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Barbecuing Meat with Indirect Heat

The indirect heat method for the barbecue works particularly well for meat, but can be used for other foods too including fish. Big joints of meat, such as the Christmas turkey or Sunday side of beef, benefit from this style of barbecuing in particular.

As the name implies, indirect heat means placing the food on the grill so it’s not directly above the flames or charcoal like it is when you’re barbecuing normally. To do this, it works well on both charcoal barbecues and gas barbecues, but you will need a BBQ with a cover to cook in this indirect way.

The way indirect heating works is by allowing the heat to move around inside the barbecue, cooking the meat from every angle. This has the major benefit of cooking the food evenly, as well as saving you from having to turn the meat during the cooking process because the heat reaches all sides itself.

 

Indirect heat on charcoal barbecues

With the charcoals, pile these on one side of the barbecue so you can place the meat at the other end of the grill, away from the direct heat source. Next to the pile of coals, and below the meat, place a roasting tin in this space to catch any juice and drippings during cooking. It’s also a good idea to place a pan on the grill next to the meat, and half fill this with water as this will help keep the meat moist as it barbecues.

Alternatively, you can gather all the charcoals around the edge of the barbecue grill and place the roasting pan in the middle of this. This way, the pan can double as the moisture-provider and you can place some water in this tin at the start of cooking – with the meat on the grill above the roasting tin.

If you’re a big fan of smoke flavour on your barbecued meat, you can add some pre-soaked wood chips to the coals also.

 

Indirect heat on gas barbecues

With a gas barbecue, the principle is the same as with the charcoal barbecue with the coal piled to one side of the grill. Instead, only use one of the BBQ’s burners and make sure the meat isn’t directly above this. With a gas barbecue, you don’t need to place a roasting tin but you should add a pan of water to keep the meat moist while it cooks.

With regard to smoke flavour, you’ll need to soak some wood chips in water and then place them in a special smoker box or wrap them in some foil that has a few holes in it.

As with all barbecuing methods, the trick with the indirect heat method is to experiment – give it go and see if you like it. If it works with cooking your joints of meat, and you notice a difference in the evenness of cooking compared to the standard BBQ way, you could try it on other foods such as whole fresh salmon or trout too.