19th Sep 2005

About Grills

The definition of grill is to cook on a gridiron. A gridiron is a barred metal broiling or grilling frame. And a grilling frame is a frame of metal, in whatever shape you grill is with either lines of metal running parallel to each other or lines running horizontally and vertically across each other. When the meat is cooked with the heat source under it these grid lines get very hot, and that’s what puts the unique black grill lines down the meat.

What Is Grilling?

Grilling is a quick and easy way to cook meat. It’s basically about cooking over a direct heat, but the source of the heat can be gas, electric, charcoal or wood.

Barbequing is in effect the same as grilling. The definition of a barbeque is cooking on a metal frame over a flame source. Grills tend to be custom made fuel heaters, where as barbeques tend to be basic cooking equipment, either a commercial metal frame or a custom built brick barbeque. You are in effect achieving the same thing just using different tools.

Grilling is excellent for most types of meat and some vegetables. Outside fuel powered grills are excellent in the summer months for parties with friends, you’ll find most supermarkets start providing barbeque packs in the summer, huge packs of sausages, burgers and other assorted meat as well as large case’s of alcohol so that you can kick back and enjoy the summer sun!

Types of Grill

Grills fall under two umbrellas, indoor and outdoor, or Household and Barbeque. These are explained below.

Household Grills

Your average household has a grill attached to the oven. If it’s a full size oven it could be under the lip at the top. If it’s a small counter level oven then the grill will no doubt be under the hob.

These types of grills normally have a grill pan, which is a tray with the grill in it. The grill is normally a frame of metal with vertical lines running down the length of it at intervals. This sits in the grill pan and allows the meat to cook on the grill with the fat dropping into the bottom of the tray. The heat normally comes from an electric or gas heater above where the grill pan sits.

This type of grill cooks extremely quickly, but can be liable to burn very easily as well if the food is left for too long.

BBQ Grills

These follow along much the same lines as household grills. The only difference is the heat comes from under the food. Either through a fuel source such as ignited gas or from a basic wood/charcoal fuelled fire.

A ‘proper’ barbeque normally involves a real fire and this gives the meat the smoky taste normally associated with barbequed food and normally provides the charcoaled lines along the meat. These are both things associated with barbequed or grilled food. It’s associated with it so much that food suppliers have started producing already grilled beef burgers that you can cook in a conventional oven and still get the taste and ‘grilled lines’.

Grills break down into four different areas.

Electric Grills

Electric grills, as you might expect are just plugged in and turned on. They’re quicker to use and safer than the other types of grill, but at the expense of ease of use, you sacrifice taste.

Gas Grills

Gas grills are slightly less convenient to use. Needing gas to fuel them, you will have to purchase and restock the gas depending on how the gas is supplied to the grill. Normally it’s through a propane canister attached to the grill, but some can be attached to a natural gas pipe provided through your household gas supplier. Safer than charcoal and wood grills, again you sacrifice this for taste.

Charcoal

Charcoal grills are more difficult to use and maintain than gas or electric grills as they need fuel and a high degree of maintenance to keep them active.

Wood/Pellet or Smoker

Wood/Pellet or Smoker grills, like charcoal grills are more difficult to use and maintain, however the taste of food cooked over one of these grills is second to none.

Make sure you only use Wood/Pellet or Smoker grills and charcoal grills in a well ventilated area.

Choosing a grill depends on three factors:

  • Cost.
  • Ease of Use.
  • Area for the Grill.

If you want your grill for quick use, for example you just want to come home from work and throw a couple of steaks on and be away then an electric grill is the way forward for you.

If you want your grill for weekend use with the family where time isn’t of the essence, then an outdoor charcoal or smoker grill is for you.

If cost, ease of use and space available isn’t an issue, then go for one of the full outdoor cooking systems. They’re not cheap, but they do provide a wealth of features for your outdoor cooking enjoyment.

Using Your Grill

The beauty of barbeques and grills is the lack of effort involved in the preparation and actual cooking of food. All you need to do is put the uncooked meat onto the grill and you’re away. When it looks cooked, cut the meat in the middle and look at the colour – this will tell you if it’s cooked all the way through.

With gas and electric grills/barbeques they tend to be quite effective at cooking, cooking all the way through with the minimum of fuss. However, if you are using a charcoal or wood grills, they can sometimes char the outside of the meat and leave the inside raw. To combat this, it is an idea to pre-cook the meat, and then finish it off on the barbeque to get the taste.

A few safety tips/guidelines

  • Keep all cooked and uncooked meats separate, as well as the utensils for dealing with the meats, this will avoid cross contamination.
  • Defrost all frozen foods before use.
  • Ideally you should keep meat refrigerated until needed and when it is outside not on the grill it should be kept covered.
  • To stop food burning before it is thoroughly cooked, a good rule of thumb is that if you can comfortably hold your hand about 10/20cm over a barbecue for 5 seconds, the heat should be ideal for cooking.

Basic Grilling

Because of the ease of use though, there isn’t a lot of room for variation. But what you can use to spice up your grilled meat is Marinades & Seasonings, both of which can be bought at most supermarkets.

Meat

The beauty of grills is the ease of which you can cook on them. And the simplest thing you can cook is plain meat, be it sausages, beef burgers, chicken wings or breasts, pork or steaks, they are all cooked the same way on a grill.

Sausages/Bacon/Pork chops/Beef Burgers/Beef Steaks etc.

Pre-heat your grill then when it’s reached the required level place the meat onto the grill frame. Cook the meat until the side browns, then flip it over or turn it round. When all of the meat is browned make a cut into the thickest bit of the meat and check the colour inside to ensure it’s cooked. Then serve in buns or by themselves.

Chicken Wings/Breasts/Portions etc.

Cook the chicken in the same way as above, but the colouring will be different. Let the chicken colour slightly, normally chicken will go bone white and then it will start to burn around the edges. When you check the chicken, it must have clear juice in the thickest part, if it’s not cooked all the way through, the juice will be pink.

Basic Grilling

Because of the ease of use though, there isn’t a lot of room for variation. But what you can use to spice up your grilled meat is Marinades & Seasonings, both of which can be bought at most supermarkets.

Meat

The beauty of grills is the ease of which you can cook on them. And the simplest thing you can cook is plain meat, be it sausages, beef burgers, chicken wings or breasts, pork or steaks, they are all cooked the same way on a grill.

Sausages/Bacon/Pork chops/Beef Burgers/Beef Steaks etc.

Pre-heat your grill then when it’s reached the required level place the meat onto the grill frame. Cook the meat until the side browns, then flip it over or turn it round. When all of the meat is browned make a cut into the thickest bit of the meat and check the colour inside to ensure it’s cooked. Then serve in buns or by themselves.

Chicken Wings/Breasts/Portions etc.

Cook the chicken in the same way as above, but the colouring will be different. Let the chicken colour slightly, normally chicken will go bone white and then it will start to burn around the edges. When you check the chicken, it must have clear juice in the thickest part, if it’s not cooked all the way through, the juice will be pink.

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