Don't let grilling fumbles ruin your Super Bowl party

Consumer Reports News: January 31, 2013 09:08 AM

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Super Bowl Sunday always has some drama—sibling rivalries, halftime wardrobe malfunctions, a nail-biting finish—and then there's the food. Feeding a crowd takes some planning, and grilling while entertaining and watching the game isn't so easy. Pizza that's inadvertently grilled on its cardboard tray, burgers that shrink to bite size, and flaring flames that turn chicken into char can put a damper on the festivities.

Yet more people are grilling for their Super Bowl party, according to the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association, a trade group, with about a quarter of the people who own grills or smokers firing them up for the game of the year. We asked our Facebook followers for their tips for grilling for a Super Bowl crowd and here's what they had to say:

  • Don't do it.
  • If you do grill, don't grill while drunk.
  • Invite a friend who loves to grill and could care less about the game.
  • Grill before the game starts and wrap ribs and chicken in foil to keep warm.
  • Cook something that requires less attention, such as pulled pork. Slow cook it on the grill until tender, checking only periodically to maintain the heat. Then ask guests to help pull it.

Sounds like good advice, and here are some more tips from our experts:
  • If winter in your area means you wear a parka and heavy gloves then take a look at five tips for grilling in the cold.
  • Fully preheat the grill. Otherwise food can stick to the grates and it won't won't sear properly.
  • Don't overcrowd the cooking surface. Keep about 40 percent of the grates empty. If fatty foods flare up move them to a cooler or non-flaming section.
  • Cooking with the lid open lets heat escape and compromises roasting. Use high heat for searing thick cuts of meat then lower the heat to finish cooking.

Depending on the size of the cooking surface of your grill you may have to cook in batches. If you're shopping for a grill, as a rule of thumb it's the number of people you regularly feed that guides the size of the cooking area. Our Ratings of dozens of gas grills group models based on our measurements of the main cooking area. Manufacturers might also include warming racks and searing burners in their claims.

For example, the cooking area of our top-rated medium-sized grill, the Vermont Castings Signature Series VCS300SSP, $950, is 420 square inches. Compare that to the cooking area of our top-rated large grill, the Huntington Patriot 658184, $700, which has 585 square inches of cooking area or the cooking area of our top-rated small grill, the Napoleon Terrace SE325PK, $600, which has 300 square inches.

For more on the 2013 Super Bowl, including the best TVs to watch it on, check out our Super Bowl XLVII guide.

Kimberly Janeway

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