Grilling Tips

Summer heralds a new season of fabulous food cooked outside for friends and family. Whether you have a charcoal grill, gas grill, smoker, or a new griddle, deliciousness awaits. Sure, everyone knows how to throw a burger or steak on the grill, but isn’t it time you elevated your grilling repertoire? There are so many new recipes to try and new accessories arrive each year. Stop in Longenecker’s Hardware to see the latest arrivals and cookbooks. Or just google recipes for griddles, grills, smokers and you’ll find many mouth-watering foods you’ll want to try ASAP.

But first, make sure your grill is clean and in good working order. Inspect burners and make sure they aren’t worn out, rusty or blocked by dirt and debris. If there are blockages, use a pipe cleaner, toothpick or paper clip to clear them. Check knobs and tighten any loose screws or bolts. Make sure your propane tank is full. Remove porcelain-coated or metal grates from your grill and scrub vigorously with a wire brush to remove burnt-on food and debris. You can even run them through the dishwasher after you have scrubbed them. When you’re ready to grill, brush the grate with oil. Grab a small wad of paper towels with tongs, then dip in a bowl of canola or vegetable oil and rub lightly to evenly coat the grate.

To prepare and season a gas griddle, with the burners off, add 2-3 tablespoons of oil (canola oil, vegetable oil, olive oil) to your griddle and use a dish towel to rub the oil into all the surface to create a thin surface. Don’t forget the sides and back too. Turn up the heat on all burners until the oil smokes and the griddle discolors, indicating the oil is bonding to the metal. It may take 10-15 minutes until the smoking stops. Repeat 2 more times. Let the griddle cool. Now you’re ready to prepare scrumptious meals on your griddle.

Consider infusing flavor in your food before grilling. To add extra flavor and tenderize foods, use marinades made with acidic liquids like lemon juice, vinegar, wine, and soy sauce. Just look online for recipes. Another way to add more flavor is using wet or dry rubs which are blends of spices and may include oil or mustard. You may apply these a few hours to a day in advance to create a savory crust. The quickest way to add flavor is brush on glazes, such as barbecue sauce. Some homemade glaze/sauce recipes are made with honey, maple syrup, oils and molasses.  

For infused flavor, use hardwood logs, chunks, briquettes, or chips to impart a smoky flavor to foods. Different wood varieties add subtle nuances; try applewood for sweetness, mesquite for tang, or hickory for a bacon-like taste.

If cooking kebabs using skewers, to prevent your bamboo or wooden skewers from burning, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes to an hour before you place them on a hot grill.

There are many accessories that make grilling an entire meal easier. Such as grilling baskets for vegetables so they don’t fall through the grates, salt blocks, grill thermometers, probes, basting brushes, fish spatulas, long tongs, rotisseries, smoker boxes, and grilling stones.

Our last tip is about time. Timing is everything. Foods continues to cook after coming off the grill, so it’s best to remove it just before it has reached the desired doneness. A digital instant-read thermometer gives the most accurate results, but you can also gently poke steak and chops with your index finger; the firmer meat feels, the more well-done it is. With seafood, look for opacity; well-done fish fillets will be opaque all the way through. For chicken, make a slit in the thickest part of the cut. Any juices that escape should run clear. A meat thermometer ensures doneness.

Enjoy your summer and please explore new recipes and accessories so you can grill like a professional.