YOUR A UCPT
It’s time to dust off the barbie for summer – and this year, start grilling season with a lean, clean machine
Hello summer – is that you? Each year you come sneaking up on me and quite frankly I’m never really prepared. This year it will be different. This year I have a plan and it starts with cleaning the barbecue. And by that, I mean cleaning it properly.
Now, it is true that this might more accurately translate as delegating cleaning the barbecue to the kids, but if I do – and if you dear readers want to delegate the job to your minions, or to a partner in need of a project this Sunday – here’s the briefing you need to give them so the end result meets your standards.
Check the hose: Inspect the gas hose for cracks or other general deterioration. If it’s in bad shape, replace it. Warm up the gunk: It is much easier to clean the barbecue grill when it’s warm. If your barbie has a cover, place a roasting tray half full of hot water over a burner on low and close the lid. Then allow the steam to soften all that gunk. No lid? Just run the burners for a few minutes to warm up. Read the manual: Now go inside and find the manual that came with the barbecue. It’ll be in that drawer full of random stuff or in a folder in the shed. Read the cleaning instructions to make sure you don’t do anything stupid. Disconnect the gas: Turn off the barbie, turn off the gas bottle and disconnect the hose. Check the gas bottle. Is it time to get a new one? Or at least a refill? Prepare like a surgeon: Most barbecues are horridly dirty so clean it outside than in the kitchen sink. Find a big plastic tub, fill it with hot soapy water and put down paper or plastic sheeting. Gather together everything you need – old newspapers, paper towel, clothes, plastic scourers, scraper, a wire brush or scrunched aluminium foil to rub off the most stubborn crusty bits, bin liners to throw any used newspaper
or scraped off gunk and, of course, rubber gloves. The gloves will allow you to use hotter water which will cut through the grease more effectively. Don’t use stainless steel wool or chemical oven cleaners. High pressure cleaners: It might be tempting to grab a high-pressure hose and attack the barbecue, but don’t – you’ll end up spraying old grease everywhere and you will also risk sending grease into the burners which is distinctly undesirable. I speak from experience. Time to clean: First remove the grease tray, scrape out the fat and wash it. Remove grills and flat plates. Brush or scrape both sides to remove any burnedon food and excess fat, and wash. Scrape out the interior of the barbecue from any excess gunk at the bottom or sides. Don’t remove the burners – you’d then have to put them back together which can be tricky, and if you don’t dry them properly they can rust. Apply oil: Dry the grill plates with paper towel, then spray on both sides with canola oil. Put the plates back into the clean barbecue. If you want to line the flat grill with a special barbecue non-stick sheet to ease future clean-ups, now is the time to cut it to size and fit it. Prepare the drip tray: Line the drip tray with foil to make cleaning easier next time. Add something to absorb the fat and help reduce flare-ups. Kitty litter or sand will do although some schools of thought say these can encourage rust. (Although the same people may be trying to sell you a professional barbecue fat absorber too.) Replace your chosen product after every 10 grills. Clean the outside: Barbecue wipes are a great way to keep it looking good between big clean-ups but expensive compared to old newspaper or a cloth and hot soapy water. Reconnect the gas: Turn on the gas. Check the connection of your hose by rubbing soapy water over the junction with your thumb. If there is a faulty connection, you’ll see bubbles. Turn off the gas, reconnect and test again. If there is still a problem, you will need to replace the gas hose. Run the barbecue: Before using for the first time after cleaning, turn the grill onto high for 15 minutes to burn off any residue. Too hot to handle: Whether you are using the grill or flat plate, make sure the metal is searingly hot and properly preheated before use. That way, you’ll get lovely bar marks on the meat. Barbecue it right: Cheap gadgets are key to a good barbie, so buy that meat thermometer. Get a pair of tongs to turn the meat instead of a fork, which can pierce the meat letting valuable juices to escape. And soak your wood skewers then freeze them so they are always ready, should the desire to grill something come on suddenly. Keep it clean: Remember to wipe down the grill plates after each use to keep the barbecue clean. It’s a good idea to do this while it is still a little warm as the gunk will come away easier.