Do’s and don’ts
1. Maintaining a clean grill will reduce the chances of flare-ups and incessant smoke, which will burn the outside of food and impart a bad flavour. Using a grill brush will help remove stuck-on food, but it also pushes the debris into the grill itself. Food that falls into the grill, ash deposits, and other gunk remains inside the grill until a cleaning. Remove the grates and burner covers at least twice a year to thoroughly clean the grill. (If you grill frequently, do this more often.) After a deep cleaning, you will likely notice a difference in how your grill performs.
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2. There are two important rules to keep in mind when it comes to fire: fight a fire when you want to put it out and control the fire when you want to use it. Flare-ups are a result of a cooking fire and should be controlled, not fought. Always try to keep a portion of your grill empty so you can move the food should a flare-up occur. When you do have a flare-up, move the food away from it and let the flare-up burn off with the grill lid up. If the fire spreads, remove all food from the grill and let the fire burn off the grease as quickly as possible. If your fire gets out of control, remove the food from the grill and turn off the burners and the gas. Leave the lid open and let the fire die down on its own.
3. Sugar burns easily, so there is a risk of burning or blackening foods with sauces or rubs that contain sugar. Keep your grilling temperature below 130 C to prevent charring. This is similar to the “low and slow” style of barbecue, which may take a lot longer to cook but will almost guarantee a successful outcome.
4. Nobody likes burned meat or vegetables and still so many stories about burning food on the grill start with, “I just stepped inside for . . .” A short moment away from the grill is enough time for it to get out of control and burn your food. Successful grilling means paying attention to the grill. This is particularly true for burgers, chops, and steaks, which are usually cooked at a hot temperature very quickly. Have all your preparations done before the food hits the grill and keep an eye on what you’re grilling.
5. It will sound very logical, but it is a very common and disappointing mistake. Keep extra fuel on hand and you will never have to worry about running out of gas. Or check your tank now and then before deciding to throw a BBQ party!
6. Practice food safety with everything you cook to make grilling successful. Use different plates for bringing raw meat to the grill and serving the cooked meat. Cook proteins to a safe temperature and consider using a meat thermometer to test temperatures. Keep your cooking area clean and sanitized to avoid any cross-contamination.
7. In theory it makes sense that not everything has to be cooked at the same temperature, but in practice, this is mostly forgotten. Thin cuts of lamb, pork, or beef including burgers should be cooked hot and fast. More delicate items like fish, vegetables, and chicken are best cooked at medium. Roasts, whole chickens, and thick, large cuts of meat need to be cooked at lower temperatures and preferably indirectly meaning next to the heat, not above it. Follow these guidelines for whichever food you cook and be patient with the cooking times, which will be longer at lower temperatures. But worth the wait!
8. Searing is one of the secrets to great, grilled flavour. It caramelizes the edges of meats, making a flavourful, crisp surface. To sear, start with a grill as hot as it will go. Put the meat on and wait 1 minute. Flip the food and reduce the heat or move the meat to a cooler spot on the grill and continue cooking until done.
9. Indirect grilling is the secret to versatility with your grill. While direct heat is great for cooking hot and fast, indirect grilling lets you grill whole chickens, cauliflowers, and large roasts, and even bake bread. Simply turn off the burners that sit directly under what you are cooking and keep the surrounding burners on. With a large multi-burner grill, this might mean that the left and right burners are on while the middle burners are off. Another option is to keep one side on while the other is off. Meats can be seared first by direct heat, and then moved to indirect heat to slowly roast.