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).
Season your griddle before and after cooking. This maintains a perfect coating that makes tasty food that won’t stick to the metal. But after cooking, you might have some debris stuck on. Just heat up the griddle and throw water on the stuck food. It’ll boil off easily. Got some pesky food that clings on for dear life? Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt on the debris and then throw water on the griddle while it’s hot. Use paper towels to brush off the debris, and you’re done! Store it safely and call it a day! For any other questions or tips, take a look at our How to Take Care of Your Griddle Complete Guide.
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.
Seasoning a grill has no relationship to seasoning the steak or eggplant you're grilling. In the latter case, you season to add flavor to the raw food item. But when you season a cast iron grill, you're not adding flavor. It actually refers to the process of coating the grill grate with oil, then heating it, to render it rustproof and create a virtually nonstick surface. Depending on the type of grill you own, you may only need to season the grill the first time you use it and occasionally after that. And with a Weber brand grill, you may not need to season it at all.
Transfer the steaks to cooling racks with a sheet pan or cookie sheet underneath, cover the whole tray with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge. Take them out about 30 minutes before cooking, pat them dry again with paper towels (because the salt will pull out some juices), season with freshly ground black pepper (press the pepper into the meat as you did with the salt) and then grill as you normally would. We'll talk more about black pepper in a moment. As for patting the steaks dry, a dry steak will form a browner crust when it's cooked.