Monday, April 26, 2010

Fired Up: How To Clean A Grill

Sorry for the delay in my posts, folks.  JM and I had friends in town from London this weekend attending a wedding, and didn't get around to posting (or finishing my Spring Cleaning, for that matter). So Spring Cleaning Week extends into this week, and we aren't going to quit until every last speck of dust and dirt is eradicated (or until I feel like writing about something else- whichever comes first). 

I am aware that "manning" the barbecue grill is typically the domain of, well, men, but, then, so are taking out the garbage and walking the dog, both of which are my jobs (JM, meanwhile, is a master organizer and silver polisher). And, as I have mentioned before, I relish any opportunity to combine my great loves of cooking and being in the sun. Thankfully, the weather has turned lovely, and as soon as that happens my thoughts turn to the sweet smell of hot dogs and buttery burgers. But before that can happen, I have to tackle one of the most undesirable tasks of all: cleaning the grill.
If I were a more organized person, I might think to clean the grill at the end of barbecue season, so that it is fresh and clean when I unveil it in the Spring. But that would force me to admit, each October, that the last warm weekends are over and that I won't be grilling again until April. By the time I am willing to concede that it's no longer grill season, the whole apparatus is buried in snow, and it is way too cold to stand out on the patio scrubbing a grate.  So, our grill usually festers in it's own gross juices all winter, which is fine, because even grease freezes at a certain temperature. But then, when the sun starts shining again, and the rancid meat juice starts to thaw, well, then I find myself in a bit of a pickle.  Luckily,  I have discovered a cleaning method that really works and is totally non-toxic, while exposing the unfortunate cleaner to as little charred fish skin and congealed animal fat as possible. You'll be ready to officially welcome Spring in no time and with very little elbow grease.  Then, all that's left is sweeping up all the outdoor spaces and wiping down the patio furniture.  But I'm pretty sure that's man's work, isn't it?

How To Clean A Barbecue Grill:

What You Need:
Aluminum Foil
A scouring brush
A gentle dishwashing soap
Baking soda
A Sponge
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Step 1: If you have a gas grill, lay a layer of aluminum foil over your grill and turn it on. Close it and let it "cook" for 30 minutes or so. Turn it off, carefully remove the foil, let cool, then use a wadded up piece of foil to scrub at the grates, thoroughly covering every surface. Like the "self-clean" option on your oven, everything gross caked in the grill will have turned to ash and will scrub right off. If you have a charcoal grill, skip this step.

Step 2: Wait a few hours until the grill is completely cooled off (I suggest watching a few old episodes of Law & Order to pass the time). Remove the grate, and use a scrub brush and warm soapy water to scrub the grates totally clean.  Set aside and allow to dry. In the meantime, remove whatever componants are under your grate and scrub them clean, as well (sprinkle on baking soda to help with any tough bits), disposing of any charred cakey bits and ash.  Remove any catcher things that are attached under the grill and clean them out using the same method. 

Step 3: Replace all of the components inside the grill. Then, using the same soapy water and baking soda (Bar Keeper's Friend works great, too), scrub the dust and dirt from the outside of the grill using the sponge. Finish up by cleaning all the plastic parts and knobs with the Magic Eraser. It'll look like new.

Step 4: Make mine medium-rare, please.

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