Technique: Foolproof Grilling


It's hard to beat a gorgeous steak or lamb chop cooked perfectly on the grill, browned and crispy outside and tender and juicy inside.  Think grilling is only for steaks or burgers? No!  Your grill is actually the ultimate multi-cooker.  Depending where you place the meat on the rack and whether you cook with the lid open or closed, you can cook hot and fast or low and slow- or both!  There's a way to grill any cut of meat to perfection- just read the tips below for how!


How does meat cook?  Meat cooks from the outside to the center.  So, the heat from the grill heats the surface of the meat first, forcing the juices (and liquified fat once it melts) away from the surface (where it can drip off) and towards the center (where you want it).  How quickly this process happens depends on where the meat is on the grill (direct versus indirect heat).


If direct heat is step on the gas, indirect heat is cruise control.  Direct heat means that the food is placed right over the heat source (i.e. the flame on your gas grill), so it's hotter on one side, just like broiling in your oven.  Indirect heat means that the food is placed close to but not on top of the heat, so the heat circulates around the food and isn't hotter on any one side (the grates will hold the heat, though, so you'll still need to flip or turn occasionally).


Direct heat is best for quickly searing the outside of the meat.  For most cuts, you'll want to go fast, then slow.  So, sear on direct heat to jump start the cooking, then move to indirect heat to slow down the cooking to coast to the perfect degree of doneness.  This technique is great for almost all cuts of meat, like steaks, chops or burgers.  It also works for cuts with more fat to help prevent fat from dripping onto the flame and creating flare-ups.


Indirect heat is best as a second step after searing, or for cuts that cook low and slow.  Cuts that benefit from low and slow cooking are larger cuts like roasts or leg of lamb.


Thickness is more important than weight for calculating grilling time.  Because meat cooks from the outside to the center, the thicker the cut, the longer it will take to cook.  If you have two steaks of equal weight, the thicker one will take longer to cook, because the heat will take longer to get to the center.


Meat doesn't stop cooking when you take it off the grill.  Meat cooks from the outside in and it cools the same way.  Once you take it off, the air will start to cool the outside, but the inside will continue to cook for a bit- so take your meat off the grill just before it's done.


How to make sure it's done?  Use a thermometer!  An instant-read thermometer works great.