Equipment

A Love Letter to the Weber Kettle Charcoal Grill

The beauty of a Weber kettle grill is both its simplicity and its versatility.
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Published Sept. 1, 2023.

A hulking, rubbed-down pork butt, thirsty for smoke and ready for the long, slow heat it needs to become so tender it shreds with a stern look.

Those glistening, deeply marbled rib eyes I wasn’t planning on buying but looked so good in the meat case and, well, sometimes you just need an expensive steak.

Burgers for my kids—no cheese, please, and not too pink in the center or else I'll will have to bring them back to the grill for a little extra cooking.

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“Uncle Lew’s Chicken,” a family recipe (a variant of Cornell Chicken) heavy on vinegar and poultry seasoning.

Cedar-Planked Salmon, an amazingly delicious Cook’s Country recipe that lets you “do the dishes” after dinner by burning the cooking plank in the embers.

Recipe

Cedar-Planked Salmon

Seasoning the salmon with a simple cure of brown sugar, salt, dill, and pepper while the plank soaks allows the flavors to penetrate the fish.
Start Cooking

These are just a small selection of things that I love to make on my Weber charcoal grill. Our top-rated charcoal grill is the fancier model that has a gas ignition, charcoal storage bin, and a built-in table, but I prefer the lower-key, smaller-footprint version, the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch (both of these grills earned our coveted “highly recommended” designation).

This grill makes me happy—it looks like a classic Weber grill (the core design, inspired by nautical buoys, is timeless) but has a few updates that earn big points for user-friendliness. Features I love include the hinged grilling grate that makes it easy to add extra charcoal or wood chips, the easy-to-empty ash catcher, the thermometer built into the lid, and the handle notches for hanging grill tools.

Highly Recommended

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch

Weber’s versatile, well-designed classic kettle was an expert griller and maintained heat well.
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. . . the rewards of cooking over charcoal far outweigh any inconveniences.

Is a charcoal grill more work than a gas grill? Yes, it is. It takes some effort to light (do yourself a favor and buy a good chimney starter to handle this task) and arrange the charcoal, and you have to empty the ashes regularly. Vents above and below need to be adjusted, oftentimes during cooking. A charcoal grill is more challenging to cook on, too, since you can’t just turn a mound of burning charcoal from “low” to “high” like you can with the flames of a gas grill by simply turning a knob.

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Whether you’re new to grilling or consider yourself a genuine pit master, Master of the Grill is perfect for you. We've divided this book into three sections (The Basics, The Easy Upgrades, and Serious Projects) to help you find recipes that suit your level of grilling.
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But to me, the rewards of cooking over charcoal far outweigh any inconveniences. A charcoal fire is a live fire: a living, breathing thing that requires some degree of engagement to stay on top of. Wind, humidity, outside temperature, and the age and type of charcoal are just some of the variables that make every charcoal fire unique—the cook needs to be observant and responsive. Learned intuition becomes important.

And, if you like to slow-smoke meats and fish like I do, a gas grill can’t compare to the Weber charcoal grill. Perhaps most important, though: The smell of burning charcoal is a powerful trigger, a mood enhancer that signals the brain to get its pleasure receptors revved up for the great food, laughter, and lightness of spirit that are on the menu. Fire up the grill!

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