Direct Cooking – The Simple Alternative
There are two different ways to cook on a barbecue – Direct or Indirect. As the name implies, Direct Cooking is where the heat or flame is directly under the food being cooked.
Direct cooking on the hot plate (griddle)
The plate or griddle is ideal for cooking foods that contain a great deal of fat, such as sausages and hamburgers that are either very small, thin, or hard to control on the open grill, such as bacon strips, tomatoes, thin steaks, some fish fillets, or pineapple etc that would traditionally be cooked on a fry pan, such as onions, pancakes, pizza, flapjacks, or eggs.
It is advisable to cook all foods on the plate (griddle) slowly and on a moderate or medium heat. This helps to retain the foods natural juices and consequently flavour. If the heat is too high, your food could be cooked, or even burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. Remember, it is the heat in the plate that cooks the food, rather than the flame below. As such the plate will retain the heat for some time after the flame is reduced – so make allowances for this when cooking.
You can cook using the direct method with the hood up, or down – the choice depends upon the taste you are trying to achieve. But remember, if you do prefer to cook with the roasting hood down, never cook with the burners on high. Best results can be achieved by keeping the burners on low to medium heat within the desired cooking area.
If you are cooking without a hood, or with the hood in the open position, heat will be lost, therefore you can use any burner configuration that suits the recipe, or your personal taste.
Direct cooking on the grill
This method of barbecuing is probably the most common Australian method of barbecuing meat, chops and steak, for the food retains the true barbecue taste and flavour. Generally thinner cuts of meat, fish and poultry that cook fast, are more successful with this form of cooking, whereas thicker cuts are best cooked by the indirect method, or a combination of both.
Firstly, lightly oil the grill before lighting the BBQ. Then pre-heat and when the BBQ is hot, place the food directly on the grill to quickly sear it and seal in the flavour and juices.
If your BeefEater has a roasting hood, there are a number of ways you can combine both direct and indirect cooking. You can quickly sear both sides of your food on the grill, then transfer the food to a non-lit portion of the BBQ, lower the hood and continue cooking in an indirect manner.
Or, you can leave your food cooking over the lit grill and lower the hood. However, it is advisable to reduce the flame so that the convection heat created within the hood can complete the cooking process. Because this method of cooking circulates the heat, there is less need to turn the food.