Raise the Steaks: The will to grill

As we spring into summer, we get ready to celebrate Memorial Day. The unofficial start to summer, the official start to the grilling season, the smiles and sun are out in full vigor.

Whether you have had your grill for decades or picked it up days ago, it still needs some TLC to make it ready for good times and good food.

For the first half of this article, I’m going to give some tips to get your grill in tip-top shape, and how to keep it that way. If you’re already an expert on that, don’t move along just yet. The second half gives some insight to the pros and cons and general differences to charcoal v. gas grills.

Let’s fire this thing up

I will bullet some points to make it easy to follow, so you don’t have to scan for where you left off last.

For all grills, new and old, you need to put it in the best spot possible. Make sure you pick a spot that is free of low hanging branches, isn’t surrounded by debris, and smoke won’t blow into the house as you’re cooking.

It’s almost certain that I don’t need to say this, but for my own peace of mind: If it’s raining and you want to grill, put on a rain coat, do not grill in the garage. Seriously.

If your grill has been used before this season, you’ll need to clean it well. The better and more thorough you clean it, the longer it will last, the more consistent your cooking will be, and the easier it will be to maintain.

The season set-up

  • Take out all the grates, fill a container will some warm water, and some soap (dish soap is okay, but you can also buy some specific cleaners for that very thing.) Soak them for an hour to loosen any dirt and debris.
  • For gas grills take out the covers for the burners and soak them as well.
  • Make sure that all the burner holes are clean and clear.
  • If they are not, do NOT wipe them down with water or poke the dirt into the holes to clear them. If you have a shop-vac vacuum out any soot, excess charcoal, and dirt.
  • Take a wet sponge (with soap for stainless steel/without soap for any other materials like ceramic) and scrub away any leftover dirt.
  • Wipe down the exterior. Make it shine!
  • Dry it off inside and out, you don’t want any excess moisture sitting around.
  • Depending on your grate’s material. Take them out of the soak and scrub them with a brillo pad, stainless wool, or light abrasive sponge. Wipe down the burner covers in the same way.
  • Place everything back together
  • For gas grills, hook up the gas and start it up, let it run for about 20 minutes to help dry it, and get all the hoses and holes clear and working well.

The maintenance

After every cook, cleaning is just as important as anything.

  • When the grill is still pretty hot, now is the time you need to take a grate brush and scrub off the grates of all the soot and food. The heat helps to keep the dirt from solidifying and sticking to the grates.
  • For gas grills - After several hours and your grill has cooled, do a quick wipe of any debris in the bottom.
  • For charcoal grills - clean out the unusable coals/soot. It will just lead to uneven heating of new fresh coals.

You’re now all set and cleaned up. Go forth and grill.

If the above didn’t pertain to you because you know all of that, or because you don’t have a grill at all (which in that case, thanks for still reading), then this section might be of some use to you.

Gas v. Charcoal

First thing first, lets do a little comparison:

Gas

Easy to start
Easy to maintain
Easy to get even heat/cooking
Can be expensive to operate
Can be expensive to maintain/fix
Can be heavy/large/not easy to move

Charcoal

Easy to maintain
Can add some flavor
Not as expensive to maintain
Not as expensive to operate
Can be more portable than gas grills
Even heat is a little harder to maintain

For the everyday griller, a gas grill might be the better option. It is quick to start, quick to cook, and quick to clean/cool off after cooking. The versatility and ease is definitely a positive. Some like the ability to grill and go. But easy can limit you.

For the avid cook, a charcoal grill might be the way to go though. You can consider it is the manual car of grills. It allows the cook to become a little more at one with it. Having to maintain the coals and fire means that attention is needed, more so than with gas. It also gives the option for adding a bit of flavor as opposed to clean burning propane.

If you want to take charcoal grilling to the next level, a ceramic full-service charcoal grill can offer options unlike any other cooking device. For instance, the Kamado Joe Grill does almost everything you could want. It grills, smokes, sears steaks, heck, it’s even a pizza oven. Of course , here is a price that must be paid, but if food, variety, and quality are your bread and butter, than there is no better option.

Choose the grill that best suites your needs and wants. Don’t go crazy and spend money on something you’ll never use, but if you grill more often than not, spend some time researching about them, ask questions, shop around.

If you’re looking for specific features or have just general questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Eating is a necessary part of life; we might as well enjoy every bite.

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