#3. Create Grill Zones to Control the Heat
I don't remember my dad ever teaching me about grill zones when I was a kid watching him burn and overcook just about everything he put on the grill. God bless him, but I remember what came off the grill as being too charred, a little well done, and having a distinctive lighter fluid taste.
He would get his fire hot with Kingsford charcoal briquets, throw the meat on the grill's hot spot, and cook until done. No heat zones are required here, but now we know there is a better way.
It doesn't matter if you are using a cheap charcoal grill or an overpriced stainless steel gas grill; most experts will tell you using a 2-Zone setup is the way to go when grilling. All this means is you set up your grill to have a hot side for direct radiant heat and a less hot side for indirect convection heat. Often the indirect convection heat side is no heat at all.
Depending on what you're cooking, you may start on the direct heat side for a quick sear and then finish cooking on the indirect side, think steaks, or more often, you may start on the indirect heat and finish over the direct heat, think chicken and ribs.
And if you are cooking several things on the grill simultaneously, some items may require a slow indirect heat so as not to end up like my dad's charred, overcooked chicken thighs, but you may want to cook the vegetables on the direct heat to cook quickly.
On a gas grill, start by turning all the burners up high to get the entire grill and chamber hot and then turn off one side - left or right or front or back, depending on your grill. If you are using charcoal, have all the coals on one side and one on the other side for indirect heat.
If your charcoal grill is big enough, you can set up three zones for hot, medium, and low heat and really get serious about your grilling.
You left out probably the most important thing in grilling like a pro tips. Since nearly everything is done to a stage or (doneness), a thermometer for internal temp is required to ensure tremendous success. With a thermometer a novice can actually cook a 2 lb rib eye to perfection better than a restaurant. I'm finding out at my over middle age that nearly all people that grill get lucky if they happen to cook with success and do not use such a simple tool.
That's a good point that a gas grill will only get as hot as it's rated in btu's. Charcoal lets you control the heat more directly. You can also take charcoal wherever you go.
G. Stephen Jones
Good points Larry. Thanks for sharing.
Some great points - especially "don't play with your food". That was one of the things I had hard time with when I started grilling. I would get worried it was burning so I kept moving it around, flipping, etc. Just leave it be! 🙂
If you haven't ever tried Porter & York Brand Meats, you might want to give it a try. They ship their meat out in special packaging designed to keep the fresh, never frozen, beef that has been raised naturally (grass fed, grain finished). I was able to cut one of their filet mignon's with a fork. Delicious.
I'm planning on getting my husband a new grill pro for his birthday. So thanks for the suggestion that he should use some oil or something else to grease up the grill unless what you're cooking has already been using oil for something. I'll be sure that the hamburgers and hot dogs we make on his birthday with his new pro tool are cooked on an oiled up grates.
I am getting my husband a grill for his birthday and I wanted to include some tips with it so he can learn how to grill like a pro. These are all wonderful tips! I didn't know about grill zones before! That's cool that you can get direct heat and indirect heat to help cook the food. Thanks for the tips! I'm sure these will help my husband cook like a pro!
G. Stephen Jones
You are welcome. I'm sure he will be thrilled with his new grill.
Wonderful points especially on grilling techniques. Surely using charcoal is more convenient in managing the heat transfer, but both have advantages and disadvantages. thanks for sharing.
G. Stephen Jones
You are welcome Hilmy.
One reason to not use olive oil is that it smokes/burns at a lower temperature than Canola or Safflower.
Thanks for your tips about how grease in the middle of the trap can make it a lot harder and making sure that the grill is clean can be really useful in making sure that there is better heat. I have been trying to cook more for my kids and I really want to make a great BBQ and learn how to do it with ribs so that we can have a great dinner. Getting some better equipment from a professional could be really useful and help me understand how to do some better cooking.
Thanks for letting me know that it is easier to cook barbecue on a gas grill. I've been serving vegetable meals to my kids for the past few weeks and they requested for spicy barbecue for next week. Aside from practicing my grilling skills, it would be a good idea to look for a condiments store that sells good hot sauces that they would love.