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Firing Up - Managing Your Fire

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
Photo: All our grill recipes specify either a hot, medium, or low grilling heat, so to ensure success, it’s important to check the fire’s temperature before you put the food on the grill. © Provided by DKBooks All our grill recipes specify either a hot, medium, or low grilling heat, so to ensure success, it’s important to check the fire’s temperature before you put the food on the grill.

Be prepared for emergencies; although you may never need it, having something on hand with which to douse the fire will give you peace of mind whenever you grill.

Photo: Flare-ups are caused when fat drips on to the hot coals. Take away the cause of the problem by moving the food over to the “dead area” of the grill, and the flames quickly die down. © Provided by DKBooks Flare-ups are caused when fat drips on to the hot coals. Take away the cause of the problem by moving the food over to the “dead area” of the grill, and the flames quickly die down.

Take our advice and cover the grill only when you’re doing indirect-heat grilling, like barbecuing and smoke-roasting, where the food isn’t directly over the coals.

Photo: Take our advice and cover the grill only when you’re doing indirect-heat grilling, like barbecuing and smoke-roasting, where the food isn’t directly over the coals. © Provided by DKBooks Take our advice and cover the grill only when you’re doing indirect-heat grilling, like barbecuing and smoke-roasting, where the food isn’t directly over the coals.

Flare-ups are caused when fat drips on to the hot coals. Take away the cause of the problem by moving the food over to the “dead area” of the grill, and the flames quickly die down.

Photo: Be prepared for emergencies; although you may never need it, having something on hand with which to douse the fire will give you peace of mind whenever you grill. © Provided by DKBooks Be prepared for emergencies; although you may never need it, having something on hand with which to douse the fire will give you peace of mind whenever you grill.

All our grill recipes specify either a hot, medium, or low grilling heat, so to ensure success, it’s important to check the fire’s temperature before you put the food on the grill.

Managing Your Fire

Gauging the temperature

Wait until the coals are completely covered with gray ash, then hold your hand about 5in (12cm) above the grill grid. Count how many seconds you can comfortably leave it there.

1–2 seconds The fire is hot;

3–4 seconds You have medium heat;

5–6 seconds You have a low fire.

The fire’s heat will peak when all the coals are gray, then slowly start to cool down, so start checking the temperature early. If you miss the peak of heat and need a hot fire, add more coals and wait until they are all gray.


Dealing with flare-ups

Many people will tell you that the way to deal with flare-ups is to have a squirt bottle of water handy to douse the offending flames. This is wrong. What happens when you do this is that you raise a plume of ash, which gets on the food you’re cooking. Instead, when flare-ups occur—as they inevitably will when you are cooking any fatty food directly over the coals—simply move the food to the section of the grill with no coals, wait for the flare-up to die down, and then put the food back over the coals.


Using the lid

Be sure you use the grill cover correctly. What this means—despite what most manufacturers tell you—is that you should cover the grill only when you are doing long, indirect cooking, never when you are cooking directly over the coals. When food is right over the coals, fat tends to drip into the fire, where it is transformed into rather acrid smoke. When the grill is uncovered, this smoke dissipates; with the grill covered, though, the food is bathed in that unpleasant smoke. It’s not harmful, but it does give the food a distinct “off” flavor. When you are smoke-roasting, there is no fat dripping into the coals, and in any case the food spends long enough in contact with smoke from the charcoal to overcome any off flavor.


Staying safe

Grilling is fun and you want to be relaxed when you’re doing it, but you still need to pay attention to safety. After all, this is live fire. So always set up your grill on level ground in the largest possible open space, away from walls, fences, overhanging eaves or tree branches, or anything else that might easily catch fire. Never light a fire with gasoline, and never spray lighter fluid onto lit coals. We always have a fire extinguisher handy when we’re grilling (although we keep it discreetly out of sight). If you don’t have one, have a garden hose or bucket of sand nearby. Don’t let kids or dogs run or play in the grilling area. And finally, always close down your grill, including the vents, after you are done with a grilling session.

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