Direct method cooking with lid up or down

GrillLeeMay 16, 2002

I have the Member's Mark grill. It says to cook with the lid up using the direct method. But the Weber site says to cook with the lid down and only open the lid to turn food or check for doneness. Which method is better?


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Not sure that there is right or wrong way, depends on what you are grilling. Most of the time I grill with the lid down, especially if IÂm using the smoker box. This helps to keep the smoky flavor around what IÂm grilling. By the way, I'm using a Member's Mark grill too.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2002 at 7:47PM
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Hi, I'm new to this forum, and all of my grilling experience is with charcoal grills. However, there are certain basic principals that I think apply to both methods.

There is something about the outdoor air that seems to add special flavor to foods cooked outdoors. Think back to the last time you roasted a hot dog right over an open fire at a wiener roast. There is no grill or smoker out there that can even come close to duplicating the taste or texture of an open fire roasted hot dog.

Well, when it comes to grilling steaks, burgers, chicken, chops, whatever over an open flame, I believe the same principle applies. When you close the lid, you are cutting off the outside air. Steaks and burgers, at least on a charcoal grill, will develop a thin layer of ugly residue that gives the meat more of an unpleasant appearance.

Leaving the lid open while you grill does not cause you to lose that much smoke flavor. The meat should absorb the smoke from the burning flames underneath, particularly if you are using wood chips of some sort. And, as the meat grills, and mixes with the outside fresh air, your true outdoor charcoal flavor comes through much better.

Now--that's my theory, and I'm sure some will disagree with me, and that's okay. Again, go back to the ole basic roasted hotdog, and the conditions that create the flavor you get.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2002 at 7:04PM
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leaving the top down is more like cooking in a oven than grilling I think. Indirect cooking can't be down with an open lid and leaving the lid open for smoking to me is ok as long your putting out a big smoke. But I would guess the smoke better be directly under the food or you might as well be smoking the wood yourself. Also have you noticed food cooked over charcoal seams more salty than gas, hot dogs specially. I like gas for the cleanup but think charcoal cooking makes for a better or different tasting meat.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2002 at 2:35PM
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I really haven't noticed whether charcoal cooked food is saltier or not. I really can't see how it could be--unless charcoal contains salt that penetrates the food.

Long-term smoking using the indirect method can only be accomplished with the lid closed. I could never imagine smoking a brisket or turkey over charocoal or wood with the lid open. I think the issue of leaving the lid up or down relates to direct grilling, right over the flame. Steaks, chicken pieces, burgers, etc. generally are quick grilled. Whole chickens, turkeys, briskets, pork roasts, etc., generally need long term smoking.

Regarding the gas vs. charcoal debate, one side will never convince the other. There are those who will swear they can produce authentic, smoke flavored foods in their gas grill. There are others who are convinced that nothing can ever duplicate authentic charcoal flavored foods.

My personal experience, and feelings, are that foods cooked over a quality charcoal, such as natural lump charcoal, with wood chunks added, will produce the authentic camp fire flavor that is the trademark of true BBQ. The further you move away from the original method of cooking over the old fashioned camp fire, the more you are going to lose that authentic flavor. But, that is just my opinion, and my experiences when I taste both methods. Probably, I have never had the privilege of tasting gas cooked foods that have been prepared using the flavored rocks and special wood chips, etc. that are available for the gas grills.

It fact, every burger and steak I have eaten cooked over gas was cooked just over the gas flame with no other additives. And, since I cook over wood and charcoal, and that is the flavor I am use to, most definitely I can tell the difference in the flavor. Sort of like drinking tap water after you are used to pure bottled water.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2002 at 9:06AM
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