Grilling Methods, How to Choose

grilling101

If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, you use the DIRECT METHOD.

DIRECT GRILLING means that you put the food directly over the heat source-similar to broiling in your oven.

If the food takes longer than 20 minutes to cook, bone-in chicken pieces, roasts, whole chickens and turkeys, etc. you use the INDIRECT METHOD.

INDIRECT GRILLING means that the heat is on either side of the food and the burners are turned off under the food.

FLARE-UPS -COVERING THE GRILL

Chicken pieces with the skin on, sausages, hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks are very easy to grill, but because of the fat that is inherently in those foods, (as opposed to vegetables) you have to watch out for flare-ups. Sweet marinades and too much olive or vegetable oil can also cause flare-ups.

The quickest way to extinguish flare-ups is to put the lid on the grill. The lid will reduce the amount of oxygen that feeds the fire-thus limiting or eliminating the flare-ups.

That's one of the reasons that I almost always grill with the lid down.

Bone-in chicken pieces will take between 60-90 minutes to cook, so we will use Indirect heat to barbecue them. (Boneless skinless chicken breasts only take about 20 minutes to cook, so we use the direct method for them.) Generally whenever you want to make "barbecue" will be indirect; remember, "low heat and slow cooking."

Cooking by the Indirect Method will assure that the inside is juicy and tender at the same time that the outside is deeply caramelized and crusty.

Season the chicken with your favorite barbecue rub and finish them with a sweet and sassy barbecue sauce-your favorite or one from the site! The Girls are always partial to sauce that is made from brown sugar and bourbon!

Besides lighting the grill, telling when the food is "done"--much less perfectly prepared-makes many of us otherwise confident hostesses, quiver in our proverbial boots.

 Not to worry, arm yourself with two tools:

  • A timer
  • An instant-read meat thermometer

Both are inexpensive and worth every penny! Set the timer for the number of minutes that you think the food will need before turning, etc. Base this estimate on what the recipe says, or your past experience. Then use your instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature to see if your timing is correct. Chicken pieces should register 165º F in the white meat and 180ºF in the dark meat. Remember, grilling is much more of an art than a science and the cooking times will vary slightly based on many factors including wind, thickness of food, starting temperature of food (refrigerator cold vs. room temperature) preheating the grill and the cooking temperature. Once you get the hang of it, you'll realize that the mystery is part of the game of grilling and one of the things that makes it so much fun!

And remember, anytime you use a sweet barbecue sauce, you must wait until the last 20 minutes to sauce the food. Otherwise, the exterior will burn before the interior is cooked through.

A chef friend once told us, the only difference between a restaurant chef and the rest of us is…timing and using enough salt. Since he told me that, we've paid attention to both and feel they are key to grilling success.

LET'S TALK ABOUT TIMING …

Getting the job of the food prepared and ready to serve at the same time is like being the conductor of an orchestra. You are orchestrating your meal to get it to the table in time to eat it all together while all the dishes are at their prime. The best tip for this is to design your menu to include both recipes that can be done in advance and recipes that need last minute attention. Read your recipe and start backwards, including any time that you need for the meat to rest.


 

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a food fanatic and the Grill Girl from North Carolina who has seasoned, basted and tasted my way across the country. Please join me on my non-stop, culinary journey...


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