Testing Knowledge of How-To’s of Outdoor Cookery : How Does Your Backyard Chef Rate in Expertise on the Basics of Barbecuing?

Are you a Master Brazier or an Amateur Chef? Here’s a quiz from the Barbecue Industry Assn. to measure your expertise on some barbecuing basics. Give yourself two points for each correct answer.

Question: Charcoal briquettes should be stacked in the formation of a:





Answer: Pyramid, because the briquettes will light faster since the air can circulate around them.

Q: After the briquettes are stacked, which charcoal starter should you use?

--liquid, jelly or wax lighter


--solid fuel pack or solid fibrous cubes

--chimney flue-type or electric lighter

--kerosene or gasoline

A: The first three selections are all reliable and easy to use. You may also use briquettes with built-in starter. Never, however, use kerosene or gasoline.

Q: When using liquid starters, let the liquid soak into the briquettes for:

--1 minute

--5 minutes

--10 minutes


A: One minute is sufficient time to allow for starter absorption before lighting coals with a match. For safety, never add more lighter to hot coals.

Q: If you use an electric starter, the element should be removed from the briquettes after:

--2 minutes

--8 minutes

--20 minutes

A: Eight minutes. While leaving the electric starter in the coals for too short a time will light a weak fire, leaving it on for more than eight to 10 minutes may cause a burn-out in the element.

Q: Once the fire is started, the briquettes should be allowed to burn:

--until covered with a light gray ash or have a red glow


--for about 10 minutes until they are slightly gray

--only until they are free of any large yellow flames

A: By day you should see the light gray ash and at night the red glow. This should take from 20 to 40 minutes.

Q: Another judge of when to start cooking is the temperature test. This should be done:

--by cooking a small piece of food

--with an oven thermometer

--with the palm of your hand

A: The simplest, yet most accurate temperature test is done with your hand. Cautiously hold it, palm side down, at cooking height. Time how long you can comfortably keep it in position. If for two seconds, the temperature is high or very hot; three seconds, it is medium-hot or hot; four seconds, medium; five seconds, low. When the briquettes reach the desired temperature, spread them into a single layer with tongs. The edges of the briquettes should touch each other.

Q: Cooking temperature can be raised by:

--lowering the grid and pushing the coals closer together or tapping ash from the coals

--raising the grid, or spreading the coals away from each other

--adding more coals, touching outer edges of the hot coals

A: First, lower the grid and push the coals closer together or tap ash from the coals. Adding more coals can also raise the temperature, but should be done only when cooking larger cuts of meat. If you need to lower the temperature, raise the grid or spread the coals away from each other.

Q: As a rule, briquettes should extend about an inch beyond the food when spread out in a single layer. Use more briquets when:

--the weather is warmer than usual

--the food is lean

--the size of meat or poultry pieces is small

A: Pieces of chicken, meat or fish with little fat will require more briquettes; fatty cuts will require less. Lean foods should be cooked quickly over a high heat to prevent them from drying out. Fatty foods will remain juicy over a lower fire made with fewer briquettes. When the day is cold, more briquettes will be needed to reach the desired cooking temperature. If you are cooking a large roast or whole chicken you will have a longer cooking time and will need more coals to keep the temperature hot.

How Did You Rate?

--14 or better, Master Brazier

--10 to 12, Enlightened Griller

--6 or 8, Barbecue Apprentice

--4 or less, Amateur Chef