10 Things You Didn’t Know About…Using Your Gas Grill
Along with the ability to fix a leaky faucet and wield an electric hedge trimmer, guys are just supposed to know how to grill, right? And really, it doesn’t seem like rocket science: open flame, a slab of meat. So easy a caveman could do it.
But we are dealing with pressurized gas that’s highly flammable … I’m just saying. The process deserves a little respect. And, too, nothing spoils a backyard cookout quicker than having the haul in the blackened remains of what once were thick, beautiful (and expensive) cuts of meat. Your gas grill may be the stolid workhorse that fuels a summer’s worth of backyard fun, as taciturn and trusty as your grandpa’s old Ford. But even a stainless-steel contraption that’s built to house a controlled inferno needs a little TLC every now and again.
Take care of your grill and use it right, and it’ll sear up a bounty all season long.
Your grill will act like a self-cleaning oven if you close the cover and leave the heat on high for a few minutes after you’re done cooking.
That said, your grill still won’t clean itself entirely. (Hey, we were supposed to have flying cars by now, too.) Any number of grilling complaints (like uneven heating, no. 1) can be traced back to a grill whose innards are clotted with grease and grime (or even a bird’s nest). Start each grilling season by giving your grill a thorough cleaning and clean it regularly as necessary. This handy Weber video tells you how, and if you really want to get to know the guts of your grill, check out This Old House.
The flame on your gas grill is about 3,000˚F, which is about six times hotter than the walls of your oven. Hence, the reason why it’s all too easy for a fine cut of meat to go from charred to charcoal in a relative blink of an eye.
Your gas flames should be blue with yellow tips. If your flames are all yellow, try cleaning the burners as shown in the video above. If they’re still yellow, follow grilling guru Derrick Riches’s 10-step fix for your regulator (or call a pro to do it for you).
There are two basic methods for cooking on your grill: direct and indirect.
As the name implies, when you use the direct method, you’re cooking food directly over the heat. You use the direct method for food that takes 25 minutes or less to cook, like steaks, chops, kabobs, sausages and veggies. To do it, preheat the grill with all burners on high, put the food on the grate, then adjust the burners according to the recipe.
Hanging around the grill and fiddling with the meat may make you look like a grill master, but really, when you’re cooking directly over the heat, you only want to turn your meat once, halfway through cooking.
You probably guessed that grilling via the indirect method means slower cooking not directly over the flame. Use this method for food that takes longer than 25 minutes to grill or for food that’s too delicate to withstand direct heat, such as roasts, ribs, whole chickens, and delicate fish fillets. Again, you want to preheat the grill with all burners on high, but then only adjust the burners on either side of the food to the temperature indicated in the recipe and turn off the burners directly beneath the food.
If you want to get all foodie about it, “grilling” technically only refers to the direct method, while “barbecuing” refers to the indirect method.
Marinating meat may add flavor, but it won’t necessarily make your meat more tender. Most marinades use some sort of acidic base (vinegar, wine or even buttermilk or yogurt), which does relax the muscle fibers. But marinades move through meat at an achingly slow one millimeter an hour. Marinating thinner cuts of meat for several hours can make your marinade a bit more effective.