Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial kickoff to the summer season, which means it’s time to drag the grill out of the basement, or uncover the one on the patio.
Whether you’re getting your old grill in shape for the cookout season or you have a brand-new grill you want to get ready for action, our resident Grill Master, Ben Delanoy has some advice.
What do you need to do to get your existing gas grill ready for the season?
You want to make sure there’s no critters, as far as mites or spiders, that have taken up residence in the grill itself and/or the tubes for the burners. Make sure your burners are cleaned out. Make sure you have correct connections for your propane tank. Make sure you slowly open up the nozzle on your propane tank, and make sure your igniters are clean of dirt, debris and critters also. That’s normally why you get that delayed light, or that ‘whoosh’ when you first turn on the grill: It’s because those little spiders love to eat the byproducts of propane. They love to make their nests in the igniters. (You can clean out the connections) with pipe cleaners and a can of compressed air.
How about cleaning the grates?
Just use a degreaser soap. I don’t like to use harsh chemicals because then it can get on the food. You can use Dawn — a good soap-and-water solution. Then you just rinse it off. You can scrub them with a big brush. (The bristles) depend on the material it’s made of. If you have cast-iron grates, then I would use more of a harder bristle brush, but if it’s stainless steel, a good old SOS (steel wool) pad works pretty well.
What else should you do to prepare the grates for the season?
Always re-oil all your grates with olive oil or Pam grilling spray. Make sure everything is coated really good for the season. That’s for any grill. And spray it BEFORE you light the grill.
How about cleaning a charcoal grill?
I would clean out all the charcoal and check to make sure there are no areas that are rusted through. And put all new charcoal in, and with the cooking grate on top I would clean that stainless steel off with a good SOS pad and dish soap.
What if you have a brand-new gas grill?
When you purchase the product, make sure you’re getting it through a reputable dealer, and have them go over all the safety features, and the care and the maintenance and the troubleshooting if there’s a problem. (For example), we normally get a call for a low flame. The reason people get a low flame is because they — click! —turn on the propane tank and they turn all the burners on high, and this is gas, and it doesn’t react to quickness. So, low and slow sometimes allows the gas to fill all those compartments — slowly turning it on and slowly lighting one burner to the side, you’ll notice that you’ll have a more evenly dispersed flame, and you won’t get frustrated.
How about for a new charcoal grill?
I would wash down all the grates with soap and water to be on the safe side, to get rid of any dirt and debris that might have been left there, and then I would still put olive oil or Pam grilling spray on them.
What are some of the most essential grilling tools you’ll need?
You should have a set of nice, long-handled tongs for reaching in the back (of the grill) to be able to flip something, and a long-handled, flat spatula. Also, get any type of wire-grated basket to cook your vegetables or your smaller items. It allows you to get more of the charcoal flavor in your food — especially if you’re making shrimp or potatoes. Stainless steel is always nicer, cleaner and easier to use.
Any new items on the grilling scene?
There are (racks with) holders to make stuffed peppers and stuffed hot peppers. There are salt blocks that are great for grilling different seasoned foods (on). You have your onion or garlic roasters which are quite nice.
Any other grilling advice?
Just enjoy — and don’t cook it high, so you don’t burn your food. People tend to want to cook everything really high, and it takes the flavor out of the food.