Great Grilling Mates:
Like many of you, we grill many of our meals on our gas-powered grill. During the winter of 2015, we experienced a major flare-up-turned-burn-up while grilling sausage and peppers, because (and yes, I must blame him) my husband wasn’t diligent enough about cleaning the drip catcher. So I went and dug up what seems to be a solution to his negligence—GrillGrates.

GrillGrates are interlocking panels that form a new grill surface on any gas grill, or they can be used for open-fire grilling at a campsite. Their patented design incorporates three forms of cooking: conduction (contact), convection (hot air) and infrared (radiant). In addition, the underside of GrillGrates blocks flare-ups from engulfing food, preventing the charring and drying out of your food.

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The aluminum grates absorb and transfer heat more efficiently than cast iron, carbon steel and stainless steel. Plus, the handy valleys are designed to vaporize drippings, which in turn add flavor and moisture to what you’re cooking. GrillGrates come with a handy GrateTool, which pulls double duty as a cleaning device and spatula. The starting MSRP for GrillGrates is $40, which is a small price to pay when you consider how much food and flavor you’ll be saving over the life of the product. For videos, GrillGrate owners’ recipes and more info, visit or call 877-380-2527.

Turn Up the Heat:
Want to crank up the BBQ pit before the big game faster than ever? Check out the BBQ Dragon. No, it doesn’t breathe fire, but it’s still pretty cool—and hot! The BBQ Dragon is a fire-starting tool that starts charcoal and wood fire pits faster and more efficiently than the chimney method. It controls the heat of grills and smokers, revives smoldering fires and heats ceramic cookers to pizza-cooking temps in just minutes.

The device works by blowing large amounts of low-velocity, cool air at fires, providing them with more oxygen so they burn hotter and faster. It’s cordless, hands-free and portable so you can use it for tailgating, camping or while at the beach. It works for grills, smokers, fire pits, fireplaces, wood stoves and more. The BBQ Dragon features a variable-speed motor, a micro-USB port for recharging optional NiMh batteries, ergonomic handles and a versatile spring-loaded clamp. The MSRP is $60. For videos of the BBQ Dragon dueling it out with a chimney and for information, visit

Quick-start BBQ Tune-Up
To make sure you can get the most out of your grill this year, take some sage advice from Steve Gauci at Napoleon Gourmet Grills.

Clean the searing grids. Soak the cooking grills in warm water and soap before giving them a good cleaning to get rid of the grease and food crust that has been burnt on. Season them to your personal liking.

Clean the grease cup. The more you use your grill, the more you will have to clean or replace your grease cup. Before firing up your grill, take out the old and put in the new.

Scrape off the grease tray. All the grease and food remnants from past meals collect and char on the grease tray. No need to get out the soap and water for this one, but give it a good scrape with a spatula or putty knife to clean off all the bits.

Check for leaks. Inspect your hose and fittings to ensure everything is in order and that there are no leaks. Do a soap test to be safe. In a spray bottle or small bowl, mix one part water to one part dish soap. Apply the mixture (spritz it or apply it with a small brush) to all fittings. Make sure your lid is open and all the control knobs are turned off. Turn on your gas. Any growing bubbles are a sign of a leak that needs to be addressed.

Clean the igniter and burners. While your searing grids are soaking, remove the heat shields (give them a good scrape as well) so you can run your barbecue brush over the burners. This is also a good time to check your igniter and rear burner to make sure everything is in working order. For more useful info, visit

This article was originally published in the NEW PIONEER ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here

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