If you’re planning for a barbecue, it is important to understand the kind of grilling technique you will need to use: direct or indirect. It is not as if one is superior to the other. The food that you wish to cook will determine whether you need a direct or an indirect grill.
Direct grilling means placing the food directly over the source of heat, whether coal or gas. This method works best for small and tender stuffs like burgers, hotdogs, vegetables and small pieces of meat. Basically any item that requires less than 30 minutes to cook. Direct grilling gives a crispy, seared crust to the food.
Make a careful use of a drip tray as drippings might land directly in the fire during the process, leading to dangerous flare ups. Flip all the items just once in order to expose both the sides to heat, when you’re halfway through the cooking time.
You need to keep a close watch to prevent the food from burning. This doesn’t mean you will constantly lift the lid to peek at it. It will only lengthen the cooking time by letting off heat and smoke.
Steven Raichlen explains how one can create variations of temperature consisting of a hot, medium and a safety zone even in a direct grill. You can use the hot zone for searing, the medium zone for cooking and the safety zone can help you in case the food starts to burn
Indirect grilling, as the name suggests, involves placing the food to one side of the source of heat and not directly above it. The method is used for larger, tougher foods that require long durations over a low temperature to get cooked. Large pieces of meat, whole birds, ribs, etc turn out best when cooked over indirect heat, with juicier meats.
Indirect grilling is a slow process that evenly cooks all the sides of the food through reflected heat. It doesn’t require you to flip the food during the whole process. You will never end up with large pieces of meat charred on the surface while almost raw at the centre!