Flip, flip, hooray: Get your grill ready for a final summer feast

Consumer Reports News: August 20, 2010 12:14 PM

Suddenly, it's the end of summer and time to prepare for that last cookout. Before getting your menu in order, give your gas grill the once over to make sure it's ready to cook for a crowd. Of course, the first thing to check is the fuel level. Then use a little elbow grease to remove the fat and charred remains of earlier meals. A clean grill will improve the flavor of the food you're about to serve your guests.
  • First, check the grill for gas leaks by mixing a small amount of dishwashing liquid and water in a spray bottle. Spray the hose and connections and, with the hose connected to the propane tank, open the gas. If bubbles appear, you need to replace your hose or fix a loose connection.
  • Fire up the grill and watch the flame—it should be blue. A yellow flame is a sign of clogged air inlets or burners that need adjusting.
  • If your grill has become hard to light or the flame isn't as strong as it could be, check for blockages in the tubes that lead to the burner. Clear obstructions by using a wire or pipe cleaner and pushing debris through to the main part of the burner. Spiders love to build webs and nests in these areas; be sure to check for these, especially if you've just returned from vacation.
  • Clean the drip pan and firebox to cut the chance of grease fires.
  • Cooking with dirty grates is one of the five common grilling mistakes. Use a stiff wire brush to clean both sides of the grates and do not use soap. (Note that porcelain-coated cast-iron grates require a nylon brush.) Soaking them in a shallow pan with a mixture of water and white vinegar will help loosen long caked-on grime.
  • Before cooking your next meal, oil the grates. Fold two paper towels into a tight pad and dip them in a bowl of neutral-flavor vegetable oil, like canola. Use a pair of tongs to draw the pad across the heated grates.

Now you're ready to cook, so about that menu. Our grilling guru at Consumer Reports has tips on how to grill the perfect steak. Bobby Flay has shared his burger-making tips, including a recipe for a tuna burger. And we've also got recipes for everything from grilled pizza to grilled summer fruit. Enjoy.

—Gian Trotta

Grill gone bad? If your grill can't handle one more barbecue, now's not a bad time to buy a new one. Read our buying advice and check our Ratings (for subscribers). We even have grills for your fall tailgating party.

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