(Courtesy of Pereg) There’s no denying it: one of civilization’s greatest inventions is the outdoor grill. Why? Because come summer, it doesn’t get much better than spending less time in the kitchen and more time in the backyard.
Grilling is all about easy meals with lots of flavor and fewer pots to clean. As the weather begins to warm, everyone looks forward to that first sizzling burger of the season. But before shifting operations to the great outdoors, it’s important to set up your summertime cooking base. These tips will ensure safe, delicious eating all summer long.
1. Clean your arsenal. Your grill has been sitting idle for months. No telling what’s gotten in while you weren’t looking! Even if you gave it a good scrubbing last year, it’s important to make a clean start. Use warm, soapy water (dishwashing soap is fine) and a bit of elbow grease to give grates, racks, the cooking compartment and the underside of the lid a once-over. Don’t forget the utensils.
2. Make sure your vessel is ship-shape. Check that your gas connections are safe. According to Char-Broil, you can test for leaks by spraying or brushing a soapy solution on the valve, hose and regulator with the gas turned on. If bubbles form (or if you smell gas), shut off the gas and consult the grill manual for how to replace or repair the damaged piece.
3. Check your tool inventory. You don’t need much heavy artillery, but you’ll want to keep some basic gear at the ready. A long-handled spatula, long-handled tongs, and heavy-duty mitts will protect you from the elements, and a grill brush will remove burnt-on food to prevent accidental flare-ups. Experts recommend investing in a good meat thermometer to ensure safe internal food temperatures. Up your grill master game with a chimney starter, baskets for fish and veggies, long-handled basting brush, and grilling sheet. Droll aprons optional.
4. Think safety. Before firing up the grill, inspect the area for potential fire hazards including any nearby branches, vines and debris. When prepping and cooking, be mindful of cross-contamination; dishes or utensils that came into contact with raw ingredients should never be used for serving. Always discard unused marinade.
5. Stock up on flavor. Now comes the fun part! Thanks to the vast array of readily available spices and seasonings out there, you could grill every single day and never serve the same meal twice.
Pereg Natural Foods (www.pereg-gourmet.com ) can take your taste buds around the culinary world. This summer, let the grill be your inspiration for dry rubs, marinades and new spins on standard fare.