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Video: Charcoal vs. gas grilling

updated 7/30/2007 11:47:53 AM ET 2007-07-30T15:47:53

Acclaimed chefs duke it out at the cookout! Robert Rainford of “License To Grill” recommends cooking with gas, while Michael Lomonaco of Porter House New York stands by the charcoal method. Discover their steak secrets for perfect summer meals:

Recipe: Charcoal Grilled New York Strip Steak, T-bone or Cowboy Rib Eye (on this page) Recipe: Grilled Beef Tenderloin (on this page)

About the chefs:
Chef Robert Rainford
Rainford is based in Ontario, Canada. He is seen on “License To Grill.” On the show he uses gas grills and believes they are a great way to make the perfect steak. He also has a company called Rainford Catering Solutions that offers personalized menus.
Michael Lomonaco
Executive chef/partner of the recently opened PORTER HOUSE NEW YORK, in the Columbus Circle Time Warner building.

Recipe: Charcoal Grilled New York Strip Steak, T-bone or Cowboy Rib Eye

  • 4 16-ounce steaks -- your choice -- cut on the bone, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

EQUIPMENT: Outdoor grill with hardwood charcoal, sometimes called lump charcoal, sold in bags especially for outdoor grills. I prefer not to use charcoal briquettes, which have a less woody-smoky flavor.

I always recommend keeping a fire extinguisher handy whenever there are open flames and hot coals and grills, no matter which fuel method is used, gas or charcoal.

Ignite the charcoal using a steel chimney charcoal fire-starter, available at home centers along with charcoal grills — the chimney method is the more desirable method and is used to safely ignite the charcoal without the use of liquid or gel starters.

1. Place a few pieces of newspaper into the lower section of a charcoal chimney fire-starter —when the paper is safely lighted it will burn safely, igniting the charcoal and eventually allowing the charcoal to burn on its own

2. Fill the top of the chimney with some hardwood charcoal, and rest the chimney within the grill, first removing the metal grate, and then place the chimney inside the grill — carefully light the newspaper. Once the paper has burned, the charcoal should be lightly smoking, and will smolder until the charcoal has turned white — a sign the charcoal is now hot enough to cook over — this will take about 15 minutes. Using heatproof gloves, grab the chimney by its handle, invert the chimney and pour the burning charcoals into belly of the grill. These coals are now ready for cooking. Additional charcoal maybe added to the white-hot coals as you cook, thereby adding more fuel to cook with.

3. Return the grilling grate to its place above the hot coals. Allow the grate to heat for 5 minutes before adding any food. A full chimney of coals should provide enough burning charcoal to cook on your outdoor grill at medium to high heat for 30 minutes, enough time to cook 6-8 steaks. Allowing the grate to preheat is crucial to the hot and fast cooking steaks require.

4. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and place four steaks on the hot grill. Do not overload the grill, as this will cool your grilling surface down excessively, but instead cook in batches, keeping food previously cooked covered and warm on a shelf above the grill or on a side shelf nearby.

5. Cook the steaks on both sides to the desired doneness; medium-rare should take approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Generally, a steak of this size, cooked over a hot charcoal fire, will cook to medium-rare within about 8-10 minutes (4 minutes on each side) with a glistening and charred exterior and a warm rosy interior. Check for doneness by pressing gently with a cautious finger to feel for firmness — the firmer to the touch, the more well-done the beef is.

6. Remove the steaks from the grill and allow to rest for 2 minutes.

7. Serve and enjoy your full-contact grilled steaks

Serving Size

4-6 ample portions

Recipe: Grilled Beef Tenderloin

  • 32 oz beef tenderloin
  • 2 tbs thyme
  • 1 1/2 tbs rosemary
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper (freshly cracked) to taste

1) Preheat grill to 500 degrees F.

2) Lower heat on one side of the BBQ to 300 degrees F or to medium-low. This two-tiered approach will give you options to cook the tenderloin.

3) Drizzle beef tenderloin with olive oil, then season with thyme, rosemary, kosher salt and black pepper

Serving Size

4-6 ample portions


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