Gas grilling

Gas grilling 101 explains how to get to a great start with the new gas grill. Get the basics, then master heat and technique.

Tongs

So you just purchased your first state-of-the-art gas grill. Congratulations! Now you just need to figure out what to do with it all.

How to get off too a great start

Welcome to gas grilling. Here you'll find the basics of what you will need to know to get off to a great start. Grilling is an enjoyable pastime that should end with great food. But it is important to understand the basics of your grill, how the heating works, and a few techniques to help you get the most out of your grilling experience. Let's get started so you can fire up your new grill.

Basics

Don't let your gas grill scare you. Sure, it may seem like a giant piece of fire-breathing metal that can singe your eyebrows and sear a whole cow, but you can handle it. There are a few basics you need to know about your grill before you begin cooking on it. Now, for this discussion, I am assuming that you had your grill assembled and it's on your patio. These are the basics to get you started and keep you grilling year after year.

First, many gas grills have ignition switches powered by batteries, so be sure that your batteries are good. If you press the ignition button and it doesn't click, stop. If you are smelling gas as you turn the dial, something went wrong. Again, stop. Turn off the gas and read the lighting instructions again. If you replaced the battery and the ignition still doesn't click, you need to get it fixed. Most serious grillers keep grilling matches handy just in case the ignition lighter fails. Remember to read your owner's manual to find out exactly how to light your gas grill with a match if necessary.

The next most important concept to remember is to be sure your propane tank actually has gas in it. There is a gauge on the tank structure that 'measures' the gas in the tank. Pay attention to it. Also, you can install a special gauge to let you know how much gas is left in the tank. Invest in one of these gauges if you want a more accurate measure of when you are running low. When you are trying to cook dinner, it's not a good time to realize you are out of gas. Many gas grill cooking fans keep two gas tanks on hand; one on the grill and a backup. It's a good idea, especially if you do a lot of long cooking periods, like rotisserie cooking.

Heat

Once you are all set and ready to go, you need to understand how your grill heats itself. This will take a few times cooking on it to understand where the hot and cold spots are on the cooking surface. Many people don't consider how important it is to place your food properly in the gas grill. But, when you learn how to use these places effectively, your grilling enjoyment will increase tremendously.

The cooler spots, also called 'indirect', are great for grilling vegetables and other side dishes while the hot areas are best for searing or charring the meats. When you make use of the different spaces on a grill's cooking area, not only do you have food that comes out perfectly, but you also have food that comes out on time. We really dislike letting food get cold while waiting on other dishes to finish cooking, don't we.

The best way to begin to get acquainted with your grill is by holding your hand over the different areas to see where it is hottest. You can also get an infrared thermometer that will give you more exact measurements, but your hand will suffice. Either way, be sure you figure out where the heat is high, medium, or low. Then follow your grilling recipes to get the best results.


See how easy it is to grill with just a few tips? Once you get a grilling success or two under your belt, you'll be ready to expand your repertoire. But I bet you return to these classics over and over again so you can show off your skill as a Grill Master!