Grilled Delights and Summer Pleasures

There are a number of ways to fire up your summertime grilling. Why not try a different cooking technique?

Direct and Indirect Barbecuing

There are two basic ways to barbecue: using direct and indirect heat.

The direct method is straightforward: Place food directly above the heat source and turn once halfway through cooking. This method works best for foods that cook in less than 25 minutes, like vegetables, fish, burgers, sausages, steaks and chops.

Indirect cooking is best for larger pieces of meat that require a longer cooking time, such as roasts, pork tenderloin, rack of lamb, whole birds, ham, and ribs. No turning or basting is necessary. And since heat is lost every time the lid is lifted, indirect grilling is a no-peek cooking method.

Indirect cooking on a gas grill

Place food in the center of the grill or above turned-off burner. The lid should remain closed at all times to allow heat to circulate evenly, much like an oven.

Indirect cooking on a charcoal grill

Place a drip pan in the center of the preheated grill and heap coals on either side. Place food above the drip pan and close the lid.

Chef’s Tip: Some foods, like chicken pieces, can be seared on direct heat, then moved to a cooler spot and cooked on indirect heat.

Smoking

Smoke adds flavour, especially when it comes from wood chips or woody herb stems. Each species of wood imparts its own flavour.

Hickory, oak and fruit woods – such as apple or cherry – are ideal for mild-flavoured meats like pork, veal and poultry. Mesquite lends a light smoky flavour to beef.

To turn a gas grill into a smoker

• Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes, drain and place in a small foil pan.
• Place pan on the hottest part of the element and replace top cooking grate. Preheat grill.
• When grill is hot and chips begin to smoke, prepare grill for indirect cooking. Place food in the center of the cooking grate. Do not place meat directly over the wood chips; they may flare up if they get too hot.

Brick Cooking

Brick cooking is a fabulous way to ensure extra juicy chicken with a super-crispy skin. Chicken is simply weighted down by bricks (or some other heavy object) during grilling. Use this method on a whole bird for a lovely presentation, or with individual pieces like breast and legs for fast results.

How-To:

• Prepare chicken by removing excess fat and trimming to your liking. Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry.
• Place chicken pieces on a work surface and press down firmly to flatten.
• Rub poultry with your choice of seasoning or marinate overnight.
• Preheat BBQ to high. Lightly brush the rack with olive oil.
• Place chicken skin side down over indirect heat.
• Wrap bricks in foil and place on top. Bricks should cover the entire surface of the chicken so the weight is even. Close lid and cook 35 minutes for a half chicken.
• Remove bricks and check chicken to ensure that the skin is crisp and the juices run clear when meat is pierced with a fork. If skin is not crisp enough, place over direct heat for a few minutes.

Good To Know!

Sweet and tomato-based barbecue sauces tend to burn quickly. Apply during the last 10 minutes of cooking and watch carefully.

Wood Plank Grilling

This is one of the simplest ways to add flavour to any food cooked on the barbecue. By heating fish, meat, poultry, vegetables and seafood on a wood plank, such foods will absorb the wood’s essence while maintaining their natural juices.

What kind of wood plank is best

When choosing a wood plank, it’s best to select untreated wood (chemical-free) that is at least 1 cm (3/8 inch) thick and large enough to hold the foods you want to grill (usually about 15 cm x 30 cm [6 in. x 12 in.]). 

The best flavour combinations

The more aromatic the wood, the more flavourful the food! Choose hard woods, such as maple, oak and fruit trees, which add exquisite and unique flavours to your dishes. Pine is generally not recommended since it contains a resin that produces a rather unpleasant-smelling smoke when heated.  

The chart below provides suggestions on which wood essence is best for your grilling needs. With a little creativity and imagination you too can create some delicious combinations!

 Type of Wood  

 Best with... 

 Maple

 Salmon, poultry, pork, vegetables  

 Oak

 Red meat, pork and game meats

 Cedar

 Salmon, poultry, pork, vegetables

 Apple tree

 Ham, pouoltry, game meats

 Cherry tree

 Delicious with all kinds of meat

Directions for use

Soak wood plank in water for about one hour or even better, overnight. Use cans to weigh down the plank while it’s soaking.

Then oil the plank and preheat it on the barbecue grill for a few minutes. Arrange food over the plank and cook. For maximum flavour, keep barbecue cover closed. If the plank tends to burn, spray it with a little water during the cooking process.

This cooking method can also be adapted for oven use, simply place wood plank on a baking sheet with a little water.

Aromatic Wood Chips

Wood chips are an alternative to the wood plank. Wood chips also provide a fragrant grilling experience where foods are infused with the smoky and characteristic barbecue flavour. The most common types of wood chips are “hickory” and “mesquite” and can be purchased in most hardware or specialty kitchen stores. 

Directions for use

First, soak wood chips in water for a few hours. When using a charcoal grill, place damp chips over hot briquettes. As for gas barbecues, wrap damp wood chips in heavy aluminium foil, making sure to pierce with a few holes to allow smoke to escape. Then, place the wrapped wood chips under the grill - directly over burners - and heat barbecue to maximum until foil starts to smoke. The next step is easy, turn down the heat and cook your favourite cut of meat. Enjoy the subtle yet distinct taste of this grilling specialty.

Caution! Both the wood plank and wood chips will emit burning hot smoke. So open the barbecue lid with care. If you’re feeling more adventurous, soak the wood plank or wood chips in wine, beer or even apple juice! The flavour blend will be that much more enjoyable.

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