Lighting a Charcoal chimney is really easy if you know what to do. Parrafin wax cubes (available from Weber and others) make it super simple to just light. But newspaper is often the most available. Liquid Charcoal lighter can give food an off taste.
See the quick how to video here.
Barbecue Cleaning Made Simple
By Steven Aucoin
During the early part of the year, a journey around the garden leaves us looking at the remains of last years outdoor cooking activities. Often, our grills are left outside in the elements, uncovered, and in many cases have seen far better days.
It is this time of year that we start to think about cooking our favourite barbecue food outside during the warmer months with our friends and family, but before we are ready to start throwing charcoal and fire-lighters onto the barbecue, it is time to turn our attention to cleaning our cooking hardware in order to get things off to a hygienic start.
BBQ cleaning methods
A stiff wire brush is a huge help in cleaning your grill. Simply give your rack a thorough scrubbing before and after each use. If you have used oil to coat your rack, getting the grill clean should be easy with a brush alone. Brass-bristle brushes are especially good for cleaning porcelain-coated grills since they won’t damage the porcelain.
Grill stones are specially designed to help get grease and stuck-on food off of your grill. They look similar to a large pumice stone with a handle to help make scrubbing easier and is also an excellent heat convector like volcanic rock, ceramic tiles etc. The main difference with a grill stone is that it has no holes, and because of this feature, it greatly reduces the chance of flare-ups and poor cooking. Grill stones are capable of withstanding incredible heat, up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Grill stones are ideal for use on most shapes and sizes of grill as the stones design allows it to work with almost any grill format.
This is one of the most common methods of cleaning BBQ grills/grates. All you have to do is leave your barbecue on after cooking once all your food has been removed. Once you have done this for around quarter of an hour, allow the grill to cool down for around 5 minutes and then use an old trowel, or flat piece of metal and gently scrape both sides of the grill to remove the sticky hard residue. Please be aware that ceramic grills can get damaged very easily if too much force is applied with sharp objects, so be careful with your choice of tools.
If you have an old metal kitchen utensil, such as an egg-flipper, these are ideal tools to make the job safer and easier.
However, you should be careful that this method is not prohibited by the grill manufacturer in order that you don’t accidentally void your warranty.
Please ensure your own safety if you use this method by wearing a suitable pair of cooking mitts, or specialised heat resistant gloves.
If all else fails, letting your grill racks soak in warm water will help loosen stubborn dirt and food remnants. This can be good for getting the edges of your racks, which are often difficult to scrub properly, really clean.
Oiling the grill
A good way to reduce the pain of cleaning a barbecue is to prevent the worst of the residue from sticking to the grill in the first place. To do this, coat your rack with a layer of oil before you start to cook. This will help you to keep your food from burning and sticking to the grill and will also make cleaning the grill afterwards much easier. Remember to only spray oil onto a cold grill. Spraying onto a fire or hot grill will cause the oil to flare up and could cause serious injury.
If you use your barbecue on several occasions throughout the year why not invest in a steam cleaner? This will speed up the time taken to clean your barbecue after use and can be very effective indeed; therefore if you are fed up with scrubbing to remove the BBQ residue, an investment in a steam cleaner can be very useful and time saving.
When you having finished cooking your food, soak an old newspaper in water and place it on top of your warmed grill with the lid firmly shut. After about three quarters of an hour, open the lid and wipe off the residue. Don’t let the newspaper sit on the grill rack for too long, as it will dry out and create even more work for you.
Preventative measures to keep your BBQ clean
Using a cover on your barbecue
The number one way to help keep your barbecue clean is to simply purchase, or make, a cover to place on your unit while it is not in use. In order to give your barbecue some protection from the elements it’s a good idea to cover it with a plastic sheet, or preferably a manufacturers cover that is specifically designed to do the job properly as they generally have a tighter fit and are more effective.
During the winter months you may also remove the grill and store it in a dry place away from the damp and the elements. This will decrease the speed at which the rust forms, and you will benefit the most by doing this in conjunction with the oiling method mentioned above.
This helps to inhibit rust during the months when your barbecue is not in regular use.
The foil “tray”
Now that you have the basics of cleaning the grill covered, you should now turn your attention to cleaning the internals of the barbecue.
After several uses, there is a fair amount of gunk left at the bottom that hasn’t benefited particularly from being left outside in the elements. Over time, this build-up can become unhygienic as well as an additional chore for you to deal with.
Charcoal grills suffer the most from this, and the best way to deal with it without spending a great deal of money is to first clean the inside of the barbecue properly by removing the hard and dry residue first using an old dustpan a brush (something all of us should have in the garage somewhere), and then removing the stuck-on dirt from the edges of the grill using general household cleaners. There are plenty of specific BBQ cleaners available, though these can cost two or three times as much as regular household cleaners. Feel free to give them a try, though from experience, regular cleaners perform the task adequately.
Simply spray on a decent amount of the fluid and allow it to soak in properly for around 10 minutes, then gently scrape off the worst of the build-up with a plastic scraper. Once you have got this far you are ready to lay in the kitchen foil.
Use a decent quality kitchen foil, the thicker the better, and triple layer it and turn in the edges so it looks like a tray. Place this into the bottom of your grill, and then add about a quarter-inch deep layer of sand into it. This will help to absorb the fat and excess juices that drain from the grill during cooking, and make your life MUCH easier in the long run.
After several uses, simply remove the whole tray and discard it. Give the inside of the grill a quick brush and wipe, and insert another of your home-made foil trays to keep your BBQ clean for the next few uses.
If you don’t mind spending a little extra money, you can use a catering foil tray and dispose of it after every few uses… just use common sense and get rid of it when it appears well past its best.
Another tip you can try, is to pour leftover coffee on the grill. Clean off with a dry cloth. For a really good clean, spray the grill with your regular oven cleaner and leave it in a plastic garbage bag overnight. Hose it down the next day, and you should have a gleaming grill that is ready to use.
You can also add vinegar or dish washing lotion to the water for additional cleaning power.
Another well-used grill cleaning method is to simply rub the grill in the sand. This will remove most of the grease, etc. Once you have done this, hose down the grill. Depending on how caked the grill is, you may have to repeat this process 2 or 3 or times, but it is worth the effort.
Gas taps often become hard to use during the colder months, causing plastic knobs to crack and in the worst cases, break. Remove the plastic knobs and spray the area with a light oil to loosen them. You can also try using a small amount of machine oil to each tap and then cover them with a light grease to prevent the oil from escaping.
If one or more of your burners doesn’t produce a strong blue flame then it may be because a gas jet has become clogged.
If you lift the burner out of the barbecue you will see small brass nozzles called venturis. These are like a small raised nut with a tiny hole through them. They can be simply removed with a small spanner. If you can’t clear the blockage, buy new nozzles ones from a specialist supplier.
Insects tend to nest inside venturis when they are not in use, and the openings can become blocked. Use a venturi brush to clean the openings of the venturis. If you won’t be using your grill for a long time, consider using some venturi covers to prevent anything from getting inside.
Reconnect the gas supply and check the connections by coating them with a 1:1 mix of dishwasher liquid and water. Any failings in the gas supply will be easily detected at this point and you will know that you will need to do something about repairing it. You can start off by tightening the connections or replacing the seals, and if this doesn’t work, then you should replace the faulty unit as per the manufacturers instructions or return it to your local service centre.
Barbecues with wooden trolleys can be kept in fine fettle by re-oiling them once a year. All you have to do is give the trolley a gently sanding with some high grit paper and then use a suitable furniture oil or a specially formulated barbecue trolley oil. This will not only soak through oil stains on the top of your trolley but help prevent new stains from forming.
Volcanic rocks need care too, if you use them. Ensure that you clean or renew them every year as they always become clogged with fat and oil. Remember to discard the old sand from the drip tray, clean the tray and give it a spray of cooking oil before lining it with aluminium foil. Place new washed sand on top of the foil to help keep it clean.
If your volcanic rocks are showing signs of cracking, you can replace them you may consider replacing them with porcelain briquettes. These disc-shaped “rocks” are less porous than volcanic rocks and they are considerably easier to keep clean.
If you live near the sea or in an area where the salt-air density is high, please note that will need to take extra time and precautions to ensure that your grill is not unduly subjected to the elements which will invariably lead to failing components and rust.
Wash the outer surface periodically with fresh water and dry it off straight away for the best results.
You can find more great barbecue tips, ideas and barbecue recipes at Barbecue Party.
If you like your steak Well-Done (like me) or Rare (like many) the fool proof way to know “when it’s done” is use a dependable instant read thermometer. After reading this you’ll probably be frustrated until you get one. Here’s some recommended beef “doneness” temperatures:
Blue rare 120°F
Rare 125 to 130°F
Medium-rare 130 to 135°F
Medium 135 to 145°F
Medium-well 145 to 150°F
Well-done 150 to 155°F
Really well done 160°F plus
Bookmark our: Temperature Guide
So… what if you forgot the handy meat thermometer? There’s a handy barbecue tip that’s been around a long time. “Hand”-y as in Hand. You can test your steak’s done-ness using the OK handy method. It’s easy. Massage, stretch, and shake one hand loose so that your thumb and it’s muscles are fully relaxed.
Touch the round base of your thumb on the relaxed hand. This soft resistance and feel is similar to the texture of a very rare thick steak.
Next, touch your thumb to your middle finger. This firmer resistance is similar to the texture of a medium steak.
Press your thumb to your fourth finger. The semi-firm texture at the base of your thumb is similar to a medium-well steak.
Finally, touch your thumb to your pinky. The very firm (some would say tough) texture at the base of your thumb is close to a well-done steak.
I saw one of those Food Network stars making burgers last week and I saw one tip you have to try. The chef claimed that when you make your own hamburger patties of ground beef for grilling you could use his trick to keep the thick – disk shaped – patty from turning into a fat – ball shaped – patty.
The advice is to make your patty with an indentation in the center (see photo). That way when the center of the beef patty swells or plumps when you grill it, the burger will revert back to a normal / flatter patty shape that will nicely accommodate a soft bun. Simple enough.
We tried the technique in the BBQ test kitchen and must say were surprised at how well the “indentations” on the test patties disappeared. We probably could have made the dent evendeeper (or on both sides). The control patty (“test” or “not concave” is on the left in the photos) indeed DID expand in the middle… But honestly not enough to bother me.
Another recommendation would be to control yourself and keep from pressing the burger down on the grill with the spatula. I don’t know why guys do this but I see it done all the time.
All-in-all the tip is worth while and is good general practice for the next time you’re pressing patties.
Grill Seasoning Tips – Home Made is Healthier Than Bottle, Make Your Own
You want to go barbecuing, therefore you start preparing. The list in your mind or on your paper should include the grill, the meat, the corn on the cob if you are in love with it, and of course the grill seasoning. Some people prefer to grill their meat after having added to it only pepper and salt as the flavor of grill seasoning mixtures takes the deliciousness of the barbecue away, they say. Others however, can not have a barbecue without the grill seasoning as, having gotten used to it, they consider the meat cooked without it tasteless.
Why Homemade Grill Seasoning Is Healthier than Bottle Seasoning
There is a great number of recipes for the grill seasoning, each to appeal to various types of people and each to go with a certain kind of meat. The shelves in supermarkets are full with bottles of seasonings and mixtures of spices and herbs, yet many people prefer to make their own grill seasoning at home. One reason for this is that these seasoning bottles contain a lot of unhealthy ingredients which, even though make the meat very tasty, should not get into our habit of regular buying. However, if you insist on buying grill seasoning, then checking for additives and unhealthy ingredients before going to the store would be a good recommendation. The next one would be to read the label, check what the main ingredients are and also avoid choosing from the cheapest of the products.
Grill Seasoning Recipe
In case you are interested in making your own grill seasoning, then you should know that it is so easy to prepare it yourself. All you need is to mix is:
1. Pepper 2. Salt 3. Onion 4. Garlic powder 5. Coriander 6. Red pepper flakes.
Recipes are all over the internet nowadays so it will be much cheaper for you to Google search than to buy recipe books. The recipe mentioned above is very simple and it very much resembles what you usually add to a nicely home made steak. Usually when making a steak at home, you want it to have the best of flavors. And of course you tend to add garlic and onion at least beside the salt and the pepper.
Storing Grill Seasoning
As for storing the grill seasoning, they recommend keeping the mixture of spices in an airtight container and in a place that is not very warm. In case you follow this tip, you will ensure that your grill mixture will preserve all its qualities for the next-to-come grill.
Here are some secrets of cooking with seasonings and how it can help you lose weight A Beginner’s Guide To Cooking With Seasonings
Tips For Picking Steaks
By John A. Brooks, Jr
As a third generation butcher at B&B Grocery, Meat & Deli, I’m often asked how to pick out a perfect steak. Here’s what I tell my customers.
Don’t just pick out any steak. That is one of the worst things you can do. All steaks are not the same. Therefore, take your time when picking out a steak. There are steaks that are better for grilling and some steaks are better to slow cook. Generally, if the steak has “chuck” or “round” in the name then it is better to marinate and slow cook. If the steak has “rib” or “loin” in the name it will be a lot more tender and better for grilling. Ask your butcher which types of steaks are best for the way you want to cook your steak.
The thicker the better. Steaks that are cut too thin are easy to over cook. Over cook a steak and you could end up with a dry, tough piece of “leather”. It is easy to tell how thick steaks are at an old-fashion butcher shop. In fact, most butchers will cut thicker steaks for customers who request them. Be careful when buying steaks in packs. It can be hard to see the thickness of all the steaks.
It is important to look for steaks with the most fat marbling and streaking. Steaks with the most fat marbling are generally more flavorful and tender. The most marbled cut is the rib-eye. It is cut from the same piece of meat as the prime rib.
Don’t cut the fat off! A lot of my customers want all the fat cut off the sides of their steaks. I don’t recommend this at all! I tell my customers to leave the fat on while they cook their steaks. Fat helps keep the steak juicy and enhances the steak’s flavor. You can cut all the fat off you want once the steak is cooked.
Knowing what to look for in a steak is as important as cooking a steak. Still not sure what to look for in a steak? Ask your neighborhood butcher. They always like to help ensure you get the best steak for your special occasion.
John Brooks is a 3rd generation butcher for B&B Grocery, Meat & Deli. A neighborhood grocery store that has been family owned and operated since 1922. You can learn more about John Brooks and B&B Grocery, Meat & Deli by visiting their web-site at http://www.bbgrocerymeatdeli.com/
There are two worlds of Barbecue lovers. One world loves heat. One world keeps it cool. Here’s a quick barbecue trick that tempers or livens up the heat in your next sauce or salsa or whatever you’re cooking up with high octane peppers.
Lets start by saying there’s no taming peppers like habaneros or scotch bonnets. Scoville units measure the amount of capsaicin in a pepper and habaneros are in the 100,000 to 300,000 range.
A lot of capsaicin is in the white “core” or membrane of the pepper. y scooping out the seeds and white center of the pepper you can cut down the intensity.
Still Too Hot? Another tip is NOT to slug back water to cool off the heat. That will just spread the fun. Milk or Yogurt coat the mouth and that can help slow and block some heat. A good chew of something bland like break or rice can also help pull away the pain.
Worth noting the pain in your mouth is much more pleasant than the burn of other tender tissues. Wash your hands whenever handling peppers. The oils are there even though you may not see them.
- Find a clean, clear non flammable area to place the Chimney Starter. You could use the grill but you’ll still need a non flammable place to set the RED hot chimney once you’ve filled the grill. A little caution goes a long way. Use gloves.
- Fill the larger compartment in the Chimney (the top) with regular or hardwood lump charcoal (recommended!). Match Light or instant lighting (fuel soaked) is not needed.
- Compress two large sheets of newspaper loosely into the bottom chamber. The whole key is getting air to everything so don’t pack it in to much.
- Set the starter upright on the lower grate on your grill (remove the top one) and ignite the newspaper through the bottom holes using a lighter or match. That’s it.
- After about 20 minutes your charcoal should be ready. Wait until the coals on top show some white ash.
- Carefully pour and arrange your coals on the grate. Yes Gloves… and be careful where you place that chimney it’ll be blistering hot for about 30 minutes.