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Charcoal vs. gas

Grilling purists love cooking over charcoal. It takes some work to set up and heat the briquets (and you have to deal with the used ones at the end), but charcoal gives meats and vegetables a rich, smoky taste. Though gas grills don’t contribute as much flavor, they light with the press of a button and require only brief preheating, so you can start cooking in a matter of minutes—a definite bonus when you have a crowd that’s ready to eat.

Direct heat cooking vs. Indirect heat cooking

Direct heat grilling is best for thin cuts of meat that cook quickly. It gets them nicely browned on the outside in the short time they take to get done in the middle.

Indirect heat cooking is best for large cuts of meat and roasts, because you don’t want to burn the outside and dry out the meat before the center is cooked.

Cooking Tips

Maintaining a constant temperature

  • For charcoal grills, airflow is important to keep the coals burning. Bottom vents should be open when preheating grill. During cooking, if grill lid is closed, such as during indirect heat cooking, open top vents.
  • We recommend long-burning charcoal briquets; if you buy the fast-burning type, you’ll need to use more charcoal to maintain an even heat throughout the cooking time.
  • The grill should be placed 4 to 6 inches above the coals. If your grill is closer, cooking times will be shorter.
  • Always keep the lid closed on a gas grill during cooking. Gas grills lose heat rapidly, so cooking times can be off if they are left open too long.
  • Resist the temptation to turn foods often, especially if you’re cooking on a gas grill or over indirect heat. Turning just once keeps grill temperature consistent and allows for proper browning – what gives grilled foods their unique flavor.



Keep these tools on hand, for safe and easy grilling and clean-up:

  • A wide spatula and long-handled tongs for turning (plus an extra pair of tongs for moving briquets, if you’re using charcoal)
  • Long-handled brush for basting meats when they’re on the grill
  • Heatproof brush for oiling grill
  • Drip pans for catching juices and fat while cooking over indirect charcoal heat
  • Instant-read meat thermometer for making sure thick cuts of meat are cooked to the desired doneness
  • Spray bottle full of water for dousing flare-ups when cooking over charcoal
  • Stiff wire brush for cleaning grill
  • Heavy aluminum foil, useful for cooking certain foods on the grill
  • Heavy plastic food bags for marinating
  • Wooden or metal skewers
  • Grill skillet or basket for cooking small pieces of vegetables

These tips are included in the Great Grilling “How-to” Guide, available beginning June 14, 2006, at the nearly 1,700 Safeway Inc. stores across the country, including” Carrs, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Vons and Pavilions.

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