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Originally published June 16, 2013 at 5:07 AM | Page modified June 16, 2013 at 5:50 AM

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Benefits of seasoning grill include brats or Italian sausage

Start barbecue season by cleaning and seasoning the grill and enjoying the resulting meal.

The Associated Press

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Another very safe way to clean the grates: If you have a self-cleaning oven, put the... MORE

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Whether you’ve just bought a shiny new grill or pulled your old one out of winter hibernation, step No. 1 before embracing grilling season is to clean and season it.

Let’s start with the cleaning.

First, burn and scrape off any food bits stuck to the grates. Turn all the burners on high for a gas grill with the lid down.

For a charcoal grill, burn a chimney starter of charcoal with the lid closed. Let the flames burn until any residue has turned into a white colored ash. Next, brush gently.

Here’s an alternative to using a grill brush, which can cause injury if a piece of wire from the brush makes it into food. Crumble heavy-duty foil into a ball about the size of a tennis ball. Hold the ball in a pair of sturdy 12-inch locking chef tongs and brush away! Remember to use heavy-duty foil or the ball will disintegrate.

After you clean your grill, it’s time to season it. My favorite and very effective method is to fill the cooking grate with uncooked fresh sausages such as bratwurst or Italian sausage, but any food with a medium- to high-fat content that will cook for at least 30 minutes is ideal. I usually cook the sausages at a lower temperature than normal to suit this.

Grill the sausages slowly on a low-medium heat until bubbling hot and very brown. Remove the sausages from the grill, then reset the burners to high, letting the grill burn off the residue until it turns white, about 20 to 30 minutes. Do this while you enjoy the grilled sausages. When you are done eating, clean the cooking grates by rubbing them with foil.

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