Hello sunshine! Isn’t it nice to see a bright blue sky at seven p.m., the snow receding from your lawn, the chill of winter air mingling with the occasional warm breeze…and in just eleven days – it’s hard to believe – it will be spring, the vernal equinox, the day that the sun’s path, moving from the southern hemisphere to the north, crosses the equator. On March 20, the day is the same length as the night, which for many of means only one thing; it’s time to clean up the trusty barbecue and get it ready for the first grilling of the year!
True, there are diehards among us who have kept ol’ faithful going strong all winter, but most of us are content with cooking indoors in minus 30 degree weather, roasting, braising, stewing, baking and boiling. For everything there is a season, and a seasoning, and by and large we see grilling as an estival activity, with spring acting literally as a warm up act. But man, we do miss the thrill of fire, and smoke, and the aroma and taste of a fresh grilled feast.
This week it’s supposed to be lovely, with the forecast calling for sunny days and temperatures closing in on double digits by mid-week, the ‘tween season days where you can warm up the barbecue on the deck and keep a cold one cold in the snow bank huddling by the fence. If Snowbirds can go swimming in Daytona Beach in February, we can certainly grill in March!
To find out the best way to prep our grill we turn to Napoleon Grills, a proudly Canadian company based in Barrie Ontario, and the largest manufacturers of wood and gas fireplaces, and gourmet gas and charcoal grills in North America. Named one of Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed Companies, an annual distinction sponsored by CIBC World Markets, Deloitte, The National Post, Queen’s School of Business and CEO Forum, these guys know what they’re talking about.
“You wouldn’t cook in a dirty kitchen, so why grill on a dirty barbeque?” they ask rhetorically. Indeed. And it’s a matter of safety too, especially with propane grills that have sat out all winter…do you really know what’s going on down there?
So here, courtesy of the experts at Napoleon, are four simple but important tips to get your BBQ ready after a long winter:
1.Clean it up. In order to sanitize and deep clean your grill, you will need the following products: a brass wire brush, small pail to hold hot water, dish soap, venturi brush, a1/16” drill bit, replacement grease cups, spatula, stainless steel cleaner and some fine sandpaper.
These supplies will help clean every nook and cranny of your barbeque.
Start with the burners. It is easier to detach the burners and take them out of the grill for a very thorough cleaning. Pass a venturi brush through the burners to snag out any blockages then brush the tops of the burners using a brass wire brush. Once the burners are cleaned, check all of the burner ports to ensure that they are opened. If some are closed with food particles you can use a 1/16” drill bit to open them.
Sear plates and cooking grills should be washed with hot, soapy water. Simply brush the top side of your cooking grills with a little oil to re-season them.
Hot, soapy water works wonders on the cast base and sides of the grill and to remove grease splatters on the outside of the grill. For porcelain lids, a thorough washing should suffice; for stainless steel lids use a stainless steel cleaner to remove any discoloring. Brushing the cast aluminum with a little olive oil will help restore the luster and prevent oxidation.
Lastly, use a spatula to scrape grease from the inside of the base all the way down towards the drip pan. Remove the drip pan and give it a good washing and be sure to replace the tin foil grease catcher.
2.Inspect all hoses and feed tubes. Once your cleaning is done, it is a good idea to visually inspect all hoses and feed tubes on your grill. Look for any crimps, scratching and or punctures. If you detect any of these, it is time to replace the hoses.
3.Do a complete leak test of the grill. A leak test should be performed any time your grill has been in storage for a prolonged length of time or when you are changing any components on your grill. For complete leak test information, check out this video.
4. Check all ignition parts. Now that your grill is clean and safe, it is time to check out how it lights. For battery ignitions it is a good idea to replace the batteries with new ones. Check all electrode leads and ensure the tips of the electrodes are clean and have no grease or rust build up on them. If they do, you can use sandpaper to clean them.
Following these simple steps will help prolong the life of your grill and enhance your cooking experience. So grab a beer or two and get to work!”