Barbecue basics101: Why we use a 2 zone set up and Indirect cooking
To be able to create a magical meal on the BBQ it’s imperative to start with a 2 zone fire! If you’re just getting started and want to know how to cook BBQ smoked ribs, here’s something to help you on your journey to becoming a smoked rib connoisseur.
Temperature control is the most important skill you can learn about barbecue.
That’s why we recommend a 2 zone set up in just about every situation. The most common mistakes is spreading your coals across the entire grill or burning all the gas burners. This forces us to work quickly without methodology causing us to flip burnt burgers, ribs and steaks. We don’t know what went on first, we are constantly moving the meat around the grill. We tame multiple flare-ups with a squirt gun or can of beer.
Direct Zone and Indirect Zones
A 2 zone set up allows better temperature control on both gas and charcoal grills. On one side we have direct heat and the other side a cool zone with no heat at all. We use the direct zone to sear meat and poultry, while the cool zone allows food to be cooked from heat wafting over from the direct zone. The hot side is the direct radiant heat zone and the other side the indirect convection heat zone.
Using a 2 zone fire we can…
Control the heat and cook. We do a great sear on the direct zone, leaving a delicious crust and crisscrossed grill marks. We can also move food to the cool zone where it slowly and evenly cooks inside.
Start chickens on the indirect cool zone to cook slowly and evenly sealing in the tender most taste and juices until they are almost done the skin is crippling and starting to bubble, we then whip them on the direct zone for a minute or two to crisp the skin.
Gentle smoke a leg of lamb or whole turkey in the indirect zone cooking it to tender, juicy perfection. Your guests feel like they are in food heaven!
Bring Prime rib to a slow medium rare with zero grey meat after the perfect sear on the direct zone.
Manage different foods and cuts all at once.
Change in thickness and water content of meat allows us to use the entire fire to cook at different rates and speed. All the food can be served at the same time without compromising taste and tenderness!
Prevent sweet foods from burning. Sugar based sauces burn if cooked on the direct zone, we slowly cook perfect tender moist ribs on the indirect zone without a single grain of sugar being burnt. We then move over to the direct zone to caramelize the sauce to create sinfully delicious mouth-watering ribs to die for.
You can cook on a lidless grill. However, you will be severally handicapped.
Thankfully, most grills come with a lid as it is essential for most outdoor grilling and cooking. Searing the meat is the one notable exception. Cooking without a lid is like cooking on a stove top. Most of the heat and smoke on a grill comes from the bottom yet most of it goes right past the food. The lid captures the heat and smoke and your grill becomes a smokey oven transferring heat evenly from all directions. The lid gives you the versatility you need to create award-winning meals.
Cooking meats and vegetables you want a dark, well cooked crust and a tender juicy interior as a general rule. Review and get a good grill or smoker,
My favourite is to use my trusty Weber.
Remember to lose the lid when your food is 3/4 inches thick or less. If you were to close the lid heat would attack from all sides and your food is cooked on the inside before you can get a nice crust and flavour. For thin foods turn it every minute or so on a very high heat for the best results. But if the food is 3/4 inch or thicker use the lid, this gives a better transfer of heat an reduces the chances of serving undercooked food.
To reduce heat, you may want to leave the lid open an inch or two to allow hot air to escape.