Saturday, March 6, 2010

7. Cooking Temperature: Modify Grill Height

This is the first in the following series of blogs on the ideal cooking temperature for grilling a steak over live coals:

1. Cooking Temperature: Ideal Temperature
2. Cooking Temperature: 1600 Degrees?
3. Cooking Temperature: Need to Modify Grill Height
4. Cooking Temperature: Measure Temperature
5. Cooking Temperature: Measure Grill Height
6. Cooking Temperature: Calculate Ideal Grill Height
7. Cooking Temperature: Modify Grill Height
8. Cooking Temperature: Inverse Square Law

If the temperature of your backyard grill is too low at the grill level (which is usually the case), then you should make a modification to change the distance between the top of your grill and the top of the live coals.

Previous blogs describe (1) how to measure the temperature of an unmodified grill, (2) how to measure the distance from the grill level to the live coals, and (3) how to calculate the ideal distance from the top of the grill, at the meat level, and the top of the live coals. With these calculations, you can determine the distance to raise the level of the charcoal grate. In most cases for a Weber Kettle, this distance will be about 1 1/2".

In most cases, there is no easy way to lower the grill level by this amount, so it is usually easier to raise the level of the charcoal grate (the metal grate on which the charcoal burns) by this amount.

Use bricks or balls of alumunium foil to raise the charcoal grate to the correct amount by using bricks or balls of aluminum foil. For most, the charcoal grate will have to be raised about 1 1/2",

It is very important to raise it my the exact amount, within 1/8”. The reason for the needed precision is that a tiny change in the charcoal level translates into a huge change in the temperature. For example, an error of 1/8” changes the temperature 20°.

After the grill level has been adjusted to the ideal distance, and before cooking a steak, light the normal amount of lump charcoal and let it come to the correct temperature (after about 30 minutes). Then measure the temperature at the meat level. (See how to measure the temperature. Verify that the temperature at the grill level is 750°. If the temperature is not between 720° and 780° (which is within 5% of the ideal temperature), then repeat the process.

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  1. Hi, Joe, what adjustable grills do you recommend?. I need an adjustable grill for paellas as well. In the Basque Country of Spain, they have angled grills, so if you are doing several steaks and they are getting too done, you can move them up the angled grill where the temperature is not as hot. That will not work for paellas, which have to be on a flat surface.

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