Direct and indirect BBQing

As the summer fast approaches, many of us will soon be enjoying the pleasures of eating home cooked dishes outdoors, accompanied by the satisfying smell of grilled food sizzling away in the background. However, whilst many of us may simply throw sausages and burgers onto the BBQ with the simple ambition of not burning them, some may wish to explore the possibilities on offer when it comes to achieving a wider range of dishes. 

Direct or indirect barbecuing are the two main ways to cook on your BBQ, however, as the secret behind great grilling, knowing which style to use and how best to utilise these techniques is all part of becoming a top BBQ cook!

So what are the differences between the direct and indirect barbecuing and what are they best used for? 

Direct barbecuing

Direct barbecuing is the most commonly used method when it comes to utilising your grill, and the ideal method for grilling steaks, fish, vegetables, burgers and sausages, as the foods are placed directly over the heat source. 

To achieve a direct barbecuing method, simply place your desired BBQ food onto the grill directly over the heat source. Close the BBQ lid during the main cooking time in order to retain the high temperature that’s needed with the direct method. If you’re using a gas BBQ , you’ll then be able to control the temperature to suit the recipe using the controls on your BBQ. On a charcoal BBQ, temperature control for direct grilling is slightly more complicated, but you can do so by using the vents within the lid to allow cold air in when needed.

The main advantage to the direct method of barbecuing is the ability to achieve high temperatures within the BBQ, creating the perfect conditions for searing and resulting in a great flavour and texture to the meat.

Indirect barbecuing

Indirect barbecuing is seen as the more advanced method of grilling, although it is easy when you know how! Barbecuing indirectly is perfect for achieving recipes that require slow cooking, often at a lower heat. Indirect barbecuing works in a similar way to roasting, ensuring that foods are cooked evenly throughout. This is achieved by the heat within the BBQ rising and reflecting off the BBQ lid and back onto the grill, rather than directly hitting the meat from below.

When using a gas BBQ, simply ensure that you are only using the side burners within the BBQ to allow the meat to be positioned on the grill without a heat source directly below it. Again, it may also be advisable to add a dripping tray underneath the meat to catch any juices falling from it. This dripping can also provide a great way to baste the food; collecting in the pan before vaporising and coating the meat, leaving it deliciously moist and tender. 

Once the BBQ has been set up correctly and has reached the required temperature, position the meat on the grill above the drip tray. The lid of the BBQ should remain closed throughout the cooking process wherever possible in order to retain the right level of heat.

You may also wish to experiment with additional flavours within your BBQ, adding liquids such as wine, cider or fruit juice to the dripping pan. This will allow you to infuse the meat being cooked with a variety of new flavours.

Utilising these methods of barbecuing will enable you to better achieve that great BBQ taste we all know and love whilst also exploring new ways in which to use your BBQ to its full potential.