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The grilling methods noted below are for charcoal style grills with lids.
Direct – This method works by placing your food on the cooking grate directly over the coals or campfire. This type of cooking is true grilling because involves the quick searing meats locking in juices and flavors. Foods requiring short cooking times are best using this method. Be sure to stay close by as foods cook very fast and beware of flare ups.
Indirect – This method is closer to roasting or baking as you would do in your oven at home. For indirect cooking your coals should be piled at one side or two smaller piles at each end of your grill. Place a drip pan with a small amount of water at one side or in the middle depending on what style of indirect cooking you prefer. Indirect cooking is great for foods that will take longer than 15 to 20 minutes, usually an hour or more like chickens, roast and loins. The foods can be places over the coals for searing and applying grill marks then moved over the drip pan for slow cooking. During the indirect cooking wood chips can be added to the coals for smoke or additional flavors can be added to the water creating that special moister heat.
Multi-Level – This type of grilling is good for when cooking meats that require a quick sear then finished with a lower heat. This is done by stacking the coals thicker at one end of the grill and thinner towards other end creating multiple heat zones. This is a great way of cooking for large crowds where the food can be seared, cooked and then remain warm at the low heat end of the grill until needed.
Understanding these methods of grilling styles, Direct, Indirect and Multi-Level are essential for creating wonderful grilled meals. There are foods when both direct and indirect methods are appropriate. The direct method sears the food creating a flavorful crust, followed by indirect to prevent burning the outer area of the food while cooking evenly.