Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha

Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha

One of my resolutions for 2014 was to do more cast iron grilling. Another resolution was to buy more grilling toys. So I recently got the Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha for my Summit 450 grill.

Plancha out of the box

Plancha is a Spanish term for a metal plate or griddle or flat-top grill used for cooking. Here’s how the Weber plancha looks out of the box. Heavy cast iron construction with a glossy porcelain enamel coating for easy cleanup and no seasoning like raw CI. The plancha replaces one of the grates in your gas grill. The cooking surface is slightly angled forward so that liquid runs toward the drain at the front of the plancha and exits into your grill’s grease tray.

You can cook anything on a plancha that you would normally cook using CI. Think meat, fish, fruits and veggies, even breakfast foods. I’m thinking about several things I want to try and I’ll post the results here.

These planchas are not one-size-fits-all. You have to buy the right one for your specific grill. You’ll find a big selection of Weber planchas at Amazon.com.

Why not just use a cast iron skillet or a griddle on the grill? You could, but the benefits of larger size, high sides, no seasoning, and liquid drainage makes these planchas hard to beat!

The Weber Style 7577 Premium Cast Iron Plancha is available at Amazon.com.

Turn Off The Gas Supply

Propane_tank

You do turn off the gas supply when you’re finished grilling, don’t you? If not,  you should. Weber says so.

Why? It takes the pressure off the hose, valves, and connections inside your grill. If any of those parts were to fail, you’d have a potentially dangerous gas leak on your hands.

“But my grill is well maintained,”  you say. When was the last time you used a soapy water solution to check each valve and connection for leaks? When was the last time you examined every inch of the supply hose for cracks or wear?

“But I don’t turn off the gas supply to my kitchen stove after each use, and that’s inside my house,” you say. Your kitchen stove and other indoor gas appliances are designed to operate under continuous gas pressure. Your grill is not.

Remember, the manufacture is recommending that you turn off the gas supply after each use. Maybe you should follow their advice. Why take any chance at all when it’s so easy to reach down and turn a knob?

Is there a proper sequence for turning off the gas? Weber says to turn each burner control knob to the OFF position first, then turn the gas supply off at the source. The next time you cook, follow the safe lighting process by reversing those steps.

Cleaning Stainless Steel

I like a clean machine. I get that from my dad. He used to wash the car in the driveway every Saturday morning. He was constantly running the vacuum around the house and going through bottles of Windex, cleaning windows inside and out. Drove my mom nuts. He’s 73 years old now and although he’s slowing down a little, he’s still basically the same way today. So I come by my clean grill obsession honestly. Or perhaps genetically.

I keep four products on hand for cleaning stainless steel.

My stainless steel cleaning arsenal

If I’m doing a light cleaning, I go straight to Sheila Shine. It cleans and polishes in a single step.

If I’m doing a deep cleaning, like in the photo below with lots of grease and grime, I start with Simple Green. Spray liberally, let soak for a few seconds, and wipe. Repeat once or twice until the surface is clean. Then I use Weiman to get rid of streaks and leave a matte finish.

Before and after cleaning

I rarely use Bar Keepers Friend, because of the abrasive and acidic nature of the product. But if you need to remove a stain or rust that the other cleaners can’t handle, BKF is the way to go. Test first in an inconspicuous spot to see how it works. Use a small amount of powder on a wet sponge. Use plenty of water to wet the product. Scrub very gently with the direction of the “grain” in the stainless steel. Rinse thoroughly after use. If you’ve got sensitive skin, wear rubber gloves when working with BKF.

By the way, BKF is great at removing those rainbow stains in the bottom of your stainless steel pots and pans!

You’ll find Simple Green, Weiman and Bar Keepers Friend at Walmart and Target. You can get Sheila Shine at many Ace Hardware stores or from Amazon.com.

Do you have a favorite cleaning product or routine? Are you a clean grill neat freak like me? Let us know with a comment!

Gender Differences About Grilling

Who's the grill collector in this family?
Who’s the grill collector in this family?

Weber publishes an annual GrillWatch survey in which they hire a market research firm to uncover the latest trends in grilling. This year they polled people on gender differences about grilling.

The following is an excerpt from the survey. Do you find any of these results surprising?

Confidence: Thirty-one percent of women have more confidence in cooking indoors, compared to 14 percent of men, while 30 percent of male grill owners are more confident in grilling outside, compared to 15 percent of women.

Confidence Part 2: One-third of male grill owners (34 percent) state that they are a better griller than most people, whereas only 17 percent of women agree with that statement.

Boys Like Their Toys: Like collecting cars, men tend to acquire multiple grills more so than women. Thirty-five percent of men are more apt to have two or more grills than women (25 percent).

Dress for Success: Male grillers are more likely than women to own a number of accessories, including grill covers (53 percent vs. 47 percent), smoker chips (18 percent vs. 13 percent), and rotisseries (17 percent vs. 12 percent). Women rule with tongs (79 percent vs. 69 percent), spatulas (62 percent vs. 46 percent) and vegetable baskets (21 percent vs. 16 percent).

Gather ‘Round the Grill: Men (33 percent) more so than women (26 percent) agree that it is “extremely important” to have the grill when entertaining family and friends

Thanks Dad!: When it comes to learning how to grill, 59 percent of U.S. grillers teach themselves, but one-third also learn from their fathers (34 percent) and 15 percent from a spouse. Inside cooking is typically taught by mothers (56 percent) or self-taught (45 percent).

Buying A New Vinyl Grill Cover

New cover on my dad's Genesis 2
New cover on my dad’s Genesis 2

When was the last time you paid attention to the cover on your gas grill? I mean really examined it carefully, with a discriminating eye? Is it brittle, faded, and cracked? If so, it may be time to treat your grill to a new vinyl cover.

Weber makes covers to fit even some of their oldest gas grills, like my dad’s Genesis 2 shown here. This is a Weber 7552 Premium Vinyl Cover that fits Genesis Silver C,  Genesis Gold B/C, and Genesis 2000-5500 grills. Since the Genesis 2000 was an newer version of the Genesis 2, this was the correct cover for my dad’s grill.

If you have questions about which cover is the right one for your gasser, don’t hesitate to contact Weber Customer Service at 800-446-1071. They’ll help you figure it out.

Once you know which cover you need, Amazon has a wide selection of Weber gas grill covers at very competitive prices. That’s where I ordered this one for much less than the price at Weber.com. Amazon also carries Classic Accessories Veranda grill covers that fit many Weber grills and come highly recommended by members of The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board.

So show your gas grill some love, and protect your investment in Weber quality. Buy a new grill cover today!

The Weber 7552 Premium Vinyl Cover is available at Amazon.com.

Weber Style 6434 Stainless Steel Vegetable Basket

Weber Style 6434 Stainless Steel Vegetable Basket
Weber Style 6434 Stainless Steel Vegetable Basket

I recently bought a Weber Style 6434 stainless steel vegetable basket. It does a great job on fruits and veggies on the grill. These baskets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can get bigger or smaller ones depending upon the size of your grill and how much food you’re cooking.

Grilling pineapple chunks in the basket

You need to let the basket heat for 10 minutes on the grill before adding food. I would suggest hitting the basket with a shot of non-stick cooking spray right before adding the food, too.

The slots are just the right size, preventing food from falling through. The high sides keep everything in place, and the handles make it easy to remove the basket from the grill when wearing gloves.

My only negative comment about the design is that when running your hands over the bottom side, it feels just a bit like a cheese grater…like if you weren’t careful, it would grate your fingers. You’ve been warned!

Vegetable basket out of packaging

The basket looks beautiful right out of the packaging, but it’s hard to keep it looking that way with use. It turns dark as a result of burned-on oil and food residue. I tried oven cleaner and got a good result. My wife went with a soaking of Simple Green, a Dobie scrubber, and lots of elbow grease and did OK with that approach.

I started a discussion thread about this on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board. The responses ranged from “Why bother?” to “Use a green ScotchBrite pad” to member Jose Suro saying that a long soak in a solution of hot water and white vinegar followed by 30 seconds of scrubbing does the trick. Jose posted some photos of the results in the discussion thread.

If you like to keep your stainless steel grilling baskets looking shiny and new, you might give Jose’s method a try.

The Weber Style 6434 Stainless Steel Vegetable Basket is available at Amazon.com.

Protecting A Natural Gas Hose

Here’s a tip from reader Rich Dahl for owners of natural gas (NG) grills.

Protecting a natural gas hose

“My NG hose is in the sun all day,” says Rich. “To protect it from the sun’s harmful rays, I wrap it with foam tubing that is sold at any major hardware store that’s used to insulate pipes. The wrap only costs a few dollars and it also keeps the hose from rubbing on the ground. Much cheaper then replacing a $50 gas hose every couple of years due to sun damage.”

Searing Meat Doesn’t Seal In The Juices

Searing steaks on the grill

Good ol’ George Stephen. We owe him a lot. He invented the iconic Weber kettle grill and founded a company that continues to innovate and produce some of the best grills money can buy.

But George didn’t know what he was talking about when it came to searing meat.

Here’s the first ad that George ran to sell his grills:

Weber's first ad

It says, “Seals in rich flavor and natural juices of meat, poultry, fish and game.”

George can be forgiven for this misstatement, for it’s been made many times by many chefs and cooking authorities over the years.

Searing meat does not seal-in flavor and juices. This myth has been disproved numerous times. You can read one example here from the America’s Test Kitchen blog.

What searing does is create great color and flavor on the surface of meat as a result of caramelization and the Maillard reaction. These processes create an array of flavor compounds that give grilled meat its wonderful flavor. And interestingly, you can sear meat at the beginning or at the end of cooking and get good results either way.

So go ahead and sear those steaks and chops…but do it to create great color and flavor. To keep the meat juicy, measure internal temperatures using an instant-read thermometer so you don’t overcook the meat.

Fixing A Noisy Lid

The lid on our Weber Summit 425 makes a squeaking noise when you open and close it. OK, it’s not so much a squeak as it is a loud metallic howling noise. My wife told me the noise bothers her. The neighbors on all sides can hear it. Got to fix it. Turns out the solution is easy.

Lubricating a squeaky lid hinge

Just apply some of your favorite lubricant onto the hinge pins that attach the lid to the fire box. I used WD-40, but a graphite spray or 3-in-1 Household Oil will work, too.

Good access to the hinge pin

Slide the lid to the side to expose the maximum surface area of the hinge pin and lubricate liberally. Repeat with the other pin.

Open and close the lid a few times to spread the lubricant around on the pins. The noise is gone! Wipe away any excess drips and you will be grilling in peace and quiet in no time.

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