One of the very best parts of spring and summer is cooking and eating out-of-doors. No place is better than your own backyard, and a well maintained grill makes outdoor meals a breeze.
Before your first home cookout, make sure your grill is in working order. If you've been meaning to replace your old, rusted one, there is no time like the present!
Clean and Refurbish
Use a stiff wire brush to rub off any rust and grime on the grill's body and grilling rack. If you cleaned the grill before putting it away last fall, this shouldn't be very difficult.Scoop out any charcoal ashes in the bottom of the grill and wipe out the fire box with a cloth rag or paper towels. Hose the grill down and let it dry in the sunshine. Dry hard-to-reach spots with paper towels to prevent rusting.
Spray the grill with the hose and then put your muscle into the task of using the brush. If there are trouble spots, use a metal scouring pad and warm, soapy water.
The lava rocks that come with gas grills should be wiped clean with a dry cloth. Another option is to put them in a heavy paper bag and shake them. Bits and pieces of food will knock off.
Make sure the grill's lid opens and closes with ease. If not, oil the hinges.
Fill the propane tank for the gas grill. Buy a second one if you don't have one - it can be extremely useful if you run out of gas in the middle of cooking. Store it away from the house in a cool, shady spot.
If your grill tools are old or damaged, buy new ones. Look for tools with extra-long wooden handles. These will keep your hands safe and far from the hot coals.
Handy tools to have include:
- Basting brush: Natural (not plastic) bristles hold up to high grill temperatures.
- Chimney: These cylindrical metal containers allow the coals to ignite quickly by relying on newspaper rather than lighter fluid.
- Hinged basket: These are useful for containing fish, vegetables, and hamburgers.
- Mitts: Thick mitts made of flame-retardant material with extra-long cuffs protect your hands and arms.
- Skewers: Sturdy metal skewers are great for grilling. Those with double prongs hold food firmly and evenly on the grill.
- Thermometers: Standard oven thermometers are useful for gauging the internal temperature of a closed grill. Instant-read thermometers are extremely helpful for determining the doneness of meat and poultry. You can insert an instant-read thermometer in a grill cover vent to determine internal temperature of the grill without removing the lid.
- Tongs: Great for moving food around and off the grill, tongs don't pierce food. This keeps juices from leaking out.
- Wire brush: The stiff wire bristles on these heavy-duty brushes make clean up easy.
It's a good idea to spray the grilling rack with vegetable oil spray before putting food on the grill. This prevents sticking and makes clean up a snap.
Some home grill cooks like to line the fire box with heavy-duty aluminum foil. It allows them to remove the cooled ashes by removing the foil in one neat package.
After the grill cools a little but before it's stone cold, use the wire brush or metal scouring pads to clean the grill. If you clean it every time, you will never hesitate to grill when the pleasant weather and the lure of a home-cooked meal beckon.