A Guide to Grilling Techniques

There are 4 different grilling methods. To be able to grill great tasting barbeques, you need to be familiar about what method to use for best results.

Direct Grilling

It is the most used technique. It is when the heat is directly under the food. It can be applied in both charcoal and gas grills. This is the best method for grilling small amounts of food in thin slices, which can be cooked in less than 30 minutes –such as chicken, prawns, steaks, fish, burgers and even vegetables. With this technique, the heat and smoke is quickly transferred to your food.

The best way to setup a grill for direct barbecuing is to create 3 zones – a hot zone, a cooking zone and a cool zone. This will prevent the food from getting overcooked. To setup your charcoal grill for direct grilling, just spread the charcoal on an even layer under the grate and pre-heat the grate. Make sure to lightly brush the meat with oil before cooking it.

To create 3 zones, the coals should only be on one third of the grill, piled 2x higher than the coals on the cooking zone right beside it. The last zone should have no heat under it. This is where you can place the meat when it is starting to burn. As an example, you can sear a steak by placing it on the hot zone, then moving it to the cooking zone to cook the inside of the meat and then transfer it to the cool zone to keep it warm.

On a gas grill, you can also create 3 zones by adjusting the burners to high, medium and low depending on how many burners you have.

Cooking through direct grilling is most often done on an ordinary open barbecue grill. However, when you grill directly using a grill with a lid, the steam gets into the food making it juicier and more tender.

Indirect Grilling

It is best when cooking larger foods and tougher meats which would require a longer time to cook at a moderate heat– such as whole chicken, turkey, briskets and ribs. The food is not cooked over the heat source but rather right beside it. A grill with a lid is best when using this technique as the heat is retained, which allows the food to absorb more smoke and flavors.

To setup your charcoal grill for indirect grilling, spread the coals under the grate and light the charcoal with a lighter fluid or newspaper until they start to glow red. Move the coals on the opposite sides of the grill, leaving no coal on the middle. Put a drip pan with water (some use beer or juice to add flavor) between the glowing embers. Cook the meat on the center of the grill over the drip pan. The purpose of the drip pan is to catch the drippings which can cause flare-ups that will burn the food. Always keep the lid of the grill closed to maintain the temperature. If you keep opening, it will lengthen the cooking time and you won’t maintain the heat at 275 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It would help if you have a temperature gauge. Your grill has to have vents where you can adjust the temperature via the airflow.

To barbecue indirectly on a gas grill, light one side of the grill and then cook on the other side. If you have 3 or 4 burners, light the outside burners and cook on the center.

Circular Method

It is a technique which uses briquettes. The stones are placed in a circle around the grill. This method can be used when grilling really big meat cuts such as whole turkeys, but is most often used for making bread and pizza – and can only be done on a charcoal grill.

Setting up your grill using the circular method is the same as setting it up for indirect grilling. The difference lies in the way you arrange the hot briquettes. In this method, you will place it around the grill in a circle, along the edges. A drip pan should also be placed in the middle to catch the drippings and avoid flare-ups.

50/50 Method

This grilling technique is used when your food needs to be “browned” first and then cooked for a long time. It’s grilling 50% on direct heat and 50% on indirect heat. For this, you need 2 zones. Set up your grill the way you would when grilling indirectly. One side should have a pile of hot briquettes and the other side a drip tray with hot water. Once the briquettes are hot enough, position the grate and place the food above the briquettes. Once brown, move the food to the cooking zone, above the drip tray – where it will cook in indirect heat.

You can also do this on gas grills with 2 burners. Once browned, just transfer the meat on the side of the burners that are not lit. For single burners, turn the knob to the lowest setting when the food is brown.

A Guide to Grilling Techniques

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