I bought an old fashion recycled oil barrel grill, like the ones you find down South, late last Summer……ain’t she cute!
In the United States, the use of the word “grill” refers to cooking food directly over a source of dry heat, typically with the food sitting on a metal grate that leaves “grill marks.” Grilling is usually done outdoors on charcoal grills or gas grills, a modern recent trend is the concept of infrared grilling.
Grilling may also be performed using stove-top “grill pans” which have raised metal ridges for the food to sit on, or using an indoor electric grill, like the George Forman model. A skewer or brochette or a rotisserie may be used to cook small pieces of beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables and fruits, which we commonly call a “kabob” in the U.S. or “kebab” which means “to grill” in Persian, which is short for “shish kebab” (shish = skewer)(similar to a “satay” in Asian cuisine, or “alambre” in Mexican-Yucatán cuisine). Shish kebabs have a Persian origin, but are now recently commonplace in American cuisine.
Mesquite or hickory wood chips that have been soaked in water, may also be added on top of the hot coals to allow a smoldering effect that provides additional flavor to the food. Other hardwoods such as pecan, apple, maple and oak may also be used.
Like with any cooking methods, there are certain risks, both personal safety and in terms of one’s health and the possible effect of carcinogens being produced. But the real benefit is that grilled foods can be lower in saturated fat, if fat is allowed to drip out after it liquefies. And the use of fire to cook food, particularly meats has been used since prehistoric times.
There are many methods for grilling and here are just a few:
Outdoor grilling on a gridiron may be referred to as “barbecue“, though in U. S. usage, the term barbecue refers to the cooking of meat by indirect heat and smoke. Barbecue has several meanings and may also be used to refer to the grilled food itself, to a distinct type of cooked meat called Southern barbecue, to the grilling device used to cook the food (a barbecue grill), or to the social event of cooking and eating such food (which may also be called a cook-out or braai).
Charcoal kettle-grilling refers to the process of grilling over a charcoal fire in a kettle, to the point that the edges are charred, or charred grill marks are visible. Some restaurants seek to re-create the charcoal-grilled experience via the use of ceramic lava rocks or infrared heat sources, offering meats that are cooked in this manner as “charcoal-cooked” or “charcoal-grilled”.
By using a baking sheet pan placed above the grill surface, as well as a drip pan below the surface, it is possible to combine grilling and roasting to cook meats that are stuffed or coated with breadcrumbs or batter, as well as to bake breads and even casseroles and desserts. When cooking stuffed or coated meats, the foods can be baked first on the sheet pan, and then placed directly on the grilling surface for char marks, effectively cooking twice; the drip pan will be used to capture any crumbs that fall off from the coating or stuffing.
It is possible to braise meats and vegetables in a pot on top of a grill. A gas or electric grill would be the best choices for what is known as “barbecue-braising” or “grill-braising”, or combining grilling directly on the surface and braising in a pot. To braise on a grill, put a pot on top of the grill, cover it, and let it simmer for a few hours. There are two advantages to barbecue-braising: the first is that this method now allows for browning the meat directly on the grill before the braising, and the second is that it also allows for glazing the meat with sauce and finishing it directly over the fire after the braising, effectively cooking the meat three times, which results in a soft textured product that falls right off the bone. This method of cooking is slower than regular grilling but faster than pit-smoking, starting out fast, slowing down, and then speeding up again to finish; if a pressure cooker is used, the cooking time will be much faster.
Many restaurants incorporate an indoor grill as part of their cooking apparatus. These grills resemble outdoor grills, in that they are made up of a grid suspended over a heat source. Indoor grills are more likely to use electric or gas-based heating elements, however. Some manufacturers of residential cooking appliances now offer indoor grills for home use, either incorporated into a stovetop or as standalone electric devices.
Sear-grill and gear grilling is a process of searing meat or food items with an infrared grill. In sear grilling, propane or natural gas is used to heat a ceramic plate, which then radiates heat at temperatures over 480 °C (900 °F). Sear-grilling instantly sears the outside of meat to make the food more flavorful. Commonly, grilling heats the surrounding air to cook food. Instead, the infrared grill directly heats the food, not the air.
Stove-top Pan Grilling
Some griddles designed for stove-top use also incorporate raised ridges in addition to a flat cooking area. These are either on half of the cooking surface, or, in the case of reversible two-sided griddles, on one side with the flat surface on the other.
Foods termed “grilled” may actually be prepared on a hot griddle, or flat pan. The griddle or pan may be prepared with oil (or butter), and the food is cooked quickly over a high heat. Griddle-grilling is best for relatively greasy foods such as sausages. Some griddle-grilled foods may have grill marks applied to them during the cooking process with a branding plate, to mimic the appearance of charbroil-cooked food. A flattop grill is a cooking appliance that resemble griddle but performs differently because the heating element is circular rather than straight (side to side). This heating technology creates an extremely hot and even cooking surface, as heat spreads in a radial fashion over the surface. The first flattop grills originated in Spain and are known as planchas or la plancha. Food that is cooked a la plancha means grilled on a metal plate. Plancha griddles or flat tops are chrome plated which prevents reaction with the food. Some base metal griddles will impart a subtle flavor to the food being cooked. The flattop grill is a versatile platform for many cooking techniques such as sautéing, toasting, steaming, stir frying, grilling, baking, braising, and roasting, and can also be used in flambéing. In addition, pots and pans can be placed directly on the cooking surface for even more cooking flexibility. In most cases, the teel cooking surface is seasoned like cast iron cookware, providing a natural non-stick surface.
Basically this method allows for the simultaneous grilling of both sides of the meat at the same time. The flame-grilling machine at Burger King, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s, and other restaurants is called a ‘broiler’. It works by moving meat patties along a chain conveyor belt between top and bottom burners, grilling both sides of the meat patty at the same time. This concept was invented in 1898, when the Bridge and Beach Co. of St. Louis, Missouri, started manufacturing a vertical cast iron stove. These stoves were designed to allow the meat to be flame-broiled (flame-grilled) on both sides at the same time. Custom hinged steel wire gridirons were built for use in the vertical broilers. The hinged gridirons were slid in and out of the stoves holding the meat while it cooked evenly on both sides, like modern day oven racks. These stoves took up a small amount of counter space. They were used in lunch spots to feed factory workers. One famous example of a vertical grill still in use is the purported inventor of the hamburger, Louis’ Lunch, New Haven, Connecticut. I have actually eaten there. A very plain and simple sandwich of grilled meat between two pieces of white bread, but the beef was quiet divine! During the 1990s, double-sided grilling was popular in the USA using consumer electrical grills (e.g., the popular George Foreman Grill). U.S. marketers of electric double-sided grilling appliances opted for the global term ‘grilling’ rather than the geographically isolated term “broiler.” Hinged double-sided grills are generically known as contact grills.
Whole grilling involves grilling a whole carcass as opposed to grilling individual portion sized cuts. This method is often used in order to avoid the need for complicated grill equipment, for example, during a hunt or expedition in the wild. It is also the traditional method of cooking in several cultures as in pig roast, luau, or barbacoa. There are several primitive methods and modern equipment that copies and automates the primitive version:
- On a stick
- Rotating horizontally with heat from tall flames on the side: In this version it is usual to spice and sew the body enclosures in order to save the juices, harvest them at the end of grilling, and use as a spicy sauce over the outside surface.
- Rotating horizontally over embers: In this version the meat may be subject to smoke from dripping fat that burns.
- Planted in a heated and covered pit, a ground hole version of tandoori or oven. A covered pit makes it difficult to check the correct amount of cooking time.
- Asado on a vertical frame planted and leaned over embers: In this version it is usual to open the torso to avoid portions that might not get cooked.
- Hang in a heated and covered pit (requires stick across the pit opening, and a heat resistant hanging mechanism such as a metal S hook)
- On a tray in a large oven, heated and covered pit, barbeque grill or smoker
- In a fireproof closed container buried in embers or surrounded by fire: this is practical for small carcasses like whole chicken. One variation of this is to shallowly bury the food and make a fire over, just to dig it up again; This is suitable to whole grill a large pumpkin that has been opened, seeds removed, the inside sugared, and closed again.