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Three Ways to Use Your Grill

Direct grilling

This means cooking food right over the fire. There’s no better way to grill things that are relatively thin and tender: steaks, burgers, sliced vegetables, fish fillets. Generally, direct grilling is done over medium-high or high heat.

Three-zone grilling

This is a more sophisticated form of direct grilling, useful for regulating the heat on a charcoal grill. Rake half the hot coals into a double layer at one side of the grill to make a high-heat zone. Rake the remaining coals into a single layer in the grill’s center; this is the moderate-heat zone. Leave a portion of the grill without any coals at all for cooking over low heat (or stopping something from burning).

Indirect grilling

This technique turns your grill into a sort of barbecue pit or outdoor oven. Use it to cook tougher, or larger, cuts of meat or whole birds—racks of ribs, beef briskets, legs of lamb—when direct grilling would burn the exterior before the center gets hot.

For a charcoal grill, rake the hot coals into two piles at opposite sides of the grill. Place a foil drip pan between them. If you're using wood chips for extra smoke, toss them on the coals. Install the grate and place the food in the center, over the drip pan. Cover the grill and adjust the vents to obtain a temperature of 325 to 350 degrees. (Use an oven thermometer if your grill doesn’t have its own.) After an hour or so, add 12 fresh coals to each side, leaving the grill uncovered until the coals light.

For a two-burner gas grill, preheat one burner to high and place the food above the other. For a three- or four-burner gas grill, light the outside burners and cook the food in the center. If the grill has a smoker box, put wood chips in it. If not, wrap them loosely in foil, poke holes in the top and place the package above one burner.

Published June 2001
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