Want a little more instruction before you start up the grill? Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions about foil-pack meals.
Should foil-pack meals be grilled over direct or indirect heat?
Foil packets should be grilled over direct heat, which means the food is on the grate directly over the heat source—the flame on a charcoal grill or burner on a gas grill. Using direct heat creates an environment that’s more akin to stovetop cooking, i.e. heat emanates from a single source, the flame or burner. As opposed to grilling over indirect heat, which creates a cooking environment that’s more like that of an oven, i.e. the heat is distributed throughout the space. In general, we use direct heat for grilling—unless you see indirect specified in the recipe.
How do I know when my foil-pack meal is done cooking?
To determine doneness of a foil-pack meal, check at the earliest time listed in the recipe. If your recipe states food will take 15-20 minutes to cook, check at 15 minutes. Checking at the earlier time will help ensure you don’t overcook your food. Here’s the best way to check for doneness.
- Remove one foil pack from the grill, specifically the one with the largest pieces of meat. Mark this foil pack with a permanent marker before grilling, so you can identify it later.
- Working quickly and wearing an oven mitt, cut a slit in the packet.
- Use your thermometer to check the temperature of the food. Note, when cooking a dish of mixed ingredients—such as meat, vegetables and starches—it is essential to cook all ingredients to a food safe temperature of 165F to prevent any chance of cross contamination. If the pack with the largest pieces of meat is done, the others should be too.
How should I season my foil pack meals?
Foil pack meals are easy to season because the enclosed environment really concentrates whatever aromatics, herbs, spices or other ingredients you use. Many of our recipes simply call for tossing all your meal ingredients in oil or butter, herbs and spices. When foil-pack recipes include starches, like rice, sometimes we recommend soaking in broth before adding to a foil pack, this adds flavor and rehydrates the rice, which makes cooking quicker and easier—since foil packs contain less liquid and are therefore easier to handle. Here are a few tricks to making your foil-pack meals extra flavorful.
- Add sliced lemon on top of salmon and halibut filets to brighten the flavor of the foil pack.
- Butter and oil can be added with a generous hand, which will make foil packs with corn turn out extra flavorful. This is a nice benefit of a foil pack since typically you need to be judicious when coating foods destined for the grill with fat. Using too much can cause flareups, if excess oil drips down onto the flames.
Can I cook foil packs in the oven?
Foil packets can easily be cooked in the oven. If grilling directions call for using medium heat, set oven temperature to 375F. Place foil packs on a cookie sheet, and bake for 1 ½ to 2 times the amount of time called for in the grilled-version of the recipe.