Actually, the first thing to do is to make sure you have beer in the refrigerator, then ensure all your screws, bolts and nuts are good and tight. The last thing you want to experience while cooking outdoors is a water bowl falling into your hot charcoal pan, or worse yet, a grate of food that spills. After you have double checked for tightness, grab the salt and pepper and let's get ready to season that new grill, shall we?
Again, I'm kidding, please pardon my veiled attempts at humor. When we season a new or just degreased smoker, what we are doing is removing oils, dust, and other debris left over from the manufacturing process. If your new grill is like most others, it has a light coating of oil or a similar substance on it. I wash that off using a mild soap detergent and a sponge. Be careful not to scratch your smoker's interior surface. Allow it to air dry. If you have a new smoker it MUST
be cured before you cook in it. (See below for a few good reasons why)
In the case of a degreased old smoker that needs re-seasoning, you can skip the wash step, because you have used a degreaser and thoroughly rinsed away loose material and chemicals. You should rarely need to clean and re-season a smoker, but if you have a build up of grease that has gotten to ignition stage, it's best to remove it then leave it, for safety. I have been smoking for more then 20 years and still have my very first original Brinkman pit-master. It's solid and heavy, like they used to make them. I have only cleaned it once, and that was to transport it inside a van from Virginia to Florida.
OK, once it is dry, go ahead and spray a can of olive oil or some other cooking oil in a spray can. Thoroughly cover the sides, top, cooking grates, racks etc. Do not coat the fuel pan or electric element if using an electric smoker or the water bowl. (My water bowl is filled with sand and covered with foil, more on that in another blog
) Be generous enough to coat everything well, but not to were the oil is dripping. If you need to, you can let the smoker sit for a few minutes before the next step.
Our next goal is to heat the smoker up and simulate smoking in it for 2 hours minimum. If it's an electric smoker, go ahead and set it to high, which should be about 225 - 250 degrees F. For charcoal smokers, use a starter chimney and once the coals are hot, fill the charcoal pan and some wood. You do not need to use the water bowl for this seasoning step. We are going to keep our smoker empty during this curing or seasoning event.
After about 2 hours, open up the smoker and let the fire die off and air cool on it's own. Your smoker is now ready for use to churn out some awesome BBQ. If anyone is wondering why we must do this for a new smoker, here are just a few good reasons:
- The manufacturing process will leave oils, solvents and other undesirables inside of our smoker.
- We want to cure the paint and promote rust prevention.
- Seasoning removes any odors from inside the smoker caused during manufacture