I always make time to tune up my grills and smokers, getting them ready for use. With a gas grill, I light it up and let it burn at the hottest setting for a half hour. Shut it down, let it cool, and take the grates out of the firebox. By doing this, you’ll be able to scrape out some of the residue, sweep out the ash, and change any replaceable parts (like the drip pans). When done, coat the grates with oil and light up for another 15 minutes. That will keep the grates stick-free and ready to go the next time you want to light up.
Speaking of grates, there are a million grill grate brushes available on the market, but if there’s any tool you don’t really need, it’s a grate brush. The easiest thing to do is crumple up some aluminum foil, hold it with some tongs, and rub down the grates, they’ll conform to the grates, get in between the rods, and do a terrific job cleaning. They’re great grate cleaners. Save yourselves some money and try this. And you’ll avoid small times of metal coming off the brush and getting lodged in your food, and maybe your esophagus…something to avoid using a simple piece of foil.
One of the most important pieces of equipment you need is an instant read thermometer or a remote thermometer...a vital piece of equipment that allows you to do things around the house, but yet keep track of what's happening in your grill or smoker. The thermapen is the best instant-read thermometer I've used, and I have a bunch of remote thermometers...
As I’ve mentioned before, to smoke or grill, you don’t need anything fancy…with a little effort, even a basic kettle grill can work well. But if there’s one thing I recommend, even for basic grilling…use natural hardwood lump charcoal.
Charcoal comes in quite a variety, but can broken down into 2 categories-briquettes and lump. Everyone is familiar with Kingsford…the classic square briquette. Lump is just wood that has had the oxygen burnt out of it and all you’re left with is the pure carbon, but with the essence of the wood still there. Using lump, you are able to grill at high heat for longer periods of time, and impart some of the essence of the smoke flavor into your food. Briquettes will give you a nice, stable, even burn, but I only use natural hardwood lump, mostly from oak wood, in my kamado ceramic smoker. The low ash production and wonderful wood smell can’t be beat. This type of coal is available at big box retailers and local shops…I even had some delivered from my local hardware store…give it a try. Nothing beats the taste and smell of wood smoke.
Next up, let's talk smokers!