Choose your grilling method
Depending on what you are grilling, your cooking method will be different. Direct heat, where the coals/heat are directly under your food is used for quick cooking such as steaks, chicken, fish and veggies. Heat temp is high, usually around 450 degrees. Modified Direct is when the firebox is lower, this is used for larger cuts of meat or whole chickens that need more cooking time. Indirect is where the fire is not directly under the food, it is to the side. This is used for longer cooking times, up to 10 hours or longer, for very large cuts of meat or those that need longer cooking time to be tender such as brisket and whole pork loins. Smoking is for a very low cooking temperature, 250 degrees, and is used for items such as whole pigs, large racks of ribs and for smoking fish or making jerky.
Choose your fuel
You can use gas, charcoal or wood. If using wood, soak for at least 20 minutes before using. This will help keep the flames down and the heat high. You can mix your fuel by adding chunks of wood in a foil pan to your gas grill for extra smoke, or combine chunks of wood with your charcoal. Smoking uses only wood, preferably hickory, oak, mesquite, apple or cherry. Never use soft woods, or wood treated with chemicals
Prep your grill and other utensils
Make sure your grill is clean. You will also need long tongs to turn your food, meat thermometer to check the internal meat temperature, water bottle to contain flames, oven mitt to remove the food, foil for wrapping veggies, brush or mop for the sauce and a plate or platter to place your food on. Start your grill and make sure it is up to temperature prior to placing food on the grill.
It might sound simple, but grill placement can be critical. If grilling several items at once, don't let them touch either to make sure the heat gets to all sides. Also, place items that take longer to grill closer to the heat source and items like veggies further away.
You need to make sure you maintain the proper temperature. If you are cooking hot and fast make sure your grill stays hot. Opening the cover can reduce the temperature by 50 to 100 degrees quickly. If using a slow cooking method your grill needs to not get too hot. If it is too hot the outside of the meat will burn before the inside is done. You can cool it down by opening the firebox and letting out some of the heat. For wood flare-ups only, spray the fire w/ water from your water bottle. You should never use water on a gas grill. Wood will also have to be added during slow cooking to maintain the temperature. Most grills and cookers come with an external thermometer so you can monitor the temperature without opening the cover. If your grill does not have one, you can simply drill a hole in the top and use a meat thermometer inserted into the hole.
This post was contributed via Seed.com, AOL's new platform for freelance writers.