BBQ myths

Your Grill: An Open and Shut Case

Should you leave the cover open on your grill?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Grill cooking is all about choices. You can use gas, charcoal, wood, or some other fuel source. Your choice of equipment can range from a three-dollar, disposable grill to an expensive state of the art cooking center with warming shelves, smoke boxes, and other bells and whistles. Your menu can include a wide range of food items from traditional steaks and hot dogs to veggies, fruit, and even desserts.

But one of the most basic yet important choices is whether to cook with the grill lid open or closed.

The popularity of grilling has led to many myths and debates related to the best way to cook on a grill. And many people feel that leaving the grill cover closed is a key aspect to good grilling. But in truth, the answer to this question depends on what you're cooking and what you'd like to accomplish with the end product.

Some Like It Hot

Leaving the grill cover closed keeps the heat level warmer and more constant inside. If you lift the lid to peek in or turn foods, or you leave the cover off the entire time, heat escapes and food will take longer to cook.

This is not really so important with foods that cook fast, such as hot dogs or pre-cooked kabobs. But with a thick steak or burger, it can be an issue, especially if you are attempting to sear the food with high heat.

A Flare for the Grill

Another reason people give for keeping the grill cover closed is because it reduces flare-ups that occur from fatty juices falling in the fire. While this may be true, flare-ups still occur with the cover closed - only you can't see them to squirt them with a water bottle.

If you are concerned about charred foods, you may want to leave the cover open on your grill so you can put out flare-ups quickly.

Soak Up the Smoke

One final reason for closing the grill cover is to allow foods to absorb smoke flavor. This is a valid point. With the cover closed, smoke is contained and more readily absorbed by the food. This is desirable for some people but others would rather avoid this aspect of grilling.

And in reality, it takes at least 20 minutes of cooking for food to absorb enough smoky flavor to notice a real difference. So unless you plan to grill your foods that long, the smoke factor doesn't apply.

Ultimately, this BBQ choice is more about personal preference rather than right or wrong. Leaving the cover open on the grill is not as efficient and it may affect the tenderness and flavor of certain foods. But it does allow you to be an active griller and to keep diligent watch over your grill goods.

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