Gas grills come in outdoor and modified indoor varieties and they use lava rocks or ceramic coals. These come with the grill and you can use them many times. The lava rocks are heated with the gas flame and they cook in the same way as charcoal. You need to keep the rocks clean because if there is a greasy buildup on them, you will get flare-ups when you cook and these can burn your food. It is a good idea to turn the burner up to a high heat for five minutes after cooking to help burn off drippings and grease.
Turn and rearrange the lava rocks occasionally so that cleaning and heating is more even. When the rocks start to break or get really dirty, they need to be replaced. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing the lava rocks. The rocks should be one layer deep on the grate rather than stacked.
How to Light a Gas Grill
Make sure the lid is open to avoid a dangerous gas buildup inside the grill and ensure that all the burner knobs are off. Turn on the gas at the source and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for lighting the burners. If the grill has an automatic ignition you will probably need to turn on one burner before you press it. You will hear the whoosh when the gas lights.
If the automatic ignition does not work, you can light the grill through the ignition hole in the side or front of the grill. If it is still not working after a minute, turn the burner off and wait for five minutes to let the gas disperse before you try again. A gas grill usually needs ten to fifteen minutes to preheat with the burners turned up to heat and the cover closed.
Direct and Indirect Grilling
With direct heat grilling, the food is placed on the cooking rack right over the heat. Indirect heat is more suited to delicate foods and those needing a long cooking time. When you are using indirect heat, the grill needs to be covered.
For indirect cooking on a dual burner gas grill, place the drip pan on the lava rocks on one side of the grill and add half an inch of water. Preheat the burner on the other side for five or ten minutes then lower the heat to medium. Put the food on the rack over the drip pan and cover the grill to cook.
For indirect cooking on a single burner gas grill, preheat the grill for five to ten minutes on a high heat. Turn the temperature down to low and put a big foil baking pan on the rack. You can line half the cooking rack with aluminum foil if you want to. Put the food in the pan or on the foil and cover the grill to cook.
You can use woodchips and chunks to give food the smoky flavor it would get on a charcoal grill but remember that ash can clog the gas lines so don’t put them straight on the ceramic coals or lava rocks. Soak the chips or chunks for twenty minutes instead, drain them and put them in a metal or foil drip pan. Poke some holes in it and place the pan on the lava rocks. Preheat this as you heat the grill.
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