We’ve officially entered grilling season, and this means we’ve also officially entered the era of grill maintenance. To keep your grill fired up about firing up, use these tips, and use them in this order.
Before You Grill, Clean.
We’ve all been there, usually with a plate of fresh meat and high hopes. You open the lid and find the grate covered in…unpleasantness. Don’t put your meat on a dirty grill; instead, keep your flavors clean with a clean grate.
Here’s how to make sure your grate is ready every time you raise the lid.
If possible, always cook with high heat. Let the grate heat up fully before placing your food on top of it, usually about five minutes.
This heat will burn away most of the grime and food from the previous use, and make it easier to brush away the remaining pieces.
Invest in a quality long-handled grill brush with firm bristles. You will only be as good as the tools you use, and a good brush will make light, fast work of this hot process.
Oil the Grill Grate. Or Not.
Now that you’ve used elbow grease, should you also grease the grate? It depends. While adding a thin layer of oil to the surface can help prevent food from sticking, it can also add a dangerous element to grilling if too much oil drips onto the flames and causes a flare-up.
Most people only add oil—usually via small quantities on a thick pad of paper towels—when the food they are grilling has no other added fat. Unmarinated or very lean meat, vegetables, and fruits fall into this category. When in doubt, a little oil can go a long way.
Then Let It Rest.
After you’ve grilled your meal, it’s tempting to remove the food and start cleaning up. Don’t. The restraint you show in letting your grate cool down and remain covered in grime will pay off; this greasy layer protects the metal from rust in between uses. Leave everything but the large chunks of food until the next time you raise the lid.
Keep It Under Wraps.
When not in use, your grill should be protected with a weatherproof fabric tarp or placed into the garage where it can be removed from the elements. Your grill is made of metal, and metal will rust if exposed to rain, high humidity, and other moisture.
A grill is a great investment in a good summer, so a little time and effort in its care will go a long way to making sure it’s always there when you need it. If you perform the above tips with regular use, you may find that grilled food has a place on your menu during every season of the year, and your grill will be able to handle whatever you toss on top of it.