While the grill grates and flavorizer bars are removed and soaking, tackle the caked-on gunk in the firebox. Put another bucket underneath the firebox where the grease tray sits to collect debris. The easiest way to start is with a wet/dry shop vacuum, whether full-size or a portable, like Milwaukee’s M18 hand vacuum. Since wet/dry vacs are mostly workshop items, you won’t feel bad about using one to suck up the gunk that’s collected in your grill. You can use the grill brush to help loosen stubborn stuck-on grit. If the deposits are really caked on, dip the wire brush in the bucket of soapy water and get to work. Use a hose to rinse it out when it’s clean.
The trick with seafood is to make sure it doesn’t stick. So coat it lightly with oil and check that the grate is clean and very hot. For fillets and whole fish, you can also try this foolproof (albeit more time-consuming) method: Place the fish on a soaked cedar plank or a lightly oiled piece of heavy-duty foil, then grill (covered), over medium indirect heat.
If you're all right with all that and want to give this method a try, here's how: Pat the meat dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides of the steaks generously with Kosher salt. Be sure to get the salt on the edges of the steaks as well. That's 1½ inches of surface you definitely want to cover. Press the salt crystals into the meat with your hands.
For metal and cast iron grill grates, coat lightly with a high temperature oil like Canola or Peanut oil – wipe off any excessive oil, install the grates and fire up the grill. Heat the grill on high and let it burn for ~30 mins. This will burn all the solvents and impurities off of the heating elements, grill grates, etc. Note that porcelain grates won’t need a coat of oil, but will benefit from the burn in process to remove any chemicals/impurities that were applied by the manufacturer.
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.
Inspect your burners for signs of corrosion or anything blocking the row of flame holes. Burner tubes are inviting spots for spiders to lay eggs if your grill goes unused for a while. Use a wire brush and clean them by brushing back and forth over the holes, not down the length of the tube. The wire bottle brush can clean out the inside of each tube.
These are the workhorses of your cooker and because they come in direct contact with your food, they need to be clean. Start by removing the cool grates and wiping or brushing off as much of the big, loose debris as you can with a mesh or nylon scrub pad or a brush. In a sink or large bucket, mix up a sudsy solution of a grease-cutting dish liquid, like Dawn, and hot water and place the grates in to soak. If they don’t completely fit in, immerse one half, soak, then flip it over to get the other side. After soaking 15 to 30 minutes, put on some rubber gloves (like GH Seal holder, Playtex) and scrub the grates clean with a sturdy grill brush or scrubbing pad. Take extra care with porcelain grates, because you don't want to damage them.
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 :-).
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