Grilling, Grille´s Glossary
To help you wade through the Grill-Speak that you may hear when shopping
for accessories — or from your neighbor down the street — we compiled the
following glossary of terms. Use these, and you’ll be a grilling guru in no time!
Baste: To brush a seasoned liquid over the surface of food to add moisture
Brazier: An inexpensive, open charcoal grill with a grid that’s usually
just a few inches from the coals. A brazier is best for quick grilling. Some
braziers may have a partial hood or cover to better retain heat. Braziers
sometimes also come with rotisserie attachments.
Ceramic briquettes: These briquettes are made of radiant materials
and are used in gas grills to transfer heat from the burners and spread
it evenly under the grill grid. Briquettes made of ceramic don’t burn up
like charcoal briquettes do. Lava rock and metal plates are an alternative
to ceramic briquettes. They don’t, however, give the smoky, charcoal
flavor that many folks crave.
Charcoal briquettes: The most common fuel for a live fire, manufactured
from ground charcoal, coal dust, and starch. These materials are
compressed into a uniform, pillow shape and packaged for sale in 5- to
Charcoal chimney starter: A metal, cylinder-shaped container that’s
filled with newspaper and charcoal and used to quickly ignite a
Charcoal grill: A grill that uses charcoal as its principal fuel. A charcoal
grill can be round, square, covered, uncovered, portable, or stationary.
The most common type is a covered kettle grill.
Coal grate: The rack that holds the charcoal in the firebox.
Drip pan: A metal pan placed under the food to catch drippings when
Electric grill: An indoor or outdoor grill whose heat comes from electric
Fire starters: Any number of gadgets or materials, such as the chimney
starter, electric coil, wax or gel cubes, or compressed wood, used to
Firebox: The underbelly or bottom of the grill that holds the fire or heat.
Flare-ups: Flames caused by fat dripping onto hot coals or lava rock.
Gas grill: A grill whose heating source is gas from a propane tank (or
occasionally, a main gas line).
Grid: The latticework of metal rods where you place your food on a grill
is called a grid, or a grill grid. (Weber confuses things a little by calling
this area the grate, which everyone else calls the metal piece on which
the charcoal sits.) One grid is included with every grill.
Grill baskets: Hinged, wire baskets that ease the grilling (and turning)
of sliced vegetables, a delicate piece of fish, burgers, and other foods.
Hibachi: A small, portable, uncovered grill that’s often made of castiron.
A hibachi is great for beach or tailgate grilling.
Kettle grill: A relatively inexpensive, round charcoal grill with a heavy
cover. It stands on three legs and is excellent for either direct or indirect
Lava rock: This long-lasting natural rock results from volcanic lava and
is used as an alternative to ceramic briquettes. The irregularly-shaped
lava rock heats evenly in gas or electric grills. Unlike charcoal briquettes,
it can be used over and over.
Marinate: To soak food in a seasoned liquid mixture in order to impart
flavor to the food before it’s cooked. The steeping liquid, often made
with herbs, spices, oil, and an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar,
is called a marinade.
Natural lump charcoal: The carbon residue of wood that’s been charred
in a kiln — usually found in the form of chunks. This is one heating
source for charcoal grills. Natural lump charcoal gives you the smokiest
Roasting: The process of cooking food in a pan in a closed-grill setup. By
using indirect heat, you can roast an entire prime rib or turkey to perfection
on a grill.
Rotisserie rod: The spit or long metal skewer that suspends and rotates
food over a grill’s heat source.
Rub: A concentrated, flavorful blend of dry or wet herbs, seasonings,
and spices that’s rubbed onto the surface of food before grilling.
Sear: To cook food directly above relatively high heat in order to seal in
juices and impart flavor, a brown color, and a slightly crusty surface.
Smoker box: A small, perforated steel or cast-iron container that’s
placed directly on the lava rocks or ceramic briquettes of a gas grill.
This box holds flavored wood chips and provides smoke.
Vent: The holes in a grill cover or firebox that open and close like shutters.
An open vent increases the oxygen and heat of a fire, while a closed
vent does the opposite. Some grills don’t have vents.
Wood chips and wood chunks: Natural hardwood materials added to
the fire to impart smoky flavor to food as it grills. Some of the best materials
are hickory, mesquite, and grapevine trimmings.
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