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QUESTION: hi :-) I am a girl so I haven't done much bbq'ing but I did it a few times over direct heat and it was yum. Now all the books say that some things need direct heat and some need indirect with the lid on. I thought you can just chuck it all on the bbq at once, over direct heat, with no lid. I was just wondering, how would I cook chicken thighs, sausages, steak and hamburger patties all at once, on the same charcoal bbq, so that they all taste nice? Thanks heaps for your time, I do appreciate it a lot :-)

ANSWER: The kind of thing that you're talking about -- a lot of small or relatively thin cuts of meat -- is best done with direct heat, usually fairly high. Indirect heat is best if you're cooking something larger, like a whole bird, or beef/lamb/pork roast, and you'd use a lower heat in order to give the inside time to cook without overcooking the outside.

If you use a gas grille, you get the indirect heat by turning on only one side and placing the food on the other side. If you use coals, then shove the coals over to one side and put the food on the other. Some brands of charcoal grille (Weber, for example) make a set of two "fences" that attach to the grate that the coals sit on. You clip on the fences, move the coals over to the sides, and cook in the middle.

You should also put a drip pan under the food that you're cooking, so you don't end up with a mess on the bottom of your grille.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello, how are you going? :-) Thank you so very much for your answer, I really appreciate it a lot! :-) That's excellent advice, I will do it all over direct heat. I was just wondering, is there a correct amount of charcoal beads I should use for direct heat, or just enough to fill up the whole bottom of the bbq? Should I put the sausages on last do you think, in case they take less time to cook than the other things? Also, how do I prevent flareups from the sausages? Thank you so very much for your help, I really appreciate it a lot :-D

Answer
Not sure what you mean by charcoal beads -- I'm familiar with charcoal briquettes (charcoal pressed into small chunks about the size of a plum) or with lump charcoal (looks like chunks of charred wood). Lump burns faster and hotter than briquettes.

In any case, I usually fill the grate with coals enough so that I can't see the bottom of the bowl. I don't know what kind of sausages you're cooking, whether they're fully cooked to start with, whether they're fat or thin, etc. Fat raw sausages take longer to cook, so time them accordingly. Chicken parts take the longest. Pork needs to be fully cooked. Play around with the stuff a bit and learn how the various cuts work over your grille before you invite the gang over.

As for flare-ups -- if you have a covered grill, you avoid them by keeping the lid shut -- the reduced air flow will limit the flaring, but make sure that you have enough air circulation to keep the coals burning. Or you can have a hand held misting sprayer ready to squirt at the flares as they happen.

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Expertise

I can answer questions having to do with grilling or barbecuing meat (but not pork), poultry, fish, and vegetables over charcoal or wood. I also have some expertise in marinades and spice mixes. I cook only with charcoal and wood, so please do not ask me any questions about gas or electric grills.

Experience

I've been cooking with fire and smoke for 25 years, using charcoal and wood almost exclusively. While I do not usually cook with gas, I'm willing to try to answer cooking questions in this area. I cook meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and I've experimented with a lot of different recipes and techniques. I am not able to answer questions about grilling or barbecuing pork. Most recently I've been using slow-cooking (indirect heat) techniques, and have been very successful at it.

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