While they don't provide that same natural, smoky flavor as charcoal grills, grills that connect to gas tanks are simpler to use. Instead of having to burn charcoal at the beginning of a barbecue session -- and having to clear it out at the end -- firing up a gas grill requires turning a few knobs and pushing of a button. More than 60 percent of all of the U.S. households with grills cook with gas.
Before you begin piling your steaks, burgers, hot dogs, veggies and other "grillables" onto a gas tank grill's grilling surface, open the tank by reaching under the grill and turning the knob on top all the way to the left. Turn the knobs on your grill to the "on" position and you should begin to hear the telltale hiss of the gas entering the burners. When you hear this hiss, immediately push the ignition button on your grill or light the burner. If there is no flame, close the tank valve and check for problems.
Let it Burn
Close the lid of the grill and let the grilling surface, or grate, heat up. Heating up the grilling surface makes it easier to clean off any existing residue with a metal scraper or stiff metal brush. In addition, pre-heating a gas grill ensures that heat spreads evenly throughout the grilling surface. This reduces grilling times and improves the sear lines on your foods. Sear lines are those dark lines of crispy deliciousness that are characteristic of grilled foods.
Spray the surface with nonstick cooking spray, or brush it with oil. Once the grilling surface is greased, put on your food. Use a food thermometer to ensure that your meats reach the proper internal temperatures. According to the USDA, chops and steaks -- whether they are from veal, lamb, pork or beef -- need minimum internal temperatures of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. All ground meats need minimum internal temperatures of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, while all poultry items need minimum internal temperatures of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Store gas tanks outside, as they could potentially explode during house fires. When storing or transporting gas tanks, keep them in the upright position. At the beginning of the grilling season, check your gas tank for leaks by spreading a leak-detection solution around the tank's connection points and loosening the tank's valve. If bubbles emerge at the connection points, your tank has a leak and you should replace it.
Other Types of Gas Tank Cooking
Some other cooking appliances require the use of gas tanks. For example, portable gas camping stoves use small, green propane tanks. The cooking methods remain the same as the ones you use on a full-sized gas grill. Non-electric gas ranges and ovens in areas without natural gas lines get their fuel from propane tanks.
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Erik Devaney is a writing professional specializing in health and science topics. His work has been featured on various websites. Devaney attended McGill University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in humanistic studies.