It is the middle of a heat wave in the UK right now and everyone will have fired up their BBQ’s or more precisely grills and if you are using charcoal or a gas grill, you need to know the best temperature for cooking your food. Now you can guesstimate by holding your hand over the grill, but I would not recommend it. I suggest getting yourself a decent thermometer and attaching the probe to your grill close to where you cook your meat or fish. Your BBQ, if it has a lid, will often have a built-in thermometer but that will measure the air temperature which can be 50 degrees cooler than the cooking surface where the action takes place.
Adjusting the temperature is easy with a gas fired BBQ you can simply adjust the flames on a charcoal fire, once the coals are glowing and turning white your best method is to move the distance between the grill and the coals. The higher the grill the lower the direct heat.
Low Heat Around 325 F / 160 C is perfect for sausages which need to be thoroughly cooked with burning or bursting the skins. You will be able to hold your hand over the heat source for up to ten seconds.
Medium Heat Around 350 F / 180 C is best for cooking chicken thighs and drumsticks where it is important that the meat is cooked through without the exterior burning to a crisp. It is about six or seven seconds before you will need to move your hand.
Medium-High Heat Between 400 and 450 F / 200 to 230 C. When you want to get a nice browning or crust on your food, but the interior is moist and tender, such as a thick piece of fish, grilled vegetables or a tasty medium-rare burger. You will only be able to hold your hand over the grill for about five seconds.
A temperature of 450 F / 230 C and above is perfect for flash cooking seafood, chicken or steak kebabs, and onglet or hanger steaks. The high heat adds some charring, with regular turning to prevent burning, and is sufficient to cook the food. If you hold your hand over the heat you can only bare it for one or two seconds.