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Outdoor Cooking Tips

Grilling Tips

Don't be caught off guard with the wrong grilling equipment or without a good recipe this summer. We've put together some important grilling information that will make you the envy of all of your neighbors. Click on any of the links below to learn about great recipes making the perfect fire, and more.

Choosing a A Grill

Your first choice to make is- charcoal or gas? Since most taste tests indicate no significant flavor difference, the choice is a personal one. Consider how you plan to use your grill. Gas grills are usually initially more expensive, but generally cost less to operate in the long run. Some other things to look for include:

  • Choose a grill with preassembled and welded parts - This grill will be more stable and less likely to rust. Also, you should look for easy to follow instructions and die-cut parts for easy assembly
  • Choose a grill with a long warranty period
  • Choose a well known company


Charcoal Grills

Preferably, the grill will be made of high grade steel with a durable, porcelain enamel finish that has been baked on rather than sprayed on. This will help prevent rusting. Leg couplings should be welded on for added strength and stability. Other features to look for are:

  • Stainless Steel or nickel-plated cooking and charcoal grates
  • Stay cool plastic or wooden handles
  • Both direct and indirect cooking method options
  • Charcoal rails or fuel basket feature
  • A hinging cooking grate makes it easier to add briquets
  • Cleaning system that sweeps out the ashes for you
  • Thermometer to regulate the internal temperature of grill


Direct Cooking on a charcoal grill - Spread prepared coals evenly across the charcoal grate. Set the cooking grate over the coals and place food on the cooking grate. Place the lid on the grill and lift it only to turn food or to test for doneness at the end of the recommended cooking time.

Indirect Cooking on a charcoal grill - Arrange hot coals on either side of the grate. A drip pan placed in the center of the charcoal grate between the coals is useful to collect drippings that can be used for gravies and sauces. For longer cooking times, add water to the drip pan to keep drippings from burning. You will want to place the cooking grate over the coals and place the food on the cooking grate - centered over the drip pan or empty space. Lastly, place the lid on the grill and lift only to baste or check for doneness at the end of the suggested cooking time.

Gas Grills

Preferably, the grill will be made of high grade steel with a durable, porcelain enamel finish that has been baked on rather than sprayed on. This will help prevent rusting. Leg couplings should be welded on for added strength and stability. Other features to look for are:

  • Choose a grill with preassembled and welded parts - This grill will be more stable and less likely to rust. Also, you should look for easy to follow instructions and die-cut parts for easy assembly
  • Choose a grill with a long warranty period
  • Choose a well known company


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Building The Right Fire

Fire is the beginning of cooking. Before you can master grilling you must first master fire. Now those of you with gas grills will say you don?t need to know how to build a fire, but don?t dismiss the art of fire making. Knowing how to put together a good cooking fire is not only a skill you might need if you end up a contestant on ?Survivor?, it is also something that will make you a better griller, gas or no gas.

When it comes to lighting up a charcoal fire many people think you dump in the charcoal, pour on the lighter fluid and throw in the match. After 10 to 20 minutes you can kick the grill to settle the coals and start grilling, right? Well, yeah, you could do it that way. You might end up with burned burgers and raw chicken, but with a little practice you might get a good system going, and you might type ?War and Peace? with two fingers.

One of the keys to good grilling is an even fire. The only variations in heat should be the ones you plan for. Randomly spreading hot coals in your charcoal grill will make a series of hot and cool spots. Even distribution of coals reduces this variation to a minimum. This is important to get even grilling, especially if you have a large amount of food on the grill.

Once you have mastered even heating its time to step up to the professional level. Chefs like to have controlled temperature variation, meaning a hot area and a not so hot area. In grilling we call this a two level fire. If you imaging a dual burner gas grill set one burner on high and the other on medium. The advantage of this is that you have an area to sear foods and an area to cook them through. In a charcoal grill you will want to set up half you fire grate in a single layer of coals and the other half in two or three layers of coals. This will give you the hot and medium areas to do you cooking. This method is also good if you are cooking different types of foods. For instance if you were grilling up some fajitas, you could sear the steak over the high heat and cook the peppers over the lower heat. Once you have masters the two level fire you will definitely see the advantages.

Another fire you need to know how to build is the indirect fire. In its simplest form you can put all the coals on one side of the grill and leave no coals on the other side. In a gas grill this is the equivalent of turning the burner on one side on and leaving the other off. Of course you can do much more with this. For instance the ring of fire is a great strategy if you are using a kettle style grill. Once you have hot coals, push them to the outside of the coal grate leaving the middle empty. This will give you good even heat all around and a good indirect cooking space.

When it comes to building an indirect fire one of the most frequent problems is having the fire on just one side of the grill. With gas grills there isn?t much you can do about this. The problem is that the heat is uneven. One side of the food you are cooking will get more heat than the other, forcing you to turn frequently to keep it even. With a charcoal grill you can build the fire everywhere but under the food you are cooking this gives a more even heat.

The last thing to consider when building a fire is hardwood. If you want add wood chips to your fire it?s best to have a place to do that. With gas grills you need to use a firebox or wrap the moistened wood chips in foil. With a charcoal fire you can leave a small area with very few or no coals. This is a good place to put wood chips; they will smoke but not burn away quickly. So when building a charcoal fire, leave a little room for some slow burning wood chips to add some smoky flavor.

Indirect vs. Direct Grilling

The Indirect cooking method is used for larger cuts of meat and other foods that require longer cooking at lower temperatures such as whole turkey, brisket, chicken pieces, ribs and roasts. Foods are cooked by reflected heat, as in a convection oven. Foods do not need to be turned because the food is not placed directly above the heat source. This method of cooking can only be done in a covered grill. Indirect cooking is a no-peek cooking method - every time you lift the lid, heat escapes and can increase the cooking time.

For a gas grill: Indirect cooking is accomplished by turning off any burners that are directly below the food. The burners on both sides of the food should be adjusted to equal amounts of heat (medium or low).

For a charcoal grill: When the coals are covered with a light coating of grey ash (after 25 to 30 minutes), use long-handled tongs to carefully pile the burning charcoal briquets into two equal piles-one on each side of the charcoal grate-and place a disposable drip-pan between them. Replace the cooking grate so the opening by the handles is directly above the hot coals. Charcoal briquets can be easily added to the fire by dropping additional briquets through the openings by the handles on each side of the charcoal grate. Charcoal should be added to the fire every hour to maintain an even cooking temperature.

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Cleaning Your Grill

Always Clean the cooking grate. After the coals have died out, brush off any loose particles on the warm (not hot) cooking grate with a brass grill brush or a handful of crumpled aluminum foil. For more thorough cleaning, use a wet, soapy, fine steel wool pad with only slight pressure. Rinse thoroughly and dry. Always Remove cold ashes from the bottom of the kettle.This prevents airflow problems next time you grill. Ashes also absorb moisture, which may cause premature rusting of the One-Touch Cleaning System.

Periodically Clean the inside and outside of the bowl and lid.If you allow cooking residue to burn off the inside of your grill every time you use it, you shouldn't have to work as hard at scrubbing the inside. You can simply brush off flaking baked-on grease with a brass wire grill brush. If you want to get your grill in sparkling condition, either inside or out, warm soapy water and a sponge or dishcloth are usually sufficient. If necessary, lightly scrub the porcelain-enameled parts with a soapy, fine steel wool pad. Be careful not to scratch the porcelain.

Never Wax or paint the lid.The finish on your grill is baked-on porcelain enamel, so you never have to wax or paint it. This finish is glossier and much more durable than paint, and wax will only streak when the grill gets hot. So just wipe the lid down with warm, soapy water when it gets dusty or

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Grilling Recipes

Click on the links below to find great grilling recipes for your favorite meals.
http://www.weber.com/bbq/switchboard.aspx?b=/WeberCom/Cookbook/recipe_main.aspx
http://bbq.about.com/library/recipes/blrecipetop.htm
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/et_sl_grilling/0,1972,FOOD_9872,00.html

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