Test Kitchen tips: Charcoal chimney starter
A gas grill is a wonderfully easy way to fire up your grilling season, but for real flavor nothing beats cooking over real charcoal. That is, so long as that great charcoal flavor isn't ruined by the taste of lighter fluid.
For a quick, surefire way to light your charcoal without having to douse the hardwood or briquettes with lighter fluid, try a charcoal chimney starter. It's simple to use: Crumple some newspaper and stuff it in the bottom of the chimney, then place the charcoal on top. Light the newspaper and in 15 to 20 minutes your coals are ready for their moment. While the chimney starter is working its magic, you'll have plenty of time to worry about other all-important grilling rituals, like setting up your lawn chair and cracking open a cold beer.
Chimney starters are generally available wherever grills and grilling supplies are sold, such as at hardware stores, drug stores and select grocery stores. They're also available online, and should set you back no more than $10 to $15.
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-- Noelle Carter
Photo credits, from top: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times