Food sticking to grill grates has been the bane of every grill chef’s existence at one point or another. Certain foods are more likely to stick than others. It’s a preventable problem if you know a few tricks. Here are some tips to prevent food sticking to your grill.
Clean your grates
A dirty grill grate is a sticky one. The key to a nonstick grill will be to work on the grates with a wire brush every time before you start grilling. The problem is that the buildup of oils and old food particles will make the surface of the grates rough and they will cling to food like velcro. Scrub all of that away until you have a clean, smooth grilling surface.
Heat the grates thoroughly
Once your grates are clean, the most reliable way even less likely to stick will be to make sure that the grates are super hot before you throw your food onto them. The heat keeps food from sticking in different ways. The instant caramelization of the food keeps it from leaving a residue that bonds with the metal. Also, the water vapor that it released when cold food makes contact with hot metal helps keep the two separate. This method has the benefit of creating attractive grill marks on the food item.
Oil the grates
The point of cooking oil in frying is to act as a lubricant that encourages caramelization. It can lubricate and caramelize on your grill as well.
There are a couple of ways to coat your grill grates with oil. One option is to use regular cooking oil; alternatively, you can spray on a nonstick spray. The easy way to apply regular cooking oil is to soak a paper towel, grip it with a pair of tongs and rub your grates with it. Discard the paper towel and start grilling your food.
The non stick spray is a little trickier to use. What you don’t want to do is to spray it into a grill with lit burners or coals. It’s an aerosol and this is a great way to wind up in the emergency room since it will probably cause a minor explosion. Instead, remove the grates and spray them then return them to the grill or oil them before you start the grill.
The thing to remember when oiling your grill is that you shouldn’t do it on grates while they are very hot. The oil burns and loses its lubricating ability. Also, burnt oil can give an unpleasant taste to food.
Oil the food
An alternative to oiling the grates is to oil the food before placing it on the grill. This can work with vegetables, chicken and pork chops as well as similar foods but may not work with burgers. For cuts of meat, simply add a little oil to your marinade. Toss vegetables like bell peppers, squash and asparagus in oil before placing them on the grill.
Instead of oil, you can use starch to create a nonstick barrier between your food and the grates. The way to apply starch to your grill is to rub a potato on it. Cut the potato in half and rub it on with tongs. You don’t have to use a potato, the sugars in citrus fruit like limes and oranges can work in the same way; however, limes and oranges may alter the taste of your food.
Use special tools for fish
Fish are notorious for sticking to grill grates, so much so that the methods above won’t work. It doesn’t matter whether it is skin-on or not. Your best bet for keeping fish from sticking will be to use a fish basket or fish tongs.