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Charcoal Grilling

Using charcoal briquettes, lay the fire with a surface area 1- percent larger than the food being grilled -- about 3 inches deep at the center tapering to 1 inch at the edge.

  Start the fire about 30 minutes before you're ready to cook. When ready, the coals will be covered with gray ash. Charcoal chimney starters are an affordable and useful accessory for starting a charcoal fire.

If your grill doesn't have a built-in thermometer, use a portable oven thermometer and place it placed on the grill grid (not directly over coals) to measure the temperature. Or use a candy thermometer, inserting the probe into the top grill vent opening on a kettle-style grill.  You're on your own with other shaped grills but I believe most modern grills have a thermometer built-in.

To regulate the temperature, use vents -- opening to increase temperature and closing to decrease it. Be careful not to close the vents completely, or the fire may go out with no oxygen getting to it.

As a safety precaution, keep a spray bottle of water nearby to douse unwanted flames and for the way-too-enthusiastic grill masters, I'd keep a portable fire extinguisher on hand as well.

After each use, clean the grill racks while still hot with a stiff wire brush.

Gas Grilling

Keep the lid open when lighting a gas grill.  This may seem obvious, but trust me, someone has done it with the lid closed and has been very surprised.... Have the flame lit and ready to engage with the gas as you turn it on.  When cooking is finished, check to see that all burner control knobs are turned off.

Better yet, just follow the manufacturer's directions to light your particular gas grill.

Grilling Methods

Direct Heat: For grilling pork chops, burgers, whole pork tenderloin and kabobs, use direct heat. Place pork on the cooking grate over the coals. The hottest heat will be found above the center of the coals. Less hot areas are found around the edges.

For gas grilling, turn all burners to high. After preheating, adjust the temperature according to your recipe. Place food on the cooking grate and close the lid. Turn food according to the recipe.

Indirect Heat: For pork roasts and ribs, use indirect heat. Place the coals on one side of the charcoal grate and a drip pan filled with a small amount of water on the other side. Or, arrange the coals on both sides of the grill, with the drip pan in the middle.

On a gas grill, after preheating, turn off any burners directly below the food. The burners on both sides of the food should be adjusted to equal amounts of heat (medium or low) as indicated in the recipe. The heat circulates inside the grill, so turning the food is not necessary.

Combo Cooking: Combo cooking is a combination of the direct and indirect methods. It is used to sear foods before cooking them slowly by the indirect method. Place food directly over coals for a few minutes and then move to the center or other side of the cooking grate to complete cooking. This method is perfect for extra-thick pork chops and larger tenderloins which will be nicely browned on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside.




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