Better grilling comes with a simple approach. Control what you can control. You are in control of what your grill, when you grill and how you grill.
Taking the reigns on your grill session means control the flavor, and most importantly, control the heat.
Charcoal can be difficult to control, seemingly why some grillmasters end up with chicken burned on the outside, but still raw on the inside.
For food grilled to perfection, control the temperature, so it’s hot enough to cook, but not too hot that it burns.
On top of that, some may want to cook different recipes at different heats. For example, one will want to cook a steak on high heat, so that it is seared on the outside, but still nice and pink in the middle. Whereas, as we mentioned above, something like chicken (or pork) needs a lower, more even temperature so that it is cooked through.
The fine folks over at Grillmasters Club have shared some tips and tricks for keeping your charcoal grill at optimum temperature and a result of better grilling.
Better Grilling: Build a Food Guard
A food guard creates a layer of protection between the food and the flame meaning that a barrier is formed. This slows down the cooking process. Basically, the barrier of the aluminum foil means that the food is no longer on the direct flame or the direct heat.
This is a kind of emergency solution, let’s say when the temperature is too high and you need a quick fix. Just grab some aluminum foil and fold it at least three layers thick in order to have a significant impact on the high temperature reaching the food.
Better Grilling: Layer the Charcoal in areas
Layering the charcoal to create cooking zones or areas takes some preparation before firing the grill up, but it really makes a lot of sense and makes grilling a lot easier for you.
The idea is simple, whether you set it up from back to front or left to right. Area 1 is the high-heat area for sealing and searing. Basically anything that needs to be cooked at high temperature.
Then your second area is for food like chicken that needs a lower temperature. This is the medium-heat area for grilling.
Finally, the third area is the control zone. This is a completely heat-free zone which you will mainly use for resting the meat or if the other areas get a little too hot and you need to re-adjust the temperature.
It’s simply about layering the coals. On the far right in the control area do not layer any coals. In the other two zones place a layer of coals and spread or rake them out flat. Finally, on the far left (in the hot area) put a second layer of coals and rake them out flat.
This means that the two layers of coals will be hotter than the single layer of coals which will again be hotter than the area without any coals.
Better Grilling: Use the Grates
This method to control the temperature on your charcoal grill is definitely the easiest to understand. The science behind this is simple: the closer the food is to the coals, the hotter it will be.
So, if the food you are cooking needs a higher temperature, move the grill grate closer to the coals. If the food you are cooking needs a lower temperature then you can move the grill grate up a few notches away from the coals.
Better Grilling: Use the Vents
The general principle is that more air creates a hotter fire and less air creates a cooler fire. So, in turn, it is logical to open the vents further to allow more air in.
There are two types of vents – the intake damper and the exhaust damper. The best advice is to experiment with one vent at a time, record the temperature and make marks on the handle with a permanent marker so that you know what setup works best for you.
Infographic courtesy Grillmasters Club is a small team hailing from Jacksonville, Florida that source, design, advertise, process, box, ship, facebook, blog, and share all things grilling.