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Four Methods to Grilling Madness

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Direct Grilling: Food is cooked directly over the coals, usually quickly at high temperatures, producing a crunchy or slightly charred exterior and moist interior. Suitable for smaller, quick-cooking cuts of meat like steak, kabobs, chicken breasts, and fish fillets.

Indirect Grilling: Food rests on grill over a foil drip pan, which has coals burning on either side. Grill lid remains closed, so that the heat rises and reflects off the underside of the lid to cook the food slowly and evenly on all sides. Best for large cuts of meat -- like roasts and whole chickens and turkeys -- that need less-intense heat, so that they'll retain their moistness.

Spit-Roasting and Rotisserie: As the rotisserie rotates over the hot coals, the juices remain inside the meat rather than dripping onto the coals and causing flare-ups. This self-basting technique yields a juicy interior and crispy skin, and is good for large cuts (whole legs of lamb, chickens, and suckling pigs) that require a long cooking time.

Grill-Smoking: To impart a smoky flavor, soak a cup of fruitwood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before adding them to the burning charcoal. Close the grill, but check periodically to see whether the smoke is dissipating, a reminder that you need to replenish the chips.

HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?

There are two ways to gauge the temperature of a grill's surface: by thermometer, should your model come equipped with one, or by hand. "High heat" is about 500 degrees, which means you can hold your hand six inches above the coals for just three seconds before it becomes unbearable; "medium high" means 400 degrees (five seconds); "medium," 350 degrees (seven seconds); "medium low," 325 degrees (ten seconds); and "low," 300 degrees (twelve seconds).


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