Seasoning Tips for Santa Maria and Argentine Grills
To maximize your investment in a Santa Maria or Argentine style grills, it is paramount to start caring for it from the first time you set it up. All grates, V-channel, round, paella, laser cut, and griddles need to be seasoned and cleaned regularly, and regularly, it is best to clean as needed after every use. Every pit master develops tips and techniques they apply over the years, but a good start would be following some basics to assure seasoning success.
- Our goal the first time out is to create a black patina over the entire grate surface.
- Allow plenty of time, 4 to 6 hours is best for a first time burn in. Using Diamond Gourmet Grill and Baking mats reduces the seasoning time.
- The process will help you to learn how to build and maintain your ember bed.
- This style of cooking is an open concept of low and slow. Cooking on embers by learning to maintain your fire for the duration of the cook, not by cooking on a flame, will result in perfection.
- Grilling Gloves
- Oil and Pan
- Charcoal tongs to grab the cloth and apply oil
- Thicker cloths (diapers, rags)
- Heavy-duty blue Shop Towel and / or Heavy-Duty Aluminum foil (for scraping)
Seasoning grates are akin to seasoning in a cast iron pan. The entire inside the pan surface needs to be seasoned by coating with oil. In comparison, the entire surface of the V-channel grates, (or other types) need to be oiled first on the bottom side, and then flipped over and placed back on the support brackets. Begin to apply the oil into the grooves or surfaces.
I, personally, use Grape Seed Oil (as do most professional chef's), which has a high heat / low smoke point properties and is excellent for high-heat style cooking. Grape seed oil goes on thick, and not only protects and maintains the grate integrity, but assures grilling success and results. Once a good coating of oil has been applied, our goal will be to begin a long burn that will heat the grates to a temperature that will allow the oils to seep into the metal surfaces. Doing so will create the patina barrier desired. Other high heat oils to consider are Avocado and Flax seed.
Once an ember bed is established and to expedite the seasoning process, lay on top of the grates Diamond Gourmet Grill and Baking mats. They may be purchased on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Spark-Innovators-Diamond-Gourmet-Grill/dp/B085PQ5RWX The seasoning process can be reduced up to 2 to 3 hours. The patina established on the grate surface is remarkable and infuses into the metal. After cleaning, I would recommend placing the mats onto the grate surface during the cool down process to continually preserve and establish the patina. The results are remarkable.
During our cooking experiences:
We are spreading oil as needed, keeping the grates moist. After cooking, you will spend no more than 10 to 15 minutes cleaning and preparing the surfaces for my next cooking event! After plating the cooked food, quickly spread a coating of oil and roll the grates into the firebox to bake off any residue. I will then begin our family feast and come back 45 minutes to an hour or so later. The grates will be hot for several hours. Put on your grill gloves and wipe off any residue using the heavier blue paper towels that you find in Lowes or Home Depot, and apply oil to aid in the process, continuing until satisfied. This is the first step.
After your feast, the next step is to scrape clean off any hard residue by using a Grill Rescue brush to steam clean the grates. After that, apply the grape seed oil and you will be good to go! If you want to view well-seasoned grates, visit the Check-Out Our Pits section and venture over to ISSUE 4 pages 41 & 42.
Also remember the information noted above using the Diamond Gourmet Grilling mats... place them on the grates until cool. The heat and smoke will produce a long-lasting patina.
To bring back your cooking grates to a well-seasoned stage, follow these instructions:
Life gets in the way, and we just don't take the time to follow the principle before, during and after philosophy to keep the grates well-seasoned. Don't despair, rather than buying new grates or even stainless, your grates can be brought back by making a solution of baking soda and white vinegar to clean and scrub them off. Next step, rinse them and then re-season your grates with the step mentioned above.
There really isn't a reason that your new Santa Maria or Argentine Grill cannot last for many years. Remember that your grill is your key to great food. Take safe care of it, use it regularly, and you will not only master great barbecue, but your barbecue will just continue to get better and better. One of the biggest secrets of a great barbecue is knowing your equipment, so your investment in a grill is more than just financial, it's the time you've spent using it and the knowledge you have gained and achieved with your grill and cooking success!
Every so often, use a rag and spay cleaner, wipe down the grill fire box and uprights and or cart frame down occasionally. Applying a car cleaner/wax will keep your investment looking great as well.
“Add some sizzle to your food and make your taste buds dance.”