How to cook low and slow on a kettle grill

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How to cook low and slow on a kettle grill

Summer is coming, and you want to cook real bbq. Perfectly smoked pork or beef ribs, pulled pork and brisket. That tender and deliciously tasting American cuisine.

But you don’t have a smoker to do that on. You only have a kettle grill in your backyard. No problem. I am going to show you how to set up your kettle grill for low and slow cooking.


Radiation heat

Let’s start with the different kinds of heat you can grill with. First, you’ve got radiation heat that’s coming straight from the glowing charcoal and is going in all directions. This is the kind of heat you need for grilling steaks. This gives you a beautiful crust.

Convection heat

Then we’ve got convection heat. Convection heat is hot air rising. This is the heat you need for low and slow cooking. This heat gives you the juicy pulled pork and brisket.

The first method

The first technique I will show you is a water-filled aluminium tray that divides the charcoal on both sides. This is the technique shown by many grill manufacturers to cook low and slow. And it works because it creates a low and slow heat for long barbecue sessions. But it creates a problem.

The aluminium tray does not shield enough radiation heat coming from the charcoal. This method is getting your ribs unnecessary dry. Even though the temperature will be low, the ribs are still getting too much radiation heat.

The second method

The other method uses the same water-filled tray but with the charcoal only on one side.

Although this creates a bigger surface for the meat to be put on, it still creates too much radiation heat.

The snake method

Next, you’ve got the snake method. This method gives you a low and slow cooking session for a very long time with super stable temperatures.
This method uses briquettes that you place in a row two thick and two high at the edge of the base of your grill. If you light the fire at one side of the briquettes, the heat will travel and light the rest of the briquettes.

It’s a great method, but still, you’re stuck with radiation heat. It’s a lot less than the other 2 methods, but it’s still radiation heat and not the perfect method.

The best method

My method is, in my opinion, the best method I can teach you. Place big chunks of hardwood to make a natural divide between the charcoal and the meat. That’s it. You don’t have to place any more smoke wood because you already have the divider that smokes during the cook. Just place a firestarter ad one side of the charcoal and light it with a torch.

By lighting the fire on one side, the heat burns slowly to the other side, creating low heat for a long time. If you now place the meat on the grates opposite the lighted charcoal, you can see that the radiation heat can’t reach it.

You’ve created a convection oven with your kettle grill that lets the convection heat go around the kettle with this method. This heat combined with smoke is making your ribs or pulled pork turn out perfect.

The Napoleon kettle grill even lets you lower the grates so the radiation heat basically can’t reach the meat even it’s too close to the charcoal.

Control the temperature

This is the perfect and cheapest way to set up your kettle grill for low and slow cooking. To control the temperature, you start with the top vent fully open and the bottom vent almost all the way closed—this way, the fine-tuning is done with only the top vent. You want to run your kettle grill with a temperature between 120 and 140°C (248 to 284F). With these temperatures, the meat and the dry rub, which usually contains sugar, are safe.

Try this method for yourself, and let me know if it worked for you.

Big thanks to Napoleon Grills for sponsoring this post.
Please return the favor by visiting their website.

BBQ gear used

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. I link these articles because of their quality.

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