Properly Cleaning Your Grill

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under BBQ Guide

When purchasing your barbeque grill, think of it as an investment rather then just another item for your outdoor entertainment. You should expect this item to become a large part of your outdoor activities for many years to come. But like any other investments, proper maintenance and care is needed to ensure that your barbeque grill will work for you for many years to come.

Leaving you grill messy after each use will not only make it harder on you when you finally do clean the grill, but it will also drastically decrease the lifespan of your grill. If you grill sits dirty, you increase the risk of rust.

While some maintenance and cleaning is specific to the type of barbeque grill your own (gas, electric, charcoal or smoke barbecue grill), the majority of maintenance that should be carried on does not change from grill to grill.

Step 1- Gathering The Necessary Items

You will need some common household items on hand when it comes time to clean your barbeque grill.

Brass wire grill brush
Steel wool pads, preferably that contains soap already.
Mild dish soap
Sponge or dishcloth
Spray cooking oil
Dry baking soda
Aluminum foil

Step 2- Brushing Your Grill Off

The first thing that should always be done to your grill is a routine brushing. Using your brass wire grill brush (or other brush suitable to your type of grill) you should brush off all the surfaces. By routinely brushing your barbeque grill, you will prevent any type of buildup. If buildup from food is left to long, it can become increasingly difficult to remove, and can end up causing problems such as rust.

Step 3- Spray Cooking Oil

Once you are sure that your grill is free of all buildup and debris, and that your grill is completely cooled off, you will want to spray it down with a light layer of cooking oil. Spraying it down with cooking oil will prevent your barbeque grill from rusting. It is especially important to make sure you barbeque grill is completely cold, as spraying cooking oil on a hot surface may cause the oil to heat up and ignite, which could be potentially dangerous to you and your barbeque grill.

Step 4- Use Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil on Your Grill
Baking soda is a very nice cleaning and polishing agent. Once you have removed any extra debris and buildup, lightly scrubbing your barbeque grill with baking soda will give it that extra shine, similar to the day that you brought it home from the store. This can also be used on handles and knobs to remove any extra buildup tat cannot be taken off with a wire brush.

Aluminum foil can also be used to keep your grill looking nice. Gently rub the aluminum foil on your grill, and you will notice that it removes grim and buildup. This is a cheap and inexpensive way to clean your grill.

Step 5- Clean Your Racks

The racks in your grill are especially important as this is where the food touches when it is cooking. You will have to use the wire brush to remove as much buildup as possible. Once you remove as much as possible, start washing the racks with dish soap. If the racks are really dirty, you may also want to use the steel wool pads. Be sure to completely rinse off all soap and residue before cooking on these racks again.

Picking the Right Grill

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under BBQ Guide

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills are one of the most used types of grills. Charcoal grills utilize charcoal and lighter fluid to heat up and cook your food. Charcoal grills come in all shapes and sizes, and vary in cost.

Charcoal grills come in small sizes, which are ideal for apartment dwellers or people with small homes. Once you have used your charcoal grill, you can clean it, and store it away.

One of the most noticeable features when using charcoal is the flavor of the food you cook. To cook with a charcoal grill, you must buy charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid.  Charcoal is a one use item, and will need to be discarded after each use. Charcoal can be picked up at your local superstore, gas station, or grocery store, and is typically pretty inexpensive. Charcoal must be light and allowed to burn until the charcoal is no longer on fire, but is red embers. The best way to get the pile to burn is by stacking it in a pyramid.

Propane Grills

Propane grills are also useful for someone in small areas, since they can come in smaller sizes.

Gas grills work by a spark igniting the gas within the grill. Gas grills typically have a knob or button in which you push, which in turn activates a small hammer. The hammer hits the top of an ignition crystal. Then the burner mixes the gas with oxygen and spreads it all over the cooking surface.

Propane grills use propane gas to cook your food. If you want to quickly cook foods while still maintaining a grilled flavor, you may want to consider Propane grills.

Gas grills, unlike some of the other grills types, have the ability to come with many different types of cooking surfaces. These different cooking surfaces include a BBQ surface, a flat grill, and a ribbed grill. Some grills even offer these types of surfaces as none stick, which allow you to cook a whole array of foods that you would not be able to cook on a grill otherwise. You will be able to cook your whole meal, including side dishes if you plan correctly. Some gas grills even contain a Wok type surface for cooking pasta and rise dishes, or a full rotisserie set that allows you to cook rotisserie chicken.

Natural Gas Grills

The easiest grill to use is by far the natural gas grill. Natural gas grills are designed to hook directly into your home’s natural gas line, eliminating the need to provide the fuel source. Natural gas grills are also one of the easiest grills to clean since you do not have to worry about cleaning out the charcoal or wood.

Natural gas grills are a little more complicated then smaller grills, so they require more room.

Smoker Grills

Smoker Grills are used when flavor is the number one priority. Smoker grills use wood to slow cook your meat. Flavor can be controlled by using different types of woods.

Some of the common types of wood used is:

Cherry – Similar to apple, but slightly bitter because most Cherry wood comes from chokecherry trees. / Use on Poultry-turns skin dark brown.
Sugar Maple – Smoky, mellow and lightly sweet. / Use on Fish & Beef.
Hickory – The most highly used wood, both commercially and for home use. Has a strong, heavy, bacon Flavor. / Use on Pork, Ham, and Beef.
Mesquite – One of the hottest burning woods. Predominately Honey, earthy flavor with a slightly bitter aftertaste. / Use on Beef, Fish, Poultry.
Oak – A lighter version of mesquite. Red oak is quite Similar to mesquite; white oak is milder. / Use on Beef & Fish.

Grill Features

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under BBQ Guide

When looking into different grills features, you may be faced with what seems like a foreign language. How are you suppose to pick the grill that is best for you if you do not understand what you are reading? While the language used when describing grills will not get any easier to read, understanding what the majority if what it means will help you make an informed decision.

BTU is the measure of the amount of cooking power the barbeque grill as. Simple math will be needed in determining the amount of heat that your grill produces. Take the amount of space available for cooking (typically measured by square inch) and divide it by the total amount of BTU’s. Ideally you will want at least 95 to 100 BTU’s per square inch of cooking space. So for example, if you have a grill with 50,000 BTU’s and 450 square inches of cooking space, then you will be receiving about 111 BTU’s of cooking power per square inch. Anything less, and you may want to consider a different grill.

The next thing you will want to consider is the cooking surfaces. How much space does it have? Will you be able to cook for just yourself, or you entire family? Depending on your situation, you may want to consider a larger or smaller grill.

Grills come in a wide array of surface types. These different cooking surfaces can include a BBQ surface, a flat grill, and a ribbed grill. Some grills even offer these types of surfaces as none stick, which allow you to cook a whole array of foods that you would not be able to cook on a grill otherwise. Some gas grills even contain a Wok type surface for cooking pasta and rise dishes, or a full rotisserie set that allows you to cook rotisserie chicken. Weigh your options, and remember that some grills even come with the ability to interchange the surfaces. This way, if you decide that you want to start cooking Rotisserie chicken, all you will have to do is buy the accessory kit for it.

Perhaps one of the most important things you should consider is the fuel type. Charcoal grills are one of the most used types of grills. Charcoal grills utilize charcoal and lighter fluid to heat up and cook your food. Charcoal grills come in all shapes and sizes, and vary in cost. Charcoal requires you to buy charcoal and lighter fluid each time you cook with it. It must also be cleaned out each time. Charcoal grills come in small sizes, which are ideal for apartment dwellers or people with small homes. Once you have used your charcoal grill, you can clean it, and store it away. Propane grills are also useful for someone in small areas, since they can come in smaller sizes. Propane grills use propane gas to cook your food. If you want to quickly cook foods while still maintaining a grilled flavor, you may want to consider Propane grills. Natural gas grills are a little more complicated then smaller grills, so they require more room. Natural gas grills are meant to hook up directly to your home’s natural gas line, and can cook meat in record time. Smoker Grills are used when flavor is the number one priority. Smoker grills use wood to slow cook your meat. Flavor can be controlled by using different types of woods.

If you still do not understand the basic information provided about the grill, it may be a good idea to talk with a professional. There are stores designed specifically for barbeque grills and barbeque grill accessories. Other stores, such as your larger department stores may not have professionals trained specifically in barbeques, but chances are at least one employee in the store likes to barbeque, and can aid you, if on nothing else by personal opinion.

Plan a Perfect BBQ Party

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under BBQ Guide

Barbeques are popular for events such as the 4th of July, birthday parties, receptions, and going away parties. No matter why you have decided to plan a barbeque party, the memories that will come from it are sure to stick with your guests for many years to come, provided that you plan ahead. Planning the perfect BBQ party is not difficult, as long as you follow a few simple steps.

1) First, no barbeque would be complete without guests. Plan ahead of time, checking with your potential guest for scheduling conflicts and issues. Finding a date and time that is suitable for everyone should not be to far as long as you everyone enough advanced notice. Remember that not everyone will be able to come, no matter how much notice you give them, so do not get discouraged if you do not get as many RSVPs as your originally hoped for.

2) Be sure to check the weather for that type of year. If you live in a climate that cannot be predicted, then you may want to have a backup plan just incase unusual weather comes. You cannot predict things like rain and thunderstorms ahead of time, but you can make sure that you hold you barbeque during the time of year that will be pleasant to your guests. A barbeque in cold weather may hold more negative memories of trying to keep warm rather then good memories of family and friends.

3) Purchase the type of meat that you will be serving at your party. You will want to have a least a couple of different kinds of meats, as everyone attending may not like a certain kind. It is usually safe to go with pork, sausage, hamburgers, and chicken. If smaller children are going to be in attendance, you should consider child friendly foods such as smaller hamburgers and hot dogs.

4)  Once you have the meat purchased, you will then want to consider what type of sides dished you will serve. If you want a completely tradition barbeque, you may want to stick with traditions sides. Traditional barbeque sides include potatoes, potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw. Your traditional condiment bar should include pickles, relish, and onions. These foods are typically severed at barbeques because they are easy to prepare and store until the event happens. You may want to cook other items, but any barbeque is complete with just the items listed above. Once again, if children will be present, you may want to consider sides for them as well.

The simplest approach to side dishes is chips and dip. Chips and dip do not require any cooking on your part, and will still be loved by the majority of your guests.

5) Depending on the theme of your party, you may or may not want to purchase decorations. Festive decorations can be found at any local party or general store. You may also consider purchasing decorations that can be stored and reused at a different time, such as reusable tablecloths and Tiki torches.

6) The day before you party, you will want to make sure to thaw, prepare, and marinate the meat you will be cooking. Store the meat stored away, soaking up the marinate until it is time for it to go on the grill. Prepare any side dishes that you can ahead of time.

7) The day of the party, get up early and start preparing for it. You do not want your guest arriving while you are still cooking or hanging decorations. It should only take you a few hours at most to prepare the area in which you will be having the party, but the reactions from your guest will probably seem as if you have been planning this for weeks. Try to have the grill already going by time the guests get there as well, because the smell coming from the grill is sure to get everyone in the mood.

Pour On The BBQ Sauce!

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under BBQ Guide

When I was growing up, I loved the flavor of bbq sauce. I ate it on everything from hamburgers to onion rings. Much to my mother’s disappointment, bbq sauce graced our dinner table every night. She didn’t really like the fact that I slathered all of her good cooking with bbq sauce, but I guess she figured it was good that I was cleaning my plate even if I soaked my dinner in sauce to do it.

As I entered into adulthood, I became a little more discriminating when it came to bbq sauce. I still loved the flavor and bbq sauce was my favorite dip of choice for French fries, but my taste buds became more conventional when it came to my use of bbq sauce. I liked to dip my steak in it or make oven baked chicken basted in a nice hickory bbq sauce.

With my love of any meat cooked with bbq sauce, it was inevitable that I eventually visit the south. The south is the bbq capital of the world. I had heard about the world famous bbq’s in the Deep South and my mouth watered in anticipation as I packed my bags. I tried to do a little research to find out where the best bbq sauce was served. Everyone told me that I had to try a pulled pork sandwich and wash it down with sweat tea if I wanted to experience true Southern bbq.

The day I arrived in the state of Alabama, I bundled to the closest bbq joint. You could smell the meat cooking a mile away and as I pulled into the parking lot, I breathed deeply of the exciting scent. I had my moist towelettes. I had a spare shirt. I was ready for the sauciest bbq sauce and a pile of pulled pork. I placed my order and waited impatiently for my dinner to arrive. When the waitress placed it in front of me, I took one look at it and told her she had made a mistake.

‘There isn’t any bbq sauce on my pork.’ I explained.

The waitress just laughed as she poured me a glass of sugary iced tea. ‘Darlin’ that is real Southern bbq. We don’t use bbq sauce. The secret is in how we cook the meat, we don’t want to ruin it by drowning it.’ She saw my disappointment and brought me some bottled bbq sauce on the side. I did try her traditional pulled pork minus the bbq sauce and it was good, but for me, it tasted so much more familiar when I slathered it with my favorite sauce.

The Truth about BBQ Sauce

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under BBQ Guide

Barbecue sauces have a uniquely Southern and Western U.S. history.  Most experts agree that the practice of adding sauce and spices to meat and fish began early in our history, with Native Americans teaching the art to early European settlers.  The natives probably developed the process as part of an attempt to keep meats and fish from spoiling quickly.  Salt played a major role in those early barbecue sauces, and salt is a well-known preservative in the meat curing process.

Because the nations first European arrivals lived on the East Coast of America, that part of the country is credited with spawning the original barbecue sauce styles.  First and foremost, there are the various Carolina barbecue sauces.  The most widely known are East Carolina, Piedmont, and South Carolina varieties.  East Carolina barbecue sauce consists of vinegar, salt, black pepper, and crushed or ground cayenne peppers.  Its a very simple sauce that penetrates the meat nicely for a deep flavor.  Piedmont barbecue sauce only varies from East Carolina in that it often includes molasses or Worcestershire sauce and thus clings to the meat more.  South Carolina sauce is entirely different, using a mustard base instead, producing a much tangier and sharp flavor.

Then there is Memphis or Southern style barbecue sauce.  This popular variety is typically more complicated (flavor-wise) and is built around mustard, tomato, and vinegar.  Fans often point to the boldness of these flavor combinations as the hallmark of Memphis barbecue sauce.  A saying often heard among hungry connoisseurs is no two bites alike.

Continuing our trek westward, we come to the acknowledged center of the barbecue universe Kansas City!  Kansas City barbecue sauce is distinguished by its noticeably thicker consistency and emphasis on sweetness.  Thats because this style of sauce is built upon thick tomato sauce, chunks of vegetables, and lots of sugar.  Many popular commercial brands are based on this Kansas City recipe.  It’s most popular among amateur backyard grillers because of the availability in grocery stores (Kraft, Heinz, K.C.s Masterpiece, etc.).  And also because the thick sauce can be applied only once and enough will remain in place to please the happy recipients of the grilled meat.

Finally, there are the ‘Texas’ barbecue sauce styles.  Now, Texas is one big state, and there are several regional varieties within it.  The most common include thick and spicy sauces that are essentially spicier variations on the Kansas City sauces.  These are found mostly in the north and east sections of the state (Dallas).  In western Texas, thinner sauces that feature hot peppers can be found.  These sauces are often added only at the very end of the barbecuing or grilling process.  And then, in southern Texas, the barbecue sauce of choice features an emphasis on Mexican spices and, of course, jalapeno peppers!  Make sure to have a cold beverage handy to put out the fire!

How To Barbeque Perfect BBQ Ribs

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under BBQ Guide

If you are grilling BBQ ribs on a regular charcoal grill, then you’re probably frustrated when you find that your ribs are tough instead of “meat falling off the bones” tender.  If this is the case, then you can learn how to barbeque perfect ribs easily by preparing your ribs properly in advance, before you ever place them on your grill.

Most master grillers prepare their ribs first, before cooking them on a charcoal grill.  This is why some grillers cook perfect ribs every time.  Usually at a BBQ event, guests see the cook placing the ribs on the grill, never knowing that work was done beforehand to get the ribs ready.  Those new to grilling assume that the cook is just brushing sauce on the ribs, and then cooking them until done directly on the grill and this isn’t always so.

To prepare your ribs, first bring a large pot of water to a boil.  You should do this the day before your BBQ event or dinner.  Add a bit of salt to the water, and then bring it down to a simmer.  Add your ribs, cover and simmer them for 1 to 2 hours and then carefully remove them from the pot.  Your ribs should be tender and juicy now, but you shouldn’t place them on the grill just yet.

Place them in a large bowl, add your BBQ sauce, cover and refrigerate this overnight.  This provides ample time for the ribs to marinate in the sauce, to produce that rich BBQ flavor that everyone loves so well.

The next day, light your grill and let the coals die down to warm glowing embers.  You should never BBQ your ribs over an open flame; this can burn the sauce and ruin the flavor of your BBQ ribs.

Once the flames have died down, brush some more sauce on your ribs and place them directly on the grill.  Cook for 10 minutes, brush some more sauce on the top of the ribs, turn and cook the other side for 10 minutes.  Continue cooking the ribs in this fashion until they are fully done, turning your BBQ ribs every 10 minutes while adding fresh sauce at every turn.

Once your ribs are done, place them on a serving platter and serve while they are still hot.  Your guests will go crazy over your delicious, juicy and tender ribs.  This is the proper way to cook perfect BBQ ribs.  If you just throw the ribs on a grill, without preparing them first, then your ribs will be very tough and not very good no matter what type of sauce is used.

BBQ sauce is used to add flavor, not to cover up inferior cooking.  Don’t you owe it to yourself and to your dinner guests to go that extra mile, ensuring that your ribs are not only tasty, but also mouth watering tender?  You’ll be known as the best BBQ rib griller in your area.  Especially if you combine your juicy and tender ribs with your very own homemade BBQ rubs, sauce or marinades instead of using those pre-bottled sauces provided in local grocery stores.

BBQ Safety Tips

March 12, 2011 by  
Filed under BBQ Guide

When it comes to barbecuing, what could be more fun than whipping up sumptuous food on the grill in the company of family and friends? The thing of course is finding the right place for grilling and barbecuing. One favorite spot among true barbecue aficionados would be their very own backyard or outdoor kitchen with their own brick barbecue pit. Actually, any outdoor area is a potential spot for a barbecue but truth be known, the best places for a barbecue are the safest ones.

Choose a location for your BBQ grill that is away from trees, leaves, brush and overhanging limbs. Do not setup your gill in a high traffic area where someone may accidentally brush up against the hot grill.

When barbecuing in your backyard, be sure that you’re 5 to 10 feet away from your house or any material that can potentially catch fire. Also, be sure the grill is stable and is away from children or pets that may bump into it. It would also be a good idea to have a water supply nearby like a garden hose.

If you live in an apartment building with a balcony or rooftop or any other outdoor space, be sure to consult with your building administrator (or in some instances, your local fire department) regarding specific restrictions. Generally, using charcoal and gas grills indoors or anywhere above the first storey is prohibited so you may want to consider electric grills instead for your barbecuing efforts.

Another great place to barbecue is in a campsite. Camping is such an exciting way to experience the great outdoors and barbecuing food over a campfire is definitely one of those practical yet cozy things you can do. Just be sure that you are at least 15 feet away from your tent and other camping gears.

Protect yourself by using the correct BBQ utensils such as oven mitts, thongs and a good spatula. Avoid wearing loose clothing while near the grill.

Always leave the lid to a gas grill open when lighting the fire so the gas does not build up under the cover. If the fire does not initially start, turn off the gas, leave the lid open and wait for at lest five minutes before trying again.

It is always a good idea to give your grill a checkup before using for the first time of the season and always store your tanks outside in a upright position where the temperature will never go over 125 degrees.

Of course, it’s not just the atmosphere of being outdoors that can make a barbecue fun and special. It’s also in the delicious barbecue dishes that you share with your loved ones. To make it all the more special, try a variety of BBQ rubs, marinades, salsas and BBQ sauce to capture the true taste of great outdoor barbecuing.

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