While it is possible to burn common charcoal briquettes as Grill Dome fuel, lump charcoal will give the best results. Because the Grill Dome is designed to draw air through itself to perpetuate an even fire and heat, the clean-burning quality of lump charcoal is especially useful for maintaining clear air passages throughout the cook. Lump charcoal is widely available. I use Basque or Cowboy lump for my cooks.
Also, a few chunks of hickory, pecan, apple, mesquite or other hardwood can be used to add a smoked flavor to just about any cook on the Grill Dome. Wood chips and flavoring pellets are also available.
Many Grill Dome cooks simply pour lump charcoal from the bag into the firebox and usually have great results; however, for those who want to refine their Grill Dome fire-building skills, the type of cook (such as a high-temperature or long low-and-slow) can determine how the firebox should be loaded for best results
When loading the firebox, remove the porcelain cooking grate and arrange the charcoal in a pyramid fashion, being careful not to block the airflow holes on the sides of the firebox (for longer cooks, it might not be possible not to cover the holes partially).
For a higher-temperature, short-time cook such as searing steaks it’s best to load the firebox with larger pieces of lump for a hotter fire. Because you are cooking for a short period of time, you should fill the firebox about half way.
For a low-and-slow cook of eight hours or more, it’s best to fill the firebox up to the fire ring to ensure you won’t run out of fuel. The Grill Dome is capable of cooking more than 24 hours on a single load of charcoal.
One of the many advantages of the Grill Dome is that you can re-use any left-over charcoal. Just give it a stir with the ash tool so that the ash will fall to the bottom of the Grill Dome, light the old lump and add a fresh lump on top to the necessary level. (After three or four cooks, you’ll want to remove the ash collected under the fire ring by using the ash tool to scrape the ashes out of the bottom damper.
When you’re ready to cook, lighting the Grill Dome should be one of the first things you do. There are several methods to use in lighting the fire in your Grill Dome. Newspaper, fire-starter cubes, an electric charcoal starter, or a charcoal chimney, can all be used.
Avoid any type of starter fluid when using your Grill Dome.
Before beginning any of the following methods:
- Open the Grill Dome lid and remove the porcelain cooking grate.
- Open the bottom draft sliding door all the way.
- Remove or leave off the ceramic top or open the sliding metal top to its widest position.
Never leave your ignited Grill Dome unattended with the dampers open all the way as it can develop a very hot fire very quickly.
- Loosely crumple several pieces of newspaper and place them on the ceramic grate at the bottom of the grill dome.
- Add lump charcoal on top of the paper making sure to leave the air holes in the firebox unblocked and leaving several pieces of the paper exposed for lighting.
- Light the newspaper in spots.
- After the newspaper ignites, close the lid.
Using Firestarter Cubes
- Load the firebox with lump charcoal and evenly place three firestarter cubes on the hardwood.
- Using a kitchen match or a BBQ butane lighter light the cubes and allow them to burn for about a minute or two.
- Close the lid. The Grill Dome should reach 350 degrees F. within 10 minutes.
Using An Electric Charcoal Lighter
If the Grill Dome is near a source of electricity, you might enjoy the convenience of an electric charcoal lighter.
- Place a base layer of charcoal in grill.
- Position four to five inches of the lighter element on the base layer with lighter element on the base layer with lighter handle well outside the fire area.
- Pyramid remaining charcoal over lighter element loop. Do not cover element with charcoal past the support bracket.
- Plug in the lighter.
- Close the lid, leaving the lighter in the Grill Dome for approximately eight minutes. Do not leave it unattended.
- Unplug lighter and open the Grill Dome lid.
Remove the lighter from charcoal.