Nothing beats a summer-night cookout on your favorite gas grill. But wait, do you know that you’re probably using your gas grill wrong? While cooking is mainly a sport-specific to every chef, there are some rules that can make your BBQ party shine.
Grilling requires more than just throwing a few steaks onto the grates. Experience, equipment, and errors are what make a grill master. But anyone can get a head start.
Here are a few gas BBQ tips for beginners to get you started.
How to cook on a gas grill
Cooking on a gas grill is extremely easy, and is pretty similar to cooking on regular grills. To start off, make sure that your grill is clean and grease-free.
Just like your oven, your gas grill needs time to preheat. Leave the grill on for not more than 10 minutes, then close the lid and begin preparing your food. You should marinate or brine the meat before going on the grill. This is the traditional rule of thumb. Marinating the meat in rich sauces will add to the barbecue experience. Make sure that your marinade does not contain too much sugar, as sugar can burn faster.
Now place the marinated or brined meat onto the grill. Place the food in such a way so as to make space for more food. This is to allow you to maximize the space on your grill. Now all you need to do is wait for the food to cook. This can take anywhere between an hour to four hours, depending on what you’re grilling.
Be careful though. Some parts of the grill may get hotter than others. Either avoid those to prevent charring or cook on those for a faster roast.
Once cooked, serve the meat and let your grill cool down. Turn off the burners and the propane tank to prevent leakages. One helpful gas BBQ tips for beginners is to clean your grill after use, which we’ll discuss below.
Tips on how to cook on a gas grill
Gas grilling is perhaps the most common type of grilling. And after you learn the basics, you are free to cook however you desire. But there are some techniques that could make the grilling game fun, safer, and much more delicious. Here are a few gas BBQ tips for beginners:
Always start on a clean grill
Cleaning the grill isn’t just some fancy chore. It is actually very unhealthy to cook on an unclean grill. Even if you set that aside, the excessive smoke and flare-ups will give your food a burnt taste.
We recommend you clean your gas grill as often as once a week. It is preferred though to clean your grill after or before every use. The proper way to do this is to first let the grill cook at a high temperature. This burns off any grease or residue from the grates. After that, it is important to use a grill brush, as not all the grease will get burnt off.
However, some of the food and gunk can fall inside the burner and hinder the grill’s performance. You should clean out the burners and thoroughly cleanse the grill at least twice a year. Do this more often if you use the grill frequently.
Keep the temperature low
It just so often happens that you’re having your favorite cook-out when you realize that you burned your food. What went wrong? You cooked the meat at the perfect temperature for the perfect amount of time. The problem isn’t in the meat at all, it’s in the sauce you used.
Sugar burns faster than meat. Sauces that contain sugar are unable to withstand higher temperatures and burn before your meat is evenly cooked. For this exact reason, we advise you to slow grill your food below 265 F (or 130 C), to prevent charring the sauce. This problem is especially prevalent in gas grills as the heat is harder to control.
Never lose sight of your grill
One of the most important gas BBQ tips for beginners is practicing safety. Supervision is an unsaid rule of thumb when dealing with fire and smoke. Whether you want to check the score of your favorite game or have a chat with your friends, never lose sight of your grill.
You never know when your food can catch fire. And burnt food isn’t even half as bad as a call to your local fire station. You want to be as responsible as you can with gas grills.
Always read the safety manual that comes with your grill to prevent any hazards or life-threatening situations. And always have a phone ready to call the fire department if necessary. Or keep a fire extinguisher or a blanket with yourself at all times near your grill.
What is a closed flame gas grill?
The factors that differentiate a closed flame gas grill from an open flame one depend on the method of conducting heat. An open flame gas grill is one where you can cook your food directly over a fire. Whereas a closed flame gas grill is one where the heat radiates via a heat exchanger or radiator.
Closed flame gas grills usually employ infrared radiators that transfer heat between the gas burners and the food. A good gas BBQ tip for beginners is to invest in an infrared gas grill. The purpose of a closed flame gas grill has more to do with health than convenience. It would be much easier and cheaper to just cook the food directly over the fire. But the infrared makes the cookout a whole lot healthier.
You see, when you cook food over an open flame, the fat from the meat melts and drips into the fire. The flame breaks down the fat into heterocyclic amines (HCAs) polycyclic amines (PAHs). And once broken down, these two substances latch onto the smoke, from where they fuse into your food.
The problem here is that both of these substances can be carcinogenic. Or in simpler terms, they increase your chances of developing cancer. And the effects of HCAs and PAHs on the human body have been studied in depth. Even the American Journal of Epidemiology agrees to the carcinogenic nature of the two substances.
On the other hand, when the heat is transferred via an infrared radiator, there is no flame to degenerate the dripping fat. So your body is saved from HCAs and PAHs.
How to turn off a gas grill
Turning off a grill doesn’t seem too difficult. After all, you just need to turn the knob on the burners, right? Well, contrary to what you might think, there are a lot more precautions you must take. Gas grills are fire hazards ready to happen. Even if there is no flame in sight, the mere pressure of a gas tank explosion can be deadly to your internal organs. Safety is the top priority.
The most trivial gas BBQ tips for beginners are turning off the tank after you turn off the knobs. Most people may already be familiar with this, but if you weren’t, then start doing this right away.
Even with the gas burners off, the gas will still get supply via the tank. Turning the burners off simply means the gas is trapped in the pipe connecting the tank to the burners.
Now say the nozzle on your tank starts leaking. Or the pipe is punctured somewhere. This can lead to enormous amounts of gas just flooding your house. Even if there are no open flames, the gases can nauseating, or have poisonous side effects.
Other than turning the tank off, always remember to clean the grill for the next use. It is better to clean off the grease while it’s still fresh. Either use a grill brush or a clean cloth to get the grease and melted fat off. This also cleans the creosote deposits, which can be deadly and cancerous.
Using a gas grill can be intimidating, especially with the multiple, health hazards. But when precaution is practiced, there is absolutely nothing to fear. Always keep your grill clean, remember to turn off the gas, and learn to enjoy a barbecue while it lasts.
So now you know the best gas BBQ tips for beginners. But you won’t master it till you put your skills to the test. So go ahead and don’t be afraid to start up your grilling station. Who knows? Maybe the next grilling champion is standing right within your four walls!