TORONTO – Spring is upon us and with the warmer, longer days ahead, the urge to throw some burgers, hot dogs, steak, and yes, even shrimp, on the barbecue has taken hold of many Canadians. But before rushing out to light the barbie you need to do some maintenance in order to ensure everything is in working order.
Proper maintenance is not just a good safety measure, but will help your barbecue last longer and your food taste better. Start with an overall visual inspection and replace any noticeably broken or damaged parts.
Whether you have a propane or natural gas model, checking for leaks in the hoses and fittings is a must for safe barbecue operation. Steve Gauci, Director of Retail Operations at Ontario-based Napoleon Gourmet Grills, recommends doing a soap test by mixing one part water to one part dish soap in a bowl or spray bottle.
“Apply the mixture to all fittings. Make sure your lid is open and all the control knobs are turned off. Turn on your gas – any growing bubbles are a sign of a leak that needs to be addressed,” Gauci said.
Once you’ve confirmed your hoses and fittings are in working order, Gauci said to clean the cooking grills by scraping off any stuck food and soaking them in warm, soapy water.
While the grills are soaking, focus on cleaning and inspecting your heat shield, burners and igniter. Gauci recommends giving your heat shield a good scraping and to run your barbecue brush over the burners.
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You should also clean or replace your grease cup and scrape your grease tray off.
“All the grease and food remnants from past meals collect and char on the grease tray,” Gauci said. “No need to get out the soap and water for this one, but give it a good scrape with a spatula or putty knife to clean off all the bits.”
If you are not comfortable cleaning your barbecue yourself, you can hire a professional to do it for you.
Professional barbecue cleaners will take the unit apart; steam, spray or soak the pieces and use special tools to scrub in spots the average homeowner may not easily reach. Many use food-safe and environmentally-friendly products designed for grills.
If you’re looking to add accessories to your barbecue arsenal, Gauci said several trends this year “will help you experience foods in new ways with new flavours that will excite your taste buds.” Some items will also make cooking outside “much easier and convenient.”
Adding charcoal trays and smoker tubes, even to gas barbecues, will give your food a nice smoky flavour. The addition of a shish kebab wheel, which attaches to a rotisserie spit, will help cook skewers of meat and veggies more evenly, giving a tastier result.
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Gauci said that if you’re in the market to purchase a new barbecue this year, colourful lids and infrared grilling are the ‘in’ thing.
“The high heat of infrared grilling comes from 10,000 ports flaming a ceramic burner until it glows red. The result is a clean, consistent method of cooking that produces juicier, tastier steaks and burgers.”
-With files from The Associated Press