Do you start your grill just in time to throw some food on it? What about all those bits of burned food left from the last several times you cooked? Are they still there? Does food stick to the grill grates, or does it come off as if it’s a nonstick surface? Here’s a little tutorial on how to prepare your grill for cooking. (Although I use a gas grill, these rules apply to charcoal grills as well.)
1. Start your grill at least 1/2 hour before you need it. Before you start it, lay a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the grill grates. Start it up, then close the lid. Let the grill heat for a good 20 minutes. The aluminum foil will speed up the process of burning off the bits of food on the grates. You can see in the photo below that my aluminum foil is in pieces. Not to worry, it still works. Eventually you have to throw the foil out, but you can reuse it many times. (I keep it under the grill, folded.)
2. After 20 minutes at high heat, you should have ashes on top of your grill grates.
3. The grill should scrape clean easily now. Use a stiff-wired brush, which you can find at Wal-Mart or Lowe’s, or any where grill supplies are sold. Eventually, you’ll need to replace the brush as you wear down the bristles, but it will take a while, depending on how much you use your grill.
3. Use old frying oil and a paper towel to season the grates. Take a whole sheet of paper towel (Not one of those skinny choose-a-size sheets. If you use those, you’ll need two, not one.)
Fold in half.
Fold in half again.
Now fold the other way in half.
Fold in half again.
I hope you have some very long-handled tongs. If not, use whatever tongs you have. The tongs will hold the ends of the folded towel in place. Dip it in oil. Really saturate it. (I use leftover used frying oil, rather than using fresh vegetable oil.)
4. Rub the grill grates with the oil-soaked towel, back and forth just twice. (Any longer, and you’ll get pieces of shredded paper towel.) If the grill is really hot, you may get some flareups, so be careful. I like to use flame-proof mitts to protect my skin. Your grates will probably smoke a little.
5. Cover the grill while you get your food. You now have an almost-nonstick cooking surface.
The bad news is that you have to do this every time you grill if you want a nonstick surface.
The good news is that it is so much easier to grill. You’ll have less and less food that sticks.
And even better news is that you are recycling old frying oil that you didn’t want any way.