Summer is in full swing, and it’s time to get grilling! If you haven’t cooked out in a while because you’re just not feeling excited about grilling the same old burgers and hotdogs, or you really need to get your grill cleaned up and don’t know how to start, we’re here to tell you that you’re certainly not alone. But you aremissing out on opportunities to entertain your family and friends with fresh, delicious foods prepared in the great outdoors.
It’s time to bring the fun back to grilling, and our experts here at Gochnauer’s Home Appliance Center have tons of tips and advice to get you back in the grilling game. Let’s dig in!
Grill foods you never thought possible
It’s true that many people believe grilling is only for meat like burgers, hotdogs, chicken, and steaks. But depending on the size, shape, and style of your grill, you can actually prepare almost any food you would cook indoors on your kitchen stovetop or in the oven right on your grill. You read that correctly. You can grillmany foods you usuallybakein the oven!
If your grillhas a smoker built in, you have an exceptionallyversatile outdoor cooking experience at the ready to prepare creative foods like bacon-wrapped pineapple, smoked cheeses, or even cookies. And many gas grills feature auxiliary burners that allow you to make foods, like that favorite staple of the cookout, baked beans, which are most often prepared on the stovetop in a pot.
But what if you don’t have a smoker? You can still make crowd-pleasing and family-friendly foods like pizza right on the grates of your gas or charcoal grill! Our friends at Weber have a fantastic recipe for Mediterranean-style pizza that starts with easy store-bought pizza dough, shredded mozzarella, and plenty of delicious Greek-style toppings like Kalamata olives and toasted pine nuts. Or, you can use your creativity to customize your grate-grilled pizza any way you want!
The key to grilling pizza is adequately preparing your dough, and later, making sure you’re ready to spring into action if doughbegins to burn during grilling. Pro tip: your grill grates must also be very clean to cut down on the likelihood of burning and ultimately prevent pizza disaster (more on how to achieve clean gratesin the next section). Doughmust be brought to room temperature for at least 30 minutes and worked by hand or rolling pin into your desired size, shape, and thickness. Remember that thinner dough will burn more quickly, of course, so you’ll want to aim for doughrolled out to about 1/2” in thicknessto start. As you become a pizza-grilling master, you can experiment with dough thicknesses, and even try your hand at making your own dough from scratch! Before adding toppings and putting your pizza on the grill, be sure to poke holes in the prepared dough with a fork to prevent bubbling in your crust.
As we mentioned, both charcoal and gas grills are appropriate for making grilled pizza, but the process will be somewhat different. Since charcoal can produce much higher temperatures than most gas grills and be more difficult to control, as well, you will need to prepare your charcoal grill for direct and indirect cooking to preparepizza. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, it involves arranging your charcoal over 2/3 of the fuel grate and leaving 1/3 empty to create a “safety zone” where you can move your pizza if it starts to burn. On a gas grill, this is unnecessary because you can simplyswitch off a burner or all the burnersat the first sign of trouble.
Who doesn’t love a flakybuttermilk biscuit as a side with delicious grilled chicken? If you have a cast iron skillet, you can easilyprepare these to accompany your main course with the extra space on your grill surface. Drop biscuit recipes are common, and your family might already have a favorite. Just prepare your dough indoors ahead of time and brush your cast iron skillet with vegetable oil, and you’re all set to bake up to 8 biscuits in about 20 minutes or less!
Note that once again, the more controlled heat possible with gas grills may yield better results unless you are particularly attentive. Your charcoal grill may lend a delicious, smoky essence to your biscuits, but you don’t want them to burn.
Keep your grill clean and well-maintained
When your cart-style grill is not in use, do you store it in a shed or outdoors on a covered porch or even just under a fabric grill cover on an open deck? All of these storage locations, while convenient, allow dust and dirt to accumulate on your grill’s exterior. Even if you are lucky enough to have a fully integrated outdoor kitchen, it’s true that dirt and grime from the surrounding environment tend to quickly collect on your outdoor appliances’ surfaces. Taking time a few times per season to deep clean all of your grill’s exterior and interior surfaces will prolong its life. More frequent cleaning is needed on grill grates, however.
First, if you do not currently own a wire-bristle grill brush, it’s time to make that purchase. This hardworking grill tool is necessary for gratecleaning on all types of grills, and it should be regularly employed to scrape away burned on food debris before you store your grill at the end of your latest cookout. Grates are best cleaned when they’re adequately heated, and the best time to scrape them clean is when your grill is just beginning to cool down after cooking. If your grates are made of cast iron, you can further maintain them by rubbing vegetable oil on them to “season” (much like you would with a cast iron skillet) once they have been scraped and are totally cooled down. The key to healthy grill grates is cleaning after each grilling session – we cannot stress that enough.
Don’t forget about grill safety
Obviously, grilling involves working with high temperatures, hot surfaces, and often, open flames. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby when using gas grills, or a simple bucket of water for charcoal grills, to prevent accidental fires. And always, always be sure your grillhas adequately cooled (use the cool-down period to clean grates!) before putting it away inside your shed or garage, or even before throwing the cover on it. Tragic structure fires happen every day because grills are not allowed to cool properly prior to storageor due to unattended cooking. That’s right – don’t put your food on the grates and walk away for any period oftime either! As with cooking indoors, food should be under your direct supervision at all times while it’s cooking to prevent burninjuries and fires.
If you’re new to grilling, you’ll also want to be sure you’re allowedto grill where you live. Some apartment or townhouse communities where residents may only have access to a commonoutdoor area that is shared with neighbors may completely restrict grilling. In certaincommunities, fire safety or other rules may just prohibit you from using certain types of grills. Charcoal grills especially are sometimes banned since they tend to burn hotter than gas grills, as we mentioned. Charcoal also often requires chemical lighter fluid to aid ignition, and that can pose an additional safety risk.
Maybe it’s time for a new grill?
Has your love waned for grilling because you just don’t like your current grilling setup? Maybe it’s time for a new one. If it’s been a decade or so since you were last in the market for a new grill, you’ve probably already noticed that there are more fuel types, features, and technology available to you than ever before. You may know which side of the eternal charcoal vs. gas fuel debate you’re on, but did you know that there are electric grills, too? And grillsfeature various numbers and layouts of burnersand may include optional features like griddles and rotisseries in addition to the smokers we already talked about.
You owe it to yourself to upgrade your grill!
Your local appliance experts like us here at Gochnauer’s are ready to advise you on specifications for individual models, such as determining how many BTUs you really need in your new grill, or whether particular models are smartphone compatible. (It’s true -- you can control temperature settings on some new grillswith an app on your phone!) If you’re in Lancaster County, PA or the surrounding region, you have no excuse to skip the uncertainty of buying your next grill from the chain stores. Stop in and visit our experienced, knowledgeable, and friendly staff in East Petersburg or get in touch with your questions today.