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       Volume I - October 13, 2006

Grilling Methodology
by Alice Osborne

With “Indian Summer” upon us, it’s possible to squeeze in a few more grilled meals. In the off chance you haven’t mastered this art form yet, here’s a few tips that could still put you on the “Grand Poobah of All Things Grilled” list!

To light a charcoal fire, arrange the coals in a pyramid shape 20 to 30 minutes prior to cooking. The pyramid shape provides enough ventilation for the coals to catch. To start with lighter fluid, soak the coals with about ˝ cup of lighter fluid. Wait one minute to allow the fluid to soak into the coals, then light with a match.

To light a charcoal fire using a chimney starter, remove the grid from the grill and place the chimney starter in the base of the grill. Crumple a few sheets of newspaper and place them in the bottom portion of the chimney starter. Fill the top portion with coals. Light the newspaper. The coals should be ready in about 20 to 30 minutes.

The coals are ready when they appear 80% ash-gray during daylight and glowing at night. There are three grilling methods to know as well:

  1. Direct Cooking: Food is placed on the grid directly over the coals. Make sure there’s enough charcoal in a single layer to extend 1 to 2 inches beyond the area of the food. This method is for quick-cooking fish, as well as other foods such as steaks, chops, hamburgers, and kabobs. It's also the method that requires the most attention. Dripping juices and wind cause flame ups so the temps are always fluctuating. You need to stand over and watch, flipping when necessary to preventing burning.

  2. Indirect Cooking: Food is placed on the grid over a metal or disposable foil drip pan, with the coals banked on both sides of the pan. This method is for slow, even cooking of goods such as large cuts of meat and whole chickens. When grilling this way for more than 45 min., extra briquets must be added to maintain a constant temperature. This method is most close to cooking in an oven. Think of the charcoal as the elements or gas flames in the oven. If you utilize a thermometer you can set a timer and pretty much depend on set times; providing you pay attention to the heat source.

  3. Foil Wrap: Food is wrapped in foil (either plain or with fresh herbs, a sauce, or a small amount of liquid) and placed on the grill. This helps the food cook faster and stay moist. If you use the direct method you'll need to turn the package 2 to 4 times during cooking to preventing burning (double wraping will reduce turn time). If you use the indirect method turning once is recommended.

I just can't help myself from commenting here. I live in Utah and cook on my grill all year long; even in winter with snow on the ground. In fact I started a family tradition of cooking our Thanksgiving turkey in my 20 year old kettle grill with real wood mesquite chips (even though I also have an expensive stainless steel gas grill). I don't know why but when you bring in a hot steaming dish off of the grill in the crisp winter air it seems to taste even better than in the summer!

- Cook'n Club editor

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