (Atomic Buffalo Turds) 148

Baked Beans and Brown Bread on the Grill 151

Gary's Steak Poppers 152

Grilled Roasted Whole Cauliflower 155

Grilled Potatoes Three Ways 156

Grilled "Baked" Potato 156

Grilled "Mashed" Potato 159

Grilled Potato Wedges with Spicy Ketchup 159

Grilled Corn on the Cob Served Two Ways 160

Grilled Romaine Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing 163

Grilled Tomato and Corn Salsa 164

Summer Squash and Zucchini with Garlic Oil and Feta 167

Grilled Sweet Potato 168

Fruit and Desserts 171

Bacon Weave S'mores 173

Grilled Bananas with Ice Cream and Caramel 178

Grilled French Toast 179

Grilled Peaches and Cream 180

Grilled Pineapple Slices 183

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake 184

Grilled Lemonade 187

About the Author 188

Acknowledgments 189

Index 190

Customer Reviews