When you are given the responsibility of being the grillmaster, organization can be your key to success. Whether that be making a detailed plan for which meats need cooking first, and which can rest, to knowing what temperature you should keep the meat while you grill others.
These are all things that are worthwhile to consider before starting a grilling adventure.
In this guide, we are going to have a look at what temperature your food should be while you leave it aside until other food is done, or while grilling other foods.
The last thing you want to happen is for the expensive meat you have bought for the cook-out to be spoiled because you left it while attending to other meat.
Slip-ups on the grill are seldom lived down while making sure you blow away everyone’s expectations can cement you as the grill master for many summers to come. Let’s explore the world of grilling and meat together!
Direct Vs Indirect Grilling
The key to timing your meats to be done around the same time is to use multiple grilling zones that are different temperatures in order to directly grill meat and to keep it suitably warm with indirect heat.
Direct grilling is when your meat or food comes into direct contact with fire. Direct grilling is a very high heat method of grilling meat. This method can cook small and thin cuts of meat really quickly and is a common way to grill meat.
Indirect Grilling is a way to keep the meat warm or rest while others cook but is also a way to cook large cuts of meat for long periods of time. Cuts of meat such as whole chickens would burn in contact with direct flames and not cook through, indirect grilling allows for this to happen.
Moreover, when your meat is nearly cooked you can leave it to rest in an indirect heat zone and it can finish cooking slowly while other meat cooks more quickly.
How To Set Up Your Grill
Most seasoned grillers find that a three zone approach can be your best approach to grilling things. This ensures meat cooks evenly, at the same time, and without burning. This allows you to cook different types of meat that require different techniques for cooking, all on one grill or fire pit.
The good thing about this method is that you can even use it when cooking over a fire or in any grilling practice.
The three zones you need to create are a direct grilling zone or ‘hot’ zone, an indirect grilling zone, or medium heat zone, as well as a ‘safety’ or ‘resting’ zone. This requires manipulating the coals to create the required heats of each part.
On a charcoal grill, get the coals hot first off. Once the coals are hot, try raking half the coals into a double layer that takes up approximately one-third of the grill. This will be your hot section that will be the hottest and used for direct grilling.
Then move the other half of the coals into a single layer that also takes up one-third of the grill. This will be your indirect grilling zone or medium heat zone that doesn’t grill things directly, rather, it keeps them warm or cooks them slowly while other meat cooks quickly.
To guarantee safety for resting meats and meat that is starting to burn, keep a cooler section that lets meat remain warm but creates an area that isn’t in contact with much heat at all.
This is a good place to keep meat that is cooked through but needs to rest while waiting for other meats to cook through.
How Hot Should My Meat Be When Resting Or Keeping Warm?
In general, we suggest your meat should always be between 145 degrees and 165 degrees. This is most important with white meat, especially chicken, as when undercooked it can be dangerous to feed people, and certainly won’t win any favor at the BBQ.
Here are some common BBQ meats and what temperature they should be when served.
- Beef – 160 degrees
- Chicken – 165 degrees
- Turkey – 165 degrees
- Pork – 145 degrees
- Ground pork – 160 degrees
- Lamb roast – 145 degrees
- Lamb ground or chopped – 165 degrees
- Fish – 145 degrees
While other meats can have a range of temperatures that can be met to satisfy your guests’ preferences, such as a rare steak, they can still meet these temperatures, their level of cookedness can be decided by how you cook them on the grill, direct heat, or indirect.
The only meat to keep a serious eye on is chicken. Chicken can be pretty dangerous when raw and caution should always be utilized in this situation, if you are unsure cook it some more.
One way to keep an eye on the temperature with accuracy is with meat thermometers. A meat probe lets you impale the meat and get the temperature of the middle of the meat. A thermometer gun can also give you quick ball-park heat readings of your meat also.
Always use a probe for accurate readings, but things are quick when grilling so a thermometer gun can help these readings be quick and fairly accurate without having to faff around with meat.
The Bottom Line
Your meat should always be around 145- 165 degrees when you serve it, depending on the meat. So, when the meat is resting on your grill it can remain anywhere around this temperature.
If you want your meat to stay around this temperature while it rests on the grill you can move it to your medium heat area when it’s close to this temperature.
Meat probes are the best way to keep an eye on the temperature of your meat, they’re cheap, effective and easy to use. Trusting how your hand feels or using heat counts can be ineffective, using these methods will guarantee no uncooked or overcooked meat as well as food safety for everyone. Happy Grilling!