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With summer around the corner, you’re probably itching to dust off your grill. Even as you read this, your mouth might be watering just thinking about all the delicious chops, steaks and fish you will be serving to your family and friends during your backyard cook-outs. However, before you barbecue your first chicken breast, it’s important that you make sure your grill is up to par.

Better Safe Than Sorry
After your grill has been sitting in your dusty garage throughout the long, cold winter, taking a few minutes to give it a quick once-over is always a good idea. Here are the areas you should focus on:

  • For propane grill owners: Remove the tank, clean it thoroughly and inspect it for damage.
  • Check for a leaky valve by splashing it with soapy water while it’s on.
  • If bubbles appear, it’s time for either repairs or a new valve.
  • Make sure there isn’t wear and tear on the hose that runs between the tank and the grill.
  • If you notice any cracks or holes, replace the hose.
  • To test for leaks, squirt soapy water over the length of the hose while the grill is on.
  • If bubbles appear, you have a gas leak and should get a new hose right away.
  • Examine the ignition switch to be sure the grill is lighting properly. Also be sure the flame burns evenly.

Squeaky Clean
Before you bust out the grill, make sure it’s a shining example of cleanliness and good maintenance. After all, nobody wants to eat off a cobweb-covered grill, no matter how high-end it might be.

  • First, turn on your grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes. Doing so will burn off most of the left-overs from last season.
  • Once you do, it’s time to clean the grill surface. If it’s metal, use a wire brush to remove stubborn particles.
  • But if it’s porcelain, allow the grill to cool and then use a rag with warm, soapy water.
  • In a pinch, use a plastic scrubbing pad for the most determined hangers-on.
  • Notice rust? It might be time to spring for a new grill rack. Last we checked, rust wasn’t in any of the four main food groups.
  • Use warm, soapy water to wipe down the outside of your grill.
  • To prolong the life of your grill cover, hose it down on both sides and remove any built-up mildew.

Is Grilling Leaving You Flat?
If you’re not happy with your grill’s performance once you start cooking, follow these tips:

  • Disconnect the gas and deep clean the grill elements. Consult your owner’s manual if you’re unsure of how to do this or get help from a pro.
  • Is there any cooked-on food blocking the flow of gas to the grill? Use a straightened paper clip to clear out the hole.
  • If your grill uses lava rocks, replace them once a year to avoid flare-ups from baked-on grease.

Ready, Set, Grill!
Now that your grill has passed your safety and cleanliness inspections, it’s time to let out your inner creative genius. What better way than to kick up your grilling talent with the help of two amazing marinades? These simple recipes are two of our favorites and are sure to take whatever you’re grilling up to the next level of deliciousness.

Teriyaki Marinade
This delicious marinade works especially well for poultry and pork. It takes about 10 minutes to make and yields 2-1/2 cups. Mix together the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Jamaican Jerk Marinade
Give any meat that Caribbean flair with this delicious addition:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 hot pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground Jamaican Pimento
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • Hot sauce to taste

This delicious marinade takes about 15 minutes to prepare. Just combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Keep it in your fridge for up to a month.

Got a few mouthwatering recipes of your own? Share ‘em in the comments section below.

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