New Primo owners experience a lot of epiphanies. They realize how easy they are to light, how quickly they get to temp, how efficiently they burn lump charcoal, how much lump charcoal remains after each use, and of course, how it elevates food! In contrast, the most common initial misconception we hear when we first introduce someone to a Primo is the perception that charcoal grills are thin metal kettles that use briquettes, smell like lighter fluid, and take forever to heat up. We want to eliminate this misconception- you only want to use lump charcoal and never any lighter fluid in a Primo! Briquettes will burn to ash, however, when finished using your Primo, simply close the vents to stop the burn. You will be able to re-use any unburned coals. The photos illustrate charcoal leftover after a 6 hour burn!
Here are a few simple lighting techniques:
As pictured above, we recommend using Primo Quick Lights or the Bernzomatic TS3000KC Self-Igniting Torch to light the Primo. There are also other quick light options including Weber paraffin cubes, the Looftlighter, and other propane torches.
Open the bottom vent completely before you light the grill. Once lit, shut the lid and leave both vents open until you approach your target temperatures.
To light with a propane torch, create a small hole in the lump and nestle in the nozzle for 10 seconds or so. Done.
To use a Primo Quick Light simply nestle in a hole and light with a lighter. In a pinch the box comes with a quick strike area but it is much easier to just light with a lighter. Depending on what you are cooking you may want to light the grill in 1 to 4 places, breaking the oval into quadrants.
If you are going to grill your food at a higher temperature you can insert the grates immediately after lighting to heat up with the grill. If you are going to smoke your food, leave the grates out after lighting. Make sure you soak your wood chips or chunks for at least a half hour before draining.
When grill is at or even slightly above your target smoking temp add the soaked wood directly to the coals. Be sure to add the appropriate amount of wood contingent on what you are smoking! We heard the concern about not being able to add more wood easily once everything is in place- simply add enough before you start! A Primo Oval XL can burn for DAYS on a full load of charcoal at 225! Quick true story: for an weekend event we lit a Primo late Friday night to do an overnight smoke on 4 pork butts at 225- the pork finished in the early afternoon on Saturday- we pulled it and put in foil pans. Next, chicken thighs were smoked in the afternoon at 275 and then grill was turned down to 200 to use a warmer for the pans of pork. After a few hours of beverages, we cranked the grill up to cook half a dozen pizzas, one after the other, for the late night crowd. The grill was shut down at that point but fired up the next morning for fried eggs and bacon on the cast iron griddle. All on one load of charcoal.
Position the drip pan racks and ceramic d plates over the coals and wood. We highly recommend covering the d plates in foil for easy cleaning. Also, be conscious of their position to make sure there is a gap around them and in the center for good air flow.
Place the grates and the grill is ready to smoke. The addition of the wet wood, the d plates, and whatever cold meat you put on will significantly drop the temp of the grill. At this point we highly recommend you position dual temp probes for the pit and the meat before you close the lid. Typically you’ll leave the bottom vent wide open until you approach your target temp. The top vent can stay open about 1 inch. It’s very important to adjust the vents well before your target temp. For instance, if you want to target 225, we recommend you adjust the bottom vent to about 1/4 inch once the pit temp hits 170. The temp will slowly ease into place and be easy to stabilize at your desired temp.