Using the Gas Grill in January

Don't leave your grill in the chill. Use it! (flickr.com)No longer is grilling an activity designated to just the summer months. Now, even with Memorial Day weekend—the unofficial start of the grilling season—a long four months away, grilling enthusiasts are already on the task…and with good reason.

These days, the propane grill offers more convenience and control than its charcoal counterpart. According to Amazing Ribs, propane grills are easier to start, heats up within 15 minutes, holds temperatures steadily while offering more flexibility for increasing or decreasing it in a hurry, can be configured for indirect and multi-zone cooking, and are easy to clean. In terms of flavor, propane combustion produces more steam than charcoal, which helps to keep meat moist and juicy. That said, it’s no wonder 37 percent of Americans keep grilling even when the temperature dips below freezing.

Prep Tips

Before you invite your friends for a winter cookout though, here are some things to get you properly prepped:

Bundle up for a fun winter cookout. (flickr.com)

  • Invest in a reliable, quality propane grill with a cast-iron grate. Choose one with a high British thermal unit (BTU, the heating value) rating to ensure faster heating and heat retention throughout your grilling time.
  • Weber suggests positioning the grill at a 90 degree to the wind. This will help control the temperature inside the grill even throughout gusty cooking hours.
  • Keep the grill well ventilated and away from combustible materials.
  • Clear snow from the path to your grilling as well as the space around it for easy access and safety. This also helps the grill to preheat and maintain the temperature more efficiently.
  • Gear up. Put on your winter jacket sans the scarf or other items that may dangle and catch fire. Safety is always a priority.
  • Always keep a meat thermometer handy to avoid over or undercooked food.
  • Keep the lid closed at all times to keep cooking time to a minimum, especially during colder months.

Caring for Your Grill

Remember to give your grill some love, especially during the winter. Proper cleaning and maintenance will help your unit last longer and perform much better. Some basic cleaning supplies you will need: brass or stainless steel wire grill brush, soap-embedded, fine steel wool pads (0 to 000 grade), mild dish soap, sponge or dishrag, putty knife, and foil or other liner for the drip pan.

A clean grill lasts longer and performs better. (flickr.com)

  • Clean the grill grate thoroughly each time you’re done grilling. This will save you precious minutes the next time you grill and prevents it from attracting insects and other animals. Turn the grill on high until the smoke stops to burn off food residue.
  • Use a steel wire grill brush to clean the grates. Brush off any food residue or dirt.
  • Check the care instruction for cleaning your drip pans. Change the drip pan or liner regularly to keep off unwanted pests.
  • Carefully remove smoke stains using a mild-soap-sponge or dishrag. Or use soap-embedded, fine steel wool pads but use light strokes as stainless steel is prone to scratches from wool pads.
  • Check the specific instructions again when cleaning the bottom tray. Once the tray has cooled off, remove it from underneath the grill and place over a trashcan. Use a putty knife or other flat object to scrape the inside. Use warm, soapy water and a rag and/or soapy wool pad to clean the tray. Never line the bottom tray with foil, as grease can accumulate in the creases of the foil and cause a grease fire.
  • Store the grill inside your basement or garage but detach it from the gas tank first. Turn off the gas bottle valve, remove the connector hose from the grills, and store the tank in the shed. According to Do It Yourself, propane gas tanks can also be stored outside, as propane barbecue cylinders can withstand temperatures of up to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the propane valve with a dust cover, position the bottle upright to prevent moisture buildup, then place it on a shelf (not directly on the ground), and cover with tarpaulin.

Now that you’re armed with the basics of proper winter grilling, try your hand at some mouth-watering recipes like the Chicken Grillsycles with Rum Butter Sauce or Barbecued Meatloaf. And remember the first rule to grilling in the chill: have fun!