A couple of years ago I had a whole chicken in my refrigerator and wanted to grill it. I did not want to deal with the hassle or mess of cutting and disjointing my chicken but I also knew that if I tried to just grill it normally the outside would burn long before the proper internal temperature would be reached. So I began asking some of my most respected chef friends what would be the best way to grill a whole chicken, and consequentially discovered a great method to add to my grilling repertoire called Indirect Grilling.
The basic concept of indirect grilling is similar to roasting in a conventional oven while maintaining those great grill flavors, textures, and appearances that comes with grilled foods. Instead of placing your food directly over the flame or heat, you would heat only a portion of your grill and then place your meat away from the direct heat. Indirect grilling does require a grill with a cover as you are relying on reflexive radiant heat similar to that of a convection oven to prepare your meal.
Indirect grilling is ideal when you are preparing cuts of meat that are greater than 2 inches thick, whole chickens and turkeys, roasts, briskets, and other foods that typically burn or dry out on the outside before the inside if fully done to your liking. Indirect grilling is a pretty simple method to utilize and can be done on either a gas grill or charcoal smoker.
To use a gas grill for indirect grilling, all you need is a drip pan and a grill with a cover. Place the drip pan underneath one side of the grill and turn the burner on the other side on. Place your food over the side with the drip pan, cover the grill, and allow your food to cook for the recommended time. There is no need to flip your food when using the indirect grilling method. For a three-burner grill you can use the two side burners as the heat source and place your food and drip pan over the middle burner. If your gas grill only has one burner on it then you can still pull this off, however I would recommend using a cast iron drip pan to deflect as much heat as possible from directly hitting the bottom of your food.
Using direct grilling with a charcoal grill is the exact same ideology. Prepare your coals as you normally would to start. When the coals are ready, rake them into two piles with a space in the middle for the drip pan. Place your grill rack over the coals and drip pan, throw your meat on the grill rack in the middle over the drip pan, cover and cook for the appropriate time.
One of my favorite things about grilling is that you can prepare just about any food on a grill if you know the right methodology behind it. Indirect grilling is a great way to utilize your grill for foods that have longer cooking times and are conventionally prepared in an oven.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Ives is a freelance writer with several years experience working as a chef in the Mid-Coast of Maine. Originally self-taught, Will received his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Champlain College is Burlington, Vermont. Having a passion for the unknown as well as all things food, Will has spent the better part of the last two years traveling through the Mediterranean, as well as Central and Eastern Europe discovering many of the traditional dishes of the “Old World.”