Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Direct Grilling VS Indirect Grilling

Well there always been the big debate to when to grill direct or indirect on the grill. Well I will try to answer all of you questions in this write up as much as I can.

Direct Grilling

Direct grilling is basically grilling directly over the flames, burner or heat source. This method is usually used to grill hot and fast for things like steaks and pork chops.  But this method of grilling can be used for medium heat items like burgers, hot dogs, boneless poultry, fish fillets, shrimps, vegetables and spuds. A good general rule of thumbs is to grill anything that’s less then 2 inches in thickness direct and anything that will take 20 minutes or less to grill.

Direct grilling is also the method you use to sear meats which give you that nice caramelize texture of sauces and that wonderful crisp from the sear marks.

When grilling direct bring your grill to temp and maintain that temp for a good five minutes so the internal grill temp can stabilize and this will also give you a faster recovery time from heat loss when opening the lid to add food. When food is place over the direct heat you want to turn it at least ounce half way through the cook. Usually when grilling directly you will be basting and saucing as well and turning your meat during the cooking process. A good point to remember is that the thinner cuts of meat will grill a lot faster! If meat is exposed to very high heat for too long it can result in dry tough meat.

For ceramic cookers such as Kamado Joe, Primo, and Big Green Egg you can only grill with one zone or two zones for direct grilling. You can get a fire box dividers for the large and XL models but for the large models you have to get aftermarket divider or make your own with a fire brick!

One zone set up!
Divider for two zone

The two zone methods allow you to have one hot and one medium side or one side for direct and the other for indirect grilling which we will talk about later. To create the two direct zones you put a bigger amount of coals on one side and a lesser amount on the other side usually half the amount of the opposite side. You can also do this without the divider but its a little more work! 

If you use a grill such as a Weber Kettle you can set up the grill in three methods for direct grilling.

Method 1

Your hot coals are spread in even layer which will create one zone of grilling. This method is the most basic method for grilling one or two items at a time.

Method 2

The two zone method this gives you a medium heat and hot zone to work with. You put a double layer of hot coals on half of the grill and a single layer for the other half of the fire box.
Method 3

It’s a three zone method which is a lot more practical and a safer method of grilling multiple items at a time. To set this up you want to rake half of the hot coals into a double layer over 1/3 of the fire box bottom. Place the remainder of the hot coals in the center portion of the fire box at the same time you want to leave the remaining 1 third portion without any charcoal. This will create a hot, medium and cold zone. This method is best because it gives you better control of heat and also offers you a safe zone encase your food ends up cooking to fast to prevent it from burning.

Indirect Grilling

The Indirect grilling method is used for lager cuts of meats and anything that takes longer then 20 minutes to cook. This method is used primarily for long and slow cooks for foods like, Briskets, Turkey, ribs, chicken pieces, pork tenderloins, etc. It’s basically used to grill tougher food that would normally burn at higher temps. For indirect grilling you usually want a grill internal temperature of 225 ° F to 325 °F range.

You usually grill in a zone next to the fire or burner using this method. But most of us will use some sort of heat deflector between the grill and fire.

On a gas grill you can set up indirect zone by having one burner on and the other off. You then place your food on the side that the burner is off to cook indirect. If you have only one burner you can place a metal drip pan between the burners and cooking grate.

If you’re using a Weber Kettle you can create indirect zone by placing hot coals in two even mounds on each side leaving the center of the fire box empty. In the middle of the fire box you want to put your drip pans which will help hold the hot coals in place on each side. Some Weber grills come with two charcoal basket specially design for this method. With this method you want to cook your food in the center of the grate. You can also place pans above the hot colds with liquid inside such as apple juice, water, beer, etc. which give moister meats and also infuses extra flavors in the meats.

source: amazingribs.com

For ceramic cookers to cook indirect you can achieve this by using your heat deflector or plate setter as a barrier between the fire and the cooking grate.

With ceramic cookers you can also cook direct and indirect at the same time. This is achieved by dividing your fire box in half using a divider. You then hot charcoals only on one side of the divider. You go about cooking direct by placing food on top of the hot coals side and indirect on the side that there’s no charcoal. It’s that simple.

Source: http://www.smoked-meat.com/

Also you can get the best of both worlds by cooking semi-indirect by using a product called Grillgrates. This is one of my preferred methods!

Happy Grilling! :)

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