Life Food

Tis the season to be grilling

By Marilou Yampolsky, Special to the Camrose Canadian

It is time to prep the barbecue for the grilling season. Metro News Service 

It is time to prep the barbecue for the grilling season. Metro News Service 


It’s time! The neighbourhood envy has started up, and as the smells of barbecue season waft in, everyone is second guessing their supper choice saying, "why didn’t we throw our supper on the grill?"  

 

Tis the season, but are you ready for it? Some are year-round grillers, and my hats off to you for standing in the wind, snow, and rain to grill to perfection. Most of us, it seems, start the barbecue when spring hits, and we don’t stop until its buried in snow. So lets get the grills ready for that steak we’ve been waiting for. 

If it’s been an entire season since you’ve done any grilling, you are not ready to just throw a steak on the grill and get cooking. You wouldn’t leave a frying pan dirty for an entire season and then pull it out to cook a meal. There’s still some souvenirs from the last barbecue hanging on, so take some time to give your grill a good clean. Some elbow grease with a simple scrub with soap and warm water followed by a clean with a grill scraper (no wire brushes please, we’ve all heard the stories of bristles being ingested) will be a great start to cleaning off the grill. If you haven’t got a grill scraper yet, even a ball of tinfoil held by your tongs then scraped along the grill does a decent job. Take a close look at the grill to be sure its in good shape. It might be time to treat yourself to a new grill if the good clean doesn’t quite cut it. The last step is to take the time to season it with oil. A rag dipped in oil held by your tongs will do the trick. This will help protect it, decrease sticking, and fend off rust.  

Once your grill is clean, check the rest of the barbecue. Wipe down all surfaces, pay attention to the spots that collect the most grease and yes, check the grease tray, clean it out and be sure its returned to its proper place. If you make this a habit every spring you’ll be off to a great start and won’t be adding extra hazards with grease fires and flare ups. Check the burners to ensure there aren’t any holes. If these need replacing check the manufacturer or you might have to go with a universal one.  

The location of your barbecue is also important. Ensure it didn’t get moved to close to the house during the winter festivities. You don’t want it melting your siding or causing a fire.  

Fire is not your friend, so an overall inspection of your barbecue is a good practice. Check the hoses for leaks or cracks, knobs, thermometers, any parts that could get damaged over time. Replace broken parts, tighten loose parts, and you’ll enjoy a hassle-free grilling season.  

If you use propane tanks, have them checked and filled. There’s nothing worse then pouring a nice cold drink and bringing out your perfectly marinated kabobs to grill only to find the propane tank is empty. It’s the start of barbecue season, fill those tanks up!  

Do we need to talk about the wire brushes? People are getting bristles stuck in their throats — it’s a change from how we’ve always done it, but its time to discard the wire brush and move on to the wooden scrapers, people. They seem a bit daunting, but once you use it the edge forms to your grill and does a great job without the risk of injuring your guests. Check out the rest of your tools and make sure they’re in good shape, clean and ready to do their job.  

Regular care and maintenance throughout grilling season, at the end of the season, and every spring will extend the life of your BBQ and keep you & your family safe and more willing to get out grilling knowing there won’t be any barbecue while you’re trying to grill the perfect summer meal.   

Now you are ready to grill! Bring out your favourite recipes, your marinade of choice, and your patio furniture. Invite the neighbours over and warm up that grill. Here are a few tips to successful grilling.  

Whether you’re cooking meat, or your favourite vegetables, preheat that barbecue so it’s nice and hot before you put the food on to cook. There are a few methods to see if it’s hot enough, if your barbecue has a thermostat, follow that. If it doesn’t, have you heard of the hand test? This may sound crazy, but the concept is, hold the palm of your hand about 5 inches (12ish cm) above the grill. The number of seconds you can leave it there before pulling it away is supposed to tell you the temperature. It’s a risky move, but if you’re confident you can pull it off the magic number is one to two seconds for high, four to five seconds for medium, and seven to nine seconds for low.  

Are you a flipping fan? There’s skill in the flip as well. Kind of like pancakes, you only need to flip once to get that nicely formed crust on the meat. If you’re cooking sausage, don’t poke the sausage. Once you pierce the skin, all that juicy goodness is going to escape causing flare-ups, a potentially dry result and a mess to manage. As you want to entice the entire neighbourhood to come on over, keep the lid closed to lock in that intense barbecue flavour for the best tasting results. 

Challenge yourself to try a different marinade and cook a different meal. If you haven’t done salmon on the barbecue, add that to your repertoire. Chat with your local butcher about the best meats to grill and try to wow your taste buds with the best cut.  

 Share the grill! The grill is not just for meat anymore, we have a world of vegetables that want to be seared, smoked, stuffed, and added to the best kabob. Have you cooked a dessert on the barbecue?  

Take a grilling workshop in your area, ask your neighbour to swap favourite grilling secrets. It's time to gather on the decks, patios, and backyard greenspace, its grilling season! 

 



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