Cooking Methods

Learn the difference between direct and indirect heat.

Direct Method

If you’ve ever eaten food that was charred on the outside and undercooked inside, chances are your chef selected the wrong braaing method. Fortunately, getting it right is a simple matter of knowing which method to use when braaing certain foods, and then setting your grill up accordingly.

Indirect Method

Similar to roasting, the food is cooked slowly and evenly as heat reflects of the lid and inside surfaces of the grill. Excellent for delicate foods or those that take longer than 20 minutes to cook, such as large cuts of meat, roasts, ribs, whole chickens and turkeys, and fish fillets.

Direct braaing is a versatile, high heat method used to cook relatively small or thin pieces of food quickly, for example, anything less than 5 centimetres in thickness. For even cooking, food should be turned once, halfway through the braaing time. Ideally, the lid should be kept on as the trapped heat will cook the sides and top of the food, reducing the cooking time and ensuring the centre of the food gets cooked quicker. With the lid off, the rising heat will cook the bottom of the food much quicker. The direct method is also the one to use when searing meats. Searing is to cook food on an extremely high heat for a short time. Some suggest that this seals in the juices, but the main reason for searing is to get that wonderful crispy surface texture and the flavours released by the caramelised sugars in the meat. Sear your meat by placing it over direct heat for 2 to 5 minutes per side (the smaller the cut, the less time is required). Usually, after searing, you’ll need to finish cooking the food at a lower temperature.
Indirect braaing is the right method for cooking thicker foods and anything that is likely to have burnt on the outside (surface) before it has had time to cook through to the middle. For example, cuts of meat over 5 centimetres in thickness or foods that are so delicate that direct exposure to the heat source would dry them out or scorch them. Also use this method for grilling with a rotisserie. It is similar to roasting, but with the added benefits of that grilled texture, flavour and appearance you can’t get from an oven. Heat rises, reflects off the lid and inside surfaces of the grill, and slowly cooks the food evenly on all sides. The circulating heat works much like a convection oven, so there’s no need to turn the food.

On a charcoal grill

Spread prepared coals evenly across the charcoal grate. Set the cooking grate over the coals and place food on the cooking grate. Place the lid on the grill with all vents open and lift it only to turn food or to test whether it is done at the end of the recommended cooking time.

On a charcoal grill

Arrange hot coals evenly on either side of the charcoal grate, using rails or charcoal bins. Place a drip pan between the coals in the centre of the charcoal grate to collect drippings, which can be used for gravies and sauces. It also helps prevent flare-ups when cooking fattier foods, such as goose, duck, or fatty roasts. For longer cooking times, add water to the drip pan to keep drippings from burning. Place the cooking grate over the coals and place the food on the cooking grate, cantered over the drip pan or empty space. Place the lid on the grill and only lift it to baste the food or to test whether it is done at the end of the suggested cooking time.

On a gas grill

Preheat the grill with all burners on high. Place the food on the cooking grate and then adjust all burners to the temperature noted in the recipe or as required. Close the lid of the grill and lift it only to turn food or to test whether it is done at the end of the recommended cooking time.

On a gas grill

Preheat the grill with all burners on high. Then adjust the burners on each side of the food to the temperature noted in the recipe and turn off the burner(s) directly below the food. For best results, place roasts, poultry, or large cuts of meat on a roasting rack set inside a disposable heavy-gauge foil pan. For longer cooking times, add water to the foil pan to keep drippings from burning.

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