Managing Flare Ups and Fires on The Grill
Flare-ups occur when splattered grease or fat makes contact with the heat source and sparks into a flame. To prevent flare-ups, make sure your grill is clean before you start-even old grease splatters can cause flare-ups and charring. Make sure you perform the regular maintenance check-ups recommended by your grill's manufacturer.
When cooking meats, trim off as much fat as possible before grilling. This will prevent excess fat from causing flare-ups during grilling.
To tame flare-ups on a charcoal grill, keep a spray bottle of water handy and squirt the coals as necessary. If flare-ups occur more frequently than you'd like, temporarily move the food so it's not directly over the heat.
Do not use the spray bottle to contain flare-ups when using a gas grill. Move the food over indirect heat temporarily to avoid further charring. Close the lid and reduce the heat to control the flames.
If the grease fire burns uncontrollably move the food out of the way, to a plate if you have to, turn off the burners, and spray down the grease to put it out. Close all vents and close the lid, the oxygen within the grill will burn off quickly thus ending the flames. Let the lid stay closed for at least a minute then remove the grill grates. It's at this point that you'll need to re-clean your grill to remove burned on grease and soot from the flames. Once cleaned you can start the grill again, bring it up to cooking temperature first, then cooking with your meat. If you've properly trimmed any excess fat from your meat and it continues to burn place foil wrap or a metal pan on the bottom rack under the meat to catch the excess grease.
How Competition Grillers Handle Flare Ups
While on a barbecue road trip some friends and I began discussing just how to get a handle on an out of control barbecue fire. One of the friends piped up with we just keep a fire extinguisher handy and waiting just in case. The other said no, just keep some water on hand in a spray bottle. Another said just close the lid on the grill. One actually said just spray some oil on the grill and that will stop the fire. Of course we all looked at him in amazement because the very thing that was causing the fire is what he wanted to use to stop the fire.
I said they were all wrong at least pieces of what they said were wrong. First off you have to know what's causing the fire. If you're making ribs and you find that the fat from the ribs is dripping into the charcoal below then that is your first indicator of two things.
One the ribs are in the wrong location and two the fire is too hot for the ribs. In that case remove the ribs from the flames and lower the heat if you're using gas and notch down the top vents on the grill if you're using charcoal. Allow the fire to drop for either method then place the meat back on and continue grilling. The use of water will only be a temporary solution in most cases. The true culprit is always the amount of heat you've added to the grill. I would never use a fire extinguisher unless my house or surrounding property was on fire or if there was some imminent danger to my surrounding family. A good barbecuer has constant knowledge about the heat used to grill the meat and other items on the grill.
The key thing to do when barbecuing is to ensure that there are no other sources that can burn during the grilling process. Meaning if you failed to clean the grill in advance of your cooking then there might be some left over rib or steak on the grates. The left over meat will at some period begin to burn. Now if you add that with the oil from ribs or burgers then you've got a great combination for flare up. I know a lot of competition barbecue teams that mix apple juice and vinegar together and use that to spray down their ribs.
Their belief is that the combination will help tenderize the meat during the cooking process and will act to keep the meat moist. When the meat is moist that will help in preventing burning or scorching of the meat. Char is good, but burn is always bad.
So for me and my team we focus on managing the heat input after cleaning the grill. Check your charcoal and the regulator often. One other tip is to have a cooking thermometer that can be placed in different spots on the grill. You can record the temperature in different sections to make a comparison between the dial on the grill if using gas and the actual temperature. As for the charcoal setting this will give you an indicator as to whether you need to open or close the vents more depending on desired grilling temperature.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 21 September, 2017.