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Direct & Indirect Grilling Part One

Posted by Chef Perry Perkins on

As much as I love slow-smoked bbq, I love me some lovely charred grill marks on a juicy chunk on animal protein just as much.

Grilling seems pretty basic right? Glowing coals + grill + meat = happiness...and sometimes you don't even need the grill!

I mean, c'mon, if the Flintstones could do it how hard can it be?

Well, while it's not hard, per se, it is a skill that requires some basic techniques to achieve meat perfection, and avoid the flaming wiener, the hockey-puck burger, or the cardboard chicken breast.

The most important of these techniques is know when to use or combine direct grilling and indirect grilling. Direct and indirect heat are both open-fire cooking styles. So let's take a look at when we should grill over direct heat, when we should grill over indirect heat, and when we should combine the two for the bet results...

Direct Heat

Direct grilling means, as you might guess, to cook the food directly over the heat (charcoal, gas, or wood, etc.,) Direct heat grilling is what gives us those lovely grill marks, juicy steaks, and smokey, caramelized grilled veggies.

It's also great for fast-searing vegetables, hot dogs, and seafood like shrimp or scallops.

Typically this method is best for ingredients that take fewer than 20 minutes to cook, ie:

  • Shrimp
  • Steaks
  • Burgers, hot-dogs, & brats
  • Pork and lamb chops
  • Fish
  • Chicken breasts/wings, boneless thighs
  • Most of these are placed on the pre-heated grill (“gray & glowing” is you mantra for coals), and turned once about halfway into cook time to finish both sides.

    RECIPE: Flank Steak Tacos

    For the meat:

    2 tsp. Mexican chili powder 2 tsp. ground cumin

    1 tsp. sweet paprika 2 tsp. lime zest

    2 tsp. hickory salt ½ tsp. Coarse ground black pepper

    1lb flank steak, trimmed

    For the rest:

    1 cup chunky guacamole 1 white onion, finely diced

    1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

    2 limes, quartered

    8 (six inch) flour tortillas, warm

    Combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, lime zest, salt, and pepper. Rub mixture generously over both sides of the steak. Cover and let rest one hour at room temperature.

    Prepare the coals on La Caja China to medium-high heat, and place top grill(s) over them. When your coals are uniformly gray & glowing, you're ready to cook. Give the coals a quick shake to knock off the loose ash (this brings the temp up) and get started grilling.

    Spray a little cooking spray on the grill (tip it vertical so you're not spraying directly into the coals) and place your steak(s) on top. Grill 7-8 minutes per side, until you reach your preferred temperature, and the remove the steak from the grill, tent loosely in foil, and allow to rest 8-10 minutes.

    Meanwhile prepare the rest of your fixin's.

    Once the steak has rested, slice it into thin strips, across the grain, and serve immediately.

    Prepare for a party in your mouth!

    Next time we'll look at how to do low & slow indirect grilling!

    Keep Smokin!

    ~ Chef Perry

    La Caja China Cooking

    La Caja China World

    La Caja China Party

    La Caja China Smoke (Coming soon!)

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