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Your Grill Is A Badass Oven. So Get Roasting.
I’ve often said that a broiler is basically an upside-down grill. When you think of it that way, it suddenly seems more useful - and more fun. It might also encourage you to cook things in ways that previously seemed off limits.
The converse is true: A grill is a primitive oven. Once you realize that it's both easy and satisfying to roast and even bake on your grill, it's a whole new world.
Grill-roasting, or whatever you want to call it, is simply cooking over indirect heat. If you're using a charcoal grill, you push the coals to one side; if you're using a gas grill, you leave one or more of the burners off. In both cases, the idea is that some portion of the grilling surface has no heat directly underneath it, and that's where the food goes. When you close the lid, the grill becomes, to put it eloquently, a big box of heat (aka an oven), and whatever you've got in there will roast and brown from all sides.
There's nothing revolutionary about this (quite the opposite, in fact), but many people find it intimidating. Why? Because we think of ovens as precise (though even that's debatable), and grills as unruly. It's harder to maintain constant temperatures on a grill, especially a charcoal one, and so throwing a big hunk of something in there, closing the lid, and hoping it cooks through in some indeterminate amount of time can be a scary proposition.
But there's a simple solution: An accurate (and truly instant) instant-read thermometer. The hardest part about grill-roasting is knowing when the food is done. The other parts you can fudge: If the temperature fluctuates, you can adjust the heat; if the side near the flame is browning faster than the other (it will), you can turn it; but when it comes to what's happening in the middle, you're kind of flying blind. A thermometer is the ultimate backstop, and ensures that no matter how unpredictable your grill may be, you'll never get derailed.
To demonstrate that this is true, we cooked our way through three of our favorite grill-roasting recipes from How to Grill Everything using our go-to instant-read thermometer, the Thermapen, along with its sister gadget, the ChefAlarm (both from Thermoworks). The latter is a probe thermometer, which will beep whenever it reaches whatever temperature you set it for; just stick it into the thickest part, make sure to run the cable away from the flames, and you're good to go. A probe isn't necessary if you have an instant-read, but it's convenient and provides some extra peace of mind. Needless to say, it works just as well for roasting in a regular oven.
The recipes below are all nearly stress-free if you know that you've got the internal temperature thing under control. While two of the three are big hunks of meat, it's definitely worth mentioning that grill-roasting is equally suitable for poultry, large slabs of fish, and whole vegetables: a head of cauliflower slow-roasted on the grill is a thing of beauty. Here we've got a smoky, spicy, crusty chipotle meatloaf wrapped in bacon, a whole leg of lamb slathered in dill and garlic, and even a beautifully rustic bread infused with rosemary and olive oil.
And yes, you can bake terrific bread on your grill. If that doesn't make it an oven, I don't know what does.
This dough is incredibly easy to mix, and the directions for shaping will ensure success. The seasonings are simple but pronounced: The salt is pleasantly prominent, so use a flavorful sea salt if you can, and the rosemary perfumes the whole loaf.
Everything changes when you cook meat loaf on the grill. It develops a crust all over, stays tender and juicy all the way through, and takes on that signature grilled flavor. Equal parts beef, pork, and veal is the classic meat combination. Over the years I’ve also used all lamb, all beef, all pork, and a mix of beef and pork.
Grilling a bone-in leg of lamb yields dramatic results with very little effort. Cooked the entire time over indirect heat, it will develop a beautifully browned—and delectable—crust. Since it’s impossible to cook this funky-shaped cut to the same doneness throughout, your best bet is to take it off the grill when the lowest temperature is about 5°F shy of the doneness you prefer for lamb; that way, you’ll end up with lamb at pretty much all levels of doneness, all of it juicy.