Direct Grilling on the Classic Cooker®
(Steaks, Hot Dogs, Sausages, Chicken, Kebobs, Etc.)
Before tackling “grilling”, let me first define some terms and give a brief overview of the difference between grilling and barbecuing. For everyone in North Carolina and Texas, skip this part and move directly to “Grilling”, everyone else please read this.
The Difference between Grilling and Barbecue
This is a question that is asked by many, but not widely known or understood. A lot of the confusion lies in the fact that people often use the same piece of equipment for grilling as they do for barbecue. The two are however antithetical to one another.
Grilling is a high heat cooking method. Food is cooked directly over the coals and is normally ready in a matter of minutes. Grilling temperatures are usually in excess of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and food is cooked close to the heat source. The high heat chars the surface of the food, seals in the juices and creates a smoky caramelized crust.
Grilling is the oldest, most widespread and most forgiving method of cooking. Rich and poor alike practice it on six continents in restaurants, street stalls, and backyards.
Barbecuing by contrast lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from grilling. It is a long, slow, in-direct, low-heat method that utilizes very low temperatures, smoke, and time to cook the food. Barbecue temperatures are usually between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. This low heat generates smoke, and this smoke gives barbecue its characteristic flavor. The heat source is often separated from the cooking chamber, which contains the actual food.
This method of cooking is ideally suited to large pieces of meat such as whole pigs. It is also perfect for cuts with lots of tough connective tissue, like brisket and spareribs. In fact barbecue was traditionally associated with the poorer echelons of society, who were unable to afford the more expensive cuts of meat.
More recently a hybrid method of cooking, Indirect Grilling, has become very popular. This method bridges the gap between barbecue and grilling. As with barbecuing the food is not cooked directly over coals. But the actual cooking takes place in the same chamber as the heat source, and temperatures usually range between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wood chips or chunks are often placed on the heat source to generate smoke for flavor. Indirect grilling effectively transforms your barbecue grill into an outdoor oven, which is perfect for cooking larger cuts of meat such as prime rib and turkey. . Indirect grilling gives you the best of both grilling and barbecuing - the charcoal flavor from grilling and the tenderness and smoky flavor from barbecue. Whereas the flavor of true barbecue is hard to beat, the trade-off is that it takes a lot longer than grilling or indirect grilling.
We actually use all three of the above cooking methods and each method can be utilized on the Classic Cooker® Patio, 1000, 3000, and 4000 unit. Each method has its own merits
Grilling directly on the roller grates of your Classic Cooker® unit is as easy as it sounds. There is one common mistake made when first time users try and cook burgers, dogs, chicken, steaks, or whatever on the grill. Remember:
Before grilling on the Cooker, remove the roller grates and remove the roasting pan. With the roasting pan in place, the grill surface will not achieve temperatures above 350° F and it will take forever to grill your foods. Remove the roasting pan to achieve grill temperatures in excess of 600° F. Grilling is done directly over the heat radiant.
Once you have removed the roasting pan, set it off to the side and place the roller grates back into the grill. Season the grates using a non-stick spray or a light coating of olive oil to ensure that your food does not stick.
Check to make sure all of the burners are in the “OFF” position (vertical), and open BOTH propane tanks. It is important that both tanks are open (especially on the CC1000 and Patio unit) to ensure that the regulator does not “freeze up”, particularly on very warm days, and to keep the tanks at an even level and keep the pressure at a steady rate.
Following the instructions in the manual, light each burner individually, and allow the grill to “warm up” for 10 to 15 minutes to reach the desired temperature. Place food on the grill and grill to your heart’s content, adjusting the burners accordingly to meet your temperature needs.
Grease will drip onto the heat radiant and sear on the metal, creating smoke that will filter back into the food and give your food an additional flavor boost. An abundance of grease will cause minor flare-ups, so make sure to not walk away from the grill while it is in use. It is also recommended that the heat radiant be “flipped” each time you grill on the Cooker. Simply remove the six clips that hold the radiant in place, lift the radiant out, and turn it over. This will allow the grease to burn off the bottom of the radiant and provide a relatively clean, grease free surface to grill over each time.
When you are finished grilling, turn off the gas at the bottles and let the flames go out in the burners. After the flames have died, turn the burners off (vertical position). By turning off the gas before turning off the burners, any gas trapped in the gas lines will be burned off.