The most important 17 minutes:
If there is one thing that I have learned over the years that is a constant with grilling, it is that you will under-cook, burn, or even overcook something if you aren’t in harmony with your grill’s temperature or cleanliness.
I know this because I blazed up some bone-in, skin-on chicken breast the other night. Not good eats, and when I say blazed, I mean the fire kind that wicks outside the grill. Scary. Don’t worry; I was able to salvage some of the chicken, just not the skin.
I was not paying attention to my Weber gas grill, specifically the cleanliness of the drip pan. Grill blogging and taking pictures for the past couple of months, I neglected to do one of the most fundamental things in the grilling culture: CLEAN THE DAMN GRILL thoroughly, and not just the grates, either.
I am going to tell you about how I spent seventeen minutes yesterday cleaning my grill. That’s it. I know this because after torching the skin on that chicken the other night, I decided that everyone should know the importance of cleaning your grills. Whether you have a charcoal or gas grill (from the survey, most of you have gas), it is imperative that you do a quick cleaning every once in a while. Not only will you get more longevity out of your grill, your food will taste best and cook properly.
For gas grills, it can be a little more labor intensive. The first thing to do is locate the “drip” tray. This is going to be different on almost any grill. If you can’t find it, here is an easy tip for you…while your grill is off and cold, pour a tall glass of water into it and follow the water’s gravitational pull. It will come out somewhere. If it comes out into a removable container, you have found the drip tray. If water is coming out in multiple locations, I will have another blog for that…
You may even have a completely removable bottom tray; this is a good thing for several reasons. But for now, removing those two things and cleaning them is essential. This is where all the liquid deposits from grilling accumulate. Most of this is grease or fats, along with some char and all those lost shrimp and asparagus.
Pretty simple: if you do this often, your chances of burning down the place decreases exponentially. So I implore you to explore your grill’s innards and become familiar with removing and cleaning these parts.
As far as temperature, you need to know if the grill’s built in thermometer works. If you don’t have one, you can get a small on-grill thermometer so you can gauge this accurately. They are generally under ten bucks and they are used strictly for surface temperature only. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_st?keywords=grill+surface+thermometer&qid=1344520380&rh=n%3A2972638011%2Ck%3Agrill+surface+thermometer&sort=price
It took me seventeen minutes to do this last night; that is about the time it takes charcoal to get to ready. Then I promptly grilled those chicken breasts again.