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LESSON NUMBER 3 - "Temperature of the Fire" - Is my fire too hot? Not hot enough? Am I doing this right? Soon, and with some practice, you will learn the answers to these questions. Two factors are in your favor, for adjusting for the proper amount of heat . . . . . First, it is always possible to add additional charcoal or turn up the gas when the fire is not hot enough [this is not usually the case with gas grills]. On charcoal grills, there is normally an adjustable cooking grid that may be lowered closer to the heat.
Secondly, if things are too hot, Raise the meat on charcoal. You can also close the air intake holes and slow down the fire. Do not close the ones on top unless you desire to kill the fire entirely. On gas grills, first turn down the amount of gas being applied to the fire. If this is not enough, then you can open the door about an inch and place a piece of metal to hold it open. Adjust opening size accordingly. OK, now that we can adjust the heat levels, how hot is it at the cooking service?
"Simple" is the answer. Just set someone's hand on down close to the grills cooking surface [the grates] CAREFULLY! and only after reading the following guidelines for determining the approximate temperature of the heat.
DEPENDING UPON HOW LONG ONE CAN MAINTAIN AN OPEN HAND IN PLACE
WILL DETERMINE THE APPROXIMATE TEMPERATURE [ROUGHLY] OF THE SURFACE OF THE GRILL
- One Second (or less) = Very Hot Fire - 600 degrees or higher
- Two Seconds = Hot Fire - 500 to 650 degrees
- Three Seconds = Medium Hot Fire - 450 to 550 degrees
- Four Seconds = Medium Fire - 400 to 500 degrees
- Five Seconds = Low Medium Fire - 300 to 400 degrees
- Six Seconds (or more) = Very Low Fire - 300 degrees or less
These are rough estimates and can vary depending upon where on the surface of the grill the hand is placed. For example, there may be more heat in one location than another.
Careful attention needs to be paid to the meat when grilling. Grilling as opposed to "barbecuing" requires much higher cooking temperature, because grilling needs to cook the meat quicker to prevent it from being dried out. Remember one important fact, the meat is located directly over the heat sources and as such, has the direct effect of offering large quantities of dry, hot heat to the entree. Therefore, the possibility of burning is much greater than when "barbecuing".
LESSON NUMBER 4 - "Open or Closed Lid Cooking" - When grilling, we recommend using the grill with the lid in the up position. The reason is that when cooking with the grill lid down, it has the tendency to smother the fire, create soot and thus taint the meat. The lid is, however, useful for putting out the fire when flame-ups occur.
LESSON NUMBER 5 - "Time vs. Temperature - A Discussion" - Over and over, we are asked "How long should I cook a ________?" The truth of the matter is that we don't know! Now that may seem a little strange at first glance, but here is the truth of the matter. To even attempt to answer that question, we have our own questions that must be addressed . . .
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