Grill Tender Vegetables Right on Your Charcoal Chimney

Grill Tender Vegetables Right on Your Charcoal Chimney

If you cook with charcoal, you need a charcoal chimney. It’s not that you can’t get your coals hot without one, but using one really speeds up the process, and ensures your coals are consistently scorching every time. Even with a chimney, it takes about half an hour to get them white hot and ready to grill. Instead of wasting that time, use it to cook some vegetables.

When prepping your charcoal, you want to let it hang out in the chimney until it’s stopped smoking, and the corners of the top layer of coals have gotten white and ashy (about two thirds of the coals should be ashed over). But even before you hit that ideal grilling temp, those coals are hot, and you can use that heat to get a quick, smokey char on delicate, tender vegetables like asparagus, broccolini, thinly sliced squash, peppers, or any other plant part that does well with a blast of super hot heat. Sturdy vegetables like potatoes and carrots aren’t good candidates, but cucumbers (or pickles)? Those are perfect.

Start your charcoal chimney the usual way: Fill it with charcoal and set it over a lit lighter cube. Let the chimney do its thing. Once it stops smoking and you can see glowing red light under the top layer of coals, place a wire rack over the chimney and prep your vegetables. (If you notice your wire rack warping, don’t panic. You can bend it back into place by pressing on it while it’s still hot. Just make sure to use heat-resistant gloves.)

I gave some asparagus a quick toss in olive oil and sprinkled it with a healthy amount of salt, then set them on the wire rack and let them cook for about a minute, flipping once, until they had a good amount of char all over and bent ever so slightly when I picked them up with tongs. It was fast. It was delicious. The stalks were sweet and smokey, but still fresh tasting. The quick blast of heat cooked them just enough to temper the rawness, without obliterating their more verdant qualities.

Once your vegetables are cooked, your charcoal should be ready to go. Dump it on your charcoal grate and proceed with your original grilling plan, which should be unchanged, save for the fact that you now have delicious grilled vegetables to snack on.

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