One area where a gas grill has a clear advantage over charcoal, is temperature control.
If you use a gas grill you’ve probably already got a handle, or dial, on this beast.
If, however, you are like us and prefer the taste charcoal produces, this can be a bit of a challenge.
Even if you are an experienced grill master, you may still susceptible to poorly cooked meat. It happens to the best of us, including me. But think about it, every professional chef you see on just about every cooking show uses a thermometer, and grillers should too. Maintaining consistent temperature is a key element to quality results.
Some grills come with a built in thermometer, some don’t. If, like us, yours doesn’t you’ll need one that reads up to 550°F. Then simply drop the probe down through a vent. Once you have done that you will be able to tell whether your grill is at a, low, medium, or high temperature.
Low – 250 – 300 Fahrenheit
Medium – 350 to 400
High – 450 – 500
What if you don’t have a thermometer? Well then, do the “Roman Bravery Test” (see this wiki article about Gaius Mucius Scaevola). To do it, simply hold your open palm about 5 inches above the grill rack and start counting how long you can go before you have to move your hand;
2 seconds – the fire is high
5 seconds – the fire is medium
10 seconds – the fire is low
Finally, avoid opening the grill any more than necessary. Every time you do the temperature drops. It can take up to 10 minutes to re-establish the proper temperature.
Often grillers don’t understand how the impact of the grill’s vents have on the internal temperatures of the grill. Obviously, the vent openings help control the temperature of your grill. But, they also effect the way in which your food cooks. Fully open vents create more heat, we all know that. But, even inside the grill, the area under the open vent will cook faster than the unvented side. Also, you can use your vents to create a convection effect in the grill, assuming you can rotate your lid and the vents are on the sides, top, and bottom. If you want to do this, simply place your top opened vent on the opposite side of your bottom opened vent. This will create the convection, air flow, in the grill.
The next issue girllers have to deal with is flare-ups. These happen when fat drips into the grill and catch fire. (FYI: you may have heard people say grilling should be avoided because it produces carcinogenic compounds on your food. This is flare-ups.) Not only will this char the outside of the meat long before it is done, it tastes awful. Two simple things can be done to help reduce flare-ups:
- Select lean cuts of meat, trim excess fat and remove poultry skin.
- Keep a squirt bottle of water near the grill to quickly douse any unexpected flare-ups.