Outdoor gas grills normally use lava rocks, which come with the grill. The rocks are heated by the gas flame and cook like charcoal.
• To keep the rocks clean is about the only task you’ll have with an outdoor gas grill. If there is a build up of grease on the rocks you will have flame-ups during cooking which can burn the food. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning or replacing the lava rocks.
• A wise habit to develop is to have the burner to high for a few minutes once you’re finished cooking to help burn off grease and other drippings.
• Regularly rearrange and turn the lava rocks so that heating and cleaning is more even.
• Replace the lava rocks once they don’t look clean, and start to fall apart. Do not stack lava rocks. They should be only one layer deep on the grate.
One item you should have is a hinged grill basket, with which to cook delicate cuts of fish, fruits, and vegetables.
Grilling uses two different cooking methods: indirect and direct heat. In direct heat cooking, food is placed on the cooking rack directly above hot coals. Indirect heat is used for more delicate foods and for extended cooking times such as for larger cuts of meat, or when you’re barbecuing a turkey. The outdoor grill lid must be down when cooking with indirect heat. For the most user friendly grills go to outdoor gas grills.
To learn the temperature of the coals is the only trick in direct grilling. With your outdoor gas grill, pay attention to the heat settings. The ceramic coals will be ready when 3/4 of them are coated with ash.
When indirect cooking on dual burner outdoor gas grills, always set the drip pan on the rocks to theside of the grill and add water to 1/2″. Leave the other burner on high for 5-10 minutes. Reduce the temperature down to medium, then place the food on the rack above the drip pan then cover.
When indirect cooking on single burner outdoor gas grills, have the grill on high for 5-10 minutes. Reduce the temperature down to low, and place a large tin foil baking pan on the rack. You should also cover half of the cooking rack with a double thickness of heavy duty foil. Place food either in the pan or on the foil, cover and cook.
Cooking The Food
Don’t leave outdoor grills alone when you are cooking. Flare-ups can quickly become a fire, and it’s so easy to overcook or burn food on the grill. Once you start, stay there and pay attention! Adding wood chips and chunks will add flavor to your food. Soak mesquite, alder, hickory and pecan chips for about an hour before distributing over the hot coals. Wooden skewers should be soaked in water for an hour before use. They are best used for very quickly cooked foods, such as veggies and fruits. Metal skewers should be flat, with long handles. The round skewers cause the food to roll when turning, so that foods won’t cook evenly. Use metal skewers if cooking meat kabobs.
Stick to the recipe cooking times carefully, and make sure to lower the lid on your outdoor grill when the recipe calls for it. Sauces containing sugar and fat may cause flare-ups and the food may burn. Add sauces and glazes during the last 10 minutes of cooking time only. Should you want to reduce the cooking temperature, raise the cooking rack, spread the coals apart, or close the vents on the outdoor grill pan to halfway. To increase the temperature, lower the cooking rack, remove ash from the coals, move the coals more closely together, or open the vents. The closer the cooking rack is to the coals, the faster the food will cook. The truly reliable way to check when food is done is by using a thermometer. There are several types available on the market, from instant read thermometers to those complicated thermometer forks. Move the food around on the grill for the most even cooking results. Don’t turn food too often, and use tongs to handle the food and not a fork. Piercing the food with a fork releases juices that you need in the food, and can also cause flare-ups.
Enjoy your barbeque!