Thursday, May 10, 2012

Summer is coming - Grill 101

Grilling 101

What you need to know:

Not all grills are created equal. Always read your owner's manual for specific guidelines and cleaning instructions. Most are available online at the grill manufacturer’s website or check here.

Clean after each use. No matter what type of grill you have, routine post-use cleaning is THE key to maintaining it. A clean grill work better, lasts longer and won't make your food taste bad (from past food particles and/or excess smoke caused by buildup). This is especially true for cooking grates, which, if left dirty, can harbor bacteria that could contaminate food.

Keep it hot. The BEST time to clean a grill is right after food is removed, because the cooler you allow your grill to get, the more time you're giving stuck-on food and grease to harden. Heat makes it easier to remove food particles, so get at it while it’s hot.

Use protection. After each use, place a grill cover over your cleaned, cooled grill, and if possible, store in a sheltered area. This is especially important during the off season to help prevent mechanical failures, rusting and dirt buildup.

Keep up appearances. After each use, remove dirt and grease from the outside of your grill with an all purpose cleaner or degreaser. If unsure about the finish on your grill, spot-test in an inconspicuous area first. If you notice rust spots or areas where the paint is coming off, use grill-safe paint (available at hardware stores) for exterior touch-ups.

Cleaning your grill:

If you start to think of you grill like they do your stove-top, there will be fewer problems and your grill will not wear out as quickly. Think of it this way, after you cook something on the stove you generally have to wipe up the spills. Of course, I could just be a messy cook, but I can't seem to cook without having to at least wipe down the surface. Every now and then I clean more thoroughly. This includes moving everything out of the way and wiping around and under the burners. Well, your grill should be treated the same way! Every time you use it, clean it and give it an occasional deep cleaning.
Ok, now more specifically.

Cooking grates: Clean them after each use and again lightly before using again. 
Here's a quick and easy way:

Step 1: If your grill has cooled, close the top (if you have one) and turn up the heat for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 2: Use the back end of a stiff wire brush to scrape off cooked-on remains.
Step 3: Use the brush side to remove all remaining particles and grease.
Step 4: Put out the flame and allow grill to cool slightly.
Step 5: Coat grates with cooking spray or a paper towel dipped in oil to prevent future buildup.

Charcoal grills. 
One of the great things about charcoal grills is that you clean out the ashes after every use. Though generally low maintenance, ashes make charcoal grills more inclined to rust, so always remove them.  Keeping a good wire brush handy to sweep out the cooked on remains will make additional cleaning jobs much easier. And don't think that because you have one of those grills with the ash catchers that you don't have to do any cleaning. Everything you cook on requires cleaning. So every time you use your charcoal grill, clean the grate and brush out the ashes and cooked on foods. This will cut down on excess smoke and bad flavors. Periodically, maybe at the end of season, get in there and really scrape out all that stuff that just seems to develop on the bottom of your grill. A thorough preseason cleaning will extend the life of your grill, get out a bucket of soapy water and give it a really good clean. 
Remove each detachable piece, and clean individual parts with warm, soapy water and a wire brush. Let cooking grates soak for 15 to 30 minutes before scrubbing. Heat grill completely (for 15 minutes or so) to burn off any remaining soap residue before using. If you need to touch up the color get a can of grill safe paint. Just ask someone at the hardware store and they will know exactly what it is. If you do this, your grill will last for many years and produce great results.
Propane or gas grills. These grills sometimes have a misleading “clean” knob or a “self-clean” setting, but these settings will burn off only some stuck-on food. If your grill does have a setting like this, use it to preheat before cleaning grates.

To keep gas grills running through the years, do a complete preseason cleaning and checkup. First d
isconnect the gas, lift out grill parts layer by layer until you reach the burner. Soak cooking grates in warm, soapy water for 15 to 30 minutes. Scrub with a wire brush and rinse clean. If your grill has a metal flame shield above the burner (below grates), scrub with your wire brush and warm, soapy water. But if this barrier is made of lava rocks or ceramic briquettes, brush gently using a soft cloth. Inspect burners carefully and thoroughly, making sure there's nothing blocking the flow of gas. Use a wet sponge to gently clean any blockages. (If damage is too severe, the burners may need to be replaced.) Check gas fittings for leaks, cracks or blockages; consult your manual. Clean the inside of the grill thoroughly with warm, soapy water and a wire brush. Allow to dry thoroughly before reassembling. Before use, heat grill completely to burn off any soap residue.
The Emergency Deep Clean. To remove baked-on food or grease, tightly wrap cooking grates (covering them entirely) with heavy-duty aluminum foil–shiny side out–and place on a heated grill for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on severity. Let the grates cool; then unwrap the foil. If that doesn't do the trick completely, follow up with a wire brush and warm, soapy water. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Stadium Jerky - Kentucky Derby Contest

This is an amazing contest:

FIRST PRIZE: The person who correctly selects the horses to WIN, PLACE and SHOW will win two tickets to an MLB game in their city.  If more than one person correctly guesses the outcome of the race, we will randomly select one winner. 
Jerky Prize Packs will be sent to ten contestants who correctly guess WIN and PLACE.  If more than 10 contestants guess correctly, we will randomly select the 10 winners. (no boxing, horses must finish where you select them).

Click here to jump to the Stadium Jerky FaceBook page.