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Barbecue season is officially here: Here's how to prep your grill

Make sure you give your barbecue a good cleaning before cooking some dinner

It was no easy start to spring in Northern Ontario. Summer seemed so far away, and only the true barbecue fans seem to be already cleaned up and ready for the warmer weather.  

Some of you braved the seasons and never gave up. Mountains of snow didn’t dissuade you nor curb your enthusiasm. 

Being 2019 and all the news about meatless options, it may be time to remind you that more than corn and zucchini (slices, discs or ribbons) can be just as easily enhanced by exposure to charring temperatures and flame of the outdoor grill. 

Brussels sprouts, big Portobello mushrooms, carrots, leeks, green onions and of course peppers can all hit the heat. Be inventive and consider more veg and less meat. 

Do not panic! Lamb, pork, sausages, chops, roasts, spatchcocked chickens, and barbecued desserts are sure to be topics from now to Labour Day. In an upcoming article, we must address non-meat burgers and burgers in general. Maybe even a taste-off head-to-head competition of the patties.

What about fish and other seafood? Mais Oui! And, yes, we have to talk steak!  

So without putting the cart before the horse, let’s assume you have opened up the lid and looked inside. Were there leaves, animal debris, mountains of charred bits? Cremated spiders and earwig remains? Give it all a good clean-up.  

Where we once used to wire brush on the grill and grate surface it is now more favourable to scrape with a wooden tool. A deep clean with harsh or mild chemicals may or may not be part of your manufacturer’s suggestions. 

In any case, even rubber gloves are a fine barrier to save your hands and avoid exposure to grease and grime. You may have to season the grate, but you may also choose new enameled cast iron, or replacement shiny stainless steel.   

Reassemble and replace the grease trap with a fresh container. We all know you didn’t get to that task in the fall! Wipe the exterior down. Doesn’t it all look and smell better already?

Check hoses and connections. If you are on mains look for damage to lines from shovels or even snowblowers. On a tank, your next step is to ensure you are fueled up. Not all tanks have gauges, and hefting is not terribly accurate.  

Does anything need tightening?  There are very few moving parts but a quick burst of lubricant (or even olive oil) can make lid open and closing silent and smooth.

Does your ignition button work? Piezo-electrics have that spark that is located close to the burner. You may opt for a handheld long lighter, but it may be as easy as a battery replacement for the starter to bring you up to the 21st century.

Oh, I know there are other things you can do, but these will get you back in operation.  A clean and ready BBQ says a lot about you and your values. Happy barbecue season, Sudbury!

Hugh Kruzel is sharing his love of grilling with readers.