basic technique

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4455328823_8598c2a23c_mThree Second Fires

One of the things you’ve probably seen a few times on the blog is the concept of a three second fire.  I use this technique to gauge if a fire is ready to start cooking.  (Oh, and I wish I could say I invented the method, but I pretty much stole the whole concept from Steven Raichlen because he’s a pimp behind the grill.)

Anyway, I wanted to define (definitively) what a three second fire is.  All you need to do is start your grill, come back a short time later, hold your hand above the grill about eighteen inches and start counting:

one Mississippi…two Mississippi…three Mississippi

Now, at this point it should be too uncomfortable to leave your hand above the fire any longer.  If you can leave your hand there a bit longer, the fire is too cold.  If you had to remove your hand before that, it’s too hot.

Remember, though, three second fires are not a way to prove how manly you are by keeping your hand above a roaring flame.  If your hand is too hot, move the darn thing.  There’s no reason to get burnt and besides, if the fire is too hot, you’re going to burn your food anyway.

The Three Second Fire in Review

Okay, here is the three second fire in summary:

1.  Make Fire!
2.  When the coals look they like are ready to go (no black, all gray) hold your hand above the fire
3.  Count three seconds.  If you need to move your hand at that point, the fire is perfect.
4.  If you have to move your hand before three seconds, it’s too hot.  Slow the flow of air or push the coals around.
5.  If could keep your hand above the grill for longer, consider adding more charcoal, increasing the air or pushing the coals together

Happy grilling!  Enjoy!

Thanks to Robert S. Donovan for the pic.