Assuming I'm not the only one who fails to do a deep clean on the outdoor grill after every use, today, I have lots of tips and tricks for cleaning and cooking on a grill.
Let's hear it for summer; let the grilling begin!
Pour these ingredients into a 16-ounce spray bottle, and shake to mix well:
2 cups hot tap water
2 tablespoons baking soda,
2 teaspoons blue Dawn
Juice of one lemon
Spray on; scrub as needed; wipe dry.
Then fire up the grill to high heat. In the meantime, soak a stack of newspapers in water to get them quite saturated. Turn the grill off, and open the lid. Carefully, lay the wet newspapers on top of the still-hot grate. Close the lid. The heat and the wet newspaper will create a steam-cleaning action. After 15 minutes or so, carefully open the lid. Remove the soggy newspapers, and wipe the grate clean.
This is a strategy to create a kind of self-cleaning on your grill, provided it is gas- or propane-powered and has a lid. Just be careful here, as you will be using very high heat.
Lay several sheets of aluminum foil over the grill rack/grate, covering it fully from side to side, front to back. Now turn all the burners on high, and close the lid. The foil is going to trap the heat below, causing the temperature to soar. This will burn off all of the grease and gunk in the same way this happens when you use the self-cleaning option on your traditional oven.
DO NOT leave this unattended, and don't allow it to "self-clean" for hours on end. Twenty to 30 minutes should do it. Please use caution. This is an extreme cleaning method, so a word to the wise should be sufficient.
A commercial cleaner that works well on gunked-up grills is Easy-Off Professional Oven and Grill Cleaner, available online and in some supermarkets.
I bless the day someone invented the grill mat. Made of silicone, it's just a thin piece of flexible material that keeps hot surfaces clean. I lay a mat right on top of the grill and then put the burgers on top of it. I don't know how it happens, but the burgers don't stick; they grill up beautifully, and the grill below stays perfectly clean. I throw grill mats in the dishwasher, and they come out like new.
I'm convinced that the secret to good grilling is temperature control. I'm not talking about a dial on the grill itself, although that is handy. I mean the internal temperature of whatever you're grilling. Keeping an eye on that is the secret. The easiest way is with a quick-read food thermometer.
I heartily recommend the ThermoPop thermometer. It gives fast readings for whatever you're cooking, and it easily rotates so you can see it at any angle. It comes with a backlight and is available in many cool colors.
It's the secret to making a tough cut of meat as succulent and tender as a prime cut. Just make sure your marinade of choice contains an acid, such as vinegar, lemon or wine. Acid breaks down the meat to make it tender. Enzymatic action from wine, beer, cider and soy sauce also helps.
Outdoor grilling always brings visions of groups of people hanging around a blazing hot heat source — some of them children. Common sense and reasonable safety measures are mandatory.
The grill should be placed away from the home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
Never leave your grill unattended.
For more information about the resources included in today's article, along with a link to Mary's favorite marinade recipes, go to https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/grill.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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