Cookout season is just a few short weeks away, and if your gas or charcoal grill is still covered with the remnants of last year's cheeseburgers and Hawaiian chicken, now's the perfect time to give it a refresh as part of your spring cleaning routine. These speedy tips from the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab come from years of testing outdoor grills as well as the cleaners and tools you need to keep them working well (and your food tasting great).
Perhaps the most important step that most people don't do is allowing the steaks to sit once they are taken off of the grill. The steaks need to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving or cutting them. This gives the juices a chance to redistribute throughout the steak, which both helps it finish cooking evenly and keeps the meat moister and more flavorful. Place the cooked steaks on a cutting board or platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Once rested, either slice or serve the steaks whole.
The first thing you have to do is get it home safely. (I laughed and laughed when I heard this story). Apparently there is a vacant lot on the corner right next to the local WalMart. The employees at WalMart call this lot the Grill Eater Lot. There are several smashed up grills that ended up dumped in that vacant lot as their owners took the corner too fast and lost the grill out of the back of their pickup trucks (I totally need to drive over there and get a picture). So – a tip for the new grill owner – tie it down before you leave the store :-).
You also want a cooler, medium heat area of the grill to move the steaks to once they're seared and crispy on the outside. If you have enough burners and space on your grill, set them to a lower heat; if you don't have enough room, simply turn off the burner. If you are using a charcoal grill, one side should have a hot fire while the other a smaller, cooler flame.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.
Brining or soaking the ears in water before grilling is thought to season and also plump the corn. There are two problems with those theories, though: In order to take on any salt from the brine, ears would have to soak for several days, at which point you’re losing valuable sweetness as the ears age. Secondly, if you’re buying fresh juicy corn, you cannot make it any juicier. While soaking may benefit older or off-season ears, it has no added value for fresh summer corn.
Who's right? It's not that the notion of burning pepper is complete nonsense—in theory, yes, black pepper could burn. The problem with peppering midway through cooking is that the pepper granules might not stick to the meat. You could pass a pepper grinder at the table, but if you're cooking outside and eating in an informal style, this may not be feasible.
After about 30 minutes, turn the heat off and let the grill cool down. Wipe things down to remove any lingering residue and you should be good to go. The grill grates should have turned a bronze or dark brown color if they are metal or a darker brown/black color if they are cast iron. For cast iron grates, the oil will have penetrated the pores of the metal and created a smooth non-stick surface that will be perfect to cook on.
As for seasoning, most foods will taste great if you add just a little salt, pepper, and olive oil beforehand. That's the beauty of grilling: it's a fuss-free cooking method meant to elevate an ingredient's natural flavor without much elbow grease. That being said, if you want even more flavor, there are endless mouthwatering marinades you can add to your meat or veggies before they're barbecued. And if you're hosting a barbecue and need some simple summer sides, we've got tons here. Don't forget the rosé!
If the grates are really dirty, soak them a second time to help soften and remove more gunk without expending extra elbow grease. Or, try the new Sienna Grilltastic Grill Steam Cleaning System. Fill this electric scrubber with water, plug it in and in seconds the combination of the dishwasher-safe stainless steel brush head and hot steam will be blasting grease from your grates. (It cleaned our GH Test Kitchen grill so well, our recipe testers asked if they could keep it.) Finally, rinse the grates well and let them dry.
If you've purchased a new Weber grill, the company says that seasoning the cast iron grates isn't necessary. A porcelain enamel coating is already added to the cast iron so you don't need to season it at all. Instead, they recommend that when using a grill for the first time, you turn up the heat for about 15 minutes, then brush it clean with a stainless steel bristle brush.
Clean out the burners and venturi tubes. The venturi tubes are the pipes that go out from the burners and connect to the grill control valves. These tubes allow the air and gas to mix together, altering the intensity of the flame. Remove the burners and venturi tubes, and place a hose head at one end of the tube. Turn the water on to clear out any debris or insects that could have gotten inside.