The time has finally come to pull off your grill covers and toss some patties and dogs on the grill. Just remember one important thing: getting back into the grilling game requires some prep ahead of time to ensure safety, efficiency, and the most flavor from the flames. Performing regular maintenance, cleaning, and safe cooking methods can help you get the most good out of your grill in the first days of summer.
The secret to summer grilling success is simple: you need to begin prepping your grill far ahead of summer’s peak. Before you can start hosting cookouts for the whole neighborhood, you’ll need to give your grill some TLC from the hood to the feet and everything in between.
Start things off by giving the grill a good cleaning. If grill covers haven’t been utilized, there’s a solid chance your grilling station has collected a good bit of grime and dirt over recent months. Thankfully, cleaning up any residue that’s attached to the grill is a summer breeze.
Image Is Everything
There are a few cleaning solutions at your disposal to make the outside of your grill looking new again. These include:
- A mix of three parts baking soda, one part water
- Baking soda and vinegar
- Stainless steel cleaner
- Warm water and dish soap
No matter which method you choose, you’ll get the best results using a double-sided sponge and a rag for washing the hood, knobs, and all the other nooks and crannies found on the outside surfaces of your grill. And while chair covers protect the rest of your backyard accessories, use grill covers when the griddle isn’t in use to maintain cleanliness.
Give it Some Gas
Once the exterior cleaning has been taken care of, it’s time to move on to checking up on the gas supply. Check the propane levels and replenish if needed, and recycle any rusted or empty gas tanks. And don’t forget to inspect the gas line for any tears; if you happen to come upon one, be sure to repair it immediately for safety’s sake.
It’s What’s Inside that Matters
For the interior of your grill, a stiff wire brush is necessary for removing all the grease that has accumulated on the grates. But first, crank up the flames to high and let them do their magic. After 10-15 minutes, turn the heat down low and scrape every grate thoroughly to remove the now-ashy remnants of meals past.
Once you’re completely finished with that task, turn the heat off and let the grates cool. Then dip your brush in a mixture of hot water and soap and scrape/scrub off any remaining residue from the grates as well as the interior walls of the grill. Scraped off remnants may fall below and can be either swept out or wiped clean with a rag.
Preseason hardware maintenance sets the scene for grilling greatness. The next step includes implementing smart grilling techniques that bring out the savory flavors that are so sought after at a summer cookout.
Soak Up the Flavors of Summer
The simplest and most popular way to add savory flavors to your barbecue meats is to marinate them prior to grilling. It’s a good idea to have a simple, reliable, and delicious marinade recipe on hand such as this one, which is perfect for both steak and chicken. You’ll need:
- 59 ml soy sauce
- 42 g honey
- 28 g distilled white vinegar
- 7.5 g garlic powder
- 7.5 g ground ginger
- 177 ml vegetable oil
- 2 chopped green onions
- 5 g coarsely ground black pepper
Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Once combined, soak your meat in the marinade in the refrigerator for 4 hours (even overnight is good) prior to grilling. You can also marinate 2 hours at room temperature if you’re in a hurry. The result? Tender, juicy cuts that will have you crowned as the King or Queen of the cookout.
Time to Crank Up the Heat
While your meats are nearing the end of their marination, prep for your cookout session by preheating your grill. Preheating for around 15 minutes thoroughly heats the grates, helping to prevent food from sticking and also removing any leftover grease that may have stuck around after your cleaning (after all, no one’s perfect). These 15 minutes will get your grill to the perfect searing temperature.
The Tetris of Grilling
Proper placement on your grill surface can prove to be quite a puzzle. It’s understandable to want to fit as many meats and veggies as possible on your griddle, but keep in mind that even heat distribution requires even and ample space between each piece. This also keeps the meat from steaming and thus drying it out slightly, which happens if it is too close together. Try to keep food at least a few inches between your patties, wieners, and whatever else you’re throwing on the grill.
If You Like it Then You Better Put a Lid on It
Your grill’s lid plays a huge role in keeping your meats perfectly smoked and savory. Make an effort to keep the lid closed as often as possible, lifting it only to flip food or check temperatures. The longer your lid is left open, the more chance heat has to escape and compromise roasting potential. It also elongates the cook time by eliminating a grill’s outstanding design purpose: to grill and roast simultaneously.
Keeping track of temperature is crucial for a successful cookout. Insert an instant-read thermometer into meats to check for temperature. For a rare steak, remove from the grill at 60 °C, and at 68 °C for a medium finish.
Staying Safe and Looking Good
When hosting a backyard barbecue extravaganza, you should always keep safety in mind. Much like hosting a bonfire after pulling off the fire pit covers, the grill can pose a number of safety risks, so taking extra precautions when grilling will be in everyone’s best interest.
Grill safety entails a number of smart practices. Always have a fire extinguisher on hand and ready at a moment’s notice. Kids should be kept far from the grilling area. Consider setting up a play area complete with water guns and DIY water slides made with custom tarps to keep them entertained while you grill up a storm.
In the case of errant smoke or ashes escaping from the grill, protective measures such as chair covers, fire pit covers, or custom tarps can be laid out to protect backyard furniture and accessories. The last thing you want is for your cookout to coat your outdoor living area with smoky residue or ash.