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A guide to different types of BBQ cooking

Which type of BBQ is best for you?

So you have your heart set on a BBQ. For some this can be a life changing purchase. It will change the way you cook, you will entertain more and all your friends are using their best BBQ jargon and you’re thinking, “I just thought I was going to throw a steak on and watch those criss-crossy things appear.  It’s ok rookie, we’ll break down the barbie speak for you and help you choose the right cooker for your needs.

types of BBQ cooking

What is the difference between Direct and Indirect Cooking?

Direct heating and Indirect heating both refer to the method of open flame or grill cooking. The difference between the two is where the food is placed in relation to the source of the heat. A popular way of cooking is a combination of both - a quick direct heat for crispiness and colour and then a lower temperature at a different place in the BBQ to slowly cook the inside giving it a juicy and evenly cooked finish.

Direct Cooking

Direct cooking is a way of explaining grilling directly over your heat source instead of under it. It means to expose the food to direct radiant heat. Direct heat will create those grills marks over the fast flame, searing any meat you wish to have a crispy outside layer as well as colour. This method should be used for food whose cooking time requires less than twenty-five minutes.

The accepted method is to have the coals at the desired temperature, place the grill on top of the coals and then place the meat on top. Close the lid and only open it to turns the food once. The consistency and intensity of the heat is paramount.

Indirect Cooking

Indirect cooking will bring your food up to temperature slowly and evenly and is similar to roasting. The ultimate difference between Direct and Indirect heating is where you place the meat in relation to the heat source - either next to or on the heat. For example, a potato in foil placed amongst the charcoal would be considered indirect cooking. The heat rises in the enclosed BBQ and reflects off all sides and top of the BBQ, creating an all over, even convection heat. Make sure you place a drip tray under the food so the fat that drips down does not hit the charcoal and combust. It is not necessary to turn the food. Avoid lifting the lid.

Charcoal Cooking

The coals need to be lit and left to heat up for about 30 minutes before considering putting on the food. Temperature control while cooking with charcoal is done with the vents. If you want the temperature to lower, you simply open the vents at the top and close the vents at the bottom to restrict the oxygen. Although be mindful that if you keep the vents at the bottom closed for too long, your coals may go out altogether. If you need more heat, you simply reverse the vent method.

Charcoal cooking is the most flavoursome way to cook food.  This method takes a little bit of extra care and attention however the final result will have your guests raving! Charcoal cooking as it suggests is cooking with charcoal as opposed to gas or electricity.

types of bbq cooking

Delicate foods such as fish and thin meats only need a brief time on high heat when using charcoal.  If they are cooked low and slow, which is reserved for larger cuts of meat, they will simply dry out.

Charcoal cooking can take a few attempts to get the hang of.  The best friend you can have if you choose to use this cooking method is a thermometer.  This type of cooking is a delicate balance, so it will ensure your food is not over cooked or undercooked.  It takes all the guesswork out of the cooking experience.

Charcoal BBQ cooking with Weber

Pro's of Charcoal Cooking

  • No other form of bbqing can reach the high temperatures of charcoal
  • Charcoal is more portable than a gas bottle so it’s easier to travel with
  • You can set your meat to slow cook over several hours and only check it periodically
  • It produces the best tasting food

Con's of Charcoal Cooking

  • Produces carbon monoxide
  • Takes longer to cook food than other methods

Gas Cooking

Most people are used to gas cooking on a BBQ.  It is instant, easy and portable. You can cook different meats and varying cuts by adjusting your cooking times. For instance you can have a nice juicy rib eye steak cooking and then add delicate prawns later, so they finish at the same time.

Colour and texture of the food and move it around the hotplate or decide to remove certain foods earlier than others.  The greatest advantage is that you can see and adjust the temperature according to the rate at which your food is cooking.

Gas BBQ cooking with Weber

Pro's of Gas Cooking

  • Creates smokey flavour packed meals
  • Many choices on the market
  • Can choose both built in or portable models
  • Ignites and heats quicker than charcoal cooking
  • Cheaper to operate than charcoal grills
  • Ability to control heat output instantly
  • Better heat coverage for the whole plate, not just where the burners are

Con's of Gas Cooking

  • Produces carbon monoxide
  • Can be more expensive to buy and maintain than charcoal and electric models
  • The cooker needs your full attention for the entire time

Electric cooking

This is a great way to start BBQing if you are a novice. Little can go wrong with electric cooking as there is no external fuel method to decide upon. A benefit safety-wise is that there is no open flame to worry about, so this can be a big plus for BBQ enthusiasts who need to consider the safety of little hands around the house

If you live in the inner city and have gas or charcoal cooking restrictions electric BBQing may be your only option. Space may also be a consideration and often electric cookers take up less room on a balcony as they do not use an added fuel component.

Electric BBQ cooking with Weber

Pro's of Electric Cooking

  • Easy to operate
  • No ongoing extra costs e.g. charcoal or gas bottles
  • You will not run out of fuel
  • More option of portability, you can take it away with you
  • All cooks in the family can cook on an electric bbq. Not all people can cook on charcoal as the temperature needs to be monitored and with gas cooking, the bottle needs to be checked and regulated
  • Often cheaper than their counterparts
  • No open flame to be concerned about

Con's of Electric Cooking

  • Taste isn’t as flavoursome
  • They usually cannot reach the high temperature required to sear meat
  • Choice and sizes are limited. It may be difficult to find a large size if you often cook for a crowd.
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