Great Backyard Barbecue and Grilling

10 Gas Grilling Tips

Like most forms of cooking, grilling is more of an art than science. If you follow a few basic rules your skills and style can make you a great griller. These tips will help you with many of the problems most backyard chef's have. As you will see, maintaining and caring for your grill is a big part of the process. So follow these basic techniques so that you can avoid the most common mistakes when firing up your gas grill.

cleaning grill

#1. Keep Your Grill Clean

A dirty grill flares up, smokes incessantly, and leaves a bad flavor on your food. Keeping your grill clean will help reduce these problems. But this involves more than just turning your grill on and cranking the temperature up to high for 10 to 15 minutes before or after you use it. Certainly much of the grease will burn off during these high temperature "cleans", but it will not get all of it. Food that falls into the grill, ash deposits, and other gunk remains until you get in there and clean it all out the way it should be. It is recommended that you remove the grates and burner covers at least twice a year to thoroughly clean your grill. If you are a frequent griller, you might want to tackle this a little more often. You really will notice a difference.

#2 Control Flare-Ups

You fight a fire to put it out. You control it when you want to use it. Flare-ups should be controlled, not fought, so put a side the spray bottle. Keep a portion of your grill empty so you can move food off the direct heat should a flare-up occur. Should the fire spread, you might need to clear the grill completely, but the whole trick is to let the fire burn off so you can eliminate it as quickly as you can.
In the event your fire happens to get out of control, remove the food, turn off the burners and gas at the valve. Leave the lid open and let the fire die out on its own.

propane tanks

#3 Have Plenty Of Fuel

Ever you ever run out of gas while grilling? Have it happen when you have a house full of hungry people waiting for dinner? If you have to run out to refill a propane tank you can count on being gone for a while. If you're lucky enough have a spare, full tank will only take you a couple of minutes to switch out the tanks and get back to cooking again. Keeping extra fuel on hand will never have to worry again. The trick is refilling the empty tank while you still have a full one hanging on the grill.

#4 Watch Your Grill

Almost every time you hear about someone burning their food while grilling starts with how they were trying to catch the score, put together a side dish, or just hang out with family or friends. They left their grill to get out of control and burn whatever they are cooking. Successful grilling means paying attention to your grill and what you are cooking. This is particularly true for foods you cook hot and fast like burgers, chops, and steaks. Make sure you have all your prep work done ahead of time so there is no excuse for you not keeping an eye on your grill.

#5 Use the Correct Temperature

Just because your grill goes to a high temperature doesn't mean you have to cook everything at at high heat. Thin cuts of lamb, pork or beef - including burgers - should be cooked hot and fast. More delicate items like fish, vegetables, and chicken need to be cooked over a medium heat. Roasts, whole chickens, and thick, large cuts should be cooked low and slow over indirect heat. Use temperature to cook your food and be patient with the cooking times which will be longer at lower temperatures.

indirect grilling

#6 Indirect Grilling - Low & Slow

Indirect grilling is the secret to untold versatility with your grill. While direct heat is the way to go for cooking hot and fast, indirect grilling lets you grill whole chickens, large roasts, and even bake bread with lower heat. All you need to do is turn off the burners located directly under your food. If you have a large multi-burner grill, this might mean the left and right burners with the middle ones left off, or one side on, one side off. Meats can be seared first by direct heat, then moved to indirect heat to slowly cook. This will give you the ability to cook at lower temperatures without burning the outsides leaving you with moist, tender meats.

#7 Direct Grilling - Searing

Searing is the secret to great grilled flavor. Searing doesn't lock in the juices the way many people say it does, but what it does do is caramelize the surface of meats making for a more flavorful, crisp surface. This process works with most any cut of beef, lamb or pork. To get a good sear, start with your grill has hot as you can get it. Put the meat on and wait approximately one minute, flip then turn the heat down until the meat is done.

#8 Heat and Sugar

Did you know that sugar burns at 265°F (130°C). Keep in mind that if you are cooking foods with sauces or rubs containing sugar, you need to keep grilling temperatures below this 265°F temperature or your run the risk of burning and blackening your food.

#9 Food Safety

Safe grilling means successful grilling. Make it a habit of practicing food safety every time you cook. This means simple things like bringing food in from the grill on a different plate than the one it went out on. Make sure to cook meats to the recommended temperatures, particularly ground beef (see Meat Temperatures for more information). Also keep your cooking area clean and sanitized.

grill maintenance

#10 Properly Maintain Your Grill

Performing regular maintenance on your grill will not only keep it working better, but will help keep it working longer. This process starts with a good cleaning out of your grill and continues on to a full inspection of all the internal parts. Pay particular attention to the burners to ensure that the ports (the holes where the flames come out) are not blocked in any way. If they are, use a thin wire, a pipe cleaner or even a small finish nail to clear any obstruction. Blocked ports cause uneven flame and can cause your burners to fail. While you are at it, take the time to check the igniters to make sure that you are getting good spark so your grill lights properly.