Grilling (not your spouse) with Indirect Heat
Summer grilling season is in full swing. I trust that you are taking every opportunity to use and improve your outdoor cooking skills. There are two key tips that have taken my grilling to the next level.
Cook to Temperature
Cooking to temperature, not to time, is definitely one of the most useful changes I’ve made over the years. Get yourself a good instant read thermometer. Do a little research and decide ahead of time the temperature at which you are going to pull your meat. Then cook to that temperature. Simple as that.
The other technique that has broadened my grilling repertoire is cooking over indirect heat. This is the technique that is used in all smokers, but smokers usually cook at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. I love to use my smoker, but indirect heat is also a vital technique for a gas or charcoal grill.
Cooking over indirect heat involves putting direct heat under a portion of your grill grates and then utilizing the other portion of the grates for the bulk of your cooking. In essence, you are using your grill as a type of oven. Often then you will then utilize the direct heat portion of the grates to sear the meat or to crisp the skin of the chicken. Have fun, and make those pretty diagonal grill marks on your steak with this area of your grill. I dare you.
My go-to method for grilling chicken thighs (using a gas grill).
- Preheat the gas grill with all burners on high, then turn off one of the burners. (My grill has three burners, and I turn off one.)
- Place seasoned chicken thighs (usually seasoned with a salt, pepper, garlic combination) on the part of the grill grate over the turned off burner. Leave the other burners on high, close the lid, and walk away.
- Wait for 25 to 30 minutes. The indirect heat will render the fat in the skin without the risk of grease fire flare-ups. The ambient heat will cook the chicken thighs.
- Take the chicken’s temperature. The thighs are done when they have reached a temperature over 165 degrees. (Chicken thighs, unlike the white meat of the chicken breast, have a wide range of temperature before the meat begins to dry out.)
- Put the thighs skin side down over the direct heat portion of the grill to crisp the skin (usually only takes 3 or 4 minutes)
This method is as close to fool-proof as grilling gets, and the results are amazing. The keys are indirect heat and a good instant read grilling thermometer.
This same method works well for a steak. By cooking over indirect heat, you avoid the scenario where the outside of the meat is overcooked while the center of the meat remains undercooked. Cook over indirect heat to desired doneness/temperature, then sear the meat on both sides over the direct heat for a perfect grill every time!
I’d love to hear about your go-to grill meals. Let me know at email@example.com!
By Robby Richardson