How to have fun grilling in the winter
You can have fun grilling in the winter even though it's cold outsideOutdoor grilling in the coldest months can be a lot more fun than it sounds. Sure, the weather outside is frightful, but you've got open flame to keep you warm, and the flavor of a meal just off the grill or smoker is incomparable.
Just keep in mind these few tips and you'll be ready and eager to fire up that grill.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you'll be working with fire. This may seem like a given, but it's easy to take for granted all your typical “fire rules” just to find things are very different in frosty weather.
First, if you have a gas grill, be sure to check the gas line for any cracks before turning it on. Low temperatures can do a number on those hoses. If you do find any suspicious blemishes in the line - or any other part of your grill - replace it with the right quality grill replacement part immediately, before turning on your grill and “hoping for the best.” There is no fun in getting one’s head blown off.
Next, your clothing. While you do want to make sure you're bundled up good (no sense getting frostbite just for a steak dinner), you also want to watch out for anything dangling off your neck or arms that might catch fire. Be mindful of scarves, etc. Also, you want your hands to be nimble, so gloves are good (fingerless are even better, if you can stand it), but mittens are just going to get in your way and make handling the spatula or tongs difficult.
Finally, prepare your walkways and grilling area. You'll be carrying plates full of food in and out of the house, so be sure you have a clear ice-free path back and forth. Wear good shoes that aren't likely to slip. And also make sure the area around the grill is open and free of potential frozen hazards. Everything should be nice and secure and not apt to fall on the cook's head or slip him or her up without warning.
One thing to keep in mind when preparing for a snowy evening with old smoky is that cooking in cold weather takes longer and uses more fuel. It takes longer for your grill to heat up, and then it might take a bit longer for your food to cook. Give yourself extra time and make sure you’re stocked up with enough propane or charcoal ahead of time. And, once you get started, remember to keep the grill lid closed as much as possible, as opening it will mean precious heat lost.
You also need to assess your work area. If there is snow on the grill, clean it off. Make sure the dials on a gas unit aren't frozen and can turn freely. Check to see if you have adequate lighting, as night falls earlier in the winter months. Assemble all the tools you'll need ahead of time, so you aren't running back and forth to get things while your steak burns to a crisp. Remember, you want to have fun preparing this meal, not feel harried and disorganized.
Expand Your Grilling Repertoire – But Keep It Simple!
Grills are great for those quick standards – hamburgers and hot dogs, steaks, chicken, and pork chops. These are good options for those nights when you just want to slap something down and have it ready fairly quickly. But cooking on an open flame can transform some of your old favorite comfort foods into smoky flavorful winter wonders!
Search grill recipes for pot roast, stews, and pork loins; smoker recipes for whole chickens and turkey. Get creative! Just be sure to research the techniques you need to use for each new dish that you try, as many of these may require cooking with ambient heat (no flame directly beneath). Get a few of these kinds of techniques under your belt, and you and your old summer buddy will become year-round friends.