Charcoal Grilling Techniques

kettle grill with burning charcoal

How to Grill and Tips on Using Barbeque Briquettes

There’s two methods of cooking using a charcoal grill, direct and indirect cooking. Find out when a particular cooking method should be used. The inexperienced griller will often use a direct grilling method when the meat calls for indirect grilling methods. The end result is either under cooked meat or charred meat. Before learning the two methods of cooking with BBQ briquettes, learn the proper methods of how to light a charcoal grill.

Indirect versus Direct Grilling Methods

Certain meats that require longer cooking times require the indirect cooking method. Thick cuts of meat also require the indirect cooking method to keep the meat from charring. The indirect cooking method means to place the meat away from the charcoal. Faster cooking meats, like hamburger are generally cooked using the direct grilling method, directly above the BBQ briquettes.

How to Set-up the Charcoal Grill for Indirect Grilling

  1. Once the pile of briquettes turn white, carefully use a metal utensil with a handle to make two separate piles of briquettes.
  2. Place each pile of briquettes on opposite sides of the BBQ grill with a space in the middle.
  3. Place a tinfoil-baking container between the briquettes to catch the drippings. Use the drippings to make gravy or au jus if desired.
  4. Place meat directly above the container away from the heat source
  5. Close the BBQ grill lid to keep the heat contained. Avoid lifting grill lid as much as possible.
  6. Keep bottom vents wide open and top vent closed or slightly opened to help adjust the temperature.
  7. Remove and serve the meat when it reaches the appropriate internal temperatures.

Examples of Meat for Indirect Grilling

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Tri Tip
  • Ribs
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Roasts
  • Brisket

Examples of Meat for Direct Grilling

  • Steaks
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Sausage
  • Pork Chops
  • Fish
  • Shrimp

BBQ Grilling Tips and Techniques for the Charcoal Grill

  • Apply BBQ sauce only in the last few minutes of cooking time to avoid charring.
  • Sear thick cuts of meats, like beef tri tip for example, to lock in the juices with direct heat. Then use the indirect grilling method to finish cooking the meat.
  • Only turn meats one time when using direct heat to retain the juices.
  • Do not press down on meats like hamburger. This will cause the juices to drain out and result in drier tasteless meat.
  • Keep the lid of the charcoal grill lid closed as much as possible, especially for the indirect cooking method.
  • When direct cooking, leave an area with fewer briquettes in order to move the meat to a cooler part of the grill during flare-ups.
  • Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to inure the meat is cooked thoroughly, especially for thicker cuts of meat, pork and poultry.
  • Use a good cooking oil to grate the grill surface so that the meats won’t stick to the grill.
  • If cooking meats that require longer cooking times like turkey and roasts, use a cooking grill grate that allows more briquettes to be added as necessary.

Round charcoal barbeque grills are better for indirect grilling because they distribute the heat evenly. Using the direct or indirect grilling methods when appropriate will insure a flavorful and tender piece of meat. Before grilling, the grill grate should be cleaned to avoid contamination of the meat. Want to grill the perfect steak? Read cooking steaks to perfection on the grill.

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