Grilling with Indirect Heat

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Have you ever tried to grill up some moist, evenly cooked chicken on the bone with crispy golden skin, but instead ended up with a burned-on-the-outside and raw-inside, barely recognizable piece of meat? Indirect grilling would have been your solution. Indirect grilling is effective for large cuts of meat (thick steaks, roasts or even entire chickens) that need long, slow heat, or foods (like pizza) that need to be seared, then finished slowly.

  • If cooking with charcoal, heat the coals as usual in the chimney starter. When the coals have a fine, grey ash, pour them into the grill. To set up layers of heat, bank the coals to one side, or lay them heavily on two sides with a light layer of coals (or none at all) in the center, or spread them just around the perimeter.

  • If using a gas grill with multiple burners, turn on the outside two burners and leave the center burner off or on low.

During cooking, the food is seared over high heat, then moved to a cooler spot to finish cooking. A lid is placed over the food to create an oven-like environment. On gas grills, it's fine to use the attached lid, but when using charcoal, disposable aluminum containers are best, as they help avoid a resinous taste.

Grilling vs. BBQ
Barbecue and grilling are two different things.

  • As a verb, 'barbecue' refers to many styles of outdoor cookery. But actual barbecue (as a noun) is a very specific style: it's a slow cooking technique where meat — usually a lot of it — is cooked over coals at a low temperature (somewhere between 212 and 300 degrees F) for a long time. The low temperature makes the meat tender and juicy, and the long hours over burning coals lend a smokiness you just can't get any other way.

  • Barbecue isn't exactly quick, after-work weeknight cooking. It's an event. It's party food: it's bound to attract every neighbor within smelling distance, which is why it's almost always cooked in large volume.

  • Grilling, on the other hand, is fast food in the best possible sense: it's quick cooking over high heat (just enough time to get a good char and an infusion of woodsmoke). You can do it over direct or indirect flame, with the cover on or cover off, but as long as the fire's hot, you're grilling.

  • Grilling's versatile — just about everything tastes better on the grill: vegetables, fruit, even desserts, not just meat, fish and fowl.

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