Grilling 101: Cooking Techniques
Providing good food and good times at the grill is no easy task. It takes a whole lot of passion and skill to keep the masses coming back for more. You’ve perfected your signature dishes. How about expanding your menu? Different cooking techniques can give your food the variety and kick you’re looking for.
Here are some things you’ll want to know if you want to be a veteran grillmaster.
Direct vs. Indirect Heat
Knowledge about direct and indirect heat can help give meals the perfect texture and flavor. Whenever a meal has been charred outside and raw inside, the culprit is usually improper use of heat. Cooking with direct heat means that you’re cooking your food directly over the fire/heating element. Cooking with indirect heat means that food is placed near the heat source, similar to cooking something in an oven.
For most of your grilling needs, a combination of direct and indirect cooking will get the job done. You can get a good sear on your meat with direct heat, but you should then use indirect heat to finish the cooking process.
Looking to flex your muscles and try something different with your food? Here are some things to consider when using different cooking techniques.
It’s best to avoid lighter fluid. Lighter fluid is expensive, dangerous and also leaves a tell-tale gasoline flavor to foods. Consider investing in a chimney starter. Most chimney starters will hold around 100 briquettes, providing enough heat for most charcoal-style grills. It takes about 20 minutes to produce a glowing red-gray coal, ready to dump on the grill.
Let the grill preheat for 15 minutes. This allows the entire cooking chamber to be heated and gets rid of anything that was left from the previous grill session. After 15 minutes, don’t forget to brush and oil the grates.
Wood Grill/Fire Pit
Give yourself enough time to prep. Let the wood burn down to coals and then use the coals for cooking. Placement is important. Banking the coals to one side of the pit and cooking on the opposite side will give you more control of the heat and also reduce the chance of flare-ups.
Smokers can provide a unique layer of flavor to meats. Any wood that doesn’t have sap can be used for smoking. Be sure to give yourself enough time to smoke your food—slow cooking and low heat are key. If you don’t want to spend money on a separate smoker, you can also create a smoker environment in your grill.
Cast-iron grill plates are great for grilling in the off-season. Be aware of indoor electric grills—they may enough heat to properly sear meat. Due to their design, they tend to steam the meat, causing overcooking.
Learning the about the different ways to cook with your grill provides you with many different ways to invent and reinvent your food. Since you’ve already got the friends and family, why not try these different techniques to turn them into devoted fans of a grillmaster?