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Season (and clean) your grill to keep tender foods from sticking

Fine Cooking Issue 27

Much of the pleasure of grilling is the sheer simplicity of it. Light a fire, throw on the food, flip it once, and presto—dinner. But when I’m cooking delicate or very lean foods, such as fish or unmarinated chicken, I add one quick step—I lightly oil the grill just before cooking. The touch of oil helps prevent sticking; it also leaves nicely defined grill marks on the food.

Use a rolled-up dishtowel or longhandled brush to apply a thin coat of vegetable oil. Whether you’re grilling over charcoal or gas, let the grill heat up for a few minutes, and then oil the grate at the last minute.

A clean, well-seasoned grill is almost naturally nonstick. The best way to clean a grill is to scrape it with a wire brush after you’ve finished cooking but before the embers have gone out. The charred bits will come off more easily this way, and they can fall right into the dying fire and burn up. With frequent use and diligent cleaning, your grill will become as well seasoned as a good castiron pan. To foster this kind of natural seasoning after the grill has been sitting in the garage for months, I oil the grill during spring cookouts, no matter what’s on the menu.

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