Ready, Set, Grill
Prepping your grill for a long, tasty season
Today's article is a bit of an anomaly for these pages: it speaks neither of wine nor food, but rather of a very important tool: the grill.
The idea of grilling season may be somewhat limited on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level, breaking out the grill for the first time can elicit the same joy that the first daffodils and crocus blossoms can. For me it goes even deeper. When I was a young child I walked to school, and home for lunch. I can still vividly remember the first day each year when it was too warm for a jacket on my way back to school after lunch. Exhilaration, that's what I felt, knowing that spring, and soon after, summer, was finally arriving.
Fast forward 40 years. Wow, that's a phrase that hurts. Perhaps it's the weather changing, or the fact that I don't walk home for lunch everyday at a predetermined hour, but breaking out the grill has replaced that walk back to school for me, implying so much more to my (sadly more complex) adult brain. Along with warmer weather, and air conditioning bills, I'm going to start drinking light white wines and rosés again! Call it sad, but when it's cold I stick to heavier reds, and as soon as it warms up, a switch is flipped in my mind, opening it once again to myriad possibilities.
Now is the time for Vermentino, Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Blanc. Tomorrow will be the day that we start testing out the newest crop of Roses, Next week we might be moving on to light Barberas, Schiavas, and Pinot Noirs that are perfect served with a slight chill. While on its face it may seem silly that in my mind there are wine seasons, that's the way things have panned out. Even sillier perhaps is that there is some external trigger that causes the change of seasons, but there is, which brings us back to the grill.
In addition to having a complex adult brain, I have an exceptionally well-honed ability to procrastinate, leaving the cleanup of my last mess until tomorrow. In the case of my grill, that last mess was created in October of last year, and tomorrow has just arrived. So follow along with me as I go through a few basic steps of grill cleaning and maintenance, all in preparation for a slew of wine and grilled food pairings to come.
Step One: Pop the Top
Not you, just the grill. You really need to clean your entire grill, not just the grate where food comes in contact with the heat. A dirty grill can contribute off flavors to grilled food, but more importantly, you could be creating an uneven heating pattern across your grilling surface—which is why your burnt chicken is also raw. Now we don't want that, do we?
Begin by laying a tarp on the ground, and then place your grill over the tarp. Trust me, you'll be happy you did when it comes time to do away with all the crud you’ll be flushing from the grill innards.
Start by removing your grilling surface and inspecting its condition. There are four basic types of grilling surfaces, each with their own issues: