Tailgating Game Plan

Tailgating is one of my favorite activities because it brings together family, friends, sports, and of course, grilling. Now, I’ve done my fair share of tailgating and feel the motto “Go Big or Go Home” fits. After watching this video, I hope you’ll be inspired to make your next tailgate an all day adventure. Watch for me to share my tips, techniques, and fan favorite meals to make your next tailgate a big win!

What are your thoughts? (1)

08.09.13

Carmen P

Hi, Kevin...

Hoping you can help me with a problem with my Weber Performer. When I initially got it, Spring 2012, I had a major problem getting it to retain heat. It would get hot, 400-500 degrees, but quickly drop temperature. I noticed that the problem was worse on windier days. Trying different charcoals helped, always hardwood, but I was never totally pleased with its performance.

This spring/summer I moved the location of the grill to one that I believe is less susceptible to the wind and the performance has been much better. Also, I found a hardwood charcoal that seemed to work very well and maintain a high enough heat to cook steaks, burgers, etc, and also maintain 300 degrees for 2+ hours after I was done cooking.

Now, however, the problem of rapid heat loss has returned. I am using the same charcoal I had been using and the grill is in the same location. On the last occasion, I had a lot of charcoal "bits" from the end of the bag, so perhaps that may have been an issue. The time before that, I don't think I filled the charcoal baskets as completely as I might typically do.

Wondering if you have any tips to ensure that the grill can maintain a higher heat for 30-45 minutes at least, and when it does appear to be losing heat, the best way to perhaps add charcoal and get it back up to heat (as well as any recommendations for keeping it a good temp for longer periods for low and slow cooking). Any recommendations would be most welcome.

Glad I found this blog. Hoping to make ribs next weekend, so I'll be reading that post very carefully.

08.09.13

Kevin Kolman

Hi Carmen,

Wow! It sounds like we have a grilling adventure to embark on. Lets go paragraph by paragraph.

First of all, yes, wind will play a bit with charcoal grills. Preheating and damper adjustment is key. I live very close to Chicago, "the windy city," and have had my fair share of weather issues. However, I have not had the problems you seem to be having with your Weber Performer. Different types of charcoal can help, but preheating properly, keeping the lid closed as much as possible, and also using the correct amounts of charcoal are key to temperature control.

Remember, when using charcoal the dampers are key to achieve the temperature you are looking to grill at. Charcoal burns faster and hotter with more oxygen. Although it might seem basic, if the thermometer is not directly over the coals the temperature will not be exactly accurate. I use my thermometer as an indicator and follow the Grilling Guide that was supplied with my grill as the ultimate guideline. One more thing, charcoal briquettes lose a whole heat zone about every 30 to 40 minutes. This means that the temperatures drop from high to medium, or medium to low, so you must always take this into account. Lump charcoal loses a whole heat zone about every 20-30 minutes.

Here are a couple of general tips when it comes to charcoal. One, try to use the same kind for a little while. This will give you a better idea of how fast and hot this particular fuel will burn. Also, once it is ashed over, get the lid on the grill with the dampers open for 10-15 minutes. This allows the grill to come up to temperature. Understand that you will most likely only be able to grill one load of food on the grill before you need to add charcoal or maintain the temperature. The best way to add charcoal is to make sure at least one basket is directly over the hinged cooking grate for easy access, or after the first batch of food is grilled take the grate off and fill both baskets carefully. Now, if you want to maintain low and slow temperatures for slow cooking, I would recommend indirect heat and to make sure the dampers are almost completely closed. Less oxygen is the key to keeping the temperatures low for slow cooking. Also, research the snake method for lighting charcoal. I have found this method also works well for low and slow. Try taking a look at my ribs video for some great tips on smoking and the keys to perfect ribs. Also, check out my Facebook under Kevin's Backyard for more tips and techniques. I hope this helps get you started. Keep me posted on everything!

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin